(Democracy Now)-In an interview with Democracy Now!, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi spoke about the recent news surrounding the five major banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS – who pled guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates.Their fines amount up to more than $5 billion. “They were monkeying around with the prices of every currency on Earth,” Taibbi told Amy Goodman. “So, if you can imagine that anybody who has money, which basically includes anybody who’s breathing on the planet, all of those people were affected by this activity. So if you have dollars in your pocket, they were monkeying around with the prices of dollars versus euros, so you might have had more or less money fractionally, depending on all of this manipulation, every single day.”
Below is an interview with Taibbi, followed by a transcript:
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to the felons on Wall Street. Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the five trillion foreign exchange—$5 trillion foreign exchange spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the deal.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH: We are here to announce a major law enforcement action against international financial institutions that for years participated in a brazen display of collusion and foreign exchange rate market manipulation, and will, as a result, pay a total of nearly $3 billion in fines and penalties. As a result of our investigation, four of the world’s largest banks have agreed to plead guilty to felony antitrust violations. They are Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC and the Royal Bank of Scotland PLC.
AMY GOODMAN: No one who works with the banks was hit with criminal charges as part of the settlements.
For more, we’re joined by Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stonemagazine. His most recent book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, is now out in paperback.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Matt.
MATT TAIBBI: Good to see you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, explain what these banks are charged with. And what does it mean when you say banks are charged, but all the people go free?
MATT TAIBBI: Right, they filed—actually, these banks, the companies, pleaded guilty to felony charges in this case, which means it was not individuals of the company, it was the actual company itself, which is actually a step forward, because for a long time in the post-2008 period we were having a lot of settlements where there was a sort of a neither-admit-nor-deny agreement between the government and these companies, and in this case they actually did have to admit to wrongdoing and did have to plead guilty to a criminal charge, in addition to the money changing hands.
AMY GOODMAN: And what was the wrongdoing?
MATT TAIBBI: The wrongdoing was manipulating the prices of currencies, which is about as serious a financial crime as you can possibly get, I think. You know, you and I sat here a few years ago and talked about the Libor scandal. This is very similar.