The Ten Most Outrageous Economic Calamities of 2012
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Who will be punished for this blatant financial crime? Bank after bank are in the process of admitting their sins, and then, paying a large fine. But it's unlikely that any criminal bank will be forced to shut its doors, or that any American bankers will serve time or even get fined personally. The fines will be paid from profits, not from the personal accounts of the bankers. And the fines will be moderate because "prosecutors are trying to strike a balance between putting a company out of business and letting it off," reports the New York Times. How considerate!
#6. Banks engage is massive Money Laundering for Drug Cartels and Rogue Nations: No one is punished.
Imagine what would happen to you if you got caught using your bank account to launder a million dollars for the world's leading drug cartels. Imagine further that you found ways to illegally move money for rogue nations, which is prohibited by federal sanctions. If you're very lucky, you might spend the rest of your life playing tennis with Bernie Madoff in a minimum security prison.
But wait. If you're really interested in this line of work, it's best to work for a too-big-to fail bank like HSBC. Because if you do, you can launder "at least $881 million in drug proceeds through the U.S. financial system," the Justice Department announced in December. And you won't lose your job or go to prison. You can even do "willful flouting of U.S. sanctions laws and regulations [that] resulted in the processing of hundreds of millions of dollars in....prohibited transactions" with rogue nations and even terrorist organizations.
(How blatant was this flouting? Because the drug cartels showed up so often at banks with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, the drug runners constructed special boxes to hold the cash so that it could easily slide under the bank tellers' bars.)
Not to worry, if you're caught, your employer will pay a fine, and you might have to wait five years to get some of your bonus money. But you've got your job, your income and your freedom. By the way, this month, HSBC was fined $1.9 billion, which amounts to approximately 5.5 weeks of its 2011 reported profits.
The Justice Department's excuse for favoring these white-collar criminals? Putting the criminal bank out of business could destabilize the global banking system, kill jobs and cause another crash. What's the excuse for letting the top officers off the hook? They didn't have explicit knowledge of the crimes. (Yet they were laughing all the way to the bank, come bonus time.)
#5. In 2012, too-big-to-fail means too-big-to-be-punished.
Wall Street banks took down the economy by creating hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities that were toxic and often designed to fail. They knew that it was just a matter of time before mortgage foreclosures would destroy the value of those securities. Yet, all the largest U.S. banks packaged and sold toxic mortgages to investors all over the world, who were told these were sound investments. Sometimes the very same banks joined with hedge funds to profit by betting that the toxic securities would collapse. Meanwhile, they pumped up the housing market until it burst all over us.
Because of this fraudulent activity the entire economy crashed, killing 8 million jobs in a matter of months due to no fault of those displaced workers. It was the biggest, most corrupt and most profitable casino in human history. And now 2012 has passed without a single person responsible for the mess losing his or her job, or forfeiting their outrageous pay packages. As the New York Times recently reported: