There should be “consequences” for individuals found guilty of wrongdoing in the multibillion-pound foreign exchange (forex) manipulation scandal, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
Mr Cameron was speaking after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he hoped the people behind the scandal would be “brought to book (and) brought to justice”.
Five banks which employed traders who clubbed together to rig forex rates have been fined more than £2 billion by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and US banking regulators.
Regulators discovered that some of the manipulation of the £3 trillion-a-day forex market was taking place even as the banks were being probed over a previous scandal over interbank lending rate Libor.
Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and UBS were handed the £1.1 billion penalty earlier this week by the FCA and fines totalling $1.5 billion (£927 million) by US authorities.
Speaking to reporters during his visit to Australia for the G20 summit, Mr Cameron was asked whether he believed the bankers responsible should go to jail.
The prime minister replied: “The forex scandal is a scandal and that’s why the fines are as big as they are.
“In terms of people going to prison, we do have an independent judiciary, an independent rule of law, we have a Serious Fraud Office, there are very clear laws and it’s up to the police to investigate, the prosecutors to prosecute and the courts to convict.
“Where there’s wrongdoing there should be action, there should be consequences.
“These bodies are independent. We have seen prosecutions for financial fraud. The police should feel they can go where the evidence leads them, wherever that is.”
Earlier this week, Mr Clegg said the public was “seething with anger” at the banks and he hoped anyone involved in criminal activity would face justice.
The Liberal Democrat leader said: “The Serious Fraud Office … need to look at this. And they are. And I hope they will bring people to book and I hope people will be brought to justice.”
He added: “People are seething with anger that they’re having to endure cuts and savings for year after year after year because of, not only irresponsible, in some cases … possibly criminal, behaviour by bankers.”
Asked what would be done with the fines, Mr Clegg said: “I think the figure is just over a billion pounds that comes to the Treasury because of these fines related to the foreign exchange scandal. And we will make a decision as a government what to do with that money.”