Archive for the ‘DOJ’ Category
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has issued a report on the “London Whale” trades and JP Morgan detailing what it titles “A case history of derivatives risks and abuses.”
I could go through the entire report (and have read it) and detail each and every point of abuse and intentional obfuscation, but it’s not necessary to do so.
The key point take from this report, and the hearing that will be held today, is singular:
The conduct detailed therein is a criminal federal offense. So says Sarbanes-Oxley, a law passed after myriad false statements made by corporate executives in the 1990s left investors with big losses and the only retribution available was through civil suit for various alleged torts, including the collapse of both Worldcom and Enron.
Congress responded with a law that requires the CEO of a public company to certify that the financial reports issued by the company be truthful in all material respects and imposes criminal penalties for false statements.
This report, and the hearing to be held today, leave me with only one question: Where are the damned indictments and why should I or anyone else obey the law if our government will not prosecute behavior that it facially and clearly documents has breached these requirements?
Let me remind those in Congress and elsewhere who are commenting on this, including Cramer right now on CNBS claiming that there was “nothing criminal” — and are in doing so willfully ignoring SarbBox, which makes such conduct explicit crimes:
When there is no justice available through the courts there comes a point where the people will resolve the problem. It will be far messier and much less fair, but at its core it happens because those who are charged with meting out justice have refused to do so.
When that happens, and it will, I will charge the outcome against every media pundit who is claiming that there were “no crimes” along with every politician who has echoed that sentiment rather than demanding immediate and vigorous prosecution.
It just never ends.
So the Justice Department has sued S&P claiming that they issued knowingly-false ratings on various structured products that they knew were going to blow up.
There is one glaring problem - the supposed “injured party” is the issuer!
That’s right folks — the claim is apparently that Citibank (among others) created crap, asked S&P to rate it, they did, and then they bought their own crap and were injured by it.
But you see, in this fairy-tale land of the SEC, the creator of the crap didn’t know it was crap, even though in in the instant case that Citibank’s former risk officer testified under oath that in 2006 60% of their loans were defective — and 80% were defective in 2007.
This was the Chief Risk Officer and his assessment of whether the loans were “authentic” (as represented) or whether they were chock full of lies and material misrepresentations.
How can you sue when you knowingly buy something that your own people intentionally created in a bogus manner and which you thus knew was crap, irrespective of what someone else said? How could you rely on someone’s outside opinion when you know the facts and do not need to rely on opinions at all?
There’s no basis for this lawsuit. There are a crazy number of reasons that people should be sued and prosecuted, but this isn’t one of them. If I create rat poison and then having done so, eat it, it’s my own damn fault if I die as a consequence.
What was going on here is that BAC and Citibank (among others) were intentionally defrauding everyone in sight — including the regulators. By taking crap loans (which they owned) and packaging them into securities that they then bought a “AAA” label forthey were improving their capital ratios since the risk was made to magically disappear.
Citibank wasn’t a victim of anything — they were the protagonist and the entity committing the offense! The entity playing the games here was the bank itself, not the ratings agency. They knowingly took crap and packaged it, then bought the packaged crap they solicited the bogus ratings on for the purpose of improving their apparent capital and thus making the firm look stronger than it really was, and all of this was intended to (and did) result in bonuses for executives and stock price advances — until it blew up in their face.
Rather than prosecute the bad guys Eric Holder now chases after someone who went along because they were paid rather than busting the entity that orchestrated the entire mess in the first place.
This is yet another political farce intended to protect the guilty.
A new report from the conservative Government Accountability Institute (GAI) finds that President Barack Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s failure to criminally charge any top Wall Street bankers is likely a result of cronyism inside the Department of Justice and political donations made to Obama’s campaign.
Despite Obama’s and Holder’s “heated rhetoric” against Wall Street (in 2009, Obama blamed the 2008 financial collapse on “reckless speculation of bankers” while Holder charged that “unscrupulous executives, Ponzi scheme operators and common criminals alike have targeted the pocketbooks and retirement accounts of middle class Americans”), they haven’t “filed a single criminal charge against any top executive of an elite financial institution,” GAI wrote in its report, exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.
GAI argues that the Obama administration’s decision to not go after Big Finance is due to senior DOJ leadership — Holder, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, Associate Attorney General Tony West, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Deputy Attorney General James Cole and Deputy Associate Attorney General Karol Mason — who “all came to the DOJ from prestigious white-collar defense firms where they represented the very financial institutions the DOJ is supposed to investigate.”
The report details how Holder and Breuer both came to the DOJ from Covington & Burling, a “top-tier Washington law firm” with a client list that includes financial firms like Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, ING, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wilmington Trust.
GAI said that President Obama’s decision to choose Holder, “a white-collar defense attorney from Covington,” as his attorney general, over a “more fiery prosecutor,” appears to have sent “a subtle signal to the financial community” that this administration isn’t going to actually do anything, despite the harsh words.
