It referred the case to the Competition Tribunal, asking it to declare that the banks contravened the Competition Act and rule that some of them pay fines of 10 percent of their annual revenue.
South Africa's competition watchdog has accused 17 global and local banks of colluding to fix the price of the country's currency, the rand, over the past decade.
The Commission named lenders including Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit, JPMorgan Chase & Co., BNP Paribas SA, Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and Nomura Holdings Inc.
Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed to Moneyweb on Thursday night that Absa applied for corporate leniency as whistle blower and that one other bank that he did not name, might admit guilt and enter into an agreement with the Commission.
The Competition Commission on Wednesday said banks including Investec Ltd.
JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A.
When delivering his SONA, Zuma acknowledged that South Africa's competition authorities have done excellent work to uncover cartels and punish them for breaking the law. The EFF has been at the forefront of fighting financial crimes in South Africa and we believe that the revealed scandal of the colluding banks must be dealt with decisively. The dealers also colluded on the difference between the two prices, called the bid-offer spread.
"Traders of the respondents primarily used trading platforms such as the Reuters currency trading platform to carry out their collusive activities".
The banks worked together by discussing desired prices, coordinating trading times and taking turns to transact, hold or pull bills. They also created fictitious bids and offers, distorting demand and supply in order to achieve their profit motives.
"The referral of this matter to the Tribunal marks a key milestone in this case as it now affords the banks an opportunity to answer for themselves", Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said in a statement. The banks are expected to respond at the tribunal hearing. "And it was clear from President Zuma's State of the Nation Address last week that he intends using the competition authorities as a tool of his populist and destructive agenda of "radical economic transformation", the party's Michael Cardo said. In his State of the Nation address on February 9, President Jacob Zuma said he planned to use the competition authorities as a tool for radical economic transformation.