Daily Archives: February 18, 2016

t’s time to wake up, America!

Last week the New York Times published the article “Wall St. Whistle-Blowers, Often Scorned, Get New Support” by William Cohan about Bank Whistleblowers United. This is gratifying and exciting news, as it focuses more attention and brings more eyes to the situation our team is committed to. As I’ve written about before the four of us, all former whistle-blowers, recently banded together to form Bank Whistleblowers United. Our advocacy group, Gary J. Aguirre, a former S.E.C. lawyer, Michael Winston, a former managing director at Countrywide Financial, William K. Black (an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, who describes himself as “a serial whistle-blower” when he was a federal regulator during the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s), and myself were all fired from our positions when we blew the whistle on our respective employers.
William Cohan’s article mentions that we are “encouraging presidential candidates to reject donations from big banks” and have created a “60-day plan” that would allow President Obama, or his successor, to “restore the rule of law” in the banking sector.” Our goal with this is to stop the ongoing pandering to the “financial institutions that are “too big to fail” without requiring new legislation.”
He goes on to say, that “among their proposals are ending the ‘revolving door’ that exists between Washington and Wall Street and that often curbs regulators’ willingness to prosecute the powerful law firms or Wall Street banks they hope to return to when their government service ends. In addition, the group seeks to stop the use of ‘deferred prosecution agreements’ for ‘elite’ white-collar criminals and to get 500 F.B.I. agents reassigned to investigate white-collar crimes. It is also asking Congress to allocate money to hire 3,000 new F.B.I. agents, 250 Justice Department lawyers and 250 S.E.C. investigators and enforcers.”
This is huge. This is a mission we believe we can and must accomplish.

FBI made a sworn declaration that there are no alternative means to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone


UPDATE: As Snowden noted, it’s worth pointing out that the FBI claimed in a court filing that it could not determine any other way into the iPhone 5C in question without Apple’s help. See the screenshot below, which contains a claim from FBI computer forensics expert Christopher Pluhar that he was unable to determine how else to get into the device.

FBI request to access iPhone with Apple's help

Report of student loan arrest goes viral, gets it wrong

USA Today:

According to a report from Houston’s Fox26 that set the Internet on fire Tuesday, that supposedly was what happened to Paul Aker, arrested at his Texas home last week and taken to federal court for failure to pay a student loan that dates back to 1987.

Except … that’s not exactly what happened. The devil is in the details, after all.

According to Yahoo Finance, the federal government had first sued Aker in 2007 for failing to pay over $1,500 in student loans (document below), but his arrest was due to his allegedly ignoring repeated court orders to appear in federal court — a criminal offense.

So, on Feb. 12, two U.S. Marshalls met Aker at his home to arrest him for failure to obey a court order.

According to a statement Yahoo Finance says was obtained from the U.S. Marshals Service, “The situation escalated when Aker verbally said to the deputies that he had a gun. After Aker made the statement that he was armed, in order to protect everyone involved, the deputies requested additional law enforcement assistance. Additional deputy marshals and local law enforcement officers responded to the scene. After approximately two hours, the law enforcement officers convinced Aker to peacefully exit his home, and he was arrested.”

Aker tells the story differently. He told CNN Money that he did not refuse to appear in court and that he hadn’t received any notification about the outstanding loan in a long time.

Bankers lose over $1 billion in bonus value as stocks drop

I’m certainly not shedding a tear for the bankers..

For bankers, getting a bonus in stock has become an albatross.

Employees at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, -2.07% have been hit with more than $400 million in paper losses thanks to a plunge in the value of stock bonuses paid out early last year, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Similar declines have been felt by advisers, traders and other staff across Wall Street.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, -1.65% , Bank of America Corp. BAC, -2.75% , Citigroup Inc. C, -2.30% and Morgan Stanley MS, -0.88% haven’t yet reported how much stock they granted a year ago as part of employees’ bonuses, but the declines in banks’ share prices–based on their averages from January 2015–have been equally severe, ranging from a 32% drop at Morgan Stanley to a 17% decline at Goldman. (J.P. Morgan, an exception, is up 2%.)

The decrease is providing the first pocketbook test of the new bonus practices banks established in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. “It’s a big deal,” said Alan Johnson, managing director of pay consultant Johnson Associates. “The business is down, the market is down, the stock is down. It couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Read on.

Watch This Congressman Plagiarize A Lobbyist On Payday Loans

Brought and paid for….

WASHINGTON — Good lawmakers borrow, great lawmakers steal. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) is a great lawmaker.

At a House Financial Services Committee hearing last week on new rules intended to rein in abusive forms of payday lending, Scott couldn’t seem to stop praising the industry, using language that sounded, well, bizarre. He bemoaned over-regulation by two agencies that don’t actually oversee payday lenders. He said such “small-dollar” loans were “highly transparent” with “built-in controls to limit the use” — products so good, they’re designed to prevent people from using them.

And then Scott gave away the game.

“They’ve all received positive feedback from our borrowers,” Scott said.

As a member of Congress, David Scott doesn’t have any borrowers. But Richard Hunt, the top lobbyist for the Consumer Bankers Association, represents plenty of companies that do. Scott, it turns out, was basically reading from 2013 testimony that Hunt gave to the Senate without disclosing his source. He was literally plagiarizing a lobbyist. That odd statement about “positive feedback from our borrowers,” was one of several lines Scott seems to have pulled from Hunt’s testimony with minor alterations.

Read on.

Barclays Pays $50M To Settle NY Forex Rigging Claims


Law360, New York (February 18, 2016, 10:59 AM ET) — Barclays PLC has agreed to pay $50 million to settle claims that it misused a system intended to block stale foreign exchange prices as a way to boost the bank’s profits while hurting clients, according to court documents filed Wednesday in New York federal court.

Along with the cash payout, Barclays has also agreed to provide information that the plaintiff, Axiom Investment Advisors LLC, believes will help pursue similar claims against other banks that engaged in similar so-called “Last Look” practices.

Such practices involved putting holds on…

Source: Law360

Citigroup : plans to exit retail banking in Argentina, Brazil – Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc plans to exit retail banking in Argentina and Brazil, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The plan to exit the businesses will “probably” be announced in coming weeks, Bloomberg reported, citing the source. (http://bloom.bg/1SUDNRA)

The bank won’t be exiting any lines of business in the institutional division as part of the new moves, another person told Bloomberg.

Liz Fogarty, a spokeswoman for the Wall Street bank, declined to comment.

Citi operates in 25 cities in Argentina and 26 in Brazil, according to its website.

Read on.