If you thought Wall Street was rotten to the core, you may have just been proved right.
In a survey of 500 financial service workers in the UK and U.S., a quarter said they would need to engage in illegal conduct to be successful, while 16 percent admitted they would commit a crime -- insider trading -- if they could get away with it.
The survey by corporate governance experts Labaton Sucharow LLP also uncovered the reason why so many City of London types were prepared to break the law: bonuses.
A full 30 percent of respondents reported their compensation or bonus plan created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.
Chris Keller, partner and head of case development at Labaton Sucharow, said: It is shocking that four years after the global economic crisis began there continues to be a fundamental lack of integrity in the financial services industry. Given the results of this survey, our work is more important than ever.
In a further embarrassment to the finance industry, 39 percent of those surveyed said their competitors are likely to have engaged in illegal or unethical activity in order to be successful.
The results come as Barclays bank was forced to pay a record £290 million fine for fixing their London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) submissions over a period of six years.
Barclays says a group of its traders tried to manipulate the Libor for profit as far back as 2005 and says it wrongly lowered estimates of the interest it paid other banks at the height of the crisis in 2008 to make its financial position appear better.
The Libor rate is the benchmark interest rate that underpins trillions of loans, credit cards, mortgages and derivatives around the world. Euribor is the Euro interbank offered rate.
Barclays is among more than a dozen global banks under investigation by authorities in North America, Europe and Japan and the only one so far to admit wrongdoing.
Regulators in Europe and the U.S. are said to be investigating up to 15 banks involved in the rate-rigging scandal.