December 15, 2020

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc and other finance companies and executives will likely face trial in Australia in 2022, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, seven years after a share sale they are accused of colluding on.

Citi, Deutsche Bank AG, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and six of their current and former staff are fighting charges of colluding as a cartel during a 2015 ANZ stock issue to withhold unwanted shares and prevent a price decline.

The legal proceedings, which could bring hefty fines and prison terms for the charged individuals, have drawn the attention of financial market participants around the world because of the implications for the way capital raisings are run.

All of the parties entered not guilty pleas last week.

The case has crawled through a Sydney court since the charges were brought in mid-2018, as lawyers for each defendant cross-examined prosecution witnesses and questioned whether regulators followed due process as they gathered evidence.

After the parties entered their pleas, the matter went before a Federal Court judge on Tuesday who said he hoped the trial would start in 2022, people familiar with the matter said. They declined to be identified.

A Federal Court spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

The matter is next due in Federal Court for an administrative hearing in February.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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