You’ve seen the dramatic movie trope: Investigators ask some perp, “Hey, did you do the crime?” And the guy goes, “Um, no.”
Then the feds slide a single incriminating document across the table, and as a Hans Zimmer concerto swells, they ask, “Now what do you think?”
It’s more fun if you imagine this Wall Street Journal report happening like that, but basically a bunch of federal agents showed up to the New York home of Deutsche Bank trader Robert Wallden and presented him with “transcripts of an electronic chat in which the trader appeared to boast about trying to manipulate foreign-exchange markets.”
The trader’s response, according to the report, was something along the lines of: “Oh, you mean those instant messages? That was a joke.” From the Journal:
People close to Deutsche Bank say the incident stemmed from a misunderstanding based at least partly on the trader having made a joke, in writing, about his ability to manipulate markets. Mr. Wallden remains a Deutsche Bank employee and hasn’t been suspended, these people say.
Tell the one about you and the market manipulation again! That one’s a riot.
Bloomberg’s Matt Levine offers traders a bit of sage advice here: “The joy you experience when your buddies type ‘lol bro u so good at manipulatin hahaha’ in your chat room will not compensate for the sadness you experience when the feds knock on your door at 5 a.m.”
In fact, regulators in the U.S and abroad are using instant messages in their crusade to round up those responsible for an alleged currency manipulation scandal. And why not? Chat logs have been central to deeming culpability in the Libor investigation.
The development spurred JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon — who recognises the off-the-cuff, incriminating nature of traderspeak instant messages — to tell employees to not “bullshit” over IM.