Sunday, September 21, 2014

Death Penalty For Banksters? ANY Penalty For Banksters?


I understood the concept of class enemies from the very beginning. The son of a working class family, I never entertained the idea of identifying with conservatives-- never ever. That said, the first scholarship I ever won was a prize in a UN-sponsored elementary school contest about the death penalty. I came in second in Brooklyn, the most populous of New York's 5 boroughs, something like 3 million people back when I was in school, less than Los Angeles, but more than Chicago, Houston, or Philly. I took the pro-death penalty side. It was a theoretically argument because I didn't sense that the Justice system was competent to administer the death penalty without prejudice-- racial, class, etc. So, yeah, punish the evil doer and stop wasting money keeping him in prison but not 'til you figure out how to make sure the victims of that system aren't all minorities living in poverty.

More recently, I've come up with it-- the death penalty for banksters and other financial predators. I believe in trials, but just quick ones that don't drag on forever and then a quick bullet in the head for the criminals-- go Wyoming! Umm… wait up, Wyoming. Just banksters and financial predators (and, in case you guys ever catch one, war criminals). Like in China. Well, China kills too many people but they do execute wealthy corrupt businessmen; excellent idea. Every bankster execution should have an episode devoted to it on MSNBC's LockUp: Raw.

Yeah, I'm a hard core progressive but, I have to admit it… I'm a law and order kind of guy, albeit not just for impoverished minorities. If I was king, Nixon, Cheney, Bush, Kissinger, Lloyd C. Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Michael O'Neill, Steve Cohen, John Paulson, Henry Paulson, Ken Griffin, Robert Citrione would have all had encounters with the judicial system that led right up to accountability for crimes committed. And if I can't see these enemies of society shot or electrified or chemically murdered, how how something? Some kind of real punishment for their monstrous criminal behavior?

Joe Pinsker, at The Atlantic laughed at the concept. Even though prosecutors declare victory over the financial criminals when massive penalties are handed down, he says "most of the money never gets recovered." Referencing The Wolf of Wall Street, Pinsker explains that the culprit, Jordan Belfort, pled guilty and was ordered to pay out about $110 million to those he wronged. 11 years later, though thriving a wealthy again, he’s only paid $11.8 million and served less than 2 years of an already far too lenient prison sentence of 4 years.
Belfort’s relatively consequence-free story is only one of the more prominent ones in a parade of aggravating numbers reported on earlier this week by the Wall Street Journal. There’s still $97 billion out there in penalties that the Justice Department has failed to recover, and between September 2012 and September 2013, the department collected only 22 percent of penalties doled out. One particularly demoralizing figure was that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission had collected about a tenth of a percent of the $3.7 billion owed to wronged investors.

So how do convicted felons go about avoiding their payments? Take the case of Paul Bilzerian, who owed the Securities and Exchange Commission $62 million and paid only $3.7 million over the course of 25 years. (The Journal reported a few days ago that the SEC was officially giving up on getting any more money from him, after having spent $8.6 million to get the meager amount that they did obtain.)

Bilzerian has systematically thwarted federal prosecutors by building a web of trusts, partnerships, and corporations established in sketchy tropical locales. He has passed on cash and assets to this sons. He delayed prosecutors for years with a bankruptcy filing. And he has transferred ownership of his 28,000 square-foot home to trusts that were owned by, at various times, his in-laws and his neighbor’s mom. “Do you think I’d be stupid enough to have a bank account?” Bilzerian told a Journal reporter.

Bilzerian’s son, Dan, who received an undisclosed amount of money from his father years ago, has built a sizable fortune of his own by gambling. He flaunts it on Instagram, where he has 4.6 million followers. Dan Bilzerian rarely posts a picture without a truck, a gun, a scantily-clad woman, or all three-- and one recent image involving a little person and four women (above) is, whether he knows it or not, an uncanny throwback to one memorable scene in The Wolf of Wall Street.

The press and public dwell on the comfortingly hard numbers of financial penalties-- "he owes $110 million" is a fact easily digested-- and not the messy job of following through on collecting them. And, just as dispiritingly, the attention of 4.6 million people shows itself again only when there are guns and girls involved, no matter the financial circumstances that explain their presence.
In 2011 asked why none of the banksters who financial crisis went to prison.
Following the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s, more than a thousand bank officials faced prosecution, with 800 of them winding up in jail for their financial misdeeds that ruined institutions and robbed Americans of their retirement.

Today, the 2008 financial crisis—considered the worst disaster on Wall Street since the 1929 crash—has yet to yield any bank executives going to prison.

A variety of reasons have been cited for why America’s financial titans have avoided criminal court…so far. The FBI scaled back a plan to assign more field agents to investigate mortgage fraud, while the Department of Justice rejected calls to create a task force devoted to mortgage-related investigations. Also, federal regulators, such as those at the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision, failed to compile information that could have helped build criminal cases against banking leaders.

“This is not some evil conspiracy of two guys sitting in a room saying we should let people create crony capitalism and steal with impunity,” William Black, a professor of law at University of Missouri, Kansas City, who worked on the savings and loan prosecutions, told the New York Times. “But their policies have created an exceptional criminogenic environment. There were no criminal referrals from the regulators. No fraud working groups. No national task force. There has been no effective punishment of the elites here.”

It is not out of the question that someone on Wall Street will have to answer for their decision-making in front of a jury. A new, bipartisan report from the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Investigation blasts the work of Goldman Sachs, accusing the powerful firm of “engaging in massive conflicts of interest, contaminating the U.S. financial system with toxic mortgages and undermining public trust in U.S. markets in the months leading up to the financial crisis.”
Not out of the question but-- with a Democratic Adminsitration in charge of the Justice Department not one single Wall Street bankster has been tried, let alone drawn and quartered. And you wonder why voters are discouraged and throw up their hands and say there is no real difference between the two corrupted Beltway political parties?

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