You might have thought that the prison time earned by corrupt executives at Enron and WorldCom, and the fines handed out to investment banks like Merrill Lynch for dot-com dodginess, might have persuaded City types and financial wheeler-dealers to clean up their acts. As if. What it has persuaded them to do, of course, is to look for new ways of not getting caught. After email proved to be a blabbermouth medium capable of delivering still-smoking guns to prosecutors, in the form of logs of deleted messages, the slippery suits have now switched wholesale to instant messaging. One investigator told the FT that he was "fairly certain" that City traders are using the technology to cut deals behind bosses' backs, and to leak insider-trading tips to external accomplices. "We hear lots of stories from dinner parties where people boast that if they want to say something improper, they do it on [IM]," the investigator added.
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