Now, it’s the UK’s second-largest bank Barclays’ turn to face the music. A week ago, it was the UK’s third-largest bank, state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, that faced one of its biggest scandal yet after whistle-blowers accused the bank of systematically forging customer signatures. RBS also faces the prospect of a multi-billion dollar fine for the way it sold residential mortgage-backed securities during the lead up to the Financial Crisis.
On Monday, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it was charging Barclays for a second time over a deeply suspicious £2.2 billion ($3 billion) loan it issued in 2008 to Qatar. To avoid a government bailout, Barclays took a £12 billion loan from Qatar Holdings, which is owned by the state of Qatar. Under that deal, Barclays loaned £2.3 billion back to Qatar Holdings, which allegedly was then used to buy shares in Barclays. If true, it would amount to “unlawful financial assistance,” the SFO says.
Just days after Hillary Clinton is found to have negligently broken laws but faced no charges, four former Barclays bankers appear to have been scapegoated over their libor-rigging. 45-year-old Jay Merchant was the hardest hit – sentenced to 6 1/2 Years in prison.
As Bloomberg reports,
Four former Barclays Plc traders were sentenced to as many as 6 1/2 years in prison for manipulating the Libor interest-rate benchmark as U.K. judges continued meting out tough punishments for white-collar crime.
Jay Merchant, 45, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Peter Johnson, 61, and Jonathan Mathew, 35, received four years in prison.
Alex Pabon, 38, will serve two years and nine months in jail.
The convictions are a “major victory” for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, which conducted the investigation.
Back in May we first introduced our readers to the FX manipulation practice known as “last look.” Wait, what’s that? This is what we said:
The last look practice is a legacy of over-the-phone currency trading, when traders would take a final check of the market before executing an order. It has survived even as foreign-exchange trading moved onto electronic platforms, leaving banks with the option to back out of an order after it was accepted by a client.
Recently “retired” Dallas Fed chief Richard Fisher — who really, really believed that talk of falling oil prices negatively affecting the Texas economy amounted to “bull droppings” until a JP Morgan analyst reminded him that the “only thing dropping in the Texas economy [was] jobs” — is following proudly in the footsteps of Ben Bernanke, Jeremy Stein, and Janet Yellen (if you count unofficial, off-the-record ‘consultations’) by becoming the latest Fed policymaker to ink a lucrative deal ‘advising’ the private sector.
As WSJ reports, Fisher will become a “senior advisor” to Barclays starting on July 1:
“Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.”
No matter how many times the big banks are caught red-handed manipulating precious metals, some failed former Deutsche Bank prop-trader (you know who you are) will take a vociferous stand based on ad hominem attacks and zero facts that no, what you see in front of you is not precious metal rigging at all but a one-off event that has nothing to do with a criminal banking syndicate hell bent on taking advantage of anyone who is naive and dumb enough to still believe in fair and efficient markets.
We have yet to find out just which hedge funds were blown up yesterday, but we already do know that numerous retail FX brokers did get blown up and as reported earlier, the largest retail broker FXCM is trading down 90% in the pre-market.And now, thanks to Dow Jones, we start to learn just how much pain the bank themselves suffered:
It’s hard for an article to be simultaneously disturbing and amusing, but this morning’s article in the UK Telegraph about Barclays’ new blood vein finger scanner does just that.
What’s truly incredible about the article is Ashok Vaswani’s (chief executive of Barclays personal and corporate banking) purported obsession with fighting criminality, when in reality there appear to be few bigger criminal enterprises on earth than Barclays itself.
We are told the following about Barclays’ ostensible commitment to the rule of law:
Two weeks ago when news broke about the first confirmed instance of gold price manipulation (because despite all the “skeptics” claims to the contrary, namely that every other asset class may be routinely manipulated but not gold, never gold, it turned out that – yes – gold too was rigged) we said that this is merely the first of many comparable (as well as vastly different) instances of gold manipulation presented to the public. Today, via the FT, we get just a hint of what is coming down the pipeline with “Trading to influence gold price fix was ‘routine’.” We approve of the editorial oversight to pick the word “influence” over “manipulate” – it sound so much more… clinical.
