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Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert with their own unique take on banker Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase.
Please welcome Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.net, who will be contributing here as the spirit moves her.
Two days ago, JP Morgan Chase's regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, ordered the bank to implement a real compliance program to ensure it doesn't help its customers engage in money laundering.
In spite of the fact that, just 18 months ago, JPMC got scolded for helping a bunch of sanctioned regimes do banking --including sending a ton of gold bullion to Iran-- OCC didn't even fine JPMC, much less charge anyone from the bank with a crime.
Compare that to the treatment of Karen Gasparian, the manager of the G&A Check Cashing company out in LA.
Yesterday, he got sentenced to five years in prison for doing precisely what JPMC did: fail to comply with BSA/AML law.
In his sentencing, he even submitted record of all the big banks that have skated for doing what he did, including HSBC's 1.9 Billion wrist slap last month, and noted the disparity in treatment:
An even greater problem with the Government’s seeking a sentence of incarceration in this case is the disparity when compared to other instances of the same offense, or instances involving even more egregious conduct, such as much larger financial institutions conducting business with drug trafficking organizations and terroristic regimes like Iran. Time and time again, the United States Government has offered deferred prosecution agreements (and fines) to financial institutions whose conduct was exponentially more egregious than the conduct at issue here. Mr. Gasparian’s offense, while serious, was still far short of the conduct committed by these other institutions. Any sentence of incarceration in this case would be a loud proclamation that the rich and powerful receive one type of justice, while those less powerful receive another type.
The government was unmoved.
In fact, it said Gasparian had to do prison time ... as a deterrent to others:
Because there are hundreds of check cashers in Los Angeles as well as an underlying health care fraud problem, it is more important that the sentence here be sufficient to promote respect for the law and general deterrence for the types of criminal activities defendant engaged in as well as the health care fraudsters. A significant sentence is also necessary to reflect the serious [sic] of the offense, deter criminal conduct, and protect the public from defendant.
Clearly, the government believes if you do not punish financial institutions for helping crooks launder their money, the financial institutions will continue to help crooks launder their money.
So I guess we should conclude that the government wants JPMC (and other big banks like HSBC) to have the monopoly on helping money launderers.