Forty-seven bankers were sentenced to jail time for their role in the financial crisis, Financial Times research has found, dispelling the myth that no one was held personally accountable for the financial sector’s catastrophic failures.
The FT searched records and news reports from across Europe and the US to uncover how many bank employees and directors recieved jail sentences for issues directly linked to the crisis or the collapse of their institutions.
The data does not include traders and other bank staff jailed for their role in interest rate rigging, like the two Deutsche Bank traders jailed for interest rate rigging earlier this year, or for rogue trading not directly linked to the crisis or a bank collapse, like UBS’s Kweku Adoboli, who is now facing deportation.
Iceland had far and away the highest incidence of jailing, accounting for 25 of cases. The country seized control of its banks in October 2008 and imposed capital controls which ran for eight years to stave off chaos.
Chief executives, account managers, traders and chairmen from four banks were sentenced to term of between six months and five and a half years for everything from market manipulation to ‘gross breach of fiduciary duty’.
Luckily for them, Iceland has some of the plushest jails in the world, with an ethos framed around rehabilitation rather than punishment. Prisoners are allowed flat screens TVs up to 26 inches, personal computers and games, and can apply to leave as often as once a month after they have served a third of their sentence.
Eleven Spanish bankers were sentenced to jail time for issues relating to Spain’s 2012 banking collapse, most notably Rodrigo Rato, the former head of the International Monetary Fund who chaired Bankia in the run up to its collapse.
Ireland, where the €67bn bank bailout bill forced the country into a sovereign bailout, jailed seven, but convictions of two bankers — Bernard Daly and Tiarnan O’Mahoney — were later quashed.
The most controversial was the case of Aoife Maguire, a former assistant manager at Anglo Irish Bank who was convicted of ordering the deletion of records relating to the accounts of former chief executive Sean FitzPatrick. Ireland’s Court of Appeal ultimately found her eighteen month sentence was “unnecessarily severe”, and shortened it to nine months, four of which were suspended.
The US, ground zero for the financial crisis, has jailed just one banker for issues relating to the crisis. Former Credit Suisse trader Kareem Serageldin was sentenced to thirty months in prison for artificially inflating the price of subprime mortgages, a financial product at the very heart of Wall Street’s unravelling.
Hover over the names to explore the interactive.
Jon Thorsteinn Jonsson
Fridfinnur Ragnar Sigurdsson
Styrmir Thor Bragason
Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson
Magnús Arnar Arngrímsson
José Luis Pego
Julio Fernández Gayoso
Óscar Rodríguez Estrada
Jose Martinez Garcia
Maria Dolores Amoros
Roberto Lopez Abad
Friedrich Carl Janssen
* Sentence lengths indicated are sentences given following initial trials. There may be some cases where those convicted had sentences altered on appeal, did not start their sentence immediately, or were given credit for time in custody before their trials. In some jurisdictions, it is common for convicts not to serve their full terms.
Photo credits: Action Images, Anton Brink, Bloomberg, Collins, Cyprus Mail, Ernir Eyjolfsson, EPA, Getty, GVA, Ingolfur Jullusson, PA, Reuters, Rex, Stefan Karlsson, Vilhelm.