Two weeks ago, Treasury fired the guy in charge of FinCEN (the part of Treasury that enforces and tracks Suspicious Activities Reports), Jim Freis, reportedly (pay wall) because he wanted to focus on law enforcement and financial crimes, rather than a more focused counterterrorism focus.
The issue wasn’t Fincen’s speed or personality conflicts, but more about control. To put it simply, Treasury wants more oversight of Fincen’s activities, including additional focus on international areas such as terrorist financing. “Fincen ought to be better integrated and tethered to the policy issues that relate to money laundering, terrorist financing and economic sanctions on behalf of the U.S. government. It’s not as well integrated as it should be,” said a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Freis saw Fincen’s role as more independent, and was primarily concerned with the agency’s role in supporting law enforcement agencies as well as tackling other financial crimes such as mortgage fraud.
And if that isn’t enough to make you wonder about this Administration’s commitment to making banks obey the law, consider that the apparent leading candidate to replace Freis is JP Morgan’s anti-money laundering VP, William Langford.
In December 2009, when JPMC extended a $2.9 million loan to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping lines, in violation of WMD sanctions, Langford was the VP at JPMC in charge of money laundering. He was there, too, when JPMC decided not to self-disclose the loan until they had almost been repaid.
In the months before March 2011, when JPMC repeatedly claimed it didn’t have 20 documents relating to a wire transfer with Khartoum? Langford was at JPMC for that too.
The 9 wire transfers since April 2006 in violation of a range of sanctions? He was there for most of those.
And he was probably at JPM–though just barely–when JPMC transferred $20M in gold bullion–a ton of gold!–for an Iranian bank?
Now, presumably all this money laundering and sanctions violating happened in remote corners of JPMC, far from Langford’s views (though you would think his office would be involved in the non-responsive answers about the Khartoum documents and decisions about when and whether to self-disclose some of these violations). There is no reason to believe Langford facilitated any of this money laundering and sanctions violating.
Still, even aside from the whole revolving door problem, from the centrality of JPMC in both the MF Global and JPMC’s won Fail Whale investigations, it seems like Treasury might hire someone who couldn’t keep one bank in line, much less all of them.
I’ve got that wonderfully satisfied yet mildly sick feeling I used to get after eating too many sweets as a kid, what with all the schadenfreude directed at Jamie Dimon and his $2 billion loss.
But I’m particularly struck by this story, in which Gretchen Morgenson recounts how Jamie DImon called Paul Volcker and Richard Fisher “infantile” at a party a month ago, for warning about Too Big To Fail banks. That piece of news, like all the rest, added to my sugar buzz. But I was struck by this passage, describing Morgenson’s sources.
The party, sponsored by JPMorgan for a group of its wealthy private clients, took place at the sumptuous Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel. Mr. Dimon was on hand to thank the guests for their patronage and their trust.
During the party, Mr. Dimon took questions from the crowd, according to an attendee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of alienating the bank. One guest asked about the problem of too-big-to-fail banks and the arguments made by Mr. Volcker and Mr. Fisher.
Mr. Dimon responded that he had just two words to describe them: “infantile” and “nonfactual.” He went on to lambaste Mr. Fisher further, according to the attendee. Some in the room were taken aback by the comments.
That is, Morgenson’s source(s) is not some entry level trader. He or she is a private client, a very rich person, whom Dimon was brought in to suck up to. Not just suck up to, but “thank … for their trust.”
Here we are a month later and Dimon and JPM generally have proven that trust was misplaced. If it were me, I’d be pulling my money out of JPM before Dimon pulls an MF Global with it. Yet even still, this very rich person is afraid of “alienating the bank.”
Not that that’s surprising. After all, Goldman Sachs still commands the kind of fear that leads people to invest with it, even after it became clear it was suckering clients to buy shitpile that it could then short.
Still, if there’s a sign of just how perverse our finance system is right now, it’s that the rich people Dimon is supposed to be sucking up to actually fear him, even after he has been disgraced.
The bridge on 82 in this picture is the bridge a bunch of purported “anarchists” have just been arrested for threatening to blow up.
You’ll note the idyllic parklands through which it travels You’ll note the presence of two bridges in the immediate vicinity (not to mention the major freeway bridges not far away), to which traffic could easily be diverted if an attack succeeded. You’ll notice the almost complete lack of traffic on the bridge, at least when Google took its satellite picture.
In short, it makes zero sense for anyone to want to target the bridge. It would have almost no visibility. It would do almost nothing to disrupt traffic.
It would be, at best, an expensive curiosity.
It makes a far more implausible target for terrorists than the one the alleged plotters originally considered: bank signs in downtown Cleveland. The signs would have visibility. They would strike at a logical anarchist target. It would create news.
