By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Two Australian regulators may have agreed not to pursue JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> over its role in a criminal cartel case in exchange for its help in prosecuting the other banks involved, a lawyer for another bank told a court on Thursday.
The investment bank and two rivals, Citigroup Inc <C.N> and Deutsche Bank AG <DBKGn.DE>, worked on a A$2.5 billion stock issue for retail lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd <ANZ.AX> in 2015.
Those banks and their former executives – but not JPMorgan – have been charged with criminal cartel behaviour. Regulators say they agreed to keep some of the stock to prop up its price, and a pre-trial hearing has heard JPMorgan cooperated with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in exchange for immunity.
A lawyer for ANZ told the court on Thursday his client was seeking documents detailing contact between the ACCC and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), a corporate regulator that was not directly involved in bringing the charges.
“It would … be an abuse of power if ASIC had decided not to bring (separate) proceedings against JPMorgan for the reason that the ACCC had successfully put pressure on them to do so,” said ANZ’s lawyer, Tim Game.
Game later told the court he was not alleging misconduct by either regulator, but rather that he wanted to see their communications. The regulators have resisted handing over some of the documents the defence has sought.