Business as Usual and Prosecution of Financial Crime

hsbcThe latest fallout in the banks manipulating the LIBOR scandal were criminal charges against two UBS traders. LIBOR is a key financial rate and the Justice Department this week fined UBS $1.5 billion for rate rigging. The Japan UBS subsidiary also pleaded guilty to wire fraud.

UBS Securities Japan Co. Ltd. (UBS Japan), an investment bank, financial advisory securities firm and wholly-owned subsidiary of UBS AG, has agreed to plead guilty to felony wire fraud and admit its role in manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a leading benchmark used in financial products and transactions around the world, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today. The criminal information, filed today in U.S. District Court in the District of Connecticut, charges UBS Japan with one count of engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivatives trades by secretly manipulating LIBOR benchmark interest rates.

The Slap on the Wrist Financial and Corporate Crime Fines

corporate alliance pledgeHave you ever noticed that large corporations can get away with pretty much anything? Over and over again a major scandal breaks and in the end the fines are pennies on the dollar for the profits gained by these nefarious financial activities.

Banks can launder money with impunity and the consequences are a small fine in comparison to the profits made. No matter how egregious there are no criminal chargers or revoking of the bank's charter.

The British bank Standard Chartered said on Thursday that it expected to pay $330 million to settle claims by United States government agencies that it had moved hundreds of billions of dollars on behalf of Iran.

At first glance the record $1.9 billion HSBC fine for laundering Mexican drug cartel money looks like a solid. Yet buried in the fine print, HSBC avoids charges via deferred prosecution.

Hedge Funds, LBOs and Banksters, oh my!

The other day many of us were exposed to a BBC interview where a business reporter kept repeating the tired old mantra that hedge funds had no involvement with the global economic meltdown.

Oh really?

Then surely, given the opaque nature of these private investment concerns, there would be no surprises forthcoming if they were to be intensively audited by forensic accounting teams together with certified fraud examiners?

And while we're at it, might not the same auditing processes yield interesting results if also directed at those private equity leveraged buyout funds (LBOs) and the major credit derivatives dealers, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Bank of America (with Credit Suisse FB, UBS and Deutsche Bank in the mix as well)?

Awhile back, Dr. John L. Goldberg of the University of Sydney, was brought in by the Australian government as a consultant to research the financing behind a number of public-private partnerships concerning Australian toll roads and infrastructure projects.

Now public-private partnerships, where securitizations with the subsequent generation of credit derivatives occur, incorporate the same underlying fundamental financial model as hedge funds, private equity firm LBOs and credit derivatives dealing by major ("too big to fail") banks.

Dr. Goldberg's three principal points, taken from one of his executive summaries, were as follows:

"Paying equity dividends with virtually no cash flow available (CCT)"