Tag Archives | Banking

Many Wall Street Executives Say Wrongdoing Is Necessary

Capitalism-hating radicals claim that our financial sector is awash with unethical and illegal behavior, which is not merely tolerated, but encouraged or even required for success. Many Wall Street leaders concur completely. Via Yahoo! News:

A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday. In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.

Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.

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The Shady Past of the Vatican Bank

As scandal surrounding the Vatican Bank grows and grows, Der Spiegel looks back at the its recent history of extreme sketchiness:

Whereas Benedict XVI and his predecessors have preached humility and ethical financial dealings from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, his confidants working directly beneath the papal windows have continued to pursue shady financial transactions.

The Vatican has yet to divulge the business practices its bank has been using for decades. “There is fear that, owing to the transparency necessary today, one will find something in the past that one doesn’t want to,” says Marco Politi, a Rome-based Vatican expert.

Such things could include a complex system of ghost accounts and shell companies like the bank had when Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus was its head in the 1980s. At the time, the bank did business involving foreign currency and weapons with the Milanese banker Robert Calvi and the mafia financier Michele Sidona — and helped launder illegal proceeds the mafia earned from drug-trafficking as well as bribes paid to Christian-conservative Italian politicians.

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Karl Marx-Themed Mastercards Are A Hit In Germany

The ultimate indignity for the great critiquer of capitalism? Or a subtle expression of mass dissatisfaction with the current financial paradigm? Via Reuters:

Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some eastern Germans are once again carrying round images of Karl Marx – if only in their pockets. More than a third of customers at Sparkasse bank in Chemnitz opted for the picture of a bronze bust of the bearded 19th century German-born philosopher, bank spokesman Roger Wirtz said. Marx’s stern face is depicted gazing towards the logo of Mastercard.

The east has witnessed a wave of nostalgia in recent years for aspects of the old East Germany, or DDR, where citizens had few freedoms but were guaranteed jobs and social welfare. The trend is not limited to the region. A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back.

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More Icelandic Bankers Arrested

Via Icenews.is

Iceland’s special prosecutor into the banking crisis has confirmed that raids have taken place today and that arrests have been made. The Central Bank of Iceland is among the institutions under investigation.

Special Prosecutor, Olafur Thor Hauksson told Visir.is that house searches are taking place in at least three places today as part of investigations into the central bank, MP Bank and Straumur Bank.

Stefan Johann Stefansson at the central bank confirmed that agents were in the building conducting searches; and it has also been confirmed that searches are underway at MP Bank and ALMC (formerly Straumur).

An ALMC spokesman said that the premises are indeed being searched and that the bank’s staff members are doing their best to help.

In other news, four people have so far been arrested today in connection with the special prosecutor’s investigation into Landsbanki…

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Bank Of America Now Suing Itself In Foreclosure Cases

4501651351_6540d48316_nIn the latest phase of the foreclosure crisis, our nation’s biggest banks have reached a Zen-like state in which they resemble snakes eating their own tails, reports Forbes:

Here’s a sign of just how big and messy the foreclosure problem is: Bank of America has sued itself at least nine times in April.

That’s what lawyer and fraud expert Lynn Szymoniak discovered recently during a search for foreclosure filings in Palm Beach county Florida.”There are likely at least 100 examples of the same thing happening across the state,” Szymoniak says. “The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on the condo owner.”

“We are servicing the first mortgage on behalf of an investor and we own the second mortgage,” said Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens [in regards to one case].

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Why No Wall Street Prosecutions? It’s ‘Just Too Hard’

lloyd-blankfein-successorAre the architects of the financial crisis immune to prosecution simply because it would be too complex? So says an ex-official from the Justice Department. ProPublica writes:

Years after the financial crisis, there have still been no prosecutions of top executives at the major players in the financial crisis. Why’s that? Well, according to a now-departed Justice Department official who used to be in charge of investigating such matters, the Justice Department has decided that holding top Wall Street executives criminally accountable is too difficult a task.

David Cardona, who recently left the FBI for a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the Wall Street Journal that bringing financial wrongdoing to account is “better left to regulators,” who can bring civil cases:

While at the FBI, Mr. Cardona oversaw dozens of criminal probes of large financial firms. The FBI’s probes haven’t led to any successful prosecutions of high-profile executives in relation to the financial crisis, despite demands from some lawmakers and angry Americans.

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Prosecuting Wall Street

With a story about prosecuting Wall Street featured on the most mainstream of TV news shows, CBS’s Sixty Minutes, might there finally be enough momentum for some banking executives go to jail?

In this segment, two high-ranking financial whistleblowers say they tried to warn their superiors about defective and even fraudulent mortgages. Reporter Steve Kroft questions why the companies and their executives haven’t been prosecuted.

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Five More Countries For Goldman Sachs To Take Over

octoNow that Goldman Sachs has achieved coups d’etats in Greece and Italy, DJ Pangburn at Death and Taxes lays out five additional countries ripe for bankdom to install leaders:

We present five other countries where Goldman Sachs could install bankers as heads of state.

Where to begin, though? Originally, I considered Ireland to be a prime candidate for some Goldman Sachs coup d’etat action, but it seems that Ireland already got the old Goldman Sachs in/out in the form of Peter Sutherland, a non-executive director of Goldman Sachs, as well as a non-executive at BP. Here are five countries that could use a little Goldman Sachs in/out.

Spain: With concerns in Italy lessening amidst the installation of ex-Goldman man Mario Monti as PM, bankers and investors in the eurozone and abroad are looking to Spain, which the BBC is calling the “weaker link in the eurozone chain.”

This is obviously the first country that requires a Goldman Sachs premiership.

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Lobbying Firm’s Memo Lays Out Plan To Undermine Occupy Wall Street

owsWall Streeters may publicly scoff at the Occupy movement via jokes about bathing and drum circles — however, behind the scenes it is apparently being taken quite seriously. Wondering how the empire plans to strike back? It’s already been laid out, MSNBC reveals:

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by MSNBC.

e proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

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Bankers Undemocratically Installed As Heads Of Italy And Greece

Pg-12-eurozone-graphicIn case you missed it, over the past eight days, the prime ministers of two major European nations stepped down. The newly appointed, not elected, leaders of Italy and Greece will be Mario Monti (formerly of Goldman Sachs) and Lucas Papademos (formerly head of the Central Bank of Greece). A signal that marriage between capitalism and democracy is coming to an end? The Independent writes:

The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By replacing the scandal-surfing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has dislodged the undislodgeable. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, it has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.

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