Matt Taibbi on Democracy Now: Banks Admit to Crimes, Pay $5 Billion, And Still No One Goes to Jail

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Matt Taibbi discussed the latest round of bank settlements on Democracy Now. This time, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manipulate foreign exchange rates in dollars and Euros. While this settlement was a step forward by virtue of the banks admitted to specific, criminal acts, yet again the institution is fined while the executives go unpunished. And we again have to listen to the intelligence-insulting claims that the top brass were victims of bad actors.

On a related issue, reader Glenn M e-mailed us:

Perhaps I missed it, but I have seen no news stories regarding the final results of Eric Holder’s 90-day ultimatum back in February to finally land indictments against Wall Streeters for the mortgage crisis.
According to my calculations, this “ultimatum” expired May 17.

There haven’t seemed to have been any stories noting the failure of this ultimatum, which was announced with great fanfare.

Here is a link from the day of:
Eric Holder launches 90-day crusade against bank leaders

From the article:

After years of pressure from some lawmakers, civic leaders and Occupy Wall Street protesters, the country’s No. 1 law enforcer said Tuesday he has instructed many of his 93 federal prosecutors to review any residential mortgage fraud case they have brought against a financial institution stemming from the 2008 financial crisis to see if any executive could be held accountable for the company’s actions.

Both civil and criminal cases will be on the table, Holder said.

The prosecutors have been given three months to report their findings to Washington.

And predictably, this bold talk was yet another show for the rubes. Nothing took place and no report was made public. Some Democrats in the Senate, such as Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, threatened to slow-walk the confirmation of Loretta Lynch unless cases were filed against individuals. But as an insider tersely put it, “Dems voted for Lynch and lost their leverage.”

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  1. Pepsi

    It seems like a fringe presidential candidate could make him or herself a lot of money by threatening to jail bank criminals, and waiting for the ‘this’ll change your tune’ brbes to roll in

    1. Martin Lefebvre

      I’m saying this half-seriously, but I think that rather than a pay-off/bribe, the candidate gets a private viewing of the video from the grassy knoll.

  2. change agent

    It’s the perfect perpetual motion machine. Bankers make money by any means necessary, laws be damned, Feds investigate and fine the organization, Banks write a big check to give the G-men their cut, repeat, lather, rinse. Individual players get fired and likely find a new gig due to their CV, profit making skills and connections.

  3. James Levy

    Part of this is that we as a people (and those who sit on juries) find it presumptuous to judge those much richer and more successful than we are. Juries will happily connect any dots the prosecutor paints before their eyes (or just presume guilt, the way James Howard Kunstler does every time a black guy gets shot–his hey, they look like thugs and probably are so why worry about offing them attitude has become ingrained over at his website). But our attitude towards those “above” us was summed up for me years ago in the trial of the upper class kids in New Jersey who raped a retarded girl with a broomstick. Everyone in their town felt sorry for those “boys” because “look at their bright futures!”. We can’t find it in our “hearts” (or some other organs) to take away the good life of wealth and privilege from these people because we want it so badly ourselves (not everyone, of course, but I’m talking solid majorities here).

    The moneyed classes used to be taught in their prep schools and at Harvard and Yale that certain responsibilities came with their privilege (think the Roosevelts, the Roots, the Mellons, Averill Harriman, and a host more). No more. Now money buys irresponsibility. And too many of us are OK with that.

    1. Dave McCrae

      I’m currently acting as one of Loretta’s agents in prosecuting PHH Mortgage in federal court for mortgage fraud. Under the qui tam system, if a citizen is a victim of one of these crimes and sustains damages, and the prosecution is too overburdened or too heavily scheduled with more serious commitments, the citizen has rights to investigation and prosecution with his own resources. Our claims exceed $20, entitling a jury review. We’re currently awaiting oral argument at 5USCA. Details of our litigation are posted at my site Our success will entail destruction of 2.9% of the mortgage servicing business in America, and incarceration of Glenn Messina and his posse, who are duly reporting their looting of company assets on their 8K filings. 75% of our recovery is earmarked for Loretta’s crew, so they may possibly obtain resources to go after the other 97.1% of the business. I unfortunately have no standing versus those people.

    2. Sam Adams

      The moneyed classes (and those who emulated tem) were taught with privilege comes responsibility over generations. When they were replaced and the huddled masses came, that generational memory was lost and replaced by grab what you can before the Cossacks get it.

      1. Carolinian

        In fact this notion that the lord of the manor owes certain obligations (including military) to his vassals goes back at least as far as medieval times. Modern plutocrats probably see themselves as fulfilling their end of the social contract with their tax deductible charity balls etc. But when people like BIll Gates or the Clintons donate money to non profits they are just shedding a little of their ill gotten gains, not making any great personal sacrifice. During WW2 even sons of privilege like G.H.W.Bush and John Kennedy felt the need to join and fight. It would be interesting to know how many of our current ruling class enlist to fight the endless “war on terror.”

