The Big Five: finance nightmares of 2014

Between scandals, cyber attacks and record fines, it’s been a bad year for the banking industry. $56.7bn has been paid out by financial organisations in total. Here are the most monumental five.

5… Credit Suisse ($2.6bn)

Naughty Credit Suisse. It’s awkward enough to deal with the bad press that comes with helping conglomerates to find loopholes that spirit money into faraway bank accounts. It’s another thing entirely to be found guilty of conspiring with your clients to commit straightforward tax evasion. Optimistically, Credit Suisse had set aside just $476 million to clear up the embarrassment. The IRS and the US Treasury had other ideas.

4… Citi ($7bn)

Six years after the sub-prime mortgages crash brought the global economy to its knees, financial institutions are still paying the price. Citi’s $7bn payout, part of which is in the form of investment in affordable housing, might not have been as onerous as JP Morgan’s $13bn fine in 2013, but they hardly got off scot free.

3… BNP Paribas ($8.9bn)

Ten years of criminal activity at France’s largest bank ended in one the biggest fines of its nature in history. The bank was found to have been breaking sanctions with Cuba, Sudan and Iran in order to process illegal payments – and then angered the US authorities even more by going to sophisticated lengths to cover it all up.

2… Bank of America ($9.3bn)

Back in March, Bank of America agreed to settle with the Federal Housing Finance Agency over the claims that it had sold dodgy mortgage-backed securities to mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ahead of the financial crisis in 2008. The whopping $9.3bn of fines would have been bad enough but, of course, it could get worse. Which takes us to our number one spot…

1… Bank of America ($16bn)

Yes, topping the list is the bank’s most recent fall-out from the mortgage-backed securities nightmare: a pact to pay a further $16bn in fines over the mortgage-backed securities nightmare, this time to the US Department of Justice.

So, the theme of this year, folks, is that while crime might pay, at least for a little while, sooner or later you might just have to pay it back.