The lack of prosecution of US bankers responsible for the great financial crisis has been a much debated topic over the years, leading to the coinage of such terms as “Too Big To Prosecute”, the termination of at least one corrupt DOJ official, the revelation that Eric Holder is the most useless Attorney General in history, and of course billions in cash kickbacks between Wall Street and D. C. And, naturally, the lack of incentives that punish cheating and fraud, is one of the main reasons why such fraud will not only continue but get bigger until once again, the entire system crashes under the weight of accumulated theft, corruption and Fed-driven malinvestment. But what can be done? In this case, Vietnam may have just shown the way – sentence embezzling bankers to death. Because if one wants to promptly stop an end to all financial crime, few things motivate as efficiently as a firing squad. According to the BBC, the former head of a major Vietnamese bank has been sentenced to death for his role in a fraud case involving some 800 billion dong (which sounds like a lot of dong, but equals roughly $35 million) of illegal loans. Nguyen Xuan Son, who served as general director of OceanBank, was convicted of embezzlement, abuse of power and economic mismanagement. Bank founder, tycoon Ha Van Tham, and dozens of other banking officials are also on trial, accused of lending violations.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 29, 2017.
If there is any truth to the allegation that Russia is behind the hacking of emails being released by WikiLeaks, then the American public owes Russia a huge debt of gratitude. At a time when the American people are sharply focused on how the leader of the free world is chosen, WikiLeaks is giving us an unprecedented, historical opportunity to understand how corporate money in politics has corrupted everything we believe in as a democracy. This week, for example, emails from WikiLeaks show that President Obama, using the email address of firstname.lastname@example.org, was communicating directly with Michael Froman of Citigroup in 2008, who fed Obama lists of recommended appointments to his cabinet. In an email from Froman dated October 6, 2008, with Froman using his Citigroup email address of email@example.com, Hillary Clinton shows up on Froman’s list for Secretary of State or head of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In a separate list attached to the email, Eric Holder was recommended for U. S. Attorney General at the Department of Justice or as White House Counsel. (See the email and the attachments here.) In less than a month after Obama’s election as President on November 4, 2008, Obama had nominated Clinton to be his Secretary of State and Holder as his Attorney General. Despite the unprecedented corruption rooted out on Wall Street by regulators, Holder failed to prosecute any of Wall Street’s top executives for the crimes that led to the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression.
A rigged system of justice that protects elites was a constant theme under President Obama’s former U. S. Attorney General at the Justice Department, Eric Holder, who failed to prosecute a single Wall Street bank executive over the epic corruption that led to the financial collapse in 2008. Now, President Obama’s newest head of the Justice Department, Loretta Lynch, has come under withering criticism for conducting a private meeting with former President Bill Clinton on her government plane at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport while his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is under an active criminal investigation by her office for transmitting classified government material over her private email server while Secretary of State in the Obama administration. President Obama’s two terms have been filled with personnel from the Bill Clinton presidency, leading to the appearance of continuity government between the two camps. The current U. S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1999 during his Presidency to head the U. S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, where she worked until 2001. According to her official bio, she joined the corporate law firm, Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) in 2002 and remained there until January 2010 when President Obama nominated Lynch to once again head the U. S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York. The American Lawyer reported in 2008 that while Lynch was employed as a partner at Hogan & Hartson, a tax attorney at that firm, Howard Topaz, handled the Clintons’ tax returns since at least 2004. According to the article, the law firm was also a major contributor to Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns.
What do Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, James Gorman, John Thain, Jimmy Cayne, and any of the revolving door of AIG CEO’s have in common? Three things come to mind rather quickly: 1) All were financial executives during the 2008 global financial crisis. 2) All of their firms received massive public bailouts. 3) None of them went to jail for their firm’s involvement in said crisis. As a matter of fact, most are still plugged in somewhere on Wall Street, presumably helping to facilitate the next great financial crisis. While everyday Americans were (and still are) quite disgusted with the fact that absolutely nobody was actually held accountable for the creation of the financial crisis, it’s safe to say that most have given up hope that anyone will be convicted. As a matter of fact, US Attorney General Eric Holder once said thatbanks are so large that it would be difficult to prosecute anyone. That’s nice. Enter Iceland, a small country of roughly 330,000 residents, where as Bloomberg reports, bank executives are actively being prosecuted and sent to jail for their negligent actions. Unlike the jellyfish in the US, Iceland appointed Olafur Hauksson as special prosecutor to investigate bankers and their roles in the financial crisis. The result? 26 convictions of bankers and financiers since 2010. In upholding the convictions, Iceland’s Supreme Court said that actions were ‘thoroughly planned’, and ‘committed with concentrated intent’ – refreshingly different than Holder’s let’s just let them get away with it because it’s hard to figure out verbiage.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 04/03/2016 –.
