Criminal bankers ‘too big to jail’

This video from the USA says about itself:

On March 8 2013, Elizabeth Warren grilled the Treasury Department about “Too Big For Jail.”

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

Too big to jail

12 March 2013

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder made an extraordinary admission.

Responding to questioning from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who noted that there had been no major prosecutions of financial institutions or executives by the Obama administration, Holder said: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them, when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute—if we do bring a criminal charge—it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy…”

In other words, major banks are so economically important that, according to Holder, it is impossible to prosecute them for criminal activity. They are above the law.

This exchange occurred during a discussion of the Justice Department’s settlement last month with British-based HSBC, the world’s third-largest bank. HSBC had been charged with laundering billions of dollars for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. In exchange for avoiding charges, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion, or roughly two months’ profits. Top US officials explicitly vetoed any criminal charges, even on lesser counts than money laundering.

HSBC is only the latest bank to have received a free pass. Earlier this year, ten financial firms agreed to pay $3.3 billion in cash to settle charges of mortgage fraud: amid the housing market collapse, they had employees fraudulently sign off on thousands of mortgage foreclosures a month.

Last year, the government ended an investigation into Goldman Sachs without charges over its promotion of mortgage-backed securities at the height of the speculative bubble—even as Goldman Sachs bet against the assets itself.

In 2010, the Obama administration reached a settlement with Wachovia Bank on similar charges as those brought against HSBC: laundering billions of dollars of drug money, in this case for the Sinaloa Cartel. The fine was $160 million, less than 2 percent of the previous year’s profits.

Many similar arrangements could be cited. In each case, a check is signed—if there is any punishment at all—and business goes on as usual. Whatever money the financial institutions lose is more than balanced by their take of the $85 billion funneled into the markets every month by the US Federal Reserve.

Bernard Madoff, who admitted in 2009 to running a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, told media outlets this week that the government-appointed trustee for his firm’s investors is refusing to act on evidence showing the complicity of major banks in his activities: here.

Yet another Australian government inquiry has allowed a major bank or finance house go scot-free after systematically defrauding or fleecing millions of customers, primarily working people, retirees and small business operators. An Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) report this week into multiple financial crimes committed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the country’s largest bank, recommends no punishment whatsoever: here.

37 thoughts on “Criminal bankers ‘too big to jail’

  1. As Attorney General, Eric Holder’s job is to prosecute criminals.

    But Holder refuses to prosecute the Wall Street crooks who crashed the world economy and then demanded a bailout from taxpayers like us.

    Tell Eric Holder: prosecute or resign.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik

    CREDO Action

    Nobody is above the law.
    The petition reads:
    “Attorney General Holder: Treating powerful individuals and institutions as ‘too big to jail’ is fundamentally wrong.

    It’s your job to prosecute criminals. If you can’t bring yourself to prosecute Wall Street crooks, you should resign.”
    Add your name:
    Sign the petition ►

    Dear Bob,

    Not one of the Wall Street crooks who drove our economy off a cliff has gone to jail. And now we know why.

    For the country’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder, “too big to fail” has now become “too big to jail.”

    Shockingly, Attorney General Holder recently admitted as much, saying:

    I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.

    Nobody in our country is above the law. But apparently Attorney General Holder has lost sight of that.

    Tell Attorney General Holder: “It’s your job to prosecute criminals. If you can’t bring yourself to prosecute Wall Street crooks, you should resign.” Click here to sign the petition.

    When Attorney General Holder effectively gives a “get out of jail free” card to Wall Street crooks, it hurts our country in two ways.

    First, taking the threat of prosecution off the table gives a green light to criminals to keep at it.

    This is especially true when breaking the law is enormously profitable — as it is with Wall Street banks.

    Second, letting criminals operate with impunity fundamentally weakens the Rule of Law.

    When Senator Elizabeth Warren was speaking with federal banking regulators about the lack of criminal prosecution of HSBC for laundering drug money and violating our sanctions regime, she said this:

    If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night…I think that’s fundamentally wrong.

    It is indeed fundamentally wrong. As is the broader notion of “too big to jail.”

    Our democracy simply cannot tolerate two sets of laws — one set for the richest and most powerful individuals and institutions, and another set for everyone else.

    Tell Attorney General Holder: “It’s your job to prosecute criminals. If you can’t bring yourself to prosecute Wall Street crooks, you should resign.” Click the link below to sign the petition:

    Thank you for speaking out.

    Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    P.S. If you haven’t read Matt Taibbi’s piece on HSBC, it’s well worth reading to see the kind of blatant criminality that’s being overlooked. Click here to read it.
    Add your name:
    Sign the petition ►
    Learn more about this campaign
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