Five Major Banks Plead Guilty to the Antitrust Crimes of the Cartel created by their Currency Traders

As reported in this PBS NewsHour video by anchor Judy Woodruff:

Five major institutions pled guilty to rigging currencies and manipulating the foreign exchange market. The banks also agreed to pay more than $5 billion combined in new penalties. The fines were some of the biggest brought to date by the federal government. The banks were accused of manipulating the world’s largest and least regulated trading market, where trillions of dollars change hands. Among those pleading guilty, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS.

At a recent press conference, Attorney General Loretta Lynch described the antitrust crimes of these banks as follows:

Starting as early as 2007, currency traders at several multinational banks formed a group that they dubbed the Cartel. It’s perhaps fitting that they chose that name, as it aptly describes the brazenly illegal behavior that they were engaged in on a near five-year basis. Almost every day for more than five years, traders in this cartel used a private electronic chat room to manipulate the spot market’s exchange rate between euros and dollars, using coded language to conceal their collusion.

Although the fines don’t appear to have affected the stock prices of the guilty banks and it’s unclear whether the Department of Justice will pursue criminal charges against the individual traders that participated in the Cartel, the guilty pleas of five major banks do represent “a shift in how the Department of Justice is doing enforcement actions and policing Wall Street” according to Keri Geiger of Bloomberg News, who framed the context as follows:

[T]o put it into perspective, one year ago, we had no banks on Wall Street that had ever pleaded guilty to criminal charges. And, today, we have eight banks in total. We have had two banks last year, Deutsche Bank earlier this year, and now today specifically we have five more banks.

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