Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wall Street quietly paying billions in damages - but where are the criminal prosecutions?

Danny Schechter, blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org, and author of the 2008 book, PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity, attended the Make Markets Be Markets Conference, and reports that Wall Street financial giants have quietly paid out $430 billion in damages and settlements in over 1,500 civil lawsuits:
* Bank of America has spent $14.9 billion to settle 15 cases alleging various charges such as securities violations and mismanagement;

* Citigroup has spent over $13.9 billion to settle 12 cases alleging various charges including abusive lending practices and involvement in fraudulent activities;

* Merrill Lynch has spent $12.2 billion to settle cases involving various allegations including negligence and mismanagement of funds;

* Morgan Stanley has spent over $5 billion to settle 11 cases involving various allegations including failure to disclose material information to customers;

* Wachovia has spent over $9.5 billion to resolve allegations including misleading investors and conflicts of interest;

• UBS has spent $19.5 billion to settle 6 cases with various charges including misleading investors.
These cases indicate that there is massive fraud and wrong doing endemic to Wall Street and the financial system. But where are the government prosecutors? And why are they not bringing a similar flood of criminal cases? At least one Federal Judge has become irate over the lack of response from the Department of Justice and taken matter into his own hands. This is the same judge that in September 2009 gave a tongue lashing to lawyers from the Securities and Exchange Commission for their failure to press criminal charges against Bank of America.

William Black, one of the legal eagles who cleaned up the savings and loan disaster, explains how a criminal environment is created, then begins to dominate a financial institution:

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