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J.P. Morgan’s Australia chairman steps down from ASX, Future Fund boards amid ACCC action

Robert Priestley, non-executive chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase for Australia and New Zealand, announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his positions as a board member of the Australian Securities Exchange and the A$140.8 billion ($106.9 billion) Future Fund, Melbourne.

Mr. Priestley, in a statement posted on the ASX website, cited an ongoing action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over an institutional placement of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. shares in August 2015 — "a potential distraction for the ASX and my board colleagues" — for his decision.

The ACCC said in a June 5 announcement that two global banks had been charged with criminal cartel offenses over the matter. J.P. Morgan was not cited. A J.P. Morgan spokesman declined to comment with regard to whether there was a connection linking the U.S. bank to the ANZ share placement.

Mr. Priestley, in a separate, more detailed statement released Tuesday, said it's "likely that this matter will take some time to resolve, and as there are limits to the information that can be discussed at this time, I think the right course of action in these circumstances is to step aside from the ASX board and allow the situation to be fully resolved."

He added: "I look forward to the time when all of the facts and circumstances relevant to this matter are clarified."

Mr. Priestley said he'll "continue as chairman of J.P. Morgan in Australia and New Zealand," adding that he will be making no further comments at this time.

A statement from J.P. Morgan called Mr. Priestley a "trusted leader with the highest levels of integrity," and said the firm looks forward to "his continued contribution as chairman of Australia and New Zealand."