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ANZ has been slapped with an almost $1 million fine after it was found to have failed to act transparently over how it was flushed with capital about eight years ago.

The bank released millions of shares in a capital-raising in 2015 that fell short of the $2.5 billion anticipated from the venture.

Its underwriters then stepped in and bought between $754 million and $790 million worth of shares, which was not disclosed to the ASX.

An ANZ logo on one of the bank's offices in Sydney.
ANZ has been ordered to pay a $900,000 penalty. (Peter Rae)

The Federal Court in October found the bank guilty of breaching disclosure laws.

Justice Mark Moshinsky today ordered ANZ to pay a $900,000 penalty for its failure to alert the market and investors of how it gained the funds it raised.

When he handed down his reasons, he said the fine was needed to deter similar actions. 

ANZ was also ordered to pay the legal fees of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, which sought legal action against the financial institution.

People in Sydney walk past the ASX.
ANZ did not tell the market or investors its underwriters bought its shares. (SMH / Louise Kennerley)

This was a “landmark case”, the commission’s deputy chair Karen Chester said.

“Today’s decision confirms the paramount importance of continuous disclosure,” she said in a statement.

“The penalty and remarks from the Judge today are a clear and resolute message to ANZ and the market that this conduct was very serious.”

Chester said continuous disclosure was “key” in maintaining market integrity so that investors could make informed decisions.

In 2015, the bank issued a release announcing it had raised $2.5 billion in new capital through the sale of approximately 80.8 million shares at $30.95 each.

It is understood ANZ was aware its underwriters had allocated almost $800 million of those shares to themselves at the time. 

In a statement, an ANZ spokesperson said the bank was “considering” the finding.

“ANZ acknowledges the civil penalty decision of the Federal Court of Australia in relation to ANZ’s fully underwritten institutional share placement in August 2015,” the spokesperson said.

“This follows an earlier judgment, delivered on 13 October 2023, in which the Court found that ANZ should have notified the ASX of the joint lead managers’ take-up of shares in its 2015 institutional share placement.

“The Court has today ordered ANZ to pay a civil penalty of $900,000 in relation to a continuous disclosure contravention that the Court found occurred on 7 August 2015.

“ANZ is considering today’s decision together with the judgment delivered in October.”

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