banking

Big Banks plead guilty to currency manipulation, fined $5.8 Billion

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20:  U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces a resolution has been reached with global financial institutions in connection with long-running manipulation of the $5 trillion-a-day Foreign Exchange (FOREX) spot market during a news conference at the Robert F. Kennedy Justice building May 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch announced settlements with five of the world's biggest international banks, including Swiss bank UBS which will pay $545 million to U.S. authorities to end an investigation into alleged manipulation of currency rates.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 20: U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces a resolution has been reached with global financial institutions in connection with long-running manipulation of the $5 trillion-a-day Foreign Exchange (FOREX) spot market during a news conference at the Robert F. Kennedy Justice building May 20, 2015 in Washington, DC. Lynch announced settlements with five of the world’s biggest international banks, including Swiss bank UBS which will pay $545 million to U.S. authorities to end an investigation into alleged manipulation of currency rates. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Big news? Hardly. When taken in context of the volume of currency they trade in daily, it’s a slap on the wrist, with no down time. And these are no ordinary crimes…

Starting as early as December 2007, currency traders at several multinational banks formed a group dubbed “The Cartel.”  It is perhaps fitting that those traders chose that name, as it aptly describes the brazenly illegal behavior they were engaged in on a near-daily basis.  For more than five years, traders in “The Cartel” used a private electronic chatroom to manipulate the spot market’s exchange rate between euros and dollars using coded language to conceal their collusion.  They acted as partners – rather than competitors – in an effort to push the exchange rate in directions favorable to their banks but detrimental to many others.

The prices the market sets for those currencies influence virtually every sector of every economy in the world, and their actions inflated the banks’ profits while harming countless consumers, investors and institutions around the globe – from pension funds to major corporations, and including the banks’ own customers – who placed their faith in the market and relied on it to produce a competitive exchange rate.

As a result of our investigation, four of the world’s largest banks have agreed to plead guilty to felony antitrust violations.  They are Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, and The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC.  

But nowhere in the statement is there any mention of jail time or suspension of corporate charters or privileges, notwithstanding the fact that these are “criminal” charges.

As for the fines, which the DOJ describes as unprecedented, the daily volume of global currency trading is estimated at over $5.3 trillion with a “T.” That’s an awful lot of trading.

To put the fines in context, in 2014, Barclay’s net income was $3.5 billion, Citigroup’s was $7.3 billion, J.P. Morgan’s was $21.8 billion and RBS’ was $3.9 billion.

The folks at Huffington Post want us to compare the fines to the banks’ “net income” for perspective. But anyone who knows anything about business, taxation, and accounting knows that operating income is far more important. Who cares what they declare to the Fed’s as taxable, when trillions upon trillions of dollars that go through their doors are used for everything imaginable, and claimed as the ‘cost’ of doing business.

It’s an ongoing global scam of macabre proportions, sanctioned and subsidized by ‘we the people,’ and it shows no signs of stopping.

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