THE Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has commenced civil penalty proceedings against National Australian Bank (ASX:NAB) alleging unconscionable conduct and market manipulation.
The allegations relate to NAB's involvement in setting the bank bill swap reference rate (BBSW). The BBSW is the primary interest rate benchmark used in Australian financial markets, administered by the Australian Financial Markets Association.
It is alleged that NAB traded in a manner that was unconscionable and intended to create an artificial price for bank bills on 50 occasions between 8 June 2010 and 24 December 2012.
ASIC alleges that NAB had a large number of products which were priced or valued off BBSW and that it traded in the bank bill market with the intention of moving the BBSW higher or lower.
ASIC suggests that NAB was seeking to maximise its profit or minimise its loss to the detriment of those holding opposite positions to NAB's.
NAB chief risk officer David Gall says the bank has fully cooperated with ASIC's review and is taking the allegations seriously.
"We do not agree with ASIC's claims which means they will now be settled by a court process," says Gall.
"As part of ASIC's investigation NAB has provided emails, instant chat messages and telephone conversations involving out employees.
"We remain committed to serving our customers and ensuring our people demonstrate the values and behaviours the community expects of us."
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