Barclays has set aside £800 million to pay fines for being involved in rigging foreign exchange markets. In November, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Bank of America have all be fined for rigging foreign exchange markets. No one has gone to prison and the ill-gotten gains for these frauds cumulatively must exceed many billions of dollars. The lesson of this is obvious.
If you want to defraud people and not suffer any real penalty for doing so think big and try to steal a few pence from hundreds of millions of people, rather than thinking small and trying to steal larger amounts from fewer people.
It also helps to be a bank where your services and facilities are essential to the economies of the states in which you operate.
The rigging of markets, selling of fraudulent financial products and fraudulently misrepresenting products have been such a common feature of international financial institutions that it is no longer news that banks behave in ways that are crooked; what makes the news is that amounts have been set aside in their accounts for fines.
Thus it seems that if a bank embarks on a criminal enterprise the down side is merely the amount of the fine that it will have to pay, if caught. This does not apply to individuals who embark on similar behaviour. In the case of individuals their assets are seized and they go to prison, if caught.