Today it was announced that five of the world's largest banks are to pay fines totalling £3.6bn for charges including manipulating the foreign exchange market.
The British bank, Barclays, was fined the most, $2.4bn. It is sacking eight employees involved in the scheme.
Regulators said that between 2008 and 2012, villain-traders formed a cartel and used chat rooms to manipulate prices in their favour. One Barclays trader who was invited to join the cartel was told : "Mess up and sleep with one eye open at night" and another said : "if you ain't cheating, you aint't trying".
One method they used was to influence prices around the daily fixing of currency levels : A daily exchange rate fix is held to help businesses and investors value their multi-currency assets and liabilities. Until February, this happened every day in the 30 seconds before and after 16:00 in London and the result is known as the 4pm fix, or just 'The Fix'. In a scheme known as 'Building Ammo', a single villain trader would amass a large position in a currency and, just before or during the fix, would exit that position. Other members of the cartel would be aware of the plan and would be able to profit.
New York State 'Superintendent of Financial Services', Benjamin Lawsky said : "They engaged in a brazen 'heads I win, tails you lose' scheme to rip off their clients."
All these young villain bankers made an enormous amount of money for themselves and their banker friends. They all enjoy their freedom with no fear of arrest by the police, a trial and time inside prison, at Her Majesty's Pleasure.Yesterday, Scotland Yard police arrested nine men in a dramatic operation which came after six weeks ago, a gang staged the audacious robbery at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company and escaped with around £60 million in diamonds, cash and valuables.
In a series of raids, 200 Flying Squad officers burst into addresses in North London and Kent and arrested five middle aged men of 43, 48, 50, 59 and two at 58 and three old men of 67, 74 and 76.
The method they used in the robbery, if they are the villains, was to use heavy duty cutting gear and a diamond tipped drill to cut their way through a 20 inch thick concrete wall to get into the vault holding the safety deposit boxes they plundered.
Today, Commander Peter Spindler, 'Head of Serious and Organised Crime' said : “There has been much public speculation over recent weeks and I am sorry that we have appeared tight lipped, but this has been a very complex case with many lines of inquiry. I want to publicly thank the many officers from the Flying Squad who have put their lives on hold to ensure that the victims of this callous crime get the justice they deserve.”
If these men go to trial and are found guilty, they will serve a lengthy spell at Her Majesty's Pleasure in prison.
Barclays Bank shares shot up after the news. Investors thought they got off lightly.
A letter in the Guardian has asked :