Another Week, Another Bankster with Impunity

This week, the bankster who will avoid all legal accountability is MF Global and its CEO Jon Corzine. So says the NYT.

While I’m disgusted by that news, I’m not shocked. I’ve grown used to the guarantee that top banksters are immune from all laws.

What I’m interested in is how NYT conveys their news.

First, note what crime they claim MF Global might have committed: fraud. Not theft.

After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the firm’s demise, criminal investigators are concluding that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear, according to people involved in the case.

I guess if you said “theft” then you couldn’t suggest the money just disappeared–poof!–rather than got taken to pay off the company’s own obligations.

Plus it’d be a lot harder to accomplish the article’s other main objective, besides reporting yet another Get Out of Jail Free card. While the story seems to have been seeded by people in Preet Bharara’s neighborhood to set the expectation that he would once again fail to bring charges against a bankster, the NYT seems intent on rehabilitating Corzine’s reputation. Consider that they dedicate paragraphs 6 and 7 portraying the tragic plight of a multi-millionaire with a cloud hanging over him.

While the government’s findings would remove the darkest cloud looming over Mr. Corzine — the threat of criminal charges — the former Goldman Sachs chief is not yet in the clear. A bankruptcy trustee on Wednesday joined customers’ lawsuits against Mr. Corzine, and regulators are still considering civil enforcement actions, which could cost him millions of dollars or ban him from working on Wall Street.

Mr. Corzine, in a bid to rebuild his image and engage his passion for trading, is weighing whether to start a hedge fund, according to people with knowledge of his plans.

It takes the NYT four more paragraphs before it mentions the plight of the farmers who had their money stolen. But their plight is a mere aside in the sad fate of poor Jon Corzine!

Even with the worst behind him, Mr. Corzine’s reputation has suffered lasting damage.

After the collapse of the firm, which left farmers and other MF Global customers out millions of dollars, Mr. Corzine became another face of Wall Street recklessness.

But don’t worry. The NYT isn’t helping to rehabilitate someone who took money from farmers! Nope, they’re rehabilitating a reckless man; that is all.

One final note on this: this article came out not days before Corzine walked by a phalanx of journalists for his interview with Preet. Rather, that interview is still at least several weeks away.

Which suggests the takeaway from this article ought to be: “Jon Corzine to be freed of charges shortly after November 6.”

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    After the collapse of the firm, which left farmers and other MF Global customers out millions of dollars, . . .

    Fortunately, this is a great year for farmers, and they’ll just make up those losses when they sell their crops.

    Oh, wait . . .

  2. allan says:

    ” … his interview with Preet.”

    That would be a job interview for Preet?
    Every hedge fund needs a well-connected general counsel.

  3. What Constitution? says:

    I must be missing something here. The quoted passage from the NYT does NOT say the bank committed fraud instead of theft; the quoted passage says the bank didn’t even commit fraud. What it says is that “chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear.” And if that’s what is being offered as an explanation, who the hell would buy that? I’m assuming that, by “money”, we’re not just talking about dollar bills (like the pallets in Iraq) but, more importantly, the incorporeal aspect of credit, transfer and payment conducted electronically. “Chaos”? And nobody can see whether anything went “out” electronically? That’s just patently unbelievable. That isn’t even close to believable. Nor is a contention that “chaos” was going on a viable basis for suggesting that the degree of misdirection necessary to somehow mask trackability of electronic transfers (if true) could be anything other than intentionally created. This seriously stinks. Or else we’re all in the wrong business.

  4. Dan says:

    @What Constitution?:
    Yeah, they don’t even try to make up plausible stories any more. They just make up a story and expect you to believe them. A high-school computer geek could follow the path of this theft, but Preet, not so much.

  5. Frank33 says:

    Let us give credit where credit is due at the Department of Justice and Bankstas. The Kim Dotcom Case, fought to allow Hollywood producers, the ability to control all the internet, has been a smashing success. Kim Dotcom is a much greater threat to the Empire, than John Corzine.

    Our public servants have neutralized, the very dangerous Kim Dotcom. They stopped his Computer Doomsday weapon. They exposed Dotcom as a ruthless and dangerous CEO. His stomach assaulted at least one innocent bystander, Jess Bushyhead.

    Police justifications for using anti-terrorist officers to raid Kim Dotcom’s home were partly based on claims the tycoon assaulted a former staff member with his stomach.

    A police form described the assault complaint by video editor Jess Bushyhead as “minor”. The form quoted Mr Bushyhead saying the tycoon had “body-butted me in the left shoulder using his stomach”.

  6. Frank33 says:

    New Zealand, what a weird place. They jailed two accountants who stole a mere $2 million dollars. For eight years. We should extradite Corzine to New Zealand, where he would go to jail for 8,000 years.

    Following a six-week trial in June the men were found guilty of more than 100 charges of fraudulently using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage, attempting to pervert the course of justice and tax evasion.

    Rowley was this morning sentenced to eight and a half years in jail, while Skinner was sentenced to eight years in jail.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @Frank33: As Treasure Islands makes clear. New Zealand is competing mightily to become a place of convenient incorporation rivaling Nevada and Delaware, Bermuda, the Channel Islands and the Caribbean. Lax incorporation laws shield incorporators and the people for whom they act, veiling tax avoidance and other schemes that flout the law.

  8. alinaustex says:

    Makes me pine for George Bush Sr . During the S&L scandal Bush Sr sent many banksters to jail -including Keating . Its is also telling that Sen McCain got religion regarding campaign finance reform due to his Keating Five exposure. There has been major back sliding since then . We can expect just more criminal behavior from momnied interest – since there has been no Keating goes to jail headline in this current wall street scandal .

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