It was almost inevitable: a week after we wrote “From Rothschild To Koch Industries: Meet The People Who “Fix” The Price Of Gold” and days after “Barclays’ Head Of Gold Trading, And Gold “Fixer”, Is Leaving The Bank“, earlier today the UK Financial Conduct Authority finally formalized what most in the “tin-foil” hat community had known for years, when it announced that it fined Barclays £26 million for manipulating “the setting of the price of gold in order to avoid paying out on a client order.” Furthermore, the FCA confirmed that those inexplicable gold raids which come as if out of nowhere, and slam gold with a vicious force so strong sometime they halt the entire market, had a very specific source: Barclays, whose trader Daniel James Plunkett, born 1976, “sent out a burst of orders aimed at moving the price of the yellow metal.”
Earlier today many were stunned when the historic, 117-year old, London Silver Fix announced that in three months it would no longer exist. However, silver is only one half of the world’s two best known precious metals. Which is why we decided to take a long, hard look at that other fix: gold.
The reason for this particular inquiry is because in the aftermath of the rapid and dramatic departure of the world’s largest bank by outstanding notional derivatives, and Europe’s biggest bank by any metric, Deutsche Bank, from the precious metal fix, something felt out of place: almost as if the participants of the “fixing” process which for so many years took place in the office of none other than Rothschild on St. Swithin’s Lane in London, were suddenly scrambling to disappear without a trace.
In conducting our research we hope to not only memorialize just who are these particular individuals who “fix” gold using nothing but publicly available information of course – because after all it is not as if they have anything to hide or fear – but to connect some of the very peculiar dots behind the scenes of what to some, is the original, and most manipulated market in history – that of gold.
Britain’s second-biggest bank will eliminate 19,000 jobs over the next three years, with major cuts aimed at its investment bank, signaling the lender has given up becoming a major player in global investment banking.
Barclays will phase out about 15 percent of its staff of 140,000. By 2016, about 7,000 investment bankers in London and New York out of the total 26,000 will be given pink slips.
The major overhaul will cut 14,000 positions this year, 2,000 more than announced in February. Another 5,000 jobs will be cut in 2015-2016.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), whose three top executives began their careers at the firm in the commodity-trading unit, is poised to gain market share as pressure from regulators drives competitors to scale back.
Barclays Plc (BARC), the U.K.’s second-largest bank, said that it’s exiting commodities businesses other than trading precious metals and derivatives tied to oil, U.S. gas and commodity indexes. In January, the London-based bank cut jobs in the group that traded raw materials and in February shut power-trading desks in the U.S. and Europe.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) last month announced the $3.5 billion sale of its raw-materials trading unit to Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. and Morgan Stanley (MS) plans to sell its physical oil business to Russia’s OAO Rosneft. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and JPMorgan were the biggest traders of commodity derivatives among banks, according to a Greenwich Associates survey last year.
“The more banks that exit commodities trading, the less competitive it becomes for the banks which stick with it,” Jeffery Harte, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, said in a phone interview. Goldman Sachs has “the bigger franchise to be a winner. It now has a much bigger piece of a much smaller pie.”
With JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank having exited the commodities business (and numerous other banks discussing it ahead of the Fed and regulators’ decisions over banking rules of ownership), it appears a few short months of regulatory scrutiny is enough to warrant more broad-based cuts across bulge-bracket banks historically most manipulated and profitable business units. As The FT reports, Barclays, one of the world’s biggest commodities traders, is planning to exit large parts of its metals, agricultural and energy business in a move expected to be announced this week. This comes on the heels of Barclays shuttering its power-trading operations (after refusing to pay $470mm in fines) with CEO Jenkins expected to announceseveral thousand layoffs.
It is not easy for one bank to anger more people with one announcement than what Barclays did in the past 24 hours. In one fell swoop, the British bank infuriated shareholders after announcing dismal earnings (an adjusted Q4 profit of about 200 million pounds and a statutory profit of less than 100 million as investment banking income slumped 37% as income fell 9% to 10.7 billion due to a fall in fixed income, and it took further charges related to a cleanup of the banking industry in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis) which sent the share price sliding, it then pissed off UK workers and taxpayers after it announced it would hike investment bank bonuses by 13% despite the abovementioned profit slump, and finally it crushed 9% of its workforce, or 12,000 workers, who are set to prepare pink slips as the bank “streamlines.”
