The U.S. Justice Department has identified potential crimes committed by several big banks—including Barclays—and their employees amid a global investigation into the Libor scandal, in which financial institutions allegedly rigged interest rates. Authorities supposedly have plans to charge one big bank this year.
With civil actions, regulators can impose fines and force banks to overhaul their internal controls. But the Justice Department would wield an even more potent threat by bringing criminal fraud cases against traders and other employees. If found guilty, they could face jail time.
The criminal investigations come at a time when the public is still simmering over the dearth of prosecutions of prominent executives involved in the mortgage crisis. The continued trouble in the financial sector, including the multibillion-dollar trading losses at JPMorgan Chase, have only further fueled the anger of consumers and investors.