The art of politics is lost. Money is the main candidate. The largest amount wins. You no longer need a record of civil involvement, just the right connections. Its a bidder’s war. The price of the 2016 elections will be insane.
But cash can get you in trouble. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced a guilty plea to criminal charges yesterday by the international bank Credit Suisse that included fines totaling $2.6 billion. In the plea, Credit Suisse admitted actively helping its account holders to evade US taxes.
On the heels of the Attorney General’s announcement, the New York Times reported the German bank, Commerzbank, suspended two employees for manipulated the $5 trillion daily currency market. The bank called their conduct “inappropriate.” Commerzbank issued a statement citing their “zero tolerance for non-compliance with rules and regulations.” A Swiss commission is also investigating eight institutions for colluding to manipulate global benchmark currencies, and one of those institutions is Credit Suisse.
More: A German authority also reported finding evidence of attempted currency manipulations but has decided not to pursue its findings.
In fact, the Times says:
More than two dozen traders on four continents have been placed on leave or fired as a result of internal investigations at several large financial institutions involved in foreign exchange trading, including Barclays, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Deutsche Bank, the largest player in the currency trading market, with a share of about 15 percent, and Citigroup have each fired employees as a result of their own investigations.
The Bank of England has also suspended an employee as it conducts an internal review into whether central bank officials knew of, or condoned, manipulation of the currency markets.
Investors accepted Credit Suisse’s plea and $2.6 billion fine, and the stock price remained unaffected. In fact, at one point on Tuesday, its share price rose on the news! It closed above its inter-day low, and its price at the final bell on Tuesday was cents above its close the day before! Get fined $2.6 billion, plead guilty to criminal charges announced by the US Attorney General, and your stock price closes higher than the day before.
Remember that earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase gave its CEO a raise, despite fines levied against the firm totaling more than a billion dollars.
Banking is characterized as a relationship, but it is governed by actions and attitudes. Small in scale, these actions and attitudes guide the big numbers.
Justice’s prosecution shows big individuals being protected by big institutions; their identities secret and safe as the bank takes the public flogging and pays billions in fines. Swiss law protects their identities, but no one pressed the point. In other cases, thousands of account holders’ names have been handed over; in Credit Suisse’s case, they were too rich to face the light or pay their penalties. Corporate fines and penalties are always less than the amount of wrongdoing. The Attorney General did not release the estimated costs of taxes evaded, but they would have been far greater than the billions in fines; and that only represents one bank’s admission of guilt. Continue reading The Insanity of Capital