Guest Post: Organized Financial Crime Is Now The New Normal [Zerohedge]
July 19, 2012 Leave a comment
Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds
Organized Financial Crime Is Now the New Normal
Today we publish the second half of an important essay by C.D., a correspondent in law enforcement. Part one is here
It’s up to us to refuse to participate in a criminal financial system: we should not be doing business with businesses that are repeat offenders.
We could expand this example of vested interests suppressing prosecution of white collar crime to the financial system, more particularly, the stock and bond markets. The majority of the adults in our country are invested either directly or indirectly in the stock market via trading accounts, pension funds, 401Ks, etc. and have a vested interest in making sure that it rises higher and higher.
How many people would be willing to get rid of all of the drug money in the stock market, if they knew their 401K would decrease by 10%? How many people would get rid of all of the various types of fraud in our system, if they knew their pension fund would lose half or more of its value or the interest rate on their Aadjustable rate mortgage (ARM) skyrocketed? How many politicians are going to refuse bailouts of the banksters or call for their prosecution if the banksters can take down the stock market?
When TARP was being voted on the first time, the overwhelming majority of the population was against it. The day after the first vote, the market tanked. Guess what, the next day it was about 50/50 in who wanted TARP to pass vs. those that didn’t.
White collar criminals in our big banks and corporations have turned otherwise legitimate businesses into vehicles to commit numerous crimes. They use the corporation or other business entity as both a sword and a shield. The entity is used to help commit the crime and then used to protect them personally from any criminal or civil liability. In my experience, more often than not, a prosecutor will forego charges against an individual and just charge the business entity, because it’s a stronger case.
If CEOs started going to jail for long stints, that would be very helpful in cleaning up things in a hurry. If the only downside to a CEOs behavior is that he may have to leave his job and suffer some temporary embarrassment, that’s not much deterrent to him engaging in activity where he can make large sums of money. While fines can have some deterrent effect on a company’s behavior, their effect is often muted by the fact that the fines are less than the profit from the activity, the cost of the fines can be passed on to customers, and in the case of the banks, the fines are subsidized by the government itself or the Federal Reserve.
It’s important to bring individuals to account for their behavior. Company policies and activities were directed by someone or group of people; they don’t just happen in a vacuum.