South Africa is investigating several global banks for fixing foreign exchange trades, it said on Tuesday, joining a worldwide push to probe allegations of price-rigging in currency markets.
The banks being investigated are BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Barclays, JP Morgan, Investec, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered, the Competition Commission said in a statement.
The Commission said it was looking at whether traders in these banks worked together through electronic messaging platforms to coordinate their trading activities when quoting customers who buy or sell currencies.
“This coordination has the effect of eliminating competition among the respondents, as it enabled them to charge an agreed price for a specific amount of currency,” the Commission said.
Barclays Africa Group, the South African unit of Barclays Plc, said it would co-operate fully with the investigation.
“We take such matters extremely seriously and will cooperate fully with the investigation,” a Barclays Africa spokesperson said.
JP Morgan, which paid nearly $100 million to settle similar case in the United States, declined to comment.
Investec said it would also cooperate with the commission on the investigation.
“Unfortunately, at this stage we do not have further information with respect to the nature of the investigation and queries should be directed to the Competition Commission directly,” the investment bank said.
Other banks named in the South African investigation were not immediately available to comment.
The investigation was focusing on trade in currency pairs involving the South African rand, the Commission said.
It is the first time banks dealing in the South African currency have been drawn into price-fixing probes in currencies. Similar investigations are already underway in Europe and the United States.
*Additional reporting by CNBC Africa