Citi, Deutsche Financial institution, ANZ tried in Australian antitrust proceedings by Reuters

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© Reuters. The Citigroup Inc logo can be seen at the SIBOS Banking and Finance Conference in Toronto

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(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc (NYSE :), Deutsche Bank The AG (NYSE :), the Australian and New Zealand banking group Ltd and six former employees of the companies were brought to trial in Australia Tuesday after pleading guilty to collusion during a stock offering.

In the country’s largest white-collar crime, the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission (ACCC) has brought charges against the financial giants, their clients and their former executives, accusing them of colluding to hold stocks they wanted to sell in order to keep prices falling to stop .

The matter has gone through numerous hearings in a local Sydney court, as attorneys for each defendant attempted to interview prosecutor’s witnesses and question whether regulators followed due process in collecting evidence.

Now, with the formal pleas of not guilty, the matter is on trial in federal court, more than two years since the indictment was made and five years since the A $ 2.5 billion ($ 1.8 billion) stock issue for ANZ. A trial date has not yet been set.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims declined to comment because the matter was on trial.

Citi denied the allegations, as it has consistently done, while Deutsche Bank (DE 🙂 said it would defend the charges. ANZ, Australia’s fourth largest retail bank, declined to comment.

The case is being watched closely by financial market participants around the world as it could affect the conduct of fundraising.

For companies, any criminal charge could result in a fine of up to A $ 10 million or three times the amount the company benefited from the measures in question, whichever is greater.

Individuals are sentenced to prison terms of up to 10 years, fines of up to A $ 420,000, or both.

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