UK parliament
Andrea Leadsom said traders involved in financial corruption cases need lengthy prison sentences Reuters

The UK Treasury Minister unleashed a scathing attack on Britain's banking industry and demanded that the Serious Fraud Office send traders, involved in market manipulation, to prison.

Speaking to CNN TV, Andrea Leadsom said Britain's criminal prosecutor should throw those responsible for currency market or rate rigging in jail and not just simply impose fines.

"I sincerely hope that they [the SFO] do find the ability to literally send people to prison over this. I think that certainly taxpayers in Britain would feel a lot better if they felt those responsible went to prison," said Leadsom.

"I mean, not only was this complete corruption on the part of these foreign exchange traders, but also at a time when the financial sector was being bailed out by the taxpayers. So I mean, it really doesn't get much lower than that. So it is pretty disgusting."

"I have to stress, it's a small number of corrupt individuals who quite frankly are breathtakingly arrogant, in particular after the Libor scandal itself, to still think that they could possibly - I mean, actually stupid, too, to think that they were going to get away with deliberately manipulating foreign exchange prices."

On 13 November, the FCA and CFTC fined five banks - Citibank, HSBC, JPM, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and UBS - a combined total of $3.4bn (£2.1bn, €2.7bn) for their role in the manipulation of the foreign exchange market.

Traders from five banks - Citibank, HSBC, JP Morgan, RBS and UBS - shared information about currency orders using laddish pseudonyms and shared virtual high-fives.

Their discussions in private chatrooms shine a light on how they were in cahoots and reveal the quips they used when exploiting the market - an act the FCA described as "[putting] their banks' interests ahead of those of their clients".

Comments like "lets double team em", "well done lads" and "yeah baby" litter discussions that at time appear to be exercises in back-slapping.

One Citi trade that earned the bank $99,000 (£63,000) after it placed a bid seconds before the fix, was lavished with praise including "impressive", "lovely" and "cnt teach that" by chatroom users.

"I think that the issue is that there is just an attitude in dealing rooms that needs to change," said Leadsom.

"It's just a kind of a, you know, let's meet at a bar and let's discuss how we can make some more money for ourselves. And that absolutely has to change."