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ANZ

There's a huge amount of excitement in Australia about the prosecution of several bankers for colluding in a share support scheme where a share issue did not fully sell out. Instead of being charged with market manipulation, itself a serious offence, federal prosecutors have taken the alternative of charging them with cartel offences. There's a lot of people spinning like tops, having panic attacks about what it means for investment banking and the professional support services like lawyers and accountants that are a central part of all public offers. But there is nothing complex about the fundamentals of the case.

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It's the fault of Hollywood and TV producers everywhere, with a bit of help from the tabloids and the over-excitement of both American politicians and law enforcement: as soon as someone mentions "cartel," thoughts jump to major drugs gangs. It's the same problem that led to a survey result in the UK where children thought the emergency telephone number is 911 (it's 999 and there are also European standard numbers that start with a 1 but no one can be bothered to remember them). In the vast majority of cases, the word "cartel" doesn't relate to drugs gangs at all. In relation to the way people conduct business by means of illegal collusion. That might not be as "sexy" as the idea of bankers being dragged to jail with their noses still covered in white powder but the ramifications of the...

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Hardly a day goes by without a report of bad conduct by one of Australia's banks. It's not as if there are many of them and the result is that each of them is in the news for all the wrong reasons on an increasingly frequent basis. This time it's ANZ with a classic of charging fees but providing no service.

Really. How is this different from someone knocking on the door of an elderly couple, telling them there's a hole in their roof and saying "I'll repair it for a price of X" but collecting the money and doing nothing?

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It's going to cost ANZ about AUD5 million to compensate victims of the scheme that operated through the bank's Esanda car finance business. That's just part of what ASIC describes as "a package of regulatory actions against Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ)" But there's an anomaly of the kind that excites our colleagues on the financial crime publications group of PleaseBeInformed. But we got to this one first! Even more, the story looks like a simple management failure but on closer inspection it demonstrates a fundamental lack of attention to the most basic money laundering / terrorist financing KYC/CDD requirements. ASIC may think it's over. AUSTRAC needs to take a look.

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