New Zealand's competition watchdog on Monday announced it is investigating the manipulation of currency rates and possible influencing of benchmarks in foreign exchange markets. The probe was launched as a result of a leniency application under the Commerce Commission's cartel leniency policy, which allows for immunity from prosecution for the first member of a cartel to own up and give evidence. The Commerce Commission said in a brief statement that it would give no further comment. The New Zealand action is the latest in a series of investigations into bank collusion to set foreign exchange rates, following allegations in North America, Europe and Asia. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the New Zealand dollar is the tenth most traded currency, accounting for 2 percent of the world's average daily foreign exchange turnover in April 2013. Its share of the international foreign exchange market turnover was continuing to rise, according to the bank's foreign exchange turnover report published in September last year.