ANZ and NAB fined $10 million each for ‘unconscionable conduct’ in setting of the Bank Bill Swap Rate


sec fines

Australia financial regulator ASIC has announced that it has accepted enforceable undertakings from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), and National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX:NAB), to address conduct relating to the Bank Bill Swap Rate (BBSW).

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and National Australia Bank (NAB) have today entered into enforceable undertakings (EUs) with ASIC in relation to each bank’s bank bill trading business and their participation in the setting of the Bank Bill Swap Rate (BBSW), a key Australian benchmark and reference interest rate.

On November 10, 2017, the Australian Federal Court made declarations that each of ANZ and NAB had attempted to engage in unconscionable conduct in connection with the supply of financial services in attempting to seek to change where BBSW set on certain dates (in respect of ANZ, on 10 occasions in the period 9 March 2010 to 25 May 2012, and in respect of NAB, on 12 occasions in the period 8 June 2010 to 24 December 2012). The Court also declared that each bank failed to do all things necessary to ensure that they provided financial services honestly and fairly.

The Federal Court imposed pecuniary penalties of $10 million each on ANZ and NAB for the attempts to engage in unconscionable conduct in respect of the setting of BBSW. The Court also noted that each of ANZ and NAB will give EUs to ASIC which provides for them to take certain steps and to pay $20 million to be applied to the benefit of the community, and that each will pay $20 million towards ASIC’s investigation and other costs.

Both EUs can be viewed here.

Background

ASIC commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against ANZ on 4 March 2016 and against NAB on 7 June 2016. The EUs form part of an agreed resolution to those proceedings.

On 16 November 2017 Jagot J of the Federal Court published her decision in both the ANZ and NAB proceedings.

On 5 April 2016, ASIC commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against the Westpac Banking Corporation. These proceedings are ongoing.

ASIC has previously accepted enforceable undertakings relating to BBSW from UBS-AG, BNP Paribas and the Royal Bank of Scotland (refer: 13-366MR, 14-014MR, 14-169MR). The institutions also made voluntary contributions totaling $3.6 million to fund independent financial literacy projects in Australia.

In July 2015, ASIC published Report 440, which addresses the potential manipulation of financial benchmarks and related conduct issues.

The Government has recently introduced legislation to implement financial benchmark regulatory reform and ASIC has consulted on proposed financial benchmark rules.

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ANZ and NAB fined $10 million each for 'unconscionable conduct' in setting of the Bank Bill Swap Rate

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