– Meet the “Bandits’ Club” – The TBTF Wall Street Cartel Rigging the FX Market (Liberty Blitzkrieg, Dec 20, 2013):
Another day, another tale of how the “Too Big to Jail” Wall Street cartel manipulates a major global market with no repercussions whatsoever. Must be nice having essentially every Congressperson and regulator in your back pocket. Get caught? Pay a little fine and get on with it. Everyone wins!
Actually, everyone loses. Except for the handful of FX manipulators, rigging global currency markets from their Essex villages outside of London. These traders for major TBTF banks refer to themselves by various names in their now silenced Bloomberg chat rooms, from The Cartel,” “The Bandits’ Club,” “One Team, One Dream” and “The Mafia.” Very classy guys. Glad we bailed your asses out…
More from Bloomberg:
Now regulators from Bern to Washington are examining evidence first reported by Bloomberg News in June that a small group of senior traders at big banks had something else on their screens: details of each other’s client orders. Sharing that information may have helped dealers at firms, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., UBS AG and Barclays Plc, manipulate prices to maximize their own profits, according to five people with knowledge of the probes.
“This is a market where there is no law and people have turned a blind eye,” said former Senator Ted Kaufman, a Delaware Democrat who sponsored legislation in 2010 to shrink the largest U.S. banks. “We’ve been talking about banks being too big to fail. What’s almost as big a problem is banks too big to manage.”
At the center of the inquiries are instant-message groups with names such as “The Cartel,” “The Bandits’ Club,” “One Team, One Dream” and “The Mafia,” in which dealers exchanged information on client orders and agreed how to trade at the fix, according to the people with knowledge of the investigations who asked not to be identified because the matter is pending. Some traders took part in multiple chat rooms, one of them said.
The currency investigations are taking place as authorities grapple with a widening list of scandals involving the manipulation by banks of benchmark financial rates, including the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and ISDAfix, used to determine the value of interest-rate derivatives. The U.K. regulator also is reviewing how prices are set in the $20 trillion gold market, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Don’t be ridiculous, everyone knows the gold market is the only market on earth that isn’t manipulated.
“Some of these problems developed over many years without anybody speaking up,” said Andrew Tyrie, chairman of Britain’s Commission on Banking Standards and Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee. “This is remarkable. It suggests something very wrong with the culture at these institutions.”
In addition to seeking evidence of collusion, the FCA is looking into whether traders cut deals for personal profit before completing customers’ orders, according to a person with knowledge of the probe. Bloomberg News reported in November, based on the accounts of two people who witnessed the transactions, that some dealers placed side bets for personal accounts or through friends in exchange for cash payments.
None of the traders or the banks they work for has been accused of wrongdoing.
Of course not. We wouldn’t want to hurt these poor babies’ feelings now would we? God’s work is very sophisticated and very important. You serfs wouldn’t understand.
Usher, Ramchandani and Gardiner, along with at least two other dealers over the years, would discuss their customers’ trades and agree on exactly when they planned to execute them to maximize their chances of moving the 4 p.m. fix, two of the people said. When exchange rates moved their way, they would send written slaps on the back for a job well done.
The conversations echo those uncovered by regulators about Libor, in which bankers promised bottles of Bollinger champagne or cash to counterparts at firms willing to help them rig the benchmark interest rates used to price $300 trillion of contracts from student loans to mortgages. More than six banks have been fined about $6 billion since June 2012, and regulators are investigating traders at half a dozen more firms.
The currency discussions were even more calculating, one of the people who reviewed the transcripts said.
Spot currency trading is conducted in a small and close-knit community. Many of the more than a dozen traders and brokers interviewed for this story live near each other in villages dotting the Essex countryside, a short train ride from London’s financial district, and stay in touch over dinner, on weekend excursions or with regular rounds of golf at local clubs.
On one excursion to a private golf club in the so-called stockbroker belt beyond London’s M25 motorway, a dozen currency dealers from the biggest banks and several day traders, who bet on currency moves for their personal accounts, drained beers in a bar after a warm September day on the fairway. One of the day traders handed a white envelope stuffed with cash to a bank dealer in recognition of the information he had received, according to a person who witnessed the exchange.
Take the money, or you’ll be swimming with the fishes.
Full article here.