Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Will JP Morgan Executives Plead the Fifth?

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

The Supreme Court ruled that corporations may be compelled to maintain and turn over records. The court has held that the Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination extend only to "natural persons." [U.S. v. Kordel, 397 U.S. 1 (1970)]

But oddly, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [558 U.S. 50 (2010)] the court also ruled that corporations are real persons.

The court has also held that a corporation's custodian of records can be forced to produce corporate documents, even if the act of production would incriminate someone personally. [Braswell v. U.S., 487 U.S. 99 (1988)]

Former CEO of Columbia/HCA Health Rick Scott pleaded the Fifth Amendment for Medicare fraud. His company pleaded guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to pay a $600+ million fine, at that time, the largest fraud settlement in US history. (Currently over 2,600 pharmacies are also being investigated for $5.6 billion in Medicare fraud.)

Since then, Rick Scott became the Republican Florida Governor. Besides Governor Rick Scott, below are some other unregulated "job creators" who pleaded the Fifth Amendment:

  • Enron executives Andrew Fastow, Jeffrey Skilling, and Ken Lay.
  • Maurice R. Greenberg, CEO of AIG (American International Group)
  • Rajat Gupta, board member of Goldman Sachs
  • MF Global executive Edith O'Brien (former head of Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine)
  • Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W. G. Stover
  • Richard Scrushy, CEO of HealthSouth
  • Bernard Ebbers, CEO of WorldCom ($11 billion accounting fraud)
  • Richard Grasso, CEO of the NYSE
  • Jeff Neely, head of the General Services Administration
  • Stewart Parnell, CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America
  • Ann Baskins and Anthony Gentilucc of Hewlett-Packard
  • Richard Theriault of Revolutions Medical Corp
  • Marylin Star, the pornstar, arrested for insider trading with banker James McDermott
  • Executives at Bain Capital

Here's my complete list of other Wall Street Fraudsters. (Remember, the Republicans want less regulation.)

JP Morgan Chase: The Canary in the Mine

Does anybody remember the housing bubble, the stock market crash and the Great Recession? Since then, nothing has ever been fixed yet. The Dodd-Frank bill was just a band-aid, and the Republicans and bankers have been kicking and screaming to repeal it ever since.

Recently JP Morgan Chase took risky bets and lost two billion dollars in a matter of weeks. CEO Jamie Dimon hasn't pleaded the fifth, instead he went on TV and called his bank's bets “poorly reviewed" and even "sloppy." He added, "We will learn from it, we will fix it, and we will move on."

Elizabeth Warren says, "Frankly, I don’t think we should just trust Wall Street banks to regulate themselves. Because as we learned during the 2008 financial crisis, they are not just taking risks with their own money -- they are taking risks with the whole economy."

New York Times: JPMorgan Chase Executive Resigns in Trading Debacle by Nelson D. Schwartz and Jessica Silver-Greenberg

The Case for Repealing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act

Elizabeth Warren is calling on Congress to put Wall Street reform back on the agenda and to begin by passing a new Glass-Steagall Act. This was the law that stopped investment banks from gambling away people's life savings for decades -- until Wall Street successfully lobbied to have it repealed in 1999. (Sign her petition here and/or contact her to help.)

A new Glass-Steagall Act would separate high-risk investment banks from more traditional banking (like it used to since the start of Great Depression). It would allow Wall Street to take risks, but not by dipping into the life savings and retirement accounts of regular people.

And by making banks smaller, a new Glass-Steagall Act could also help put an end to banks that are "too big to fail" -- further avoiding costly taxpayer bailouts.

New York Times: Breaking Up Four Big Banks By Simon Johnson

Wall Street's risky bets nearly brought the economy to its knees in 2008. But instead of taking responsibility, Wall Street lobbied to water down the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010 and fought to weaken the reforms Congress passed.

Huffington Post: JP Morgan's Loss Could Be America's Gain by Joseph A. Palermo

As a Republican U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Phil Gramm introduced the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, deregulating the banks in 1999. Three years later after leaving office in 2002 Senator Phil Gramm served as Vice Chairman and a member of the Swiss banking giant UBS AG.

In May 2009 UBS AG completed the acquisition of the bailed-out AIG Financial Products Corp., including AIG’s rights to the DJAIG Commodity index.