Beyond the Kubler-Ross maelstrom of denial, anger, depression, etc., besetting this spavined republic, lies the actual grief provoking it all – especially the shocking loss of national purpose embodied by the muppets and puppets onstage nightly vying to bring out the worst in us in an election season far from just silly. Judging from their demeanor in the so-called debates, the candidates seem not only sick of their opponents but of themselves, a fitting outcome perhaps in a nation that hates what it has become. The moment that got me in Sunday night’s Democratic boasting contest, hosted by CNN, was Hillary crowing about the great achievement of Obamacare – getting thirty million uninsured Americans on some kind of health plan! The part she left out, of course, is that most of those plans have deductible ceilings in the multiple thousands of dollars, guaranteeing that the policy holder goes bankrupt if he/she seeks medical help. Who does she think she’s fooling, anyway? This sort of arrant lying is what drives millions into the camp of Trump. Even valiant old Bernie muffs every opportunity to explain the death-grip that Wall Street crony politics has on this land: the US Department of Justice did nothing under six-plus years of Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute criminal misconduct in banking. And then President Obama, who is ultimately responsible, did absolutely nothing to prompt that Attorney General into action or replace him with somebody who would act. Obama’s lame excuse back in the days when informed people were still wondering about this, was that the bankers had done nothing patently illegal enough to warrant investigation – a claim that was absurd on its face.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/07/2016.
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page! Beyond the Kubler-Ross maelstrom of denial, anger, depression, etc., besetting this spavined republic, lies the actual grief provoking it all – especially the shocking loss of national purpose embodied by the muppets and puppets onstage nightly vying to bring out the worst in us in an election season far from just silly. Judging from their demeanor in the so-called debates, the candidates seem not only sick of their opponents but of themselves, a fitting outcome perhaps in a nation that hates what it has become. The moment that got me in Sunday night’s Democratic boasting contest, hosted by CNN, was Hillary crowing about the great achievement of Obamacare – getting thirty million uninsured Americans on some kind of health plan! The part she left out, of course, is that most of those plans have ‘deductable’ ceilings in the multiple thousands of dollars, guaranteeing that the policy holder goes bankrupt if he/she seeks medical help. Who does she think she’s fooling, anyway? This sort of arrant lying is what drives millions into the camp of Trump. Even valiant old Bernie muffs every opportunity to explain the death-grip that Wall Street crony politics has on this land: the US Department of Justice did nothing under six-plus years of Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute criminal misconduct in banking. And then President Obama, who is ultimately responsible, did absolutely nothing to prompt that Attorney General into action or replace him with somebody who would act. Obama’s lame excuse back in the days when informed people were still wondering about this, was that the bankers had done nothing patently illegal enough to warrant investigation – a claim that was absurd on its face.
Eric Holder, who stepped down this year as the U. S. Attorney General after six years in office, rejoined the law firm he had left to accept the top slot at the Justice Department. That firm is Covington & Burling, which operates a revolving door between the Justice Department and its own front door. In addition to Holder, Lanny Breuer, who headed up the Justice Department’s criminal division under Holder, also returned to Covington & Burling after a devastating report by ABC’s Frontline on how his division had failed to seriously investigate crimes on Wall Street. Making the round trip between the Justice Department and Covington & Burling in 2010 was Steven Fagell, former deputy chief of staff at the criminal division, and Jim Garland, former deputy chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Holder. Dan Suleiman, former deputy chief of staff to Breuer at the Justice Department, rejoined the law firm in 2013, the same year as Breuer. While Holder was in the position as the top law enforcement officer in the land, the firm he would rejoin, Covington & Burling, was serving as ‘counsel to the underwriters’ of a stock offering by Retrophin, then headed by CEO Martin Shkreli, the man the Justice Department is now accusing of looting Retrophin, a pharmaceutical startup, in a brazen Ponzi scheme type of operation. Covington and Burling lawyers, Donald J. Murray and Eric W. Blanchard, are listed on the Registration statement filed by Retrophin on December 18, 2013. The law firm’s web site lists Murray as the Chair of the firm’s Securities and Capital Markets Practice Group and Blanchard as the Vice Chair. The law firm’s web site also lists an Associate, Gustavo Akkerman, as representing the ‘underwriters in the initial public offering of Retrophin, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on treatment of catastrophic diseases.’
