Daily Archives: January 6, 2016

JPMorgan’s Dimon, others defeat Madoff fraud appeal

JPMorgan Chase & Co shareholders cannot pursue a lawsuit to force Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and other officials to pay damages to the largest U.S. bank for their alleged ignorance of red flags signaling Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court dismissal of claims that Dimon and 12 other executives and directors breached their duties by turning a blind eye to Madoff, an important client for two decades, to maintain the bank’s lucrative relationship with him.

Citing applicable Delaware law, the appeals court said the shareholders did not show that the defendants “utterly failed to implement any reporting or information system or controls” that might have caught Madoff’s fraud.

Read on.

Wiretapping on a county level? Numbers tell disturbing story of surveillance in Riverside County, CA

A very disturbing statistic emerged late last year: The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and one judge approved more wiretaps in 2012, 2013 and 2014 than any other county in California.

Not just a little more – a lot more.

In 2012, Riverside County allowed wiretapping of 305 phone lines. No. 2 Los Angeles County approved just 170 – despite a population almost five times larger. No other county came close.

In 2013 Riverside County OK’d 329 wiretaps; L.A. County, 146.

In 2014, Riverside County approved the wiretapping of 624 phone lines, compared to Los Angeles County’s 129.

In the three years since 2011, Riverside County’s wiretap approvals quadrupled.

What could possibly justify listening in on the phone conversations of so many Riverside County residents?

And did the wiretapping make Riverside County residents safer? You could hardly argue that. After 624 wiretaps in 2014, only 176 people were arrested.

Read on.

Ex-Obama Aide Known As “Hedge Funds’ Secret Weapon” Assails Bernie Sanders’ Wall Street Overhaul

Am reading Sanders’ thing on breaking up banks and regulating them more. I wish he would think more about the dangers of nonbanks

Memo to Goolsbee: Non-banks don’t own approximately 60% of GDP of the U.S. economy…

In response to a plan that Bernie Sanders offered this week to break up Wall Street banks, former top Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee took to Twitter to criticize the Vermont senator for targeting large financial institutions and being politically unrealistic.

But Goolsbee is hardly an unbiased observer. Since leaving government, he’s become a valuable tool for Wall Street.

 

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Goolsbee is now a partner at 32 Advisors, a financial strategy and government relations firm that works with Wall Street. He touts, on his company’s website, a 2014 CNBC profile where he was dubbed “hedge funds’ secret weapon.”

Read on.

Banker sues Deutsche Bank for unfair dismissal after Libor probe

LONDON, Jan 6 (IFR) – A former senior Deutsche Bank employee is suing the German bank for alleged sex discrimination and unfair dismissal after she was fired in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal.

Shivani Mathur, who was Deutsche’s London-based global head of economic resources, has lodged her claim at the central London employment tribunal. Her hearing is due to begin on January 21, according to court records released on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank agreed in April 2015 to pay US$2.5bn to US and UK authorities for manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, known as Libor.

Read on.

Wall Street Fine Print: Retirees Want FBI Probe Of Pension Investment Deals

Diane Bucci and her fellow retired Rhode Island schoolteachers were angry about a deal last year to cut their promised retirement benefits. For 28 years, the elementary school teacher devoted between 7 and 9 percent of her paycheck to the state’s pension system. In return, the 72-year-old had been promised a consistent cost-of-living increase to make sure her retirement stipend kept pace with inflation. Now, though, state officials were trimming her check in the name of replenishing the depleted pension fund.

There was, however, a sliver of hope — or so it seemed: If the pension system could generate better investment returns and amass 80 percent of the money needed to pay current and future retirees, the annual cost-of-living increases would return.

“There was a lot of unrest and anger among teachers, but at that point we buckled down and focused on how we could get to solvency,” said Bucci, who is on the board of the 700-member Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association. “So even though we aren’t Wall Street experts, we just started to ask questions about how the pension fund was managed, and what it was invested in. That’s when we realized the fees we’ve been paying to the investment companies were the problem.”

Those levies — which hit $79 million last year — were the product of the state’s recent investment strategy. Following a controversial national trend, Rhode Island pension officials led by then-General Treasurer Gina Raimondo shifted roughly a quarter of the state’s pension portfolio into high-fee hedge funds, private equity firms and other so-called “alternative investments.”

Read on.

Foreclosure activists fight to halt law

A new state law may make it nearly impossible for victims of wrongful foreclosures to regain their homes.

If enacted, An Act Clearing Titles to Foreclosed Properties would drastically reduce the time that victims have to sue to get their property back. It would drop from 20 years down to one or three years, depending on when the foreclosure occurred.

The Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending — an organization that seeks to delay the law’s implementation — held a meeting at Tent City last week, where attendees shared stories and spoke out against the law. The new deadlines provide far too little time to ready oneself to sue, attendees said.

And once that timeframe is up, the law would essentially make erroneous foreclosures valid, said City Councilor Tito Jackson, who spoke with the Banner by phone.

“Improper procedure carried about by banks [would be] able to be made permanent without actually a court process that determines whether right or wrong has been done in these cases,” Jackson said.

Read on.

‘The Big Short’ uses Bank of America, Wachovia as punchlines

If you lived through the 2007-08 financial crisis, at some point you may have felt like you had to laugh to keep from crying.

That’s the approach director Adam McKay takes in his new movie, “The Big Short.” It’s his surprisingly comedic adaption of Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book about the investors who bet against the housing market and made billions when everyone else was losing their shirts – and homes.

And so who is the butt of all the jokes? Big banks, including Charlotte’s Bank of America and the late Wachovia. Charlotte itself even gets a little jab.

McKay’s storytelling method is a creative and entertaining way to illuminate an incredibly complex but important subject. And unlike other Wall Street movies that tend to turn despicable characters into near-heroes, this one makes it pretty clear who the bad guys are from beginning to end.

“The Big Short” follows an elite group of investors who figured out the housing bubble was going to someday pop and how to profit when it did.

Banks – with a particular emphasis on Wall Street titans like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – come off looking the worst. They’re either clueless or crooks or both, the investor protagonists decide.

The main thesis is that Wall Street banks packaged toxic subprime mortgages into super-complicated bonds – and when the housing market burst, the financial system toppled like a Jenga game with one too many blocks pulled out.

That’s pretty much what happened, although everyone parses the blame a little bit differently.