Andre Spicer, 16 November 2014
The biggest open secret in the financial world has been confirmed. Regulators in the UK, the US and Switzerland have announced massive fines for some of the world’s largest banks for a manipulation of global currency markets that in its callous ubiquity says so much about the banking behaviours that sparked the global financial crisis.
Fines levied by the UK regulator add up to £1.1 billion. The US regulator announced fines of $1.4 billion. Banks hit by these fines include UBS, Citi, JP Morgan, HSBC and RBS. Barclays is yet to come to a settlement on the back of the investigations.
The probe uncovered individuals traders within large banks who were working together in trading clubs which had names you would expect from the “ruthless narcissists” on BBC TV show, The Apprentice. These included “the players”, “the 3 musketeers” and “1 team, 1 dream”.
These clubs worked together to influence the WM Reuters 4pm fix – essentially the official number used to fix currency rates. It shapes everything from how much we pay for currency when we go overseas to how much our pension fund pays when it wants to buy into an offshore investment. This is one of the core numbers in global finance.