As one of the plotters said, “The signs are the most important part because they need to make sure everyone knows the action was against corporate America and the financial system, not just some random acts.”
The bridge, on the other hand, has just two advantages. First, as the affidavit notes, the bridge “has support columns within the boundaries of the National Park” and also (being not that far from the PA border) occasionally has cars with out of state plates drive over it. Those things–in spite of this being a little-used bridge on a state road–make blowing the bridge up interstate commerce, something the FBI can pursue.
And, the bridge, unlike some signs, would require an explosive like C4 to bring down.
So well before you get to the parts where a paid informant was offering to find money to get the C4 that the plotters said would otherwise be too expensive, you really have to wonder what purpose this plot serves.
Besides to give the FBI something to point to on May Day to justify arresting peaceful protestors.
Jamie Dimon’s got his whine on again (or should I say “still”), wishing we all could just move on from the catastrophe Dimon and his buddy banksters caused.
Dimon’s strategy here is rather amusing. He twice suggests that the media and the banks are both unfairly denigrated, as a “class.”
You’ve criticized others for an ongoing vilification of Wall Street and bankers?
I would say it differently. This indiscriminate scapegoating and finger-pointing. I don’t think it’s a good thing if you do it to banks or media. The point is there is some decent media and not decent; some good businesspeople and some not so good. My belief is this indiscriminate blame of both classes denigrates our society, destroys confidence — it certainly can’t boost it — and damages us.
Is it surprising that people lash out after such a severe recession in which we’ve seen these polars of wealth creation and destruction?
I can give you all the reasons why. But whenever anyone says to me, “All media,” I turn it off. “All politicians.” I turn it off. I don’t think it’s the right way to have discourse. Abe Lincoln didn’t do it. George Washington didn’t do it. It shouldn’t be done.
You don’t justify it because you’ve had a tough time. As a matter of fact, in a tough time, the best people stand tallest. They’re the ones who discriminate between the right and wrong. They’re the ones who stick to the true blue. … Not the ones who out of convenience scapegoat and finger-point.
And, having appealed to the journalist’s sense of common angst and suggested those seeking precisely to distinguish between right and wrong are “fingerpointing,” Dimon gets a piece that focuses on the number of people Chase has hired locally rather than his patently false claim that none of Chase’s foreclosures were improper and “we don’t know of any where the actual information in the affidavit about the foreclosure itself is wrong.”
Where Dimon’s latest whine says something new, however, is where he tries to suggest that the people who deposit their money with Chase–effectively loan Chase their money–are just freeloading.
Let’s talk about fees. We’ve seen some fees like the debit charge go away at the same time others are surfacing. Has it gone too far?
More than 80 percent don’t pay the monthly fee (on checking). Here’s the issue: It costs $300 to give you a checking account. What’s the cost of that? Branches, ATMs, online bill pay, Smart systems, checking account, a debit card. Any business has a cost. If you want a customer, you care, but you have to make a fair profit to survive.
But even after the debit fee went away, banks were still profitable.
Very often people will see us as having a profit, and I’m saying it’s really suboptimal results. Because we’re big and have a lot of capital, it sounds like a lot. But these are huge services and huge risks these banks take. We want to be fairly paid for services we provide. Just like a newspaper or anybody else.
Is the issue one of degree? For instance, that $5 ATM fee you were testing?
If you’re a client, we don’t charge you for ATMs. We charge nonclients. I think we charge $2 now. It costs us $50,000 a year to have an ATM. It’s not a gift. It’s for our clients. [my underline]
Right. The $50,000 ATM is a big risk. Dumping loads of money into derivatives? That’s apparently not where Chase’s big risk lies. Rather, it’s in replacing human tellers with machines that require relatively little maintenance, no health benefits, and no days off to give customers a reason–convenience–to loan Chase their money.
Or maybe now that Chase has made billions in the casino, they expect their $50,000 ATMs to be just as profitable. So Dimon will call a simple computer, an ATM, a huge risk, and demand exorbitant fees. Because banks shouldn’t have to pay the cost of doing business anymore, I guess. Asking them to do so is treating them unfairly as a class.
Someone gave Mitt Romney a shovel just in time to dig
shit snow in MI for the next two weeks. There’s a lot that is fact-impaired in this op-ed doubling down on the “let GM go bankrupt” (starting with the lack of funding for a bankruptcy, meaning a managed bankruptcy was impossible).
By the spring of 2009, instead of the free market doing what it does best, we got a major taste of crony capitalism, Obama-style.
