Banks continue to try for deal with ASIC over interest rate rigging case

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ANZ Bank and National Australia Bank are continuing to thrash out the details of a settlement agreement with the corporate watchdog over the landmark case accusing them of rigging one of Australia’s key interest rates.

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ANZ’s lawyer said the bank and the corporate watchdog are yet to finalise their settlement deal. Photo: Jessica Shapiro

ANZ’s lawyer, Alan Archibald QC, told the Federal Court on Wednesday that ANZ Bank and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission were yet to finalise the settlement.

The bank had agreed to settle the case on Monday in a deal believed to be worth $50 million.

NAB has also entered into settlement discussions with ASIC.

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On Wednesday, Justice Jonathan Beach agreed to adjourn the trial for the discussions to continue.

The adjournment came after lawyers for ANZ, NAB and ASIC had asked the trial be delayed so they could progress the settlement discussions.

ASIC has accused ANZ, Westpac and NAB of rigging the bank bill swap rate (BBSW). The bank bill swap rate is a key rate at which banks lend to each other over a short period. It is one of the most important interest rates in the economy, providing a benchmark for the setting of a range of business loan interest rates.

Westpac is also believed to be in talks with ASIC, but is thought to be further away from sealing a settlement deal with the regulator.

ASIC’s lawyer in the Westpac matter, Phillip Crutchfield QC, told the court “we are ready to go”, but added the regulator would need to rejig its approach to defending the case if NAB and ANZ settled with the regulator.

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