    3. Doug Terpstra

      James Howard Kunstler tars Palestinians with the same brush. His defense of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza turned my stomach.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Kunstler (back during the time that I still read his posts) was always going on and fucking on about the tattooed savages of the younger generation, and how their choice to so adorn their bodies was indicative in some infallible way about deficiencies in their characters.

        My stepson, a handsome lad 6′ 3″ in height, while covered in tats is in no way a barbarian. He is a responsible man, a talented mechanic by trade, and an artist and musician by avocation. Comes Kunstler’s societal collapse, I’ll be glad to have my stepson around, thank you very much, ’cause he’ll have more to offer the world than Kunstler.

        Kunstler has revealed himself as a racist buffoon with no time for people other than those similar to himself. Sorry, Jimbo, this kinda disqualifies you for a useful role in building a new world from the ashes.

        1. tejanojim

          Yeah, I mostly stopped reading Kunstler for that exact reason. A failure of imagination and empathy that big makes him unsuited from his self appointed job.

        2. bruno marr

          Well, I guess I need to come clean on Kunstler, as well. As an architect I have enjoyed his early books on suburbia and bad architecture. But since his recent hospital stay (and huge medical costs), it seems he got the wrong drugs (psychotropic?). I’ve actually interacted with Kunstler on a personal level, but it seems despair is overtaking reason with Jim.

          It’s too bad. He can be witty and delightful. Even smart folks say and do stupid things. His recent rants are stupid.

  4. Dave

    The reality is that the bankers are three steps ahead of us and executing to perfection. No CEO’s have lost their jobs, fines passed along to shareholders, not barred from doing business. Meanwhile the stage is being set for the biggest payoff of all. The breaking up of the TBTF!

    In all likelihood this will be ‘sold’ to the public as if it is some form of punishment… But in actuality the amount of new wealth created when these banks decide they are ready to break themselves up will be astronomical! Think dozens of newly created companies… Hand picked CEO’s, executives, and boards of directors… Investment banking fees, IPO’s!!

    The cartel slouches towards Bethlehem

  5. Chauncey Gardiner

    We need to imprison those who have committed these felonies. These bank holding companies are considered “people” under the law. If corporations are “people”, then their CEOs and board members should be punished for their criminal behavior. That this currency price fixing comes so soon after the LIBR interest rate price fixing scandal at some of these banks reconfirms that failure to punish individuals for admitted criminal behavior leads to repetitive criminal behavior.

    I have also wondered where the money to pay these multi-billion fines is coming from? There is an assumption that the fines are being paid by the companies shareholders. I would like to see a broad and deep federal government audit of these organizations.

  6. Doug Terpstra

    It’s good to read compelling minority dissent within the SEC, a lone voice in the wilderness, but a strong one from Commissioner Kara Stein. Ms. Stein earns a waiver from the guillotine.

    So serially felonious banksters strut free, and meanwhile, according to the ABA there are over 300 people serving life without parole in California Bastilles for shoplifting and thousands serving various terms for failure to pay child support. We’re fast approaching the conditions of late 18th-century France.

  7. ErnstThalmann

    After Obama disclosed himself vis-a-vis the large banks upon his taking office, anyone who is now surprized that his regulators or DOJ would give these filth a pass needs to be re-socialized by their parents. To be clear, scum runs our government and institutions and there will be no change in that reality short of revolution going forward. Little else counts. We need a workers state, one in which there is no private banking or private anything. And for the Blankfeins, public trial in a peoples’ court.

  8. Charles Reed

    It is Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer who were looking the other way as MERS runs through most of the mortgages and the process has not been legal. However what better than having a black guy that willing to sell out his own, and black not complaint because they don’t have a clue what taken place! Holder & Breuer old firm represented MERS!

  9. Pelham

    This discussion should have begun with the fact that the billions of dollars these banks will pay amount to just a vanishingly small percentage of last year’s profits. Anytime the press or anyone else flashes the word “billions” in a context like this, it’s almost guaranteed to be obscuring the truly relevant fact of a slap on the wrist. And that’s BEFORE the banks get to deduct the penalties from their taxes and exercise other measures that may even ensure they come out ahead.

    The focus on too-big-to-fail may be off-center as well. What if we did break up these five or six biggest banks into 10 or 12? They would still be gigantic, perfectly capable of collusion and, more importantly, they would still be easily large enough to strong-arm lawmakers, regulators and the entire political-economic system to get virtually anything they want.

    The real solution is blasting these horrid, criminally recidivist creatures into literally hundreds of pieces. In other words, we need to focus not on too-big-to-fail but on the notion of too-big-to-influence. These banks must be small enough so their influence in Washington is negligible. Failing that, nationalize them.

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