So it would appear that so-called rogue traders might finally get their comeuppance after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced their intention to launch a probe into into the conduct of certain banks. Personally, I’d like to see all bankers involved very roughly ‘probed’ but, sadly, that’s unlikely.
The hot topic of conversation that finally sparked the anti-fraud investigation was the recent announcement that banks had been tampering with the Libor lending rate. If the fiddling had been done to benefit the paying customers of the banks it might have been a bit easier to swallow but it seems the activities were carried out solely to make more profits for traders.
Although Bob Diamond recently jumped ship with a ‘mere’ £2 million golden handshake he’s not in the clear yet. As head of Barclays, he’s liable for the actions of his staff (look at it a little like a Roman Centurion having to fall on his sword as a ‘reward’ for failure).
Potenitally, Diamond faces a two-pronged assault. UK fraud cops will be unpicking the maze-like series of dodgy deals whilst, on the other side of the Atlantic, it’s likely that the FBI may become involved. In fact, it turns out the Federal Bureau of Investigation was already looking into the dealings of 14 members of Barclays staff prior to the Libor rigging announcement.
If he’s hauled in front of the courts and found guilty he’ll be spending a long time in prison.
America takes a much dimmer view of financial white-collar crime.
Up to 20 banks around the world could be implicated in the Libor-rigging scandal with potential fines of hundreds of millions of pounds hanging over their heads if found guilty.
What could be even more disastrous for banks involved is the recent news that lawyers in the United States are preparing class actions against any banks involved with the Libor scandal. If these actions are successful, banks could end up being liable for hundreds of billions of dollars. New York based Hausfield LLP is also planning to launch legal action in Europe and Australia.
With consumer faith in banks at an all-time low it’s easier to understand why many savers are considering moving their money elsewhere.
Whilst some government officials welcome the investigation it’s also fair to say that the fate of the big banks is hanging in the balance. I freely admit that I’m no great fan of the UK’s banking sector and recent news has made me even more cynical but I really don’t want the big 5 to fail.
Banking provides the UK with about one third of its GDP. Also, if the banks do go under what happens to all the tax payer money that’s invested in them? It’s unlikely we’ll see any of that back once all the fines are paid.
Still, to be safe, it might be time to shift your money somewhere a little safe… where ever that may be.
Anyway, I hope my talk of vets and surgical strikes don’t give your kitty nightmares.