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Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Misbehaving banks have now paid $204B in fines

New York's Wall Street.
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U.S. banks have crossed a significant post-financial crisis milestone, tallying more $200 billion in fines paid out regarding questionable behavior.

Regulators have been out for blood against banks for conduct both before the crisis and since. Public outrage has focused on Wall Street institutions and their collective role in triggering the subprime mortgage meltdown that in turn led to a financial collapse that brought down the global economy.

Many of the most recent cases have shifted to currency market manipulation.

Most recently, a U.S. court slapped British banks Barclays, HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland with nearly $1 billion in fines related to forex improprieties. Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas also got hit with combined fines approaching $250 million in related cases. Other huge Wall Street names, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, have faced penalties as well.

Just this week, Goldman took a $50 million hit for charges involving a former employee accused of leaking confidential regulatory materials.

"While the number of financial crisis-era settlements and investigations diminish with time, there appears to be no shortage of new issues into which financial regulators and law enforcement are looking and finding potential problems," analysts at financial services firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods said in a research note detailing the fines.

In all, the fines and settlements amount to $204 billion paid out through 175 settlements since 2009. The actual number is probably higher, though, as KBW only tracks settlements exceeding $100 million. Since March, the total has grown from $187 billion and the case total expanded from 140.

Expect the final number to grow, as well; there are still 288 outstanding investigations or cases pending. One case that could lead to additional fines is the Department of Justice's look into banks' dealing with soccer's international governing body, FIFA.

A look at the 10 banks hit hardest by settlements:

Big banks, big costs

Company Total settlments Sums paid ($billions)
Bank of America34$77.09
JPMorgan Chase26$40.12
Wells Fargo10$10.24
BNP Paribas1$8.90
Deutsche Bank4$5.53
Morgan Stanley7$4.78
Credit Suisse4$3.74

Source: Source: Keffe, Bruyette & Woods