Tags: Houston Press

Big American Banks Particularly Enjoy Ripping off Active Duty U.S. Soldiers

The following article from the Houston Press titled “Country Club Sopranos” is the most comprehensive rundown I have seen of all the various frauds committed by large banks since we bailed them out.  What I find particularly infuriating is that the banks seem to really like ripping off members of the armed forces.  Veterans pay close attention.  The biggest threat to America does not reside outside our borders, but from within.  This is a very powerful article and I think could be quite effective in waking up some sheeple so please pass it along.  Here are some of my favorite passages:

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.

These were just the opening salvos of the assault. Bank of America was caught illegally foreclosing on the homes of active-duty soldiers.

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.

“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.”

“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.”

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.)

But when he appointed Eric Holder attorney general, it was like making John Dillinger’s lawyer head of the FBI bank-robbery unit.  Holder, a former Wall Street defense attorney, would ramp up big-dollar settlements. But criminal charges quietly sputtered to a trickle.

“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.”

So bad has the leniency become that the feds are allowing bankers to keep much of what they steal. Ask Morgan Stanley.

In August, it settled with the Justice Department over its role in fixing New York City’s electricity rates. The bank played middleman in a deal between two energy providers, KeySpan and Astoria Generating, which then colluded to withhold electricity from the market, artificially driving up prices and costing consumers an estimated $300 million.

Morgan Stanley was paid $21 million for arranging the scheme. But the ever-generous Holder let the bank settle for $4.8 million.

It marked a stunning new low in federal prosecutions, akin to forcing a bank robber to return just $2,500 after stealing $10,000. With no jail time, of course.

Morgan Stanley offers little defense for its actions. “We will decline comment,” says spokeswoman Mary Claire Delaney. But New York state senator Michael Gianaris will happily fill that silence.

“It’s a good business deal for Morgan Stanley,” he says. “They could break the law and get away with almost $17 million in profits for it, so why not do it again? If they get caught — and that’s a big if — they still get 70 percent of the profits.”

Peter Vallone Jr., a Queens councilman and former prosecutor, has never seen such tender handling of criminals.

I was a prosecutor for six years, and I’ve never seen someone being fined less than they made.”

In less than two years, Bank of America had chalked up six major fraud cases. But there was no talk of three strikes. No indictments for racketeering. Not one executive charged with a crime.

Now here is my favorite one:

A month later, ING paid a $619 million settlement for violating international sanctions and anti-terrorist laws. It spent a decade providing “state sponsors of terror and other sanctioned entities with access to the U.S. financial system,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at the time.

So the American people have sacrificed the Bill of Rights and all civil liberties to fight the phony “war on terror,” yet banks pay a settlement for aiding “terrorists.”  What do you think would happen to you if you were caught doing that?  A cell in Guantanamo? A drone missile to the head?

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike