“Well,” said I to myself after the last election, “I didn’t vote for him, but at least we’ll have a president who will get serious about corruption on Wall Street.” Charles Ferguson says, um, sorry. Excerpt:
This behaviour is criminal. We are talking about deliberate concealment of financial transactions that aided terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and large-scale tax evasion; assisting in major financial frauds and in concealment of criminal assets; and committing frauds that substantially worsened the worst financial bubbles and crises since the Depression.
Total fines on the banks for their role in the Enron fraud, the internet bubble, violation of sanctions against countries including Iran and money-laundering activities appear to be far less than 1% of financial sector profits and bonuses during the same period.
There have been very few prosecutions and no criminal convictions of large US financial institutions or their senior executives. Where individuals not linked to major banks have committed similar offences, they have been treated far more harshly.
The Obama government has rationalised its failure to prosecute anyone (literally, anyone at all) for bubble-related crimes by saying that while much of Wall Street’s behaviour was unwise or unethical, it wasn’t illegal. With apologies for my vulgarity, this is complete horseshit.