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PRESS RELEASE - For immediate release
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


Avaaz: 89% of Europeans want Bankers Behind Bars

Massive majority demands criminal sanctions against fraudulent bankers across the EU

A new YouGov/Avaaz opinion poll released today reveals that the overwhelming majority of people in France (90%), Germany and the UK (89% each) believe that bankers responsible for fraud or manipulating markets should face criminal sanctions such as jail sentences. Avaaz is additionally handing in a petition, signed by over 720,000 people, calling for such sanctions.

This poll, commissioned by the global campaign group Avaaz, was released as MEPs are set to vote this afternoon (Tuesday) in Brussels on a proposal to penalise bankers in all EU Member States. The poll of a representative sample of more than 3,700 people across France, UK and Germany also showed:

  • A large majority in Germany (60%), France (56%) and the UK (70%) think that guilty bankers should be sent to prison rather than the banks themselves pay fines.
  • Most people in the UK and Germany think their government mainly listens to big banks when considering laws and regulations on banking (France 49%, Germany 67%, UK 64%).
  • 78% of people in France and 76% of people in Germany think that EU member states should agree to common legal standards for criminal sanctions on bankers.
  • In a ranking of the five biggest banks for each country, the ones blamed for the worst abuses of the financial system are Barclays and RBS in Britain, Société Générale in France and Deutsche Bank in Germany.

Today in Brussels, Avaaz will deliver a petition, signed by over 720,000 people to MEP Arlene McCarthy who’s leading the European Parliament Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on the issue. The petition calls for “strong legislation against market abuse, including criminal sanctions for bankers who ride roughshod over regulations or break our laws”.  http://www.avaaz.org/en/bankers_behind_bars_f/

Alex Wilks, campaign director at Avaaz, said: “People across Europe want to see bankers behind bars. They are massively rewarded for their reckless gambles and get off far too lightly when caught. 720,000 people are today urging MEPs to agree that no banker is too big to jail.”

Vice Chair of the Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee MEP Arlene McCarthy said: “The financial sector cannot be trusted to self regulate. Fines have proved ineffective and have not changed the culture in the banking industry. We are therefore extending the law to, for the first time, impose tough EU wide criminal sanctions and jail time. It will cover all benchmarks and indices as the Libor manipulation shows that abuse is still rife in the banking sector. Thanks to the support of the Avaaz campaign, which has mobilised hundreds of thousands of Europeans, I am confident that the full committee will back a tough approach to abuse and manipulation.”

The full poll results are available below.

Contact: Aldine Furio, +33 686 929 330, aldine@avaaz.org

Avaaz.org is a 16-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages. Avaaz members live in every nation of the world - our movement is spread across 194 countries on 5 continents and operates in 16 languages.

Notes to editors
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Sample size was 994 for France, 1007 for Germany and 1760 for the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th September - 2nd October 2012.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) for each of these three countries.

When considering laws and regulations on banking, who do you feel the government mainly listens to?      
Big banks 64 49 67
Other MPs 11 2 3
The media 7 3 4
Ordinary people 3 27 11
Someone else 3 4 4
Don't know 12 14 12
Do you think that criminal sanctions, such as jail sentences, for bankers that have been found guilty of fraud or manipulating markets should or should not be introduced?      
Criminal sanctions should be introduced 89 90 89
Criminal sanctions should NOT be introduced 4 4 5
Don't know 7 7 5
At present, some European countries have created laws imposing criminal sanctions on bankers guilty of fraud or market manipulation whereas other countries have not. The European Union will discuss a proposal to impose common legal standards for all EU Member States to introduce criminal sanctions on bankers responsible for fraud or market manipulation. Which of these comes closer to your view?      
EU member states should agree common legal standards for criminal sanctions on bankers 41 78 76
Individual countries should be able to set their own laws on whether or not to impose criminal sanctions on bankers 48 17 19
Don't know 11 6 6
If banks are found responsible for large-scale fraud or market manipulation, which, if any, of the following do you think should be the MAIN punishment?      
Bank directors should be disciplined internally by their board 4 13 12
The banks should be fined by the government 19 26 23
The bankers responsible should face imprisonment 70 56 60
No punishment 0 1 1
Don't know 7 4 5
Out of 5 largest banks in the UK/France/Germany, which, if any, do you think has committed the worst abuses of the financial system?      
Crédit Agricole 6 Deutsche Bank 19
BNP Paribas
Société Générale
KfW Bankengruppe
Groupe BPCE (Banque populaire - Caisse d’Epargne)
DZ Bank Group
Credit Mutuel 1 Landesbank Baden-

All equally 36 35 34
None of them have abused the financial system 1 3 2
Don't know 27 22 32