(Sounds like alot of money. But if the punishment doesn't fit the crime, these banks will simply look at this as a cost of doing shady business. - gd)
A campaign to root out financial fraud secured a victory on Wednesday, as authorities took aim at the Royal Bank of Scotland for its role in an interest rate manipulation scheme that has emboldened prosecutors and consumed the banking industry.
American and British authorities struck a combined $612 million settlement with the bank, the latest case to emerge from the global investigation into rate-rigging. The Justice Department dealt another blow to the bank, forcing its Japanese unit to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing.
The penalty for the subsidiary, a hub of rate manipulation, underscores a recent shift in the way federal authorities punish financial wrongdoing. The R.B.S. case echoed an earlier action taken against a UBS subsidiary, which similarly pleaded guilty to felony wire fraud as part of a larger settlement. These cases represent the first units of a big bank to agree to criminal charges in more than a decade.
“I want financial institutions to know that this department will absolutely hold them to account,” Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview Wednesday.