Barclays said 820 senior roles would go, and half of those were cut at the investment bank in the last two weeks. It cut 7,650 jobs last year, including 1,400 in the investment bank, as part of a restructuring unveiled a year ago by Jenkins to cut 1.7 billion pounds of annual costs. There were 139,600 Barclays employees by the end of the year.
Goldman Sachs and Barclays among banks investigated after reports some traders shared information about currency positions
New York state’s top financial regulator has demanded documents from more than a dozen banks including Barclays, Deutsche, Goldman Sachs and RBS as a probe widened into trading practices in the $5.3tn-a-day global foreign exchange markets.
Benjamin Lawsky, New York’s financial services superintendent, made the move following the banks’ decision to fire or suspend at least 20 traders following reports that employees at some firms had shared information about their currency positions with counterparts at other companies.
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…
There was a time when the merest mention of gold manipulation in “reputable” media was enough to have one branded a perpetual conspiracy theorist with a tinfoil farm out back. That was roughly coincident with a time when Libor, FX, mortgage, and bond market manipulation was also considered unthinkable, when High Frequency Traders were believed to “provide liquidity”, or when the stock market was said to not be manipulated by the Fed, and when the ever-confused media, always eager to take “complicated” financial concepts at the face value set by a self-serving establishment, never dared to question anything. Luckily, all that changed in the past several years, and it has gotten to the point where even the bastions of “serious”, if 3-5 years delayed, investigation are finally not only asking how is the gold market being manipulated, but are actually providing answers.Such as Bloomberg.
The topic of gold market manipulation during the London AM fix is not new to Zero Hedge: in fact we have discussed both the historical basis and the raison d’etre of the London gold fix, as well as the curious arbitrage available to those who merely traded the AM-PM spread, for years. Which is why we are delighted that none other than Bloomberg has decided to break it down for everyone, as well as summarize all the ways in which just this one facet of gold trading is being manipulated.
Karen Hudes is a graduate of Yale Law School and she worked in the legal department of the World Bank for more than 20 years. In fact, when she was fired for blowing the whistle on corruption inside the World Bank, she held the position of Senior Counsel. She was in a unique position to see exactly how the global elite rule the world, and the information that she is now revealing to the public is absolutely stunning. According to Hudes, the elite use a very tight core of financial institutions and mega-corporations to dominate the planet. The goal is control. They want all of us enslaved to debt, they want all of our governments enslaved to debt, and they want all of our politicians addicted to the huge financial contributions that they funnel into their campaigns. Since the elite also own all of the big media companies, the mainstream media never lets us in on the secret that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way that our system works.Remember, this is not some “conspiracy theorist” that is saying these things. This is a Yale-educated attorney that worked inside the World Bank for more than two decades. The following summary of her credentials comes directly from her website:
“It’s hard to make the case that [US stocks are up 17% on a 2.5% earnings rise] based on fundamentals alone – it’s money in motion,” is how Barclays’ CIO Hans Olsen describes the unreality occurring in US asset markets currently. He noted in last week’s interview with CNBC that Bernanke’s experimentation has created asset-inflation “that would make the stock market bubble of 2000 look like a day at the beach. It’s really quite remarkable.” Critically, as many have noted, he notes “let the market start to price things based on fundamentals again rather than money printing. The sooner we get back to a market pricing, the more sustainable it becomes.” What is ironic is that Olsen is overweight stocks in spite of all this – but like everyone else in the status quo – is hoping Bernanke keeps the house of cards from collapsing. Olsen appears to be among the very few career bankers willing to tell the truth – the fear being, of course (as we showed here) that it would mean their “skills” are completely meaningless.
Hans Olsen, Chief Investment Officer, Americas at Barclays explains why his group has been engaged in the deliberate retreat and rotation from and within fixed income.
Conspiracy theorists claim it is a shadow world government. Former leading members tell the Telegraph it was the most useful meeting they ever went to and it was crucial in forming the European Union. Today, the Bilderberg Group meets in Britain.
“The abuse is terrible,” said Peter Mandelson, leading the walking party through the throng of protesters and carrying the group’s uniform orange ski jacket under his arm.