Thus, the outcome of the managed bankruptcy proceedings was dictated by the terms of the bailout. Chrysler’s “secured creditors,” who in the normal course of affairs should have been first in line for compensation, were given short shrift, while at the same time, the UAWs’ union-boss-controlled trust fund received a 55 percent stake in the firm.
He’s complaining, of course, that VEBA (the trust fund run by professionals that allowed the auto companies to spin off contractual obligations–retiree healthcare–to the unions) got a stake in Chrysler while Chrysler’s secured creditors took a haircut.
So, in part, he’s basically complaining that the bailout preserved the healthcare a bunch of 55+ year old blue collar workers were promised. He’s pissed they got to keep their healthcare.
He’s also complaining that banks took a haircut, as would happen in any managed bankruptcy.
But it’s more than that. He’s complaining that a bunch of banks that themselves had been bailed out had to take a haircut. He’s complaining, for example, that JP Morgan Chase, Chrysler’s largest creditor at the time and the recipient, itself, of $68.6B in bailout loans, had to take a haircut on $2B in loans to Chrysler.
Mitt’s op-ed makes him sound a lot like Jimmy Lee, Chase’s top negotiator on the auto bailout, who,
demanded to know why, if the government thought banks important enough to give them tens of billions in TARP money, it wanted to squeeze them on [the Chrysler] deal.
I guess Mitt, too, thinks the banks are so important they should take precedence over retiree healthcare, too.
But as the kind of bankster who, at Bain, relied on government subsidies to fund his “restructurings” that ended up taking people’s jobs and healthcare, that’s not all that surprising.
Still, the UAW retirees who still have healthcare today instead of Jamie Dimon having another yacht probably don’t feel the same way as Mitt does.
Can you think of any major public figure–or even any ill-tempered toddler in your own life–that whines more than Jamie Dimon?
Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said President Barack Obama’s decision to expand investigations into home lending and sales of mortgage securities could stop settlement talks with the states over foreclosure practices.
“It has a pretty good chance of derailing it,” Dimon said in a televised interview with CNBC from Davos, Switzerland on Thursday.
Whining Dimon is effectively warning Obama that if any real investigation takes place, JP Morgan will walk away from Obama’s effort to make pension funds pay to bail Dimon’s company out. And–as Michael Whitney noted on Twitter–he’s doing so from the safe harbor of Davos, where presumably his fellow-MOTUs won’t throttle him for such arrogance.
It’s not enough, I guess, that Obama wants to excuse JPMC for its crimes. Dimon will only accept such help, he says, so long as Obama also refrains from even peeking at what crimes JPMC committed.
Fresh off the Friday news dump that its profits stalled in the last quarter (after it had to stop laundering money for Iran and inheriting the lost money of MF Global customers), fresh off the news that JPMorgan Chase might lose $5 billion in the Europe crisis, and, it should be said, fresh off the departure of a JPMC Exec from the White House Chief of Staff position, Jamie Dimon is calling for a real solution to the housing market.
“I would convene all the people involved in the business, I would close the door, I’d stay there until we resolved a bunch of these issues so we could have a more healthy mortgage market,” the 55-year-old chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. said today.
The patchwork of U.S. and international regulatory policies governing the housing and mortgage markets are hampering recovery here and abroad, Dimon said on a conference call with analysts after the New York-based bank released fourth-quarter earnings. In the U.S., state foreclosure laws conflict with a variety of federal policies on refinancing or modifying loans to troubled borrowers, Dimon said.
Leadership is needed to overhaul the industry, including reviving the market for private-label residential mortgage bonds and reforming regulations governing mortgage repurchases and foreclosures, he said.
“You could fix all this if someone was in charge,” Dimon said, tapping on the table for emphasis. “No one is in charge.”
Which is pretty funny, since a bunch of Attorneys General just did show some leadership.
Attorneys general or representatives from nearly 15 states met in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to discuss and share different enforcement options and strategies around various mortgage-related issues, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
The meeting was prompted by the slow pace at which a national foreclosure settlement led by the Obama administration is progressing, and is likely to be the first in a series, said these sources.
“This past Tuesday, a group of like-minded Attorneys General met in D.C. to discuss ongoing and future investigations into the mortgage finance and foreclosure industries,” said Delaware Deputy Attorney General Ian McConnel.
“The talks weren’t just about investigations,” said a source with knowledge of the discussions. “They were also about the attorneys general offices feeling uninvolved in a process by which their federal colleagues have been negotiating on their behalf.” [my emphasis]
Or maybe it’s this show of leadership that’s got Dimon whining?
But what I find most amusing about this ubercapitalist begging for government intervention is this: Dimon says he’s gonna lock “all the people involved in the business” in a room until they come up with a solution. But note who he’s going to invite?
