Crime Doesn’t Pay, But Banking Certainly Does!


I find it unbelievable that the banks continually get away with what can only be called criminal activity.

Today US bank JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay four regulators $920m (£572m) relating to a $6.2bn loss incurred as a result of the “London Whale” trades.

The settlement is the third biggest banking fine by US regulators, and the second largest by UK regulators. As part of the deal JP Morgan admitted violating US federal securities laws.

Yet even though JP Morgan admitted this, only two Trader face prosecution as part of this violation.

This is the part that I find unbelievable, in most of the companies that I have worked for there have been clear limits associated with financial commitments that people can make, and that was dependent on their position.

At one as a Director, my limit was $100k, VPs could approve up to $250k, and EVPs up to a Million dollars and once you got up to $10m everything needed board approval.

So just how 2 Traders could run up losses of $6bn without it attracting any attention is beyond my imagination,  even more unbelievable in this ‘London Whale’ trading scandal – the nickname of a bond market trader who was reported to be making trades worth up to $10 trillion in April 2012.

Yes that’s right $10 trillion, and this is after the banking collapse of 2008, when banks are supposed to be looking to rebuild the financial systems.

In practically every company I have worked in that just wouldn’t be possible, but then again I haven’t worked in investment Banking.

But this is not the first time that banks have admitted breaking laws, below is the top 10 fines handed out to banks for breaking laws.

Source: Reuters

  • 1) Bank: HSBC (2012). Fine: £1.1 billion. Reason: Money laundering.
  • 2) Bank: JP Morgan (2013). Fine: £572 million. Reason: ‘London Whale’ trading scandal.
  • 3) Bank: UBS (2009). Fine: £485 million. Reason: Tax evasion.
  • 4) Bank: Standard Chartered (2012). Fine: £415 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions.
  • 5) Bank: ING (2012). Fine: £385 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions.
  • 6) Bank: Goldman Sachs (2010). Fine: £359 million. Reason: Misleading investors.
  • 7) Bank: Credit Suisse (2009). Fine: £333 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions.
  • 8) Bank: ABN Amro (2010). Fine: £311 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions.
  • 9) Bank: Barclays (2010). Fine: £280 million. Reason: Libor manipulation.
  • 10) Bank: Lloyds Bank (2009). Fine: £218 million. Reason: Anti-sanctions.

It seems to me that Bankers just have no fear of punishment for their wrong doings, they just pay a hefty fine and continue.

Looking at this, why would you choose a life of crime when a life of banking carries much lower threat of punishment and much richer rewards.

It’s time our governments, US &UK,  showed some real Leadership and stepped in to really punish this, otherwise this will continue to go on.Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles