SYDNEY, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Australian prosecutors dropped
criminal charges against the former local head of Citigroup Inc
and narrowed their case against the bank and other finance
companies and executives for allegedly colluding on a 2015 share
sale, a court heard on Wednesday.
Prosecutors told a Federal Court hearing they had dropped
charges arising from two out of three "arrangements" allegedly
made between Citi and other banks to collude as a cartel during
the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group stock
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had dropped
charges for cartel behaviour against Stephen Roberts, who headed
Citigroup in Australia at the time of the 2015 raising, and the
case against the remaining eight accused had been "narrowed",
judge Michael Wigney said.
The 42 charges contained in the previous indictment had been
reduced to 26, with the trial expected to start in April and
take no less than four to six months, he noted. The new
indictment and charges may still be challenged, the court heard.
"The past several years have been extremely difficult for me
and my family, and I am now looking forward to putting this
behind me," Roberts said in an emailed statement.
"I am obviously pleased that the CDPP has dropped all
charges against me."
The high-profile case, also against Deutsche Bank
, ANZ, and five other executives, has been closely
watched by financial markets participants because it could
influence how capital raisings are conducted.
The new charges were submitted with the court on Monday
after prosecutors were ordered in July to refile, for a second
time, a "deficient" indictment as they had not identified
"sufficiently ... the essential factual ingredients of the
alleged offences", court documents show.
Prosecutors allege the accused colluded to withhold unwanted
shares and prevent a price decline. All of the accused have
denied any wrongdoing.
(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Stephen