Jamie Dimon has a plan to fix the U.S. housing market: lock mortgage lenders and regulators behind closed doors until they figure it out. [my emphasis]
Because if you realized that homeowners, too, were a fundamental part of the housing business, you might lose your cred as a psychopath.
As business professor Clive Boddy describes it, banksters like Jamie Dimon succeed–and cause great catastrophe–because they are able to exploit the chaos of today’s business environment while ignoring the consequences of their ruthlessness.
Boddy says psychopaths take advantage of the “relative chaotic nature of the modern corporation,” including “rapid change, constant renewal” and high turnover of “key personnel.” Such circumstances allow them to ascend through a combination of “charm” and “charisma,” which makes “their behaviour invisible” and “makes them appear normal and even to be ideal leaders.”
They “largely caused the crisis” because their “single- minded pursuit of their own self-enrichment and self- aggrandizement to the exclusion of all other considerations has led to an abandonment of the old-fashioned concept of noblesse oblige, equality, fairness, or of any real notion of corporate social responsibility.”
Boddy doesn’t name names, but the type of personality he describes is recognizable to all from the financial crisis.
He says the unnamed “they” seem “to be unaffected” by the corporate collapses they cause. These psychopaths “present themselves as glibly unbothered by the chaos around them, unconcerned about those who have lost their jobs, savings and investments, and as lacking any regrets about what they have done.
Meanwhile, a Reuters article offers a possible explanation for how millions of MF Global funds disappeared: because its clearing firm, JP Morgan Chase, dawdled while clearing hundreds of millions of dollars in securities MF Global sold to Goldman Sachs as an effort to stay afloat.
MF Global unloaded hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of securities to Goldman Sachs in the days leading up to its collapse, according to two former MF Global employees with direct knowledge of the transactions. But it did not immediately receive payment from its clearing firm and lender, JPMorgan Chase & Co , one of the sources said.
The sale of securities to Goldman occurred on October 27, just days before MF Global Holdings Ltd filed for bankruptcy on October 31, the ex-employees said. One of the employees said the transaction was cleared with JPMorgan Chase.
JPMorgan has fought aggressively in bankruptcy court to protect its interests, and received a lien on some of MF Global’s assets in exchange for granting the firm $8 million to fund its bankruptcy costs. The lien puts JPMorgan’s interests ahead of MF Global customers who have not yet received an estimated $900 million worth of money from their accounts, which remain frozen as regulators search for missing funds.
As it turns out, a week before JPMC was stalling on clearing MF Global’s sales, Jamie Dimon sent out an email to JPMC employees boasting about the firm’s expansion at a time of strife for the industry.
“2011 was another year of challenges, both for JPMorgan Chase and for countries around the world,” Dimon wrote in a year-end e-mail to staff. “There is a lot of frustration out there and more than a little hostility toward our industry.”
JPMorgan hired 16,000 people in the U.S. in 2011, Dimon said in the letter, expanding its total workforce to more than 260,000 in a year when financial companies announced more than 200,000 job cuts and protests against Wall Street firms spread worldwide. The New York-based lender is adding about 175 branches a year in the U.S., he said.
“In the face of challenges, JPMorgan Chase is doing its part,” Dimon wrote. “We have not shrunk back.”
I tell you, indefinite detention looks better and better for Jamie Dimon.
Pardon me for the Taibbi like insolence, but this is just fucking amazing. While most Americans are struggling to stay alive, employed, and their families fed and in their homes, much less celebrate a decent Christmas, the 1% Masters Of The Universe have gotten together for a group bitchfest of elitist assholes:
Jamie Dimon, the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks, turned a question at an investors’ conference in New York this month into an occasion to defend wealth.
“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it,” the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) CEO told an audience member who asked about hostility toward bankers. “Sometimes there’s a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole.”
Dimon, 55, whose 2010 compensation was $23 million, joined billionaires including hedge-fund manager John Paulson and Home Depot Inc. (HD) co-founder Bernard Marcus in using speeches, open letters and television appearances to defend themselves and the richest 1 percent of the population targeted by Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.
Uh, fuck you Jamie Dimon and to the plaintive wail of the skimming, raping moneychangers.
Oh, and in case you had any question on what side of the 1%/99% divide Barack Obama and his Administration are on, yet another answer was given today with the announcement of their proposed selection for the critical “independent” seat on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC):
The Obama administration is considering nominating Jeremiah Norton, an executive director for JPMorgan Chase’s investment bank, to sit on the FDIC’s board of directors.
