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writing for godot

Big Banks Fined Mega-Billions; CEOs Remain Untouched, Above the Law

Written by michael payne   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 09:16
Get arrested for robbing a bank or shoplifting and you will go to prison. Get caught selling cocaine or steal a car and you will do jail time. But if you are a CEO of one of the biggest banks in America and that bank is fined mega-billions for fraudulent practices you need not worry because the U.S. Justice Department will give you a free pass; you are, in effect, above the law.

That is beyond comprehension, a clear travesty of justice, but it has become commonplace in America. Just look at the following list of U.S. and some foreign banks that have been fined billions of dollars. Not one of their top executives has been prosecuted in connection with the violations of the law that led to these fines:

$25 billion - Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, BAC, and Ally Financial - 2012

$13 billion - J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. — 2013:

$9.3 billion - Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan and 10 others — 2013:

$8.5 billion - Bank of America – June 2011:

$2.6 billion - Credit Suisse AG – May 2014:

1.9 billion - HSBC Holdings, HSBA - 2012

$1.5 billion – UBS, AGUBSN - 2012

$1.4 billion - 10 Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and J.P. Morgan – 2003

What fraudulent practices brought on these massive fines? They involved mortgage foreclosure processing abuses, claims over residential-backed mortgage securities, deceptive mortgage loan application processes, associated tax evasion, manipulated interbank lending rates, and conflicts of interest between research and investment banking sectors.

Here’s a very simple question: is it possible, is it even conceivable that these banking corporations could have been found guilty of these abuses and assessed these monumental fines by the U.S. Justice Department but that their CEOs and/or other corporate officials were not involved in the planning and, in fact, did not orchestrate them?

The answer, quite obviously, is absolutely not. There is no way in the world by which these fraudulent schemes could be planned and put into operation within these banks without the direct involvement of these CEOs. But time and time again we see the Justice Department act as if they are completely untouchable.

When these enormous fines are assessed do these bank executives ever get the message that they cannot continue to get away with their deceitful, manipulative practices? Do they ever realize that they need to begin to operate their businesses in a lawful, ethical manner? Apparently not! That’s because the CEOs and financial officers know full well that they are being protected and so their white collar crimes continue unabated. They know they have the support of the government and that the government will continue to bail “Too big to fail” banks out with taxpayer dollars even when they continually break the law.

As bad as this situation seems it’s even far worse as we see the Federal Reserve pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the banking industry through what is called “Quantitative Easing”. This QE is a program created in late 2008 whereby the Fed purchased mortgage-backed bonds and other securities to provide banks with funds with which to initiate loans that would stimulate business and create new jobs.

Initially the Fed’s purchase of these securities was $85 billion per month, a staggering amount, and then in the spring of 2014 it was reduced to $45 billion. What a totally misguided plan that was; it has been called “one of the greatest giveaways” of taxpayer money in U.S history. Now after 5 years and $4 trillion dollars pumped into the banking industry we find that the banks largely sat on the funds instead of initiating the loans as was the intention.

Banks used the funds to nearly triple their stock prices through issuing larger dividends and stock buy-backs. And so the banks made out like bandits and the American people have been the big losers - again. You can get an idea of just how big a failure this Quantitative Easing program has become from this article by a former Federal Reserve executive who managed the program when it was instituted and then walked away after being thoroughly disillusioned by the entirely disingenuous process.

Is it any wonder why the American people are so fed up with this government when they see these Wall Street white collar criminals using every kind of financial scheme and fraudulent practice in generating massive profits; and, at the same time, the Justice Department, the White House and the Congress know exactly what is going on and just continue to let these CEOs off the hook?

This government must stop propping up and bailing out these shady banks and their scheming top level executives. If one or more of them fails and goes under then that might be exactly what is needed to decontaminate the banking industry. It will be traumatic for all those who knowingly and willingly work for a fraudulent enterprise but that’s just too bad. And it will be a painful lesson for those investors who should know better than to invest in deceptive corporations who are led by CEOs that are no more than white collar criminals.

It’s time to let capitalism take its natural course; let it be the survival of the fittest, the strong surviving and the weak collapsing. Let those who engage in fraudulent practices to conduct their business fall by the wayside; let those who have sown the seeds of deceit and manipulation of others reap the poisoned harvest they have produced; let them implode from the weight of their own devious financial transgressions.

I often hear it said that this country may need to experience a societal, political, or economic revolution if it is ever going to restore its sense of purpose and regain its stability. That may well be necessary but what this country needs above all is a financial revolution that will shake the foundations of those institutions and result in reforming the entire system.

But as is so often the case when we discuss how America needs to undergo these critically important changes the question is: who and what will make it happen? And, of course, right now that’s a very difficult question to answer. But sometimes small steps have to be taken to eventually turn into big changes.

There is no question that President Obama, Attorney General Holder and the Congress have completely failed to bring these banking industry CEOs to justice for their complicity in these fraudulent financial schemes. However, millions of Americans are also directly responsible for this dilemma because they have clearly seen what is going on, that violations of the law are being committed, and that CEOs continue to get off scott free. And they have chosen to continue to do business with these shysters even when they see their taxpayer dollars used time and again to rescue these banks from insolvency of their own making.

It’s time that this festering problem is brought to an end; enough is enough and change must come. Millions of Americans have the power and should use it to cut their ties to these Big Five banks and their deceitful CEOs. There are, of course, some people who have existing accounts with these banks, retirees that would find it difficult to make a change. That is understandable but they should at least refrain from initiating new type accounts; but others who have the ability to switch to ethical and honest local banks should do so without hesitation. People have to understand that if they keep doing business with these corporate swindlers then they are directly aiding and abetting their extremely specious activities.

Critically needed change can come if the people, for once, use their collective power and send a clear message to these banks and their CEOs that no more of this white collar crime will be tolerated. If the banks, after getting that message, still refuse to change their ways then it’s highly possible that one or two will collapse as a great many of their customers take their business elsewhere. And then maybe, just maybe it will finally force those in this government who are responsible to end the bailouts and show these banks that they and their CEOs are not too big to fail and can no longer remain above the law.

Michael Payne your social media marketing partner

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