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SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Australian court overseeing a criminal cartel case against Citigroup Inc

and Deutsche Bank AG

on Tuesday declined a prosecution request to delay proceedings, raising the chances the long-running matter will proceed to trial this year.

In the country’s biggest white collar criminal case, a regulator has accused the investment banks of colluding over a A$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) 2015 share issue to withhold unsold shares and keep the stock from falling. Their client, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd

, is also defending the case.

But the matter, which has nine defendants including the financial giants and their staff and former staff, has been crawling through the lower court in Sydney since the charges were laid in mid-2018 as defence lawyers question prosecution witnesses to determine the parameters of the complex case.

The ruling that the parties must begin a case management hearing on Nov.

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