Who is Jeremiah Norton? Well, as this quote states, he executive director of the investment banking shop and one of Obama’s buddy, Jamie Dimon’s, right hand men. Oh, and before that, Norton was former Goldman Sachs honcho Henry Paulson’s right hand man in the Bush Treasury Department and assisted Paulson in getting Goldman Sachs a backdoor bailout through AIG.
So, while OWS is out protesting and the majority of citizens are falling deeper in despair and many losing their homes and hopes, and Barack Obama duplicitously coos about feeling the pain of the 99%, this is what is going on where the rubber meets the actual road.
PS: Digby has pounded Dimon on this as well if you want more searing criticism.
Kagro X and I were engaging in a little thought experiment on Twitter to show how easy it would be to solve our dangerous bankster problem by indefinitely detaining them.
It turned out to be pretty easy to do. Here’s how.
First, before you indefinitely detain a bankster, you need to show either that he is,
A person who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or who has supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
another international terrorist group that the President has determined both (a) is in armed conflict with the United States and (b) poses a threat of hostile actions within the United States;
Now, making that case with Jamie Dimon is very easy to do, because his company, JP Morgan Chase, has materially helped Iran. We have several pieces of proof it has done so. First, there’s the Treasury Report showing that JPMC:
We need no further proof that JPMC has done these things. Not only has JPMC admitted to them, but as Janice Rogers Brown has made clear, we cannot question the Executive Branch’s intelligence reports, so all of OFAC’s claims must be accepted as true for the purposes of indefinite detention. And all of that illegal support for Iran happened while Jamie Dimon was President of JPMC.
But there may even be proof–enough, anyway, to satisfy Rogers Brown–that JPMC materially supported an attempt to deploy a WMD in a terrorist attack on American soil. As I have shown, the bank account to which Manssor Arbabsiar transferred almost $100,000 as downpayment for the alleged Quds Force plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir was probably a Chase account. And that affidavit should be enough. The FBI, after all, is an intelligence agency. And Janice Rogers Brown does not find redactions–even much more extensive ones–to in any way impair the reliability of Administration claims to justify indefinite detention.
In other words, the Administration has provided sufficient proof that JPMC materially supported Iran to the tune of at least $23 million in illegal financial transactions.
Now, if Chase is indeed the bank that accepted the downpayment for the Scary Iran Plot, we need no further basis to indefinitely detain Jamie Dimon. After all, the government’s Amended Complaint (from the FBI, an intelligence agency whose reports we cannot question) asserts that Abdul Reza Shahlai was the mastermind behind the Scary Iran Plot, and at the time of the plot, he had already been sanctioned as a supporter of the insurgency in Iraq. That was based on a questionable intelligence report, admittedly, but Janice Rogers Brown says we cannot consider such problems. So if Chase did, indeed, play a role in the Scary Iran Plot, then that’s all we need to indefinitely detain Jamie Dimon as head of the entity that materially supported that terrorist attack.
But even if Chase wasn’t involved in the Scary Iran Plot, the Executive Branch can still indefinitely detain Jamie Dimon. After all, the Executive Branch has been claiming that Iran was harboring al Qaeda since 2003. In addition, an official Executive Branch report–a September 12, 2009 diplomatic cable–includes the following hearsay claim, made by Saudi Arabia’s then Minister of the Interior, now the Crown Prince, Nayif bin Abdulaziz:
Iran has hosted Saudis (all Sunnis) — including Osama bin Laden’s son Ibrahim — who had contacts with terrorists and worked against [Saudi Arabia]
And Janice Rogers Brown has said that so long as it appears in an official government document, any hearsay problem is overcome. And as recent reporting makes clear, there’s even some evidence that Iran was at least aware of, and in some ways facilitated, the 9/11 plot itself. That assertion is based on NSA reports which, as official government documents, would meet Rogers Brown’s standard for claims supporting indefinite detention.
All of which would seem to reach the bar of making Iran a force associated with al Qaeda. I don’t necessarily buy these reports, mind you, but again, it’s not for me to question these official government records. And helping such an associated force access $23 million of funding sure seems to qualify as “substantial support.”
Now let me be clear. I don’t advocate indefinitely detaining Jamie Dimon–or anyone else either, particularly not American citizens, no matter how loathsome or dangerous to the United States. But given that our country maintains it is more important to “incapacitate” terrorists and those who support them than to punish those who did trillions of dollars of damage to our economy, we may well have to treat Jamie Dimon as a material supporter of terrorism to get some justice.
And Jamie? If I were you I would report to an Embassy or some other official government office right away, as the government claims Anwar al-Awlaki should have. Because while Obama seems uninterested in indefinitely detaining American citizens, he has been known to kill those he claimed were particularly dangerous.