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The most salient criticism for the way maleficence at banks is handled — from the financial crisis to money laundering at HSBC — it’s that banks never face criminal charges.The New York Times reports that this may change as early as next Monday.
Sources close to the matter say that UBS is nearing a deal with authorities, and that it may include criminal charges as well as about $1 billion in fines.
UBS is in final negotiations with American, British and Swiss authorities to settle accusations that its employees reported false rates, a deal in which the bank’s Japanese unit is expected to plead guilty to a criminal charge, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke of private discussions on the condition of anonymity. Along with the rare admission of criminal wrongdoing at the subsidiary, UBS could face about $1 billion in fines and regulatory sanctions, the people said.
Banks haven’t admitted to criminal wrong-doing in over a decade — not even HSBC when it was ordered to pay its $1.9 billion money-laundering fine.
Individual bankers/traders have been charged, and in UBS’s case three bankers have been arrested. The most prominent of those three is Thomas Hayes, a 33 year old interest rate trader who worked in UBS’s Tokyo office.
According to the NYT, aside from the blow to the bank’s reputation, a guilty plea could mean limitations on the business UBS’s Japanese unit is able to do. Plus, it could be subject to independent monitoring.
And who wants that?