John Cassidy has a remarkable story out in the New Yorker this week about a sweetheart deal cut by the Justice Department with one of the wealthiest men in the world, Steven A. Cohen (who may be pictured here at a standard picnic, or not). Cohen’s company would pay $626 million but not have to admit any wrongdoing and Cohen would face no personal sanction. The billionaire appears to be celebrating this month with a buying spree with a Picasso painting and a huge new mansion. What is amazing is that various Cohen subordinates have pleaded guilty and Cohen has been tied directly to an insider trading allegation. Yet, he appears to “too big to jail” as a continuation of the Obama Administration’s bifurcated legal system for the super rich and the rest of us.
This is a standard ploy in which a sweet deal is reached to protect a powerful individual by setting a huge penalty to be paid by his company. The Obama Administration has been flogging the size of the payment to distract attention from the fact that Cohen will be left entirely untouched.
There is still a chance that the judge presented with this settlement could reject it for lack of any admission of guilt. Judge Victor Marrero already seemed shocked by the lack of such admissions: “There is something counterintuitive and incongruous about settling for six hundred million dollars if it truly did nothing wrong.” Amen brother. He could reject it but it would be a rare assertion of judicial authority in a case with such a high financial penalty.
I recommend Cassidy’s article to you below but I suggest not driving or operating heavy equipment after reading the piece.
Source: New Yorker
55 thoughts on “Too Big To Jail? Obama Administration Agrees To Large Penalty In Exchange For Letting Billionaire Escape Insider Training Charge While His Subordinates Plead Guilty”
Good article! We are linking to this particularly great content on our website.
Keep up the great writing.
Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you
get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?
I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any assistance
is very much appreciated.
Barack Obama, Goldman Sachs executive vice-president over the United States.
And God won’t save us, because God doesn’t exist. Absolutely 100% Scam People.
And this system is corrupt. Anarchy and selflessness are the real solution.
JFK was the last great president, murdered on an order by Zionist Bankers because his greenback, non-interest ones threatened their business exactly like Abraham Lincoln.
And Big Pharma and Big Coal and Big Oil and Big Everything runs everything! We see you all, at the UN too, as ants who are nothing. We do not care about Humanity. We only care about ourselves. I represent the Imbred Extreme of the already extreme race called Judaism.
Freedom for Palestine!
Just another example of this President’s Friedmanite worldview
“Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution.” Lanny Breuer
Perhaps DOJ needs to update its “mission” statement.
From Elaine’s Taibbi link:
“This is a bank that has broken the law before,” the reporter said. “So why not be tougher?”
“I don’t know what tougher means,” answered the assistant attorney general.
A very large statistic!
Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it
By Matt Taibbi
FEBRUARY 14, 2013
The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks’ profit – but they didn’t extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.
People may have outrage fatigue about Wall Street, and more stories about billionaire greedheads getting away with more stealing often cease to amaze. But the HSBC case went miles beyond the usual paper-pushing, keypad-punching sort-of crime, committed by geeks in ties, normally associated with Wall Street. In this case, the bank literally got away with murder – well, aiding and abetting it, anyway.
For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years – people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that “they make the guys on Wall Street look good.” The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.
“They violated every goddamn law in the book,” says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business.”
That nobody from the bank went to jail or paid a dollar in individual fines is nothing new in this era of financial crisis. What is different about this settlement is that the Justice Department, for the first time, admitted why it decided to go soft on this particular kind of criminal. It was worried that anything more than a wrist slap for HSBC might undermine the world economy. “Had the U.S. authorities decided to press criminal charges,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at a press conference to announce the settlement, “HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized.”
It was the dawn of a new era. In the years just after 9/11, even being breathed on by a suspected terrorist could land you in extralegal detention for the rest of your life. But now, when you’re Too Big to Jail, you can cop to laundering terrorist cash and violating the Trading With the Enemy Act, and not only will you not be prosecuted for it, but the government will go out of its way to make sure you won’t lose your license. Some on the Hill put it to me this way: OK, fine, no jail time, but they can’t even pull their charter? Are you kidding?
But the Justice Department wasn’t finished handing out Christmas goodies. A little over a week later, Breuer was back in front of the press, giving a cushy deal to another huge international firm, the Swiss bank UBS, which had just admitted to a key role in perhaps the biggest antitrust/price-fixing case in history, the so-called LIBOR scandal, a massive interest-raterigging conspiracy involving hundreds of trillions (“trillions,” with a “t”) of dollars in financial products. While two minor players did face charges, Breuer and the Justice Department worried aloud about global stability as they explained why no criminal charges were being filed against the parent company.
“Our goal here,” Breuer said, “is not to destroy a major financial institution.”
A reporter at the UBS presser pointed out to Breuer that UBS had already been busted in 2009 in a major tax-evasion case, and asked a sensible question. “This is a bank that has broken the law before,” the reporter said. “So why not be tougher?”
“I don’t know what tougher means,” answered the assistant attorney general.
Also known as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC has always been associated with drugs. Founded in 1865, HSBC became the major commercial bank in colonial China after the conclusion of the Second Opium War. If you’re rusty in your history of Britain’s various wars of Imperial Rape, the Second Opium War was the one where Britain and other European powers basically slaughtered lots of Chinese people until they agreed to legalize the dope trade (much like they had done in the First Opium War, which ended in 1842).
Who needs Kathleen Harris when you have Obama…..
Note, only said once and not in front of a mirror….
This grotesque example of domestic policy favoring the 1% is just an extension of our foreign policy which serves the same interests, like when our adversarial press corp calls a lawless hellhole a fun-filled resort:
Stealing one dollar is a crime, stealing a billion dollars is a statistic.
NOTHING will stop on the part of the crooks (i.e.Cohen) until the Govt. recoups every dime of whatever scam has been perpetrated PLUS 50 to 100% above that figure PLUS HARD TIME in Leavenworth — and not in some “country club” prison a la Bernie “Made-Off with my money, honey”
It’s spelled Leavenworth and is in central Kansas // Alcatraz unfortunately is closed …
Until then all the little crooks like Cohen’s associates will go to jail while the the BIG FISH swim away — and buy Picassos and a mansion to boot.
Hard to believe that two lawyers (OB and EH) are letting these crooks walk ….What were they teaching at Harvard Law back then ..??
I still can’t believe that Micahel Milken is free and everybody cow-tows to him … He steals 2 Billion, gets fined 1 Billion, does three years at the country club / probably had his wife and kids flown in on a Lear Jet to visit and now everybody thinks he is the best thing since sliced bread because he takes one or two million of those illegally gotten billion dollar gains and gives it back to charity .. wow-wee ….
Will wonders ever cease ???
Comments are closed.