On Wednesday, six major international banks – JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank, HSBC, UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland – were fined $4.3 billion after an investigation into a foreign exchange market manipulation.
Wall Street regulators think they got away with another easy penalty. According to Mother Jones, the six banks colluded from 2008 to 2013 to coordinate the buying and selling of 10 major foreign currencies.
This is the first settlement tied to the $5.3-trillion-a-day foreign currency market.
The investigation, lead by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, says the banks relied on instant messages to coordinate their buying and selling of currencies at the market close to manipulate foreign currency exchange prices in their favor.
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This marks the end of the first period of the investigation. More fines and possible criminal punishment could follow.
The fines "should be seen as a message to all market participants that wrongdoing and foul play in the financial markets is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said Tim Massad, the chair of the CFTC.
But some think this simply isn’t enough punishment to stop the problem.
"The global too-big-to-fail banks are again allowed to evade responsibility and accountability by using shareholders' money to pay big fines, which will generate headlines but do little if anything to stop the relentless Wall Street crime spree," said Dennis Kelleher, the president of Better Markets. To date, only one top banker has gone to jail because of his involvement in the financial crisis.
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Regardless of the criminal charges, Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan were less than 1 percent lower in Wednesday trading, showing exactly how little the fine has affected their business.