While none of the traders is facing prison time for their role in the crimes, the banks’ guilty pleas still offer something of a symbolic victory for federal prosecutors. Until now, most banks implicated in the numerous scandals since the 2008 financial crisis had avoided directly shouldering legal responsibility by forcing their smaller subsidiaries or specific banking units to plead guilty.
Of course, Wednesday’s plea deal comes with its own silver lining for Wall Street: The banks have already obtained waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow them to continue to conduct business as ususal. “In fact,” the Times reports, “the cases were not announced until after the S.E.C. had time to act.”