Tag Archives | Banksters

California Man Could Face Decade In Jail For Writing Anti-Bank Slogans In Chalk

chalk protest

The local government is acting on instructions from a “high-ranking bank security manager.” KMFB San Diego reports:

A North Park man is looking at more than a decade behind bars for using washable chalk to protest the banking industry. Jeff Olson is being charged with 13 counts of vandalism for writing anti-bank slogans on sidewalks outside three Bank of America branches.

A surveillance camera caught Olson in the act, writing on the sidewalk in front of a Bank of America in North Park. Olson admits it: “I wrote ‘No thanks big banks,’ I wrote ‘Shame on Bank of America,’” he said.

But the city attorney’s office — after receiving multiple emails from a high ranking bank security manager — decided to charge Olson with 13 counts of misdemeanor vandalism.

Olson’s attorney argued in motions Tuesday morning that this is free speech written in easily cleanable chalk, but Judge Howard Shore disagreed, saying this case has nothing to do with free speech.

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Liberty Reserve, “Bank of Choice for the Criminal Underworld”

Liberty reserveKurt Eichenwald likens the latest massively fraudulent bank scandal at Liberty Reserve to BCCI (remember them, the terrorist bankers of choice?), at Vanity Fair:

Another day, another alleged fraud. But this one—brought to light by the federal indictment of Liberty Reserve, which prosecutors said was one of the world’s largest online money operations—sounded a little bit too familiar.

According to the charges, the operators of Liberty Reserve constructed an extremely complex international network for financial transactions that allowed its customers to transmit vast sums of money around the globe, all while operating under layers of anonymity. As a result, the indictment says, “Liberty Reserve was in fact used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning in effect as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld.”

If that rings a bell for any of you fraud aficionados, think back to 1991 and the virtual financial explosion of a shadowy international institution called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, best known as B.C.C.I.

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The Illuminati Were Amateurs: The Second Huge Financial Scandal of the Year Reveals the Real International Conspiracy

Occupy Wall Street March 2012 foreclosure bannerThe biggest price fixing scandal ever is how Matt Taibbi describes it for Rolling Stone:

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments.

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Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed

When the odds are stacked this heavily against whistleblowers, there's not much incentive to rat out wrongdoers. Matt Taibbi looks at how even the courts are in on it, for Rolling Stone:
A great many people around the county were rightfully shocked and horrified by the recent excellent and hard-hitting PBS documentary, The Untouchables, which looked at the problem of high-ranking Wall Street crooks going unpunished in the wake of the financial crisis. The PBS piece certainly rattled some cages, particularly in Washington, in a way that few media efforts succeed in doing. Now, two very interesting and upsetting footnotes to that groundbreaking documentary have emerged in the last weeks. The first involves one of the people interviewed for the story, a former high-ranking executive from Countrywide financial who turned whistleblower named Michael Winston...
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Eunuchs of the Universe: Tom Wolfe on Wall Street Today

Well Newsweek may be dead, but its Daily Beast reincarnation is actually publishing some interesting articles, not least this one in which “Tom Wolfe draws up a sterling indictment of our unscrupulous financial culture. Twenty-five years after Bonfire of the Vanities, the author returns to Wall Street to see what happened to the Masters of the Universe”:

Come join us as we go back seven months to the apex of the history of American capitalism in the 21st century. We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming.

To slip past a battalion of cops and a platoon of security operatives in gray suits with small white techno-polyps in their ears attached to coils of white intercom cord trying to keep us under control… as we all but trample the raggedy, homeless-looking ranks of the television crews and every other laggard in our way.

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Homeowners Foreclose On Negligent Banks

Via CNN, in areas of the United States hit hardest by foreclosure, turning the tables on banks who turn deadbeat after repossessing homes:

Since the housing bubble burst in Florida five years ago, more than 400,000 borrowers have had their homes foreclosed on by their lenders. But for some, it’s payback time.

Hundreds of homeowners and condo associations are foreclosing on banks that have failed to pay dues and other expenses on the properties they’ve repossessed. When banks foreclose on a home they become responsible for paying fees to the homeowners association — both any unpaid fees going back as far as 12 months and all expenses going forward. In many cases, however, banks are failing to pay, leaving these associations short on cash, according to Miami-based attorney Ben Solomon. Now, homeowners groups are putting liens on the properties until banks pay up and foreclosing on them if they don’t.

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Finally, A Few Bankers Face Criminal Prosecutions For Conspiracies

When most mainstream media outlets discuss conspiracy theories, it is usually to debunk the views of dissenting and critical thinkers who are routinely denounced as simplistic, paranoid or worse.

You have frequently seen the mantra questioning their motives and conclusions as if the idea of people or officials acting together covertly to advance their interests in illegal ways is something new in history.

Until recently, US press outlets characterized conspiracy arguments as rants that lacked any factual basis, engaged in guilt by association and stretched the facts.

The only conspiracy charges they tended to look at uncritically were criminal complaints against the Mafia under anti-racketeering statutes like the RICO statutes. Prosecutors loved these cases because normal concerns with protecting  the rights of defendants didn’t apply when hearsay evidence was permitted.

But now, four years after the financial crisis, prosecutors have finally discovered what critics have been alleging repeatedly:  that big banks were crooks, engaging, engaging among other illicit practices,  in secretive, illegal and conspiratorial schemes to rig baseline interest rates and manipulate credit markets,

It has now been admitted that traders at two major financial institutions were fixing LIBOR—the London Interbank Offered Rate, used to set the interest rates of $800 trillion worth of financial products, including credit cards and mortgages.… Read the rest

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U.S. Goverment Says Drug Cartel-Linked Banking Giant HSBC Is Too Big To Jail

HSBC was fined of $1.9 billion this week for laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. It’s worth noting that for the world’s second largest bank, with trillions in assets, this is equivalent to a littering ticket. The New York Times writes:

It is a dark day for the rule of law. Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system. They also have not charged any top HSBC banker in the case, though it boggles the mind that a bank could launder money as HSBC did without anyone in a position of authority making culpable decisions.

When prosecutors choose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as this, the law itself is diminished.

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The Psyche Of The Wall Street Quant

Via Ghost Exchange, excerpts from a fascinating PBS interview with former hedge fund analyst Cathy O’Neil on the culture within Wall Street:

The basic cultural assumptions were not pleasant to me. The sort of most basic cultural assumption was that as a smart person, we have the right to take advantage of the system and of “dumb people.” And that is sort of — I mean, I guess I should have known, going into a hedge fund, that’s what people think.

I was thinking of it naively, more like, “Oh, there’s a system, and we should see what inefficiencies there are in the system and add information.” I mean, I just sort of drank that Kool-Aid. But once I was inside, I realized that’s not really how people think about it. They think, “Well, of course we’re going to take advantage, because we’re smart, and we can. We have better tools, and our tools are our brains.” Take advantage of absolutely everything and everyone that we can, in any way we can.

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