Phil Gramm was also John McCain’s presidential senior economic adviser in 2008. Economist Paul Krugman named Phil Gramm as the # 2 man of the economic crisis. Alan Greenspan was # 1.

Personally, I would have also named Goldman Sachs CEO and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson as # 3 and President Bill Clinton as # 4 for signing the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act into law --- AND for lowering capital gains taxes below the "effective" corporate tax rate (funneling profits into pockets, instead of re-investment and employment).

Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987-2006, had said, "The regulation of derivatives transactions that are privately negotiated by professionals is unnecessary. Regulation that serves no useful purpose hinders the efficiency of markets to enlarge standards of living."

Greenspan opposed the regulation of derivatives on free market grounds and thought the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission had no legal authority to do so. After all the financial mass destruction, in 2012 the Republicans are still demanding less regulation.

New York Times: Why We Regulate Banks By Paul Krugman

The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of the 1933 Glass–Steagall Act since the 1980s, if not earlier. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report that explored the cases for and against preserving the Glass–Steagall Act.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and it repealed part of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, opening up the market among banking companies (e.g. Goldman Sachs), securities companies (e.g. Enron) and insurance companies (e.g. American International Group - AIG). The Glass–Steagall Act had prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company.

Respective versions of the legislation were first introduced in the U.S. Senate by Phil Gramm (R- Texas) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Jim Leach (R-Iowa). The third lawmaker associated with the bill was Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R-Virginia).

Most economists stated that the 1999 legislation (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) spearheaded by Phil Gramm and signed into law by President Clinton, was significantly to blame for the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis and 2008 global economic crisis, the act that was widely known for repealing portions of the Glass–Steagall Act, which had regulated the financial services industry.

Phil Gramm's support was later critical in the passage of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which kept derivatives transactions, including those involving credit default swaps, free of government regulation.

In its 2008 coverage of the financial crisis, The Washington Post named Phil Gramm one of seven "Key Players In the Battle Over Regulating Derivatives".

The 2008 Nobel Laureate in Economics Paul Krugman, a supporter of Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, described Gramm during the 2008 presidential race as "the high priest of deregulation," and has listed him as the # 2 person responsible for the economic crisis of 2008, behind only Alan Greenspan.

Gramm had joined the bank UBS AG in 2002 immediately after retiring from the Senate, and this is precisely why banks and corporations should NOT be allowed to contribute to political campaigns, and why members of Congress should be barred from accepting jobs from banks and corporations they legislated for.

New York Times: "Switzerland bowed to pressure from the U.S. government, and in an unprecedented step, gave up the details of wealthy American clients of UBS who were suspected of using the bank's accounts to evade taxes." Today UBS still allows Americans to evade income taxes by using secret numbered bank accounts (Didn't Mitt Romney have a few of these?)

According to the information filed in a criminal case against UBS, some UBS executives are being treated as un-indicted co-conspirators. “These executives occupied positions at the highest levels of management within UBS, including positions on committees that oversaw legal, compliance, tax, risk and regulatory issues related to the United States cross-border business.”

If you were a company that had hired the former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee that designed the regulatory system under which your company operates, wouldn’t if be a breach of your fiduciary obligation to your shareholders NOT to have him on the legal, compliance and regulatory committees?

Phil Gramm later became a senior economic adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign from the summer of 2007 until July 18, 2008. While shaping McCain economic policy, Phil Gramm simultaneously lobbied Congress on the mortgage crisis for UBS. Phil Gramm, vice chairman of Swiss-based UBS and McCain campaign general co-chair and advisor "was being paid by a Swiss bank to lobby Congress about the U.S. mortgage crisis at the same time he was advising McCain about his economic policy, federal records show."

Gramm, who was reported to have been advising McCain on economic policy back in October 2006, "had an input on McCain's March 26 policy speech about the mortgage crisis which recommended further deregulation of the banking industry as his response" to the ensuing mortgage meltdown.

In a July 9, 2008 interview on McCain's economic plans, Phil Gramm explained that the nation was not in a recession, stating, "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession." He added, "We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Gramm's comments immediately became a campaign issue. McCain's opponent, Senator Barack Obama, stated, "America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one when it comes to the economy. This economic downturn is not in your head." McCain strongly denounced Gramm's comments and on July 18, 2008 Phil Gramm stepped down from his position with the McCain campaign.

