For most people, pleading guilty to a felony means they will very likely land in prison, lose their job and forfeit their right to vote.
But when five of the world’s biggest banks plead guilty to an array of antitrust and fraud charges as soon as next week, life will go on, probably without much of a hiccup.
The Justice Department is preparing to announce that Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and the Royal Bank of Scotland will collectively pay several billion dollars and plead guilty to criminal antitrust violations for rigging the price of foreign currencies, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Most if not all of the pleas are expected to come from the banks’ holding companies, the people said — a first for Wall Street giants that until now have had only subsidiaries or their biggest banking units plead guilty.
It appears that international banking fraud and market manipulation continues unabated. The newest scandal brewing involves Swiss, British and American banks manipulating foreign currency exchange rates. The LIBOR fraud scandal has apparently done nothing to improve the ethics of the global financial services industry.
Less than two weeks ago I posted on this blog the revelation that banking authorities in Switzerland had opened an investigation into foreign exchange (arbitrage) fraud by Swiss banks. My report went on to say that the investigation was uncovering implications of broader involvement of banking institutions outside of Switzerland. Today, the Financial Times in London published an explosive article naming 15 global banks now implicated in the expanding investigation of global foreign exchange fraud and manipulation.
As if to underscore my previous posts on the extraordinary rapidity of disruptive change for the utility industry, This is turning out to be potentially more significant than the smart mobile phone revolution. Issues here include the utility industry’s failure to recognize a strategic change caused by disruptive technological change, and to respond to it, and the rapid acceleration in Adizes’ corporate life cycle model. Citibank is now predicting severe consequences for utility companies if they do not grasp the massive changes confronting them.