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Monday, July 25, 2011

Still Hoping for Justice

This Is Considered Punishment?
The New York Times by Joe Nocera  -  July 25, 2011
OP-ED

Last Wednesday, nearly lost in the furor over Rupert-gate and the debt ceiling crisis, came the surprising news that the Federal Reserve has issued a cease-and-desist order against a Too-Big-to-Fail bank. The bank was Wells Fargo, which was also fined $85 million and ordered to compensate customers it had unfairly — indeed, illegally — taken advantage of during the subprime bubble.  What made the news surprising, of course, was that the Federal Reserve has rarely, if ever, taken action against a bank for making predatory loans. Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, didn’t believe in regulation and turned a blind eye to subprime abuses. His successor, Ben Bernanke, is not the ideologue that Greenspan is, but, as an institution, the Fed prefers to coddle banks rather than punish them. That the Fed would crack down on Wells Fargo would seem to suggest a long-overdue awakening.  Yet, for anyone still hoping for justice in the wake of the financial crisis, the news was hardly encouraging. First, the Fed did not force Wells Fargo to admit guilt — and even let the company issue a press release blaming its wrongdoing on a “relatively small group.” The $85 million fine was a joke; in just the last quarter, Wells Fargo’s revenues exceeded $20 billion. And compensating borrowers isn’t going to hurt much either. By my calculation, it won’t top $20 million.  Most upsetting of all, the settlement raises the question that just won’t go away: Why can’t the federal government prosecute financial wrongdoers?  I realize that the Federal Reserve can’t bring a criminal case (and, to be fair, there are statutory limits on how big a fine it can levy). But the Justice Department certainly can. Yet ever since it lost an early case against two Bear Stearns fund managers in 2009, it has gone after only the smallest of small fry: individual borrowers, brokers and appraisers who lack the means to do much more than plead guilty.  In March, for instance, I wrote about the sad case of Charlie Engle, the ultra-marathoner, who was convicted of lying on a liar loan — that is, exaggerating his income on a subprime mortgage application — even though the evidence against him was thin. Prosecuted by Neil H. MacBride, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Engle was sentenced to 21 months in prison.  Now compare Engle’s alleged crime to the case the Federal Reserve brought against Wells Fargo Financial, which, until it was shut down last summer, was the subprime subsidiary of Wells Fargo, based in Des Moines. There were several allegations, but the one that caught my eye was that Wells employees “falsified income information on mortgage applications.” In other words, they lied on liar loans! The only difference is that the lying was done by a group of Wells Fargo brokers rather than by some poor sap like Charlie Engle.  What’s more, this practice appears to have been quite widespread — “fostered,” as the Fed puts it, “by Wells Fargo Financial’s incentive compensation and sales quota programs.” Matthew R. Lee, the executive director of Inner City Press/Community on the Move and Fair Finance Watch, spent years bringing Wells’ subprime abuses to the attention of the Federal Reserve. “The way the compensation was designed ensured that abuses would take place,” he says. “It was a predatory system.”  These are exactly the kind of loans — built on illegal practices — that gave us the financial crisis. Brokers working for subprime mortgage companies routinely doctored incomes to hand out subprime loans they knew the borrowers could never repay — and then, after taking their fat fees, shoveled the loans to Wall Street, which bundled them into subprime securities. This was the kindling that lit the inferno of September 2008. So again, I ask: Why is there no criminal investigation into what went on at Wells Fargo Financial?  The person I called for answers was the press secretary to Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, which includes Des Moines. A glance at Klinefeldt’s 2011 press releases suggests that he takes the MacBride approach to mortgage fraud: only the little guy has anything to fear. Needless to say, his press secretary knew nothing about the Wells Fargo case and even questioned whether the Southern District of Iowa had jurisdiction.  The next day, he referred me to a Justice Department spokeswoman. I wrote her an e-mail laying out my question as plainly as I could: “I am trying to understand why the mortgage brokers who work at a major bank are getting a pass when they have lied on liar loans,” I said.  That was Friday. On Monday, at 8:30 p.m., a half-hour from press time, the Justice Department sent me a statement claiming that in 2010 “the number of defendants in mortgage fraud cases more than doubled” from 2009.  Not one of those defendants ever worked for Wells Fargo Financial.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

The banks always get away with everything because the bank's lawyer's know how to take care of the judges and lawyers.

bank and court victim said...

I don't get how banks are too big to fall. I also don't get the concept of judicial immunity. What the hell happened to accountability?!?????????

scarlet reynolds said...

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Anonymous said...

If anything is too big to fail, then it's too big to exist --- off with their heads

Anonymous said...

some banks have been lying on those docs for decades, so they all decided to do it! What is the gov't going to do, sue everyone, put them all in jail!
Great scam, destroying any trust the people had in our gov't!!!1

NOW WE HATE EACH OTHER!

Anonymous said...

It's the lawyers stupid! The lawyers are the ones that cooked this scam up!!! The banks are along for the ride, the lawyers run the show!

Anonymous said...

There is no JUSTICE for us! Get use to it, that's the way it is! The lawyers are in control and they are the only ones getting JUSTICE by screwing everyone!

Anonymous said...

Mao said the only justice is at the end of a bayonet

Anonymous said...

SHOOTING IS QUICKEST BUT BAYONETE IS GOOD FOR SAVING MONEY
CLUBBING IS FINE

Anonymous said...

Still Hoping for Justice? maybe in the next life there may be Justice but not in this one with the evil ones in control

Anonymous said...

The people in the cemetery are still waiting for JUSTICE from some court and judge

Anonymous said...

You could have the beginnings of some Justice....if you start with the "individuals" who have the opportunity of interrogating OCA about their illegal issues.
The fact that things here started with the attack of the whole entity called OCA and their beloved money maker and corruptor known as the...DDC.... was always been a problem.
You can never take down Government by grabbing their testicles hard and heavy...you have to start by inching your way up there...toe by toe.
The support must come for the innocuous litigators who have the internal goods on OCA, and then the hole is created for those in the media to relate that story thus creating the outlet for the secondary but more important issues for publication, that led or influenced the original cases...discrimination, DDC,crimes and abuses against humanity etc.
I believe fully that there is a solution to every situation including OCA and it's power structure, but all angles have to be examined and scenarios reported, even if administrators believe that they are inconsequential.
A Small hole in any egg leads to the bleeding of the entire egg with just the shell remaining..is an idea that needs to be looked at here.
An real think tank should be put in place.

Anonymous said...

The 'system is rigged' - CJC and OCA are frauds that represent and protects the special lawyers. What Justice?

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               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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