Amid the din, Peer Steinbruck, the former German Finance Minister, pointedly refused to break off his conversation with Thomas Enders, the head of defence giant EADS. Behind him, Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, picked up the pace along the narrow road and kept his eyes fixed on the Suvretta hotel ahead. Franco Bernabe, the vice chairman of Rothschild Europe, grinned through the chorus of booing and chanting in German down megaphones, before ducking under the police tape and into the safety of the hotel’s grounds.
It was June 2011. Demonstrations were sweeping through the stricken eurozone, China and North Africa. And in tranquil St Moritz, high in the Swiss alps, half a dozen of the most powerful men in the West had taken a break from a weekend of intensive and strictly confidential debate to walk in the woods, when their paths crossed with the protesters who had come from around the world to keep an eye on them.
The gathering was entirely innocent, the walking party would insist. But what were they doing there?
No such encounters will take place in Watford this week, as the Bilderberg, the annual conference for 140 of the world’s most powerful, meet for four days at The Grove, a £300-a-night golf hotel close to the M25. The entire hotel has been booked out, and a high fence erected around the exclusion zone. Armed checkpoints have been set up on local roads, and locals must show their passports to enter their own driveways. The Home Office may foot the bill. A US news site dedicated to uncovering conspiracies had booked a room for last week but were told by phone not to turn up.
The only thing more ominous for the world than a Hindenburg Omen sighting is a Bilderberg Group meeting. The concentration of politicians and business leaders has meant the organisation, founded at the Bilderberg Hotel near Arnhem in 1954, has faced accusations of secrecy. Meetings take place behind closed doors, with a ban on journalists. We suspect the agenda (how the US and Europe can promote growth, the way ‘big data’ is changing ‘almost everything’, the challenges facing the continent of Africa, and the threat of cyber warfare) has been somewhat re-arranged as market volatility picks up and the status quo begins to quake once again. The annual gathering of the royalty, statesmen, and business leaders, conspiratorially believed to run the world (snubbing their Illuminati peers and Freemason fellows), will take place this week at the Grove Hotel in London, England.
The Telegraph provides the full list of attendees below – for those autogrpah seekers – including Britain’s George Osborne, US’ Henry Kissinger, Peter Sutherland (the chairman of Goldman Sachs), the Fed’s Kevin Warsh, Jeff Bezos?, Peter Thiel, Italy’s Mario Monti, and Spain’s de Guindos.
Bilderberg delegates in full
Chairman: Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO, AXA Group
Paul M. Achleitner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd
U.S. Congressional Record February 9, 1917, page 2947
Congressman Calloway announced that the J.P. Morgan interests bought 25 of America’s leading newspapers, and inserted their own editors, in order to control the media.
Mr. CALLAWAY: Mr. Chairman, under unanimous consent, I insert into the Record at this point a statement showing the newspaper combination, which explains their activity in the war matter, just discussed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. MOORE]:
“In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, ship building and powder interests and their subsidiary organizations, got together 12 men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press in the United States.
“These 12 men worked the problems out by selecting 179 newspapers, and then began, by an elimination process, to retain only those necessary for the purpose of controlling the general policy of the daily press throughout the country. They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. The 25 papers were agreed upon; emissaries were sent to purchase the policy, national and international, of these papers; an agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers.
“This contract is in existence at the present time, and it accounts for the news columns of the daily press of the country being filled with all sorts of preparedness arguments and misrepresentations as to the present condition of the United States Army and Navy, and the possibility and probability of the United States being attacked by foreign foes.
“This policy also included the suppression of everything in opposition to the wishes of the interests served. The effectiveness of this scheme has been conclusively demonstrated by the character of the stuff carried in the daily press throughout the country since March, 1915. They have resorted to anything necessary to commercialize public sentiment and sandbag the National Congress into making extravagant and wasteful appropriations for the Army and Navy under false pretense that it was necessary. Their stock argument is that it is ‘patriotism.’ They are playing on every prejudice and passion of the American people.”
So FORGET about the Illuminati (the real elitists) and just blame their bankster elite puppets, their government elite puppets (like Obama, Bush, Clinton etc.) and their corporate media presstitutes for everything instead!!!
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.
You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”
That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.
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