A man holds Australian banknotes in this photo illustration in Sydney May 8, 2012.
A man holds Australian banknotes in this photo illustration in Sydney May 8, 2012. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

ANZ will be facing criminal cartel charges following the investigation of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). ANZ Group Treasurer Rick Moscati, the Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, plus a number of individuals, will also be charged.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions will file the charges in relation to the ANZ shares trading in 2015. According to the ABC, the allegations stem to the sale of $2.5 billion worth of shares to large institutional investors in 2015. The 80.8 million shares were apparently offered to the institutional investors at discounted $30.95 per share.

The deal was fully underwritten by Investment banks Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan. They organised the sale of the shares and took responsibility for any share unsold. Citigroup and Deutsche, according to ACCC, will be charged with criminal cartel. There is no word on whether JP Morgan will receive charges as well.

“The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said. “It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct.”

ANZ has denied any wrongdoing, saying it is cooperating with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation in relation to the placement. ASIC is also investigating whether ANZ’s announcement should have stated that the joint lead managers took up approximately 25.5 million shares of the placement. Those shares represent about 0.91 percent of total shares that were issued at that time.

“We believe ANZ acted in accordance with the law in relation to the placement and on that basis the bank intends to defend both the company and our employee,” ANZ chief risk officer Kevin Corbally said, referring to Moscati, who is also expected to be charged.

Should the individuals involved be found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in jail and/or ordered to pay fines of up to $420,000. For institutions, they could face up to $10 million fine per offence.