Cole, the report outlines, was with Bryan Cave LLP — “a white-shoe firm with A-list clients” — before becoming Holder’s right-hand man at the DOJ. One of Cole’s clients while at Bryan Cave LLP, the GAI report shows, was insurance and financial giant AIG.
Cole had done $20 million worth of work for AIG between 2004 and 2008, but his close ties with the company — which was “at the heart of the financial crisis largely because of its noncompliance in regulatory and compliance issues” — didn’t stop Obama or Holder from welcoming him aboard their administration.
The Obama administration’s decision to not appoint an independent counsel to investigate the MF Global scandal, despite more than 60 members of Congress demanding it, also reeks of cronyism, the GAI report details. Obama bundler and former Democratic New Jersy Gov. Jon Corzine was at the center of MF Global.
GAI points out how West — the DOJ’s no. 3 official — worked as a white-collar defense attorney for Morrison and Foerster before he came to the DOJ. Morrison and Foerster is currently providing legal representation to MF Global. Holder and Breuer’s old law firm — Covington & Burling — provided legal services to MF Global too, before MF Global sought bankruptcy protection.
GAI adds that the appearance of MF Global cronyism is “further complicated” by how Reid Weingarten — an attorney at Steptoe & Johnson — was selected to be MF Global treasurer Edith O’Brien’s lawyer.
“Weingarten previously served as Holder’s attorney following the controversial pardon of Marc Rich in the Clinton Justice Department,” the GAI report reads, adding that the blog Main Justice points out how Weingarten is “one of Holder’s best friends.”
In addition to those officials’ potential personal financial interests — were they to return to their old firms after their time at the DOJ ends — in avoiding investigating those big banks, GAI points out how “Obama’s top DOJ officials played prominent roles in his 2008 campaign.”
Holder, the nation’s top DOJ official, “co-chaired the campaign with Tony West, the DOJ’s third highest official.”
“No other modern administration has staffed the DOJ with big money fundraisers,” GAI wrote. “Holder bundled $50,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, while Perrelli, West, and Mason all bundled $500,000 for the campaign. West also helped Obama raised an estimated $65 million in California.”
GAI president Peter Schweizer told TheDC that cronyism appears to be infiltrating the halls of the DOJ with the Obama administration, and that it appears Holder’s team has no interest in fighting for accountability when it comes to Wall Street because he, Obama and the rest of the DOJ team have a financial interest in not enforcing those laws.
“When we think of cronyism and the problems of cronyism and crony capitalism, we think in terms of economic loss and gain,” Schweizer said in a phone interview. “What we’re showing here is that cronyism is now permeating our justice system. So, it’s not just a question of dollars and cents, it’s a question of whether you’re going to face legal jeopardy or not on what you’re doing.”
“The issue of a revolving door — people who go in and out of, for instance, the Department of Energy who go work for energy companies then come back to the Department of Energy — is always there,” Schweizer added. “But, we’re not used to associating the top leadership of the Justice Department with the revolving door. And, I think that’s what makes this so troubling — because you can’t trust them. All their financial interests are tied up with these large firms that do an enormous amount of business with Wall Street.”
In the report, GAI details how the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations both actually took down financial criminals — unlike the Obama administration. Between 2002 and 2008, for instance, GAI points out how a Bush administration task force “obtained over 1,300 corporate fraud convictions, including those of over 130 corporate vice presidents and over 200 CEOs and corporate presidents.”
“Clinton’s DOJ prosecuted over 1,800 S&L [savings and loans] executives, senior officials, and directors, and over 1,000 of them were sent to jail,” GAI adds.
But, despite having “promised more of the same,” especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration’s DOJ has not brought criminal charges against a single major Wall Street executive.
The Bush and Clinton administrations’ track records on prosecuting white-collar crime, and the Obama administration’s failure to do so, Schweizer said, is “evidence that this has less to do with some sort of partisan or philosophical issue.”
“I think it has to do with the fact that, previously, under Clinton or under Bush, you had senior people who were prosecutors — who not only had previous experience, but were actually active prosecutors,” Schweizer said. “The problem that you have at the Obama Justice Department, particularly bizarre at this time and place where we were coming off the financial crisis, is that they really have no recent prosecutors at the top of the Justice Department. They’re all white-collar criminal defense attorneys. That’s what’s so troubling. One would think that, given the financial crisis, and the widespread conduct, they would have at least carved out some senior positions for prosecutors who could really drill down on this. That’s what Clinton did, and that’s what Bush did.”
As one of many examples of where Holder’s DOJ could have gone after Wall Street but failed, GAI cites how Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin “proposed that the DOJ criminally investigate Goldman Sachs for its handling of the Abacus 2007-AC1 transaction” in an April 2011 Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report. In that 635-page report, Levin and his staff — who are Democrats — recommended that Holder’s DOJ investigate potential crimes committed. Levin’s subcommittee and the Federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission both made formal referrals to the DOJ for investigation – and Forbes magazine ran an article with the headline, “Criminal Charges Loom for Goldman Sachs After Scathing Report.”
