13 June 2019

South Africa: Setback for the Competition Commission in the Four-Year-Old Currency Manipulation Case


For four years now, the Competition Commission and more than 20 local and foreign banks have been at loggerheads over charges of currency manipulation. It has been an exhausting, expensive, convoluted effort. On Wednesday, the Competition Tribunal stepped in and effectively instructed the commission how to frame its case in a way that can only be construed as a setback for the commission.

If you had to summarise in colloquial terms the Competition Tribunal's finding on Wednesday, 12 June 2019 on the Competition Commission's four-year-old case against more than 20 banks on charges of currency manipulation, it would be this: "Please, for heaven's sake, get your act together."

But that's not what it said. What it said was the following: "... the deficiency in the commission's pleading was located in its unwillingness to commit itself unequivocally to a particular formulation of its case". This "caused a lack of focus and consistency throughout the various iterations contained in the referral and subsequent supplementary documents".

This response was essentially due to the fact that the banks had complained repeatedly and bitterly that the case they were required to answer was not made clear in the commission's documents. Even on Wednesday, Standard Bank...

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