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Australia Court Drops Citigroup Charges

The Australian branch of Citigroup , the world's largest financial institution, was cleared Thursday of insider trading and conflict of interest charges brought by the country's competition watchdog.

Federal Court judge Peter Jacobson ruled that allegations made by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission could not be proved, ending a months' long case.

The commission alleged that Citigroup Global Markets Australia used inside information to trade shares in transport company Patrick in August 2005, when it was advising rival Toll Holdings on a A$6 billion (US$5 billion) takeover bid for Patrick.

Jacobson said the insider trading charges failed because the trader involved could not be considered an officer of Citicorp under the Corporations Act. He also ruled that adequate measures were in place to prevent insider trading.

He rejected the conflict of interest charge as well.

"There was no fiduciary relationship between Citigroup and Toll," Jacobson said.

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