On 24 September 2013, Syracuse University's "TRAC Reports," which is the only organization that tabulates the federal government's prosecutions of elite financial crimes, headlined "Slump in FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions," and reported that, "Prosecutions of white collar criminals recommended by the FBI are substantially down during the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2013." This was especially so in the Wall Street area: "In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions -- 27.8 percent -- was the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)."
Thus, President Obama has kept the promise that he had made in secret to the assembled Wall Street CEOs inside the White House on 27 March 2009 (but that was leaked out), "My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." Obama was promising to protect them from the "pitchforks": that term referring to the Old South, where racist mobs of Whites pursued Blacks to lynch them. Our President was saying he'd protect these men from such a mob as that. He saw these billionaires and centi-millionaires as being the victims, whom he would protect from an irrational mass of people: today's American public.
On 15 November 2011, TRAC Reports issued what is still the most recent of their more-comprehensive tabulations of bankster frauds, and they headlined "Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall," They noted that ever since TRAC had started counting these prosecutions, back in 1991, the prosecutions were now at an all-time low, down more than half since the year 2000, continuing the plunge that had started when George W. Bush entered the White House. Under President Obama, these prosecutions were about 30% below the GWB annual average. Though these prosecutions should have been at record-setting highs in the wake of the biggest orgy of financial crimes in this nation's history, which was the period leading up to the 2008 GWB-era collapse, they were instead at record-setting lows now, under Obama.
There were certainly numerous prosecutable crimes, but no White House interest in pursuing them.
Shahien Nasiripour, at huffingtonpost, bannered, on 16 May 2011, "Confidential Federal Audits Accuse Five Biggest Mortgage Firms Of Defrauding Taxpayers," and he reported that the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had carried out audits of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial, and found, in each case, that they had swindled the Federal Government. "The internal watchdog office at HUD referred its findings to the Department of Justice, which had to decide whether to file charges" under "the False Claims Act, a Civil War-era law crafted as a weapon against firms that swindle the government." All of "the audits conclude that the banks effectively cheated taxpayers by presenting the Federal Housing Administration with false claims: They filed for federal reimbursement on foreclosed homes ... using defective and faulty documents." Obama's "Justice" Department refused even to prosecute, much less to pursue, any of these mega-crooks, who had cheated the U.S. Government -- ultimately U.S. taxpayers.
At lower levels of the Federal Government, there was a desire to prosecute banksters. The official "2010 Mortgage Fraud Report" by the FBI analyzed "the breadth and depth of mortgage fraud crimes perpetrated against the United States and its citizens during 2010," and found that, "Mortgage fraud continued at elevated levels in 2010, consistent with levels seen in 2009." Furthermore, "the top states for known or suspected mortgage fraud activity during 2010 were California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, and New Jersey; reflecting the same demographic market affected by mortgage fraud in 2009." However, the FBI is only an investigative arm of the U.S. Government, not actually a prosecutorial agency. Only the Executive is that: the President, via his chosen U.S. Attorney General, who refuses to prosecute banksters.
