This certainly has been quite a summer for the financial industry.
Almost every single week there has been a new scandal admitted to. Another market was rigged. Another group of citizens were systematically stolen from.
And the cost for admitting these massive cases of theft? Token fines. So small that they are only pennies on the dollars that were stolen. Thus making white-collar crime pay, and pay, pay.
Let's start with today's news.
A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global and the disappearance of about $1 billion in customer money is now heading into its final stage without charges expected against any top executives.$1 Billion of investor money is knowingly misused and is lost, but no one goes to jail. Basically, you can send your life savings to Wall Street, specifically tell them not to invest in certain products. They can ignore your wishes, invest in those specific products with your money anyway. Lose your life savings, and then not suffer any consequences for it. Amazing.
Those developments indicate that federal prosecutors do not expect to file criminal charges against the former New Jersey governor.Do I even need to mention that Mr. Corzine was a former executive of the vampire squid itself - Goldman Sachs?
But the real kicker is down below.
Mr. Corzine, in a bid to rebuild his image and engage his passion for trading, is weighing whether to start a hedge fund, according to people with knowledge of his plans.I find that astounding.
But let's not stop there.
It was only a few days ago that Standard Charter received a $340 million fine for laundering $250 Billion for Iran.
You might think that something like this would involve a firm getting shut down and people thrown in jail. You would be wrong.
That's the world Wall Street exists in these days. The week before the SEC decided not to file charges against Goldman Sachs for knowingly misleading clients about financial products.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hedge funds and bankers have been rigging the energy markets.
The banks have been rigging the $3.7 Trillion municipal bond markets.
HSBC is one of 12 banks that laundered money for Mexican drug cartels, terrorist groups, and rogue nations. HSBC got fined, but no one went to jail.
Third, HSBC is paying a fine because it allowed hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars of money laundering by rogue states and sanctioned firms, including some related to terrorist activities and Iran's nuclear efforts. But HSBC is only one of at least 12 banks now known to have tolerated, and in some cases aggressively courted, money laundering by rogue states, terrorist organizations, corrupt dictators, and major drug cartels over the last decade. Others include Barclay's, Lloyds, Credit Suisse, and Wachovia (now part of Wells Fargo). Several of the banks created special handbooks on how to evade surveillance, created special business units to handle money laundering, and actively suppressed whistleblowers who warned of drug cartel activities.Seriously? Special handbooks? How can these people still be walking the streets?
JP Morgan Chase was involved in rigging U.S. electricity markets.
Visa and Mastercard colluded to fix fees and terms of service.
Morgan Stanley successfully pressured rating agencies into inflating the ratings of mortgage-backed securities it issued during the housing bubble.
And who can forget that the LIBOR, which effects $350 Trillion worth of loans, is being manipulated.
ALL THIS JUST DURING THIS SUMMER!
The summer isn't even over yet. What else will we see before the kids go back to school? And will the Justice Department prosecute one, single, bank executive? Or is the Justice Department on vacation this summer?
For securities fraud and most other federal offenses, prosecutions must begin within five years, and the subprime lending bubble hit its peak in 2007.
"The statute is already becoming a concern in a broad range of cases," said Bill Black, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.