The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has today withdrawn charges against Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited (Citigroup), Deutsche Bank AG and four senior banking executives in relation to criminal cartel allegations arising from an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015. This decision was made in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.
The charges involved alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares held by Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. This conduct was investigated by the ACCC and in mid-2017 was referred to the CDPP, who decided to bring criminal cartel charges. The ACCC was made aware of the conduct through an immunity application by another party involved in the conduct.
“We respect the independent decision of the CDPP, and with them will consider what lessons can be learnt from this matter,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“Cartel conduct involves businesses acting together instead of competing fairly with each other. We considered that the alleged conduct stood to damage competition and the Australian economy. That is why the ACCC investigated this conduct and referred the evidence to the CDPP. The Office of the CDPP assessed the evidence very carefully and, as required by law, made an independent decision to prosecute based at all times on an application of the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.”
“When competition is impeded, this usually results in increased prices for other businesses and consumers, and the ACCC will take action when it has reason to believe businesses are acting anti-competitively,” Mr Sims said.
“While there can be challenges involved in bringing criminal cartel prosecutions, particularly due to the complexity of the cartel laws, we will continue our efforts to deter, detect and dismantle cartels, and will continue to refer serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for its consideration. That is our role and we will continue to fulfil it, even though not all briefs of evidence given to the CDPP will result in the laying of charges or convictions.”
“There have been five successful criminal prosecutions of cartel conduct affecting Australian consumers, following ACCC investigations and CDPP prosecution under criminal cartel laws which came into effect in 2009. These include three convictions in cases against international shipping lines with penalties totalling $83.5 million, and guilty pleas by individuals in two recent cases in the pharmaceutical and money remittance sectors,” Mr Sims said.
“There are also a number of criminal cartel prosecutions and civil cartel cases currently before the courts or with the CDPP for consideration.”
In June 2018, the CDPP laid criminal cartel charges against Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and ANZ after an investigation and referral by the ACCC.
Criminal charges were also laid against several senior executives: John McLean, Itay Tuchman and Stephen Roberts of Citigroup; Michael Ormaechea and Michael Richardson formerly of Deutsche Bank; and Rick Moscati of ANZ.
All proceedings have now been discontinued.
Note to editors
The ACCC investigates cartel conduct, manages the immunity process and, in respect of civil cartel contraventions, takes civil proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia.
The CDPP is responsible for prosecuting criminal cartel offences in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. The ACCC refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for consideration of prosecution.
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