Which of the Six Big 6 Banking Houses Was the Most Shameless Corporate Outlaw?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Bankers. The red carpet's still being rolled out for them in Washington, but if there's a stain on it they'll pout for days. Jason Linkins documents the latest set of cheap white whines from very wealthy white men. (Discrimination lawsuits are a routine part of their legal troubles, too.) This time they're upset because nobody from the six largest banks in America was invited to the president's CEO Roundtable.
They're offended because they didn't meet with the president? From the looks of things they're lucky not to be meeting with the warden. Their collective rap sheet includes fraud, sex discrimination, collusion to bribe public officials... even laundering drug money for Mexican drug cartels. One of them is accused of ripping off some nuns! None of this criminal behavior has stopped them from sulking over a presidential slight. Let's review the record for these corporate malefactors, and then decide:
Which of these six banks was "America's Most Shameless Corporate Outlaw" in 2010? (I mean, really: Nuns?)
1. Bank of America
Here are some recent headlines for the country's largest bank:
- "Bank of America Ends Year With Flurry of Lawsuits"
- "Arizona Wants Bank of America Held in Contempt"
- "Nevada, Arizona sue Bank of America over failed mortgage aid"
- "Allstate Sues Bank Of America For Selling 'Toxic' MBS"
- "Bank of America Hit With Missouri Class Action Over Loan Modifications"
Here are some of the details:
Associated Press: "Attorneys general in Arizona and Nevada filed civil lawsuits Friday against Bank of America Corp., alleging that the lender is misleading and deceiving homeowners who have tried to modify mortgages in two of the nation's most foreclosure-damaged states."
Courthouse News Service: "Bank of America violated a consent judgment it signed almost 2 years ago to provide loan modifications and help relocate borrowers, the Arizona attorney general claims ... Bank of America has continued to misrepresent 'to Arizona consumers whether they were eligible for modifications of their mortgage loans, when Bank of America would make a decision on their modification requests ... and whether and when Bank of America would foreclose upon their homes.'"
Consumer Affairs: "The bank is also facing at least three suits claiming that it reneged on duties it undertook by accepting $25 billion under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)."
In total, Bank of America's last annual report lists 29 pending lawsuits against the company. Lawsuits are not proof of guilt, of course. But the bank has already paid a fine for illegally concealing $6 billion in payouts to employees, and another fine for concealing major losses at its Merrill Lynch subsidiary. ( Both fines were low - not much more than a slap on the wrist - because Bank of America was on taxpayer-funded life support at the time.) BofA also confessed to committing fraud as part of a settlement this month, which the Justice Department noted was restitution "for its participation in a conspiracy to rig bids in the municipal bond derivatives market." The Bank was also ordered to pay Lehman $590 million for illegally seizing its deposits, in violation of bankruptcy law.
From the Associated Press:
A document obtained last week by the Associated Press showed a Bank of America official acknowledging in a legal proceeding that she signed thousands of foreclosure documents a month and typically didn't read them. The official, Renee Hertzler, said in a February deposition that she signed 7,000 to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month.
How generous has the taxpayer been to Bank of America? There was the TARP money, of course. And BofA, like other banks, has been suckling at the teat of Federal Reserve's discount money window throughout the crisis. And, as Zach Carter noted, the bank was also one of two institutions that were the main beneficiaries of a special Fed program called the Primary Reserve Credit Facility. There were those cushy settlements with the SEC.