Who went to jail for their role in the financial crisis?

The FT identified 47 bankers jailed. Half were from just one country

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.

Average jail term by country
Average jail term by country

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.
Bank collapse
Year sentenced
Sentence ends*
Iceland (25 convictions)
Jon Thorsteinn Jonsson
Ragnar Gudjonsson
Fridfinnur Ragnar Sigurdsson
Styrmir Thor Bragason
Bjarnfredur Olafsson
Lydur Gudmundsson
Julius Heidarsson
Steinthor Gunnarsson
Elin Sigfusdottir
Birkir Kristinsson
Elmar Svavarsson
Magnus Gudmundsson
Sigurdur Einarsson
Sigurjon Arnason
Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson
Björk Thorarinsdottir
Birnir Bjornsson
Petur Gudmarsson
Einar Sigmundsson
Ivar Gudjonsson
Magnús Arnar Arngrímsson
Bjarki Diego
Ingolfur Helgason
Larus Welding
Johannes Baldursson
Spain (11 convictions)
Miguel Blesa
Gregorio Gorriarán
José Luis Pego
Julio Fernández Gayoso
Óscar Rodríguez Estrada
Ricardo Pradas
Jose Martinez Garcia
Maria Dolores Amoros
Roberto Lopez Abad
Teofilo Sogorb
Rodrigo Rato
Ireland (7 convictions)
Aoife Maguire
Bernard Daly
Tiarnan O'Mahoney
John Bowe
Denis Casey
Willie McAteer
David Drumm
Andreas Eliades
Friedrich Carl Janssen
Giovanni Berneschi
Kareem Serageldin
* 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.
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