Two-Hand Monte

The central bank giveth, the government taketh away:

Five of the world’s biggest banks have today been handed fines totalling more than £2billion for rigging the £3.5trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. British, US and Swiss authorities all launched an onslaught after an 18-month investigation as regulators today revealed the latest scandal to rock the industry. 

State-owned Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £217million ($344million) by the London-based Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as well as £182million ($290million) by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The others involved in the settlement are Citibank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and UBS, who will also pay up to £500million each. Barclays said it continues to hold discussions with regulators.

More than 30 traders have been fired, suspended, put on leave, or resigned since the probes started, and the Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation – but there have been no arrests.

The lesson is: if you’re going to make a career of theft, better do it as a bankster. It’s remarkable to observe how no matter what law is broken as an employee of an international bank, the only penalty will is a relatively small financial one directed at the artificial person of the banking corporation.

The RBS CEO said: “‘We had people working at this bank who did not know the difference between right and wrong, or worse, didn’t care about the distinction.'”

You don’t say. It’s cute that he uses the past tense there.