The largest banks have become too big to prosecute because of the impact criminal charges would have on confidence in them, Britain’s most senior bank regulator has admitted.
In a variant of the “too big to fail” problem, Andrew Bailey, chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, said bringing a legal action against a major financial institution raised “very difficult questions”.
Mr Bailey said that some banks had grown too large to prosecute. “It would be a very destabilising issue. It’s another version of too important to fail,” he said,
“Because of the confidence issue with banks, a major criminal indictment, which we haven’t seen and I’m not saying we are going to see… this is not an ordinary criminal indictment,” he said.
A recent spate of settlements have raised concerns banks are effectively buying immunity from past misdeeds.
“If you get caught with your hand in the till you go to jail, but if you’re a big bank and you’re caught breaking the law it seems that all that happens is you’re fined and told you’ll go to jail if you do it again,” said Rosie Sharpe, at campaign group Global Witness.