Mendoza School of Business

Illegal activity on Wall Street still widespread — says Wall St

Published: May 20, 2015 / Author: Elizabeth Paton

Illegal activity on Wall Street and in the City of London remains widespread, according to those who should know — high-earning workers at financial services firms.

Despite repeated scandals, arrests and billion dollar fines in the wake of the financial crisis, more than half of UK and US financial services professionals earning over $500,000 believe that competitors have engaged in unethical or illegal activity in order to gain an edge in the market, a class action law firm survey published on Tuesday has found.

A further 23 percent said that they suspected their colleagues of illegal behaviour, twice as many as those who responded to the question in 2012.
The poll of 1,200 professionals by Notre Dame university on behalf of Labaton Sucharow, a law firm which specialises in class actions, found more than a third of those surveyed had directly “witnessed or have firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace”.

“These answers are not pretty,” said authors Ann Tenbrunsel and Jordan Thomas.

“Despite the headline-making consequences of corporate misconduct, attitudes toward corruption within the industry have not changed for the better.”

A quarter of all those surveyed said that they would use non-public information to make a guaranteed $10m if there was no chance of arrest.

Answers by British respondents seemed to indicate that ethics problems were more deeply set on one side of the Atlantic, with 32 per cent of all British workers saying they would engage in insider trading if there was no chance of being caught, compared with 24 per cent in the US.

“It appears workers in the UK are either more willing to commit a crime they could get away with — or are more frank about it,” noted the survey authors.

Read the entire story on the Financial Times website.