Many expensive federal studies have been done of bankster crimes, but have ignored them. On 13 April 2011 was issued "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse," from U.S. Senator Carl Levin's committee, the Senate committee that's tasked with "Investigations." It simply ignored any role that criminality might have played, though it did document some things that might have constituted federal crimes, if only the President were to care that they be investigated as possibly being that, which he did not. In January 2011, there was "The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report" from the Commission (FCIC) that was appointed by the President and the leaders of both political Parties in Congress. It was rigged. For example, on 21 September 2013 in The New York Times, William D. Cohan, formerly of Wall Street but now an independent investigative journalist, headlined "Was This Whistle-Blower Muzzled?" and he described how Richard M. Bowen III, who had testified to the FCIC, was muzzled by them. Bowen testified because he claimed that he had been fired by Citigroup after allegedly having told Robert Rubin (who made $142 million there) that the bum mortgages they were selling to the public were rigged and would bomb. Bowen filed a complaint about this retaliation for his having been fired for having done what was his job to do (to report such things to top management), and so the FCIC felt compelled to interview him. However, Bowen's attorney told him that Bradley J. Bondi, the FCIC's deputy general counsel, demanded changes in his testimony, and personally threatened that he "thinks that the way it's written now, Citi will declare war on both you and the F.C.I.C., and it will primarily consist of an effort to discredit you." Cohan wrote that Bowen was advised by his attorney, "Remove the names of people at Citi," as the way to prevent further retaliation. Bowen was reported to be dumbfounded -- could it really be Citi that was threatening to retaliate even more against him? Cohan wrote: "'Who are they catching heat from?' Mr. Bowen asked, according to a transcript of the call provided by Mr. Bowen. 'Umm, Citi,' [Bowen's attorney] Mr. Kardell replied, adding, 'It's just a complete all battle stations with Citi about you testifying.'" Bowen refused, so his testimony was blocked from being made public until 2016 (when all the statutes of limitations will have expired and so none of those crimes will even be able to be prosecuted).
Finally, however, a federal agency was permitted to go after criminal banks (if not against criminal mega-bank CEOs), because it was the investigative arm of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which was the agency that had been left holding the bag on lots of the fraud-encrusted mortgages, via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which had bought them from the mega-banks, which had actually created and sold them. On 30 April 2012, the FHFA's "Semiannual Report to the Congress" described their efforts to at least fine the mega-banks, and on its page 79 identified who was really being protected by Wall Street's federal bailout (other than, of course, Wall Street's executives): it was: "Winners: Holders of Bonds and Guaranteed MBS." These were: "foreign central banks, commercial banks, fund managers, insurance companies, state and local governments, corporate pensions, individuals, and nonprofit foundations." In terms of the individuals who were benefited, it was mostly the top 1% richest individuals, the individuals who, in this country, have experienced 95% of the economic benefits from the Obama economic "recovery" from the Bush crash. In other words: the Wall Street bailout has gone virtually only to the top 1%.
But still, none of its elite perpetrators has been pursued by Obama and the cabinet officers he has hired.
Senator Levin's committee had identified a few of these people and how much they had made from it, such as on page 153 of their report, which mentioned that, at one institution, Washington Mutual (subsequently absorbed into JPMorgan/Chase), "Altogether, from 2003 to 2008, Washington Mutual paid Mr. Killinger [the CEO] nearly $100 million, on top of multi-million-dollar corporate retirement benefits." Then (on page 155) "When WaMu failed, shareholders lost all of their investments. Yet in the waning days of the company, top executives were still well taken care of. On September 8, 2008, Mr. Killinger walked away with $25 million, including $15 million in severance pay. His replacement, Allen Fishman, received a $7.5 million signing bonus for taking over the reins from Mr. Killinger in September 2008. Eighteen days later, WaMu failed, and Mr. Fishman was out of a job. According to his contract, he was eligible for about $11 million in severance pay when the bank failed."
So: taxpayers lost, homeowners lost, stockholders in the banks lost, and the bottom 95% generally lost, but top executives and the top 1% generally gained, and have continued to gain during Obama's economic "recovery." (Economists say that the recession has ended, because they don't care whether only the richest 1% have received the benefits of what they define as constituting a "recovery.")
On 14 January 2014, Cohan headlined at Bloomberg News, "Prosecutors Balk, Bankers Walk," and he summed up the outcomes for the people who had planned and orchestrated these thefts by fraud:
"Jimmy Cayne, the former chief executive officer of Bear Stearns & Co., continues to enjoy playing bridge and golf, his $400 million-plus fortune, his sprawling mansion in Elberon, New Jersey, and his duplex at the Plaza Hotel."
"Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., ... is closer to $520 million, according to people who prepared and studied Lehman's public filings."
"When Stan O'Neal resigned from Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2007, less than a year before it almost went bankrupt, he was given a parting gift of $161.5 million and a board seat -- which he still holds -- at Alcoa Inc."
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