As of 2009, Gramm had been promoted by UBS AG as a Vice Chairman of the Investment Bank Division. UBS states that a Vice Chairman of a UBS division is "...appointed to support the business in their relationships with key clients."

His son Marshall Gramm is a professor of economics at Rhodes College, so if you hear his name nominated for economic adviser, start stockpiling canned food, gold, and bullets.

The Senate vote for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was primarily voted along party lines. The final bill was passed by the Senate 90-8, and by the House 362-57. This legislation was signed into law by President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton on November 12, 1999.

In Conclusion

After doing much research for the last three years, I can now say unequivocally and with certainty that it's primarily because of Republican deregulation, union busting, free market polices, and tax favoritism that's put our economy where it is today.

The Republicans allowed for depressed wages, the outsourcing of jobs, tax shortfalls for our treasuries, and the 2008 financial collapse of the stock market. And what's so frustrating is, today in 2012 the Republicans haven't learned a thing. The GOP and Tea Party STILL advocates for less taxes on the wealthiest among us, free trade agreements, and less governmental regulation.

Since the Great Recession began, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their cars, and many, their lives. There are more Americans unemployed today than there were at the height of the Great Depression. If it were not for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and Medicaid (with only one job available for every five people out of work) where would these people all be today? And the Tea Party and GOP want more of the same...less regulation, tax cuts for the rich, and cutting social services for those who lost their jobs.

In a Wall Street Journalarticle (owned by Rupert Murdoch of Fox News, the propaganda arm of the GOP) on April 15, 2011, as a banking regulator that ruined the American housing market and collapsed our economy, Phil Gramm is now politicking as an economist...and now blaming Obama for everything, while praising Ronald Reagan. He takes no blame at all, and like the rest of the GOP, he too wants more of the same.

Some Unregulated "Job Creators"

Dennis Kozlowski, the Tyco CEO who was convicted in 2005 of grand larceny, conspiracy, and fraud, was sentenced to 8 to 25 years in prison -- but he is out after only serving 13 months -- so sometimes white collar crimes does pay! Dennis Kozlowski walked with $600 million.

Gregory Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communications Systems, had his conviction on charges of backdating stock options thrown out by a Federal appeals judge in August 2009.

John Rigas, CEO of Adelphia Communications Corporation, was forced to retire in 2002 after being indicted for securities, bank and wire fraud; prosecutors charged him with the personal misuse of corporate funds and with hiding $2.3 billion in liabilities from investors. Rigas was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison; Adelphia filed for bankruptcy after admitting that the former CEO and his two sons had failed to record $3.1 billion in loans. Rigas, who petitioned for a Presidential pardon in January 2009 and was rejected, will be 92 years old when his sentence runs out in 2017.

Joe Nacchio, CEO of Qwest International was convicted in April 2007 on 19 counts of insider trading. Prosecutors said he illegally sold $52 million in stock in 2001, even as he knew the company was taking on water. Nacchio was sentenced to 6 years in prison but remained free on $2 million bail pending an appeal. In 2008, a U.S. appeals court overturned Nacchio's conviction, saying a key expert witness had been wrongfully barred from testifying. But this February the guilty verdict was reinstated, and Nacchio was ordered him to serve out the remainder of his term. In a last-ditch effort to stay out of the slammer, Nacchio asked a federal judge in March to reconsider his request to remain free on bail while he appealed to the Supreme Court for a new trial. No such luck: in April he was ordered to report to prison. Nacchio is now sharing a cell at a minimum-security Federal prison camp at Minersville, Pa. His Supreme Court appeal is still pending.

Former porn star Kathryn B. Gannon, who goes by "Marilyn Star", was charged with receiving stock tips in 2000. Gannon was the mistress of James McDermott, former CEO of Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, a multi-billion dollar Wall Street firm. Kathryn Gannon (who has appeared in films such as "Strap up Sally" ), passed the stock tips on to her other lover, New Jersey businessman Anthony Pompino, who, along with McDermott, was convicted of insider trading. Gannon fled to her native Canada, but was arrested and extradited back to the United States, where she was sentenced to only three months in prison. McDermott was sentenced to 27 months in prison, a $25,000 fine, and 300 hours of community service.

James McDermott and Kathryn Gannon ("Marilyn Star")

Not only do we need more regulation, but we also need more regulators --- and we need more people to watch the regulators. And we also need more IRS tax auditors too, because tax evasion is rampant.

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