Proceedings against individual bank employees are rare, and authorities have had difficulty winning cases
Gary Heinz is little known on Wall Street, but he belongs to a select club.
In 2013, the former UBS Group AG employee was sent to prison on charges of rigging bids tied to the municipal-bond market. Now, he sits at a halfway house in San Antonio, awaiting his release in July.
It rarely happens that way.
The Wall Street Journal examined 156 criminal and civil cases brought by the Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission against 10 of the largest Wall Street banks since 2009. In 81% of those cases, individual employees were neither identified nor charged. A total of 47 bank employees were charged in relation to the cases. One was a boardroom-level executive, the Journal’s analysis found.
The analysis shows not only the rarity of proceedings brought against individual bank employees, but also the difficulty authorities have had winning cases they do bring.
Most of the bankers who were charged pleaded guilty to criminal counts or agreed to settle a civil case, with those facing civil charges paying a median penalty of $61,000. Of the 11 people who went to trial or a hearing and had a ruling on their case, six were found not liable or had the case dismissed. That left a total of five bank employees at any level against whom the government won a contested case. They include Mr. Heinz, the former UBS employee.