Australian prosecutors drop Citi charges against ex-Citi chief


SYDNEY, Aug 18 - Australian prosecutors narrowed criminal charges against the former local head of Citigroup Inc and dropped their case against the bank and other finance companies and executives for allegedly colluding on a 2015 share sale, court heard on Wednesday.

Prosecutors told a Federal Court hearing they had dropped charges arising from two of three arrangements allegedly made between Citi and other banks to collude with cartel during the Australia and New Zealand Bank Group stock issue.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had dropped charges for cartel behavior against Michael Wigney, who was the head Citigroup in Australia at the time of 2015 raising, and the case against the remaining eight accused had been narrowed, judge Stephen Roberts 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 heard if a jury challenged it, 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 sincerely glad 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 in July prosecutors were ordered to refile a crucial indictment, for a second time, as they had not identified sufficient essential facts which led to the charged offences, court documents show.

Prosecutors allege the accused collluded to withhold unwanted shares and prevent a price decline. All accused have denied any wrongdoing.