Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

I write as a retired banker who was briefly a currency trader many years ago and spent a long time associated with a dealing room (not, happily, one caught up in the current imbroglio). It should be understood that for many years currency traders have received a percentage of the profits they earn for their employers, as well as generous salaries.

This is obviously an enormous incentive to maximise trading profits.

It is easy to understand that with modern means of instant communication the greediest will seek to set up collusive trading rings.

Further, a rational observer will understand that the executive directors of the banks harbouring the trading rings, with perhaps one exception, will be unaware of the true state of affairs. That exception is the director of the division within which the trading room operates, often a former currency trader. Currency trading is a set of skills and personalities not usually found elsewhere in the banking world and the unit leaders need to understand their teams so as to keep the profits flowing. Traders also move from bank to bank so collusion is easy to set up. I look forward to reading the actual details of the scam in due course.

I can only hope that the investigations will focus on proving the guilt of the individual traders involved, although no doubt the banks and their executives will bear the brunt of the largely ignorant media excoriation.

Unlike the ethical and revered political leadership in SA, who invariably seek to drive responsibility as far away from themselves as possible. To expect the health minister to accept responsibility for the deliberate deaths of more than 100 helpless people in Gauteng, or the police minister to accept responsibility for Marikana, is of course laughable.

Yet I suspect senior bankers’ heads will roll for the currency-trading frauds of which they knew nothing and that in reality make very little difference to the value of the rand, even in the course of a day’s trading.

Robert Stone
Linden

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