It must've been like old home week when the old gang of Wall Street and Washington insiders finalized a couple more cushy settlements last week.
Everybody knew the drill: Ignore the potential criminal charges and agree on settlement figures they think the public will swallow - figures that are big enough to sound impressive but far smaller than the banks' ill-gotten gains. They've done this dozens of times before.
But there was an empty chair at the negotiating table.
Bank of America was there, as it has been so many times before. So were the other too-big-to-fail banks. Representatives from the Attorney General's office were undoubtedly there, too. The Attorney General was a high-priced Wall Street attorney.
The banks' "independent" reviewers were there, too, or at least their reports were. Those reports said that there were very few problems with the banks' transactions. That should've have raised some red flags around the negotiating table: An audit in San Francisco found that 84 percent of foreclosures were performed illegally, while another in North Carolina found "singular irregularities" in roughly three-quarters of the mortgages reviewed.
So it shouldn't have been such a surprise when an as-yet unpublished GAO report showed that these rosy reviews were disastrously flawed.
~ from Two New Fraud Deals Show Wall Street's Washington Insiders at Work by Richard Eskow ~
What is so infuriating about deals of this nature is that average folks aren't treated this way! Our prisons and jails are filled with people convicted of petty crimes, but if you're a big shot, you get to walk free with a minimal fine.
Imagine Joe Schmoe trying to wrangle a similar deal in court. Charged with shoplifting a walkman valued at $95, he tells the court that he's willing to pay a $10 fine without admitting, of course, that he did anything wrong. Do you think most judges would accept that offer? Hell no! He would be laughed out of court.
When the common man or woman is found guilty of wrongdoing, an example must be made of them. That person must be punished as a way of telling others that they will meet with the same fate or worse. But when a Wall Street enterprise is found guilty of wrongdoing, an example is NOT made of them. About the only punishment the company may receive is a piddly ass fine, one that tells their compatriots that they can get away with almost anything. Unsurprisingly, these corporations continue to engage in wrongdoing with little, if any, fear of reprisals.