'How am I here again?' Paul Mason blasts City culture after five banks are fined £2.6bn for manipulating currency rates in emotional video

City traders used nicknames and code language to rig foreign exchange rates to boost profits and make 'free money'

Maria Tadeo
Thursday 13 November 2014 14:05

As anger grows after six major banks were fined £2.6 billion for fixing currency rates, Channel 4 economics editor Paul Mason blasted the City and called on the regulator to do its job in an impassioned video outside the London headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland.

In the clip, an exasperated Mason declares he is “sick” of reporting shocking tales of' greed and arrogance over and over again. He also calls into question the City's efforts to improve its culture and internal practices six years after the financial crisis sent world markets into meltdown.

“I’m actually just sick of that corner. That corner over there. where RBS HQ is,” he said. “I’m just sick of it – after six years, why do we keep having to come and do it?”

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On Wednesday, taxpayer backed RBS as well as HSBC, Swiss lender UBS and the American banks JP Morgan and Citibank were all found to have failed to control business practices by UK, US and Swiss regulators. Global banking giant Barclays is still negotiating its settlement with regulators.

Shocking details of how the traders gave themselves nicknames such “the A-Team” and “the Three Musketeers” laid bare the extent of wrongdoing as they worked together to rig the values of major currency rates to boost their profits and make lots of “free money”, as one HSBC trader wrote in an e-mail.

A visibly shaken Mason wondered what the regulators were doing and asked “if the banks had the same scrutiny over the traders, and their own managers as they have over the camera crew standing outside it where you get a security guard asking you what you’re doing.”

He continued: “All we ask, all we can ask, is that the regulators do their job proactively. That they actually get on the case, just like the security guards outside here, and the CCTV cameras there, and the City of London police, they get on the case and stop wrong doing – what’s so hard about it?”

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