The slow motion financial holocaust has been underway for some time now. Goldman Sach recently commented that we are in the third wave of the great crisis. What happened in 2008 remains directly relevant to the personal financial risk that most Americans face at the brink of the next phase of the collapse. It’s almost like they’re looking for a sacrificial lamb… the banks have gotten away with murder too many times to count. Those who might be tried under a truly fair system instead stand firm with their understanding of impunity, an arrangement befitting their position and stature in society, that they will never be seriously investigated, much less prosecuted, for their role in the manipulation that caused the biggest problems. Worse, it is utterly clear that Obama’s Justice Department went out of their way to avoid prosecuting Wall Street executives – even despite pressure from Congress’ Oversight Panel, created as a condition of TARP, to do so as a result of piles of evidence that criminal misbehavior was behind the worst of the collapse. Attorney General Eric Holder was nominally in charge of the Justice Department’s investigations – and it is well worth pointing out that he spent the entirety of his time after being Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General, at Covington & Burling, a legal firm that specializes in representing top Wall Street institutions. Wikipedia notes:
This post was published at shtfplan on October 26th, 2015.
On May 27, in her first major prosecutorial act as the new U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch unsealed a 47-count indictment against nine FIFA officials and another five corporate executives. She was passionate about their wrongdoing. ‘The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,’ she said. ‘Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice.’ Lost in the hoopla surrounding the event was a depressing fact. Lynch and her predecessor, Eric Holder, appear to have turned the page on a more relevant vein of wrongdoing: the profligate and dishonest behavior of Wall Street bankers, traders, and executives in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. How we arrived at a place where Wall Street misdeeds go virtually unpunished while soccer executives in Switzerland get arrested is murky at best. But the legal window for punishing Wall Street bankers for fraudulent actions that contributed to the 2008 crash has just about closed. It seems an apt time to ask: In the biggest picture, what justice has been achieved? Since 2009, 49 financial institutions have paid various government entities and private plaintiffs nearly $190 billion in fines and settlements, according to an analysis by the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. That may seem like a big number, but the money has come from shareholders, not individual bankers. (Settlements were levied on corporations, not specific employees, and paid out as corporate expenses – in some cases, tax-deductible ones.) In early 2014, just weeks after Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, settled out of court with the Justice Department, the bank’s board of directors gave him a 74 percent raise, bringing his salary to $20 million.
Things are not quite as simple as they seem to be in politics. Senator Menendez has been accused of inappropriately accepting gifts in exchange for ‘niceties’. A Justice Department probe, headed by Eric Holder, himself, will likely result in Federal corruption charges against Menendez which revolves around his relationship with Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. According to the US government watchdog Center for Responsive Politics, Melgen contributed $700,000 to Menendez’s 2012 US Senate race through an intermediary campaign funding channel. The senator also allegedly received gifts and multiple trips on Melgen’s private jet and some of these gifts are alleged to include the services of prostitutes. The Menendez Transgression Doesn’t Even Move the Corruption Needle I guess the American people can sit back and thank the Justice Department for being so diligent in upholding our laws and the ‘high expectations’ we have for our elected officials. I could barely write these words without choking. When it comes to Congress, what Menendez is accused of doing is the metaphorical equivalent of you and me getting a parking ticket. Give Menendez a Parking Ticket and Send Him On His Way Please allow me to briefly digress to demonstrate what a minor offense Menendez has committed in comparison to what really goes on in the Senate.