The Criminalization of the US Banking System.
by Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer
May 21, 2012
Bankers and Forgiveness
When homeowners have fallen behind in their mortgage payments, whether because of a job loss or because the interest rates just shot up, the bankers have responded coldly. Led by their economic interests, they set their robo-signers working overtime on foreclosures, forcing millions of people out of their homes. Back during the height of this current economic crisis, when Congress considered passing legislation that would have allowed judges to lower home loans in order to prevent these foreclosures, the banks lobbied furiously and killed the legislation.
But when the bankers themselves commit their own transgressions — not innocent and unavoidable transgressions like not paying back a loan because you lost your job thanks to the bankers’ recession — but actually breaking the law, the government not only forgives them, it virtually becomes an accomplice in their crimes.
Robo-signing, for example, is a crime. It occurred when bank employees signed thousands of documents, claiming they were accurate, without bothering to verify their claim. Yet no one went to jail.
In a recent New York Times article, Jesse Eisinger pointed out that the JPMorgan scandal has raised an array of questions:
“What did Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, and Doug Braunstein, the chief financial officer, know, and when did they know it? Were the bank’s first-quarter earnings accurate? Were top JPMorgan officials misleading when they discussed the chief investment office’s investments? … The first question on everyone’s mind should be whether any existing laws were broken.” (May 17, 2012).
However, Eisinger was quick to point out in relation to the last question: “That it hasn’t been asked shows how little true accountability there has been since the financial crisis. No top-tier banker has gone to prison for the many bank failures, the deceptive sales practices or the misrepresentations of the books.”
The laws for the 1 percent are treated by the government as if they were humble requests — nothing to be seriously enforced if the 1 percent decline to accept. The laws for the 99 percent are brutally enforced, not to mention the prevalent police brutality that occurs without any legal justification.
Back in 2011, Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story, in another New York Times article (July 7, 2011), reported federal prosecutors adopted a gentler code for bankers:
“Federal prosecutors officially adopted new guidelines about charging corporations with crimes — a softer approach that, longtime white-collar lawyers and former federal prosecutors say, helps explain the dearth of criminal cases despite a raft of inquiries into the financial crisis. … The guidelines left open a possibility other than guilty or not guilty, giving leniency often if companies investigated and reported their own wrongdoing. In return, the government could enter into agreements to delay or cancel the prosecution if the companies promised to change their behavior.”