Last week, departed Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond called the actions of his Libor-fixing colleagues "reprehensible" and claimed to find it "sickening".
But both of these terms seem like poor substitutes for the word "criminal".
If the Serious Fraud Office's ongoing investigation into abuses of Libor results in criminal prosecutions, this will be a major step towards satisfying the public that the lessons of the four-year omni-scandal of Britain's banks may be learned, and may stay learned.
So far, revelation after revelation about the reckless "bad behaviour" of this once-honourable profession have failed to produce more than mild discomfort for the perpetrators. The public have every right to feel angry and vindictive to a degree unlikely to be assuaged either by a ponderous Leveson-type judicial inquiry or by the sound and fury of a Parliamentary inquiry. One of the outrages of the past two decades in financial services has been the deliberate employment of complexity as a tool of ever-increasing self-enrichment by the City elite. Smiled on by successive governments, the process has produced a thick forest of obfuscation, in which an entire offshoot of the legal profession has flourished, and through which the regulatory authorities have always stumbled a few steps behind their quarry.
For this reason, the UK justice system must take the lead in restoring the reputation of Britain's banking and financial services sector. Successful prosecutions for common offences and custodial sentences for those who have lied and cheated for personal gain would be far more effective in restoring standards in British bankers than any specially convened inquiries.
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