WHEN it comes to fraud and stealing vast amounts of money the banks make your average burglar or spiv look like the rank amateurs that they are.
With the banks, their fraud is on a grand and global scale and their thieving ways cause damage and hardship to countless millions of working people across the world.
This has been laid bare by the announcement yesterday that Barclays bank has been fined a record breaking £290 million by the regulatory authorities in Britain and the US for what they describe as ‘widespread, serious misconduct’.
These charges do not even begin to cover the lies and criminality that Barclays engaged in.
Basically, what has been uncovered so far by the investigation is that between 2005 and 2009 staff at Barclays attempted to manipulate the key bank interest rate which affects the cost of all loans and mortgage interest rates.
They did this through the simple method of lying through their teeth.
What interest rates should apply is calculated daily and based on information provided by major banks about the cost of their own borrowings from other banks.
An average of the daily cost of inter-bank borrowing forms what is called Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate).
At Barclays, staff responsible for providing these data gave entirely false figures. They lied about how much Barclays was paying in interest for these loans, in order to manipulate the Libor.
This is crucial because the interest rates charged by banks and financial institutions are based on these rates.
Therefore, every person with a mortgage, credit card or loan on which they are paying interest has been a victim of this crime.
The banks’ derivative traders – those individuals who make vast profits out of gambling on the markets about whether interest rates will rise or fall – sought to make vast profits for themselves and Barclays through this fraud. In addition, when the banking crisis really started to hit in 2008, Barclays could cover up its weakness by pretending that it was paying a low rate of interest on these loans, thus claiming to have the confidence of the entire banking fraternity.
No attempt was made to hide this illegal manipulation of figures. Traders openly wrote about it in e-mails.
In fact, they were so blatant that even the toothless and subservient Financial Services Authority could not ignore it.
This was no ‘victimless crime’. We will never know how many lives were ruined, jobs lost and people flung into poverty as a result of the criminality of these spivs and wide-boys who run the banks and who daily defraud working people out of billions in order to line their own pockets.
Unlike youth who are jailed for years for the crime of taking one trainer or a bottle of water – as happened following last years’ uprising of youth across the country – these bankers expect to get off scot-free with only a mild fine.
Bob Diamond, the head of Barclays and in charge of some of the departments at the time of all this fraud, has merely agreed to forgo his huge bonus for this year in an act of contrition.
Naturally, this will not affect the millions he stands to make from share options.
It is not youth who are the criminals, it is the bankers and the capitalist system that daily steals and kills in the name of profit.
The working class must demand that the bankers be put on trial and jailed for their crimes, and that the banks be nationalised and brought under the control of the working class. This is the only way to put an end to the real criminals, by putting an end to the capitalist society that spawned them.