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What A Farce. The Really Bad Banks Are Still Too Big To Jail

Federal guidelines require prosecutors to weigh the broader economic consequences of charging corporations. What about the consequences of NOT charging them?
What A Farce. The Really Bad Banks Are Still Too Big To Jail
Image from: businessweek.com

Oh, no. Hell, no. What kind of frickin' con game is this?

What is is that the feds do not understand? We don't care about Credit Suisse or some damned French bank that ignored sanctions. We want the bankers who crashed the economy and stole people's homes, not the ones who sold tax shelters to the uber rich. They are so far down on the list. We want the men at the top of the mortgage casino operations, the people who ruined so many lives with a nod and a wink while their underlings did the dirty work.

Are we supposed to be impressed that the feds are throwing us what they allege to be a bone? Nothing has changed. The same banks that are too big to fail are still too big to jail:

Federal prosecutors are nearing criminal charges against some of the world’s biggest banks, according to lawyers briefed on the matter, a development that could produce the first guilty plea from a major bank in more than two decades.

In doing so, prosecutors are confronting the popular belief that Wall Street institutions have grown so important to the economy that they cannot be charged. A lack of criminal prosecutions of banks and their leaders fueled a public outcry over the perception that Wall Street giants are “too big to jail.”

[block]The new strategy underpins the decision to seek guilty pleas in two of the most advanced investigations: one into Credit Suisse for offering tax shelters to Americans, and the other against France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, over doing business with countries like Sudan that the United States has blacklisted. [/block]

Addressing those concerns, prosecutors in Washington and New York have met with regulators about how to criminally punish banks without putting them out of business and damaging the economy, interviews with lawyers and records reviewed by The New York Times show.

The new strategy underpins the decision to seek guilty pleas in two of the most advanced investigations: one into Credit Suisse for offering tax shelters to Americans, and the other against France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, over doing business with countries like Sudan that the United States has blacklisted. The approach applies to American banks, though those investigations are at an earlier stage.


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In the talks with BNP, which has a huge investment bank in New York, prosecutors in Manhattan and Washington have outlined plans to extract a criminal guilty plea from the bank’s parent company, according to the lawyers, who were not authorized to speak publicly. If BNP is unable to negotiate a lesser punishment — the bank has enlisted the support of high-ranking French officials to pressure prosecutors — the case could counter congressional criticism that arose after the British bank HSBC escaped similar charges two years ago.

Such criminal cases hinge on the cooperation of regulators, some who warned that charging HSBC could have prompted the revocation of the bank’s charter, the corporate equivalent of the death penalty. Federal guidelines require prosecutors to weigh the broader economic consequences of charging corporations.

Economists warned after the crash that the economy would never really recover until the toxic banks were allowed to fail. The whole mess was a house of cards, and the Obama administration's policy of "extend and pretend" simply didn't work. The ripple effects spread through the economy, and it's not coming back.

Can't we at least see some of the perpetrators on trial, people like Jamie Dimon? Because if we don't, no one should be surprised that we call this out as the farce it is.

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