Long renowned as the center of global money flows, deal making and — above all — discretion, London’s financial center has become a hub to a different form of activity of late: financial scandal and behavior beyond the pale.
Rogue traders working out of the London offices of the American International Group, UBS and JPMorgan Chase have rung up billions of dollars of losses in recent years. Attempts to manipulate an important interest rate — the London interbank offered rate, or Libor — originated on the trading floors of some of the biggest and oldest banks in London, like Barclays. Government officials on both sides of the Atlantic are now investigating how many other big banks joined in.
The banker-bashing tabloids have regaled readers with tales of top-earning Barclays executives — one of whom carries the improbable name of Rich Ricci — trying their luck at the racetracks.
London is hardly the only city brought low by financial misdeeds, or where aggressive bankers reside. But thanks to a tradition of centuries of courtly financial conduct, it has prided itself as being a cut above the rest, and old-school bankers now lament that that is no longer the case.
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