Country Club Sopranos

American banks are on a massive crime spree. Obama and Romney hope you won’t notice.

Country Club Sopranos

You wouldn't know it by watching the news or reading the paper, but America's banks are on the largest crime spree the country has ever known. Let's go to the highlight reel, shall we?

In July, Wells Fargo paid a $175 million settlement after the feds caught its brokers systematically pushing minority customers into mortgages with higher rates and fees, even though they posed the same credit risks as whites.

One study found that Wells Fargo charged Hispanics $2,000 more in what the Justice Department called a "racial surtax." The bank docked blacks nearly $3,000 extra for their own improper pigmentation.

Longtime prosecutor and Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey: "The real theft was on Wall Street… All of the people who ran the scams have their big houses and their airplanes and they’re laughing."
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Longtime prosecutor and Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey: "The real theft was on Wall Street… All of the people who ran the scams have their big houses and their airplanes and they’re laughing."
"Retired criminal" Sam Antar, who now trains the IRS and FBI how to bust corporate looters: “It’s almost like stealing a billion dollars with a pencil is not as bad. You have a lesser chance of going to jail than if you mug somebody on the streets of New York.”
Monika Golon
"Retired criminal" Sam Antar, who now trains the IRS and FBI how to bust corporate looters: “It’s almost like stealing a billion dollars with a pencil is not as bad. You have a lesser chance of going to jail than if you mug somebody on the streets of New York.”

But despite a colossal civil-rights fraud perpetrated against 30,000 customers, the settlement amounted to just .011 percent of the San Francisco bank's annual income. It was like forcing a $30,000-a-year working stiff to pay a $240 fine.

Across the country, in Minneapolis, U.S. Bank also swindled its customers, though at least it let whites in on the action. Instead of logging debit-card purchases in the order they were made, the bank rearranged them from highest amount to lowest, the better to artificially stick customers with overdraft fees.

U.S. Bank paid $55 million to settle a class-action suit in July. It was the thirteenth major bank caught running this scam.

Yet these titans of finance were pikers compared to American Express. It promised $300 to anyone who signed up for its Blue Sky card, then decided it would be way better to just stiff them. The company was also caught charging illegal late fees and discriminating against older applicants. The penalty for its sins: $112 million in fines and refunds.

These were just the opening salvos of the assault. Bank of America was caught illegally foreclosing on the homes of active-duty soldiers. Visa and MasterCard were charged with fixing the prices they charged merchants to process credit-card payments. Morgan Stanley colluded to drive up New York electricity prices. And in the most depraved case of all, Morgan Stanley was even sued for allegedly swindling Irish nuns in an investment deal.

If they'd been common robbers, the bankers surely would have faced indictments. After all, their scams have run for years, their breadth and coordination breathtaking.

But not a single boss went to jail. Some firms settled for just a fraction of what they'd stolen. Most have never admitted wrongdoing. And in the ethics-optional land known as Wall Street, many saw their stock prices rise.

America's country club set has forged its own replica of the Mafia — only bigger, broader and capable of unleashing far more damage on the U.S. economy.

"Unquestionably, that's true," says Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey, whose career prosecuting organized crime runs all the way back to the Kennedy administration. "I was looking at stuff on Mulberry Street, and the real theft was on Wall Street...All of the people who ran the scams have their big houses and their airplanes, and they're laughing — they got away with it."

The crime wave is a ready-made campaign issue: Gucci villains plundering the middle class. But you haven't heard a peep out of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Both have records they'd prefer you didn't notice.

The situation leaves Sam Antar with a sense of longing. He's a former chief financial officer convicted of securities, mail and wire fraud.

"My biggest mistake in life was that I committed my crimes in the 1980s," he says. "If I committed them today, I wouldn't even get house arrest. I'd just hire a good lawyer and pay a fine and I'd be free."

The prom queen visits Washington

Capitol Hill's approach to organized crime — at least the yacht-club variety — was on display in June, when JP Morgan Chase chief executive officer Jamie Dimon was summoned to appear before the Senate Banking Committee.

Four years earlier, American taxpayers shoveled him a $25 billion bailout package. But Dimon had since refashioned himself as the sweetheart of Wall Street, the heroic captain who'd weathered the storm. Obama called him "one of the smartest bankers we've got."

On this day, that compliment appeared based on a very low bar. A Morgan trader known as the "London Whale" had just gambled away a stunning $6 billion by making bad bets on the credit markets. His behavior reflected the same strain of incompetence that detonated the economy in 2008.

