This relates to a case of price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency pairs involving the rand.
The Competition Commission said it had concluded an investigation into whether banks colluded by using an instant messaging chat room called "ZAR Domination", to coordinate their trading activities when giving quotes to customers who buy or sell currencies.
Speaking in parliament earlier, South African President Jacob Zuma welcomed the competition commission's investigation, saying that the government was prepared to act against the distortion of the financial markets "to protect our country's economy".
Several banks, including, ABSA, Investec and Standard Bank, have been referred by the Competition Commission to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution.
The Competition Commission said in a statement Wednesday that workers at more than a dozen global banks, including Barclays, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, were involved.
A member of the African National Congress Youth League protests in front of ABSA Bank against what they argue is the bank benefiting from an apartheid-era bailout, in Durban, South Africa, January 26.
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Even if, as expected, the 17 banks come to some sort of settlement with the South African authorities, the whole saga will still be another blow to the sector's reputation. It is further an indication of how the markets are and can be manipulated by dominant oligopolies to cripple its functioning to suit their nefarious agendas.
"The law should now be allowed to take its course".
Absa also said it will continue to co-operate with the Commission and pointed out that that the Competition Commission has not sought any penalties against Absa. EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said they will write to the South African Reserve Bank to demand that the banking and operating licences of the banks be discontinued immediately. The three banks mentioned in the latest collusion case are Investec, Standard Bank and Absa.
Financial Times reported that global banks have now paid more than $10bn in relation to the forex scandal, exceeding the $9bn paid by a larger group of institutions to settle the Libor rigging claims.
"Unfortunately, at this stage we still do not have further detail with respect to the nature of the investigation and are thus not able to comment on the matter", the bank told Fin24 in an emailed statement.