Nobody would look at how the government handled white-collar fraud cases after the financial crisis, when big bankers who sent the economy into chaos escaped criminal charges and often got promoted, and see some kind of model. Nobody, that is, except for James McDonald, the new enforcement chief at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), an obscure US agency that oversees the $483 trillion derivatives market.
In a Monday night speech in New York City, McDonald announced a new initiative to provide significant benefits to financial institutions that “self-report” crimes and cooperate with investigators. In exchange, he said, companies might see civil penalties slashed, and in some instances, cases dropped altogether. A former federal prosecutor, McDonald noted the idea originated in gang prosecutions—he’s done a lot of those—where it made sense to let individuals report on higher-level colleagues in exchange for leniency.
“We’re committed to giving companies and individuals the right incentives to voluntarily comply with the law in the first place—and to look for misconduct and report it to us when they see it,” McDonald said, according to an official transcript.
In a vacuum, this initiative doesn’t sound that bad. McDonald seems to be committing his agency to real police work: going up the chain to find the highest-level individual who can be prosecuted for wrongdoing. And only those companies disclosing all known facts and continuing to actively investigate—including rooting out those responsible—would be eligible for a reduced fine. Oh, and they would have to make sure the misconduct didn’t happen again, either.
Joseph Otting signed legal papers admitting the bank he ran forged documents to push Americans out of their homes. He also bought a mansion.
WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump’s choice to lead a key bank regulation agency spent the first half of this decade running a bank that illegally foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of Americans, often using forged and fraudulent documents.
In 2013, halfway through Joseph Otting’s time running OneWest Bank, Otting purchased a Las Vegas “resort lifestyle home” with a “heated pool,” “double doors forged of wrought iron and glass,” “professional-grade theater,” and “far-reaching views of both the golf course and the mountains” for more than $2 million. Today, as he awaits confirmation to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the house stands as a monument to the money he made from pushing people out of their homes.
Living the thug life…
The bosses of two of Wall Street’s biggest banks received a $314m (£241m) windfall last year as the value of their shares soared after Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.
Jamie Dimon, who is chairman, president and chief executive of JP Morgan, and Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, each saw their stock and options rise by more than $150m, new figures compiled by consultancy Equilar for the Financial Times show.
US bank shares jumped in the aftermath of Mr Trump’s win on 9 November, as investors predicted Wall Street-friendly policies and increased spending from the new administration.
This article was a few years ago but nothing has changed today…
A new report finds 53% of financial services executives say that adhering to ethical standards inhibits career progression at their firm. A former Wall Street trader describes why
My first year on Wall Street, 1993, I was paid 14 times more than I earned the prior year and three times more than my father’s best year. For that money, I helped my company create financial products that were disguised to look simple, but which required complex math to properly understand. That first year I was roundly applauded by my bosses, who told me I was clever, and to my surprise they gave me $20,000 bonus beyond my salary.
The products were sold to many investors, many who didn’t fully understand what they were buying, most of them what we called “clueless Japanese.” The profits to my company were huge – hundreds of millions of dollars huge. The main product that made my firm great money for close to five years was was called, in typically dense finance jargon, a YIF, or a Yield Indexed Forward.
One of Wall Street’s top lawyers is taking aim at one of Washington’s biggest regulators.
In his new book, “Going Public: My Adventures Inside the SEC and How to Prevent the Next Devastating Crisis,” veteran lawyer Norm Champ recounts his tumultuous five years at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Champ, now a partner at Kirland & Ellis, laments a “culture of fear and paranoia” spurred by anonymous complaints and backbiting. He ultimately stopped regulators from sharing information about investigations.
In the wake of the financial crisis, a slew of so-called robo-advisors promised consumers a fully automated version of money management that purports to remove human error—and avarice—from the equation. Instead of a human broker making decisions about how to invest your money, companies like Betterment and Wealthfront let algorithms do it. Experts have speculated the fiduciary rule would benefit robo-advisors by making the compliance costs too great for money managers to justify holding onto smaller clients. Robo-advisors that can perform much the same function at a lower cost would likely gobble that business right up.
In a 2015 Congressional hearing, then-Labor Secretary Tom Perez repeatedly cited Wealthfront as the way of the future. “They have a platform that enables them to lower their fees, operate as a fiduciary and do well by doing good,” Perez saidat the time.
“Today’s announcement of a rollback or freeze on some of those rules probably will shrink the market for robo-investing,” says former California state senator Sam Blakeslee, president of the broker-dealer Blakeslee & Blakeslee.
“This is a sad day for individual investors. Repeal of the fiduciary rule would imperil the retirement savings of millions of Americans,” Jon Stein, founder and CEO of Betterment, said in a statement. “Repeal means favoring the bottom lines of the financial services industry over the American people, who deserve financial transparency and honesty.”