The senators had presumably summoned Dimon to extract a pound of flesh. Instead, the exact opposite happened.

They stumbled over themselves with softball questions and blubbering supplication.

Typical of the biting line of inquiry was Tennessee Republican Bob Corker: "You're obviously renowned — rightfully so, I think — for being one of the best CEOs in the country," he told Dimon.

So much for protecting the economy.

By the time the hearing was over, Dimon may have needed a post-coital shower.

Conveniently unmentioned at the hearing — or covered in the press — was that JP Morgan was in the midst of a criminal bender that would make the Genovese crime family envious.

It began the year before, when Dimon's bank paid a $27 million settlement for systematically screwing 6,000 active-duty soldiers. JP Morgan was caught overcharging on interest rates and illegally foreclosing on the soldiers' homes. (The bank did not respond to interview requests.)

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8 comments
rbblum
rbblum

So, the significant difference between a crook and the too big to fail financial institutions is that a crook may have to pay restitution; whereas, the too big to fail institutions may have to pay a fine.

rhbroili
rhbroili

It sounds like the banks believe the fines are simple a "cost of doing business as usual". 

 

fallingman
fallingman

Yeah, Holder would love to do more prosecutions, but it's just sooooooo hard.

 

I call bulls#$t on that.

PENDINGLAWSUIT
PENDINGLAWSUIT

BARRY FAGAN DEFEATS WELLS FARGO ON JUDICIAL NOTICE

Posted By Neil Garfield LIVINGLIES ON OCTOBER 31,2012

 

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/fagan-defeats-wells-fargo-on-judicial-notice/

 

Editor's Comment: Following up with the offensive strategy and the concept of attacking every weak point in the pretender lender's strategies, Fagan went after Wells Fargo on the seemingly innocuous motion for the Judge to take Judicial notice of several documents.

Besides the obvious fact that Judicial notice is narrowly construed to allow the FACT that a document was RECORDED (and not as proof of the matters asserted in such documents), Fagan took the offensive and essentially argued that Wells was trying to win a non-judicial foreclosure (in court, which is an oxymoron) using proof that could not be accepted in a judicial foreclosure.

His argument and his citations are right on point. The moral of this story is that if you keep the faith and realize that this entire foreclosure mess is just one part of the securitization scam, then you arrive at the inescapable conclusion that the homeowners should win, not just delay the foreclosures. Once you know you should win, it is easier to take the offensive and start thinking about the cases in a different way.

The question is not just "how do I protect my client" but also how do I win this case."

Read the documents below and you'll see how Fagan artfully slices up the Wells Motion for Judicial Notice and how the Court concluded correctly that Wells can't get away with violating the rules of evidence simply by slipping documents in through the back door.

It looks to me like we are turning the corner here. Deny and Discover has been getting a lot of traction. Stopa has surprised pretender lenders with summary judgment granted in favor of the borrowers and Fagan, is picking apart Wells Fargo. A fellow I know recently said to me "if you can make it bleed, you can kill it." He was referring to foreclosures.

Silverthumb
Silverthumb

Who says crime doesn't pay?  It pays pretty good for JP Morgan's Jamie "scumsack"  Dimon, who brings down $24 million per year plus stock options, perks, and any other tax dodge he can think of. These crooks, after getting bailed out with OUR tax money, continue to bend Americans over a barrel and give it to them good and hard.   Or how about John "the slime" Corzine, who stole over 1.6 billion of client money only to be addressed as "honorable" by congress.   I'd hate to be in these crooks' shoes when the Greater Depression hits.   Think Mussolini.

Anse
Anse

I will never understand why so many continue to grovel at the feet of these people. We speak of them as "job creators" as if daring to rein them in would put us all in abject destitution. But what do we risk with better regulation? Could they really pull up roots and take their bounty elsewhere? Honest question: could they conduct business like this anywhere else in the world? How is it that we have come to think we have no leverage here? And while there is no doubt that Democrats have much to answer for on this, the Republican Party is so completely devoid of any moral compass that they actually see no crime in any of this. Obama and Holder deserve much criticism. But Democrats, when pressed, know full well that all of this is so very, very wrong. Republican leadership will never put a stop to this.

H_e_x
H_e_x

 @Anse They gained so much living in this country but do everything they can to not give anything back. They threaten to leave, but there is no where else they could make their money like the U.S. When they threaten to leave, they are admitting that they are here to make money and nothing more. People really need to stop gargling on the balls of the rich in the hope that they spew out a few pennies their way.

 
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