Nothing happened. But, over the course of the rest of 2011, Obama went on a massive fundraising drive down Wall Street.
“By the fall of 2011, Obama had collected more donations from Wall Street than any of the Republican candidates, and employees at Bain Capital had donated more than twice as much to Obama as they did to [Mitt] Romney, the firm’s founder,” GAI wrote in its report.
“In the weeks before and after the Senate report on Goldman Sachs, several Goldman executives and their families made contributions to Obama’s Victory Fund and related entities and some contributors maxed out at the largest individual donation allowed, $35,800.”
“Five senior Goldman Sachs executives wrote more than $130,000 in checks to the Obama Victory Fund,” GAI continued. “Two of these executives had never donated to Obama before and had previously only given small donations to individual candidates.”
While GAI said in the report that it would be a “reach to conclude that the Department of Justice dropped its criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs solely in response to large campaign contributions” from its executives, it certainly doesn’t pass the smell test — and calls for investigations continue.
Justice Inaction Report
WASHINGTON – The former Countrywide Financial Corp., whose subprime loans helped start the nation’s foreclosure crisis, made hundreds of discount loans to buy influence with members of Congress, congressional staff, top government officials and executives of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, according to a House report.
Isn’t that pretty-much bribery?
The Justice Department has not prosecuted any Countrywide official, but the House committee’s report said documents and testimony show that Mozilo and company lobbyists “may have skirted the federal bribery statute by keeping conversations about discounts and other forms of preferential treatment internal. Rather than making quid pro quo arrangements with lawmakers and staff, Countrywide used the VIP loan program to cast a wide net of influence.”
Skirted eh? So all I have to do is make sure that there’s no record of anything I might want in return for such a thing, or simply shower Congressional offices with various “intangible” gifts, and if it happens to lead to benefit, well, that’s ok?
Yeah, right. It may be “legal” but that doesn’t make it right!
I have written much about Countrywide and the bankster actions in general during the 2000s. There were so many clear abuses that several States attempted to stop them with lawsuits and other enforcement action. The Bush Administration sued to block these enforcement actions, arguing that as banks and other firms doing business across state lines the businesses in question were subject to exclusiveFederal Jurisdiction and could not be sued by The States.
In other words, at the explicit direction of the Bush White House, you got screwed.
And then under Obama you got more screwed as his White House has refused to bring charges and prosecute either.
What’s even worse is that even Gary Johnson, allegedly a Libertarian, has said “Nobody committed any crimes” and he has refused to demand that those responsible for these abusive practices face the music!
We have a Parliament of Whores with all of your choices for November being in fact Robbers in Chief, both real and prospective, and you, the common man, have been and will be in the future serially abused as a consequence — right up until you demand better politicians.
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Oh look, show trials complete with plea deals that are entered at the same time as are the charges!
Federal prosecutors unveiled criminal charges against three former Credit Suisse Group AG employees, providing a window into the way traders allegedly invented inflated values for mortgage bonds during the financial crisis.
Two of the three men pleaded guilty to criminal charges of conspiracy, admitting they attempted to conceal the scheme from managers in a bid to boost their bonuses.
Yes, and happy days are here again, the bad guys are all in prison and we can all go back to our work.
One employee was captured on a taped call worrying that “someone is going to spot” the inflated prices, prosecutors said. When another employee told his boss he should book a large loss, the boss allegedly balked: “That’s a lot of money, dude,” according to a taped conversation cited by prosecutors.
Wait a second… Taped call eh? From 2007 and 2008? Can someone please explain why it’s four years later when we’re seeing these charges?
Oh, I wonder if the delay has anything to do with this?
A U.S. Justice Department source has told The Daily Caller that at least two DOJ prosecutors accepted cash bribes from allegedly corrupt finance executives who were indicted under court seal within the past 13 months, but never arrested or prosecuted.
The sitting governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, his attorney general and an unspecified number of Virgin Islands legislators also accepted bribes, the source said, adding that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is aware prosecutors and elected officials were bribed and otherwise compromised, but has not held anyone accountable.
The bribed officials, an attorney with knowledge of the investigation told TheDC, remain on the taxpayers’ payroll at the Justice Department without any accountability. The DOJ source said Holder does not want to admit public officials accepted bribes while under his leadership.
Say it isn’t so! I mean, c’mon — there hasn’t been anything going on with bribery when it comes to, oh, Jefferson County in Alabama, right? We haven’t actually seen municipal officials go to prison while the banksters who booked outsized profits (and after all, for there to be a bribe someone must offer a bribe while someone else receives said bribe) walk around chuckling, right?
But this allegation is a new low — if true, then there are people walking around right now who had indictments filed under seal but the indicted handed over the proverbial “big envelope” and, well, people sorta “forgot” about it.
Read the whole story over at Daily Caller. It’s disgusting, and one has to assume that if this occurred in that context it is probably not an isolated incident.