Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fraud and the Mortgage Meltdown

Charles Ferguson, the person who created the documentary on the mortgage meltdown "Inside Job," has written a book on the topic titled "Inside Job: The Financiers Who Pulled Off the Heist of the Century." I can only seem to find it on Amazon's UK website so I don't know if it will be available in the US. In any case, this article in the Guardian, written by Ferguson, has some interesting comments about the fact that the Obama administration and the US Justice Department is not prosecuting anyone. Ferguson also names several banks that he claims were complicit in the meltdown and committed various forms of fraud. He says that It's pretty disheartening to think this much corruption exists in the financial industry and the government isn't doing much to hold anyone accountable for it. Here are a few excerpts:

Regarding the corruption in the financial sector:
It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the global financial sector has become criminalised, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behaviour that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis of 2008 was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident.

This behaviour is criminal. We are talking about deliberate concealment of financial transactions that aided terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and large-scale tax evasion; assisting in major financial frauds and in concealment of criminal assets; and committing frauds that substantially worsened the worst financial bubbles and crises since the Depression.

And yet none of this conduct has been punished in any significant way.
Regarding the Obama administration's lack of prosecution efforts:
The Obama government has rationalised its failure to prosecute anyone (literally, anyone at all) for bubble-related crimes by saying that while much of Wall Street's behaviour was unwise or unethical, it wasn't illegal. With apologies for my vulgarity, this is complete horse@$%&.
Regarding prosecutable offenses:
A reasonable list of prosecutable crimes committed during the bubble, the crisis, and the aftermath period by financial services firms includes: securities fraud, accounting fraud, honest services violations, bribery, perjury and making false statements to US government investigators, Sarbanes-Oxley violations (false accounting), Rico (Racketeer Influenced and Criminal Organisations Act) offences, federal aid disclosure regulations offences and personal conduct offences (drug use, tax evasion etc).
Ferguson goes on to give some details about why he believes government can prosecute for these crimes. I recommend reading the entire article (and watching the documentary if you haven't seen it already).

1 comment:

  1. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that our government officials are in-on-the-take.