Barclays and the price of dishonesty


British and American financial regulators have fined Barclays £290 million for attempting to manipulate Libor, the benchmark interest rate that is used globally to set the price of everything from credit card fees to corporate loans.
What’s the point of that?
Customers and shareholders will have to pay the fine, not the wrongdoers. And if the damage to Barclays is enough to threaten its survival the taxpayer will be forced to step in too, stumping up perhaps £100 billion or so for a rescue package.
Bob Diamond, the chief executive, and a handful of his lieutenants have agreed to waive their bonuses this year.
How generous! But why is no one facing criminal charges?
Libor affects the value of some £200 trillion worth of contracts a year, worldwide. A 0.5 per cent variance in the rate amounts to plus or minus £1 trillion.
I Googled “jailed for theft” and discovered that four days ago Norfolk magistrates locked a man away for 12 months for stealing the contents of a church collection box. If that’s the tariff, what should the bankers get?
Until a few of these rapacious bankers and businessmen go to prison nothing will change.

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