How to wreck the economy and avoid prosecution for $9 billion
November 7, 2014 10:15 AM   Subscribe

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare. "Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking."

Alayne Fleischmann and Matt Taibbi on Democracy Now: Matt Taibbi and Bank Whistleblower on How JPMorgan Chase Helped Wreck the Economy, Avoid Prosecution

Recent post about Taibbi's return to Rolling Stone: bad and dumb and needless and not matt taibbi’s fault
posted by homunculus (42 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
I read this yesterday and it left me feeling sick for the rest of the day. I still cannot really comprehend the scale of theft that has occurred. It reminds me of the Jean Rostand quote: "Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill them all, and you are a god." Steal someone's wallet and you're a damn thief. Steal billions and you're just very successful and powerful!

Thank goodness for Ms. Fleischmann, and I certainly hope something can be done with the information she has.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:33 AM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


I certainly hope something can be done with the information she has.

How about: everyone, especially those of y'all in Massachusetts, send copies of this article to Senator Elizabeth Warren and urge her to contact Fleischmann so they can pursue a case against the perpetrators.

I'm perfectly serious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


I certainly hope something can be done with the information she has.

With a Republican Congress and a lame duck Obama administration that's yet to act on any of this over the past 6 years...don't hold your breath.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:40 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


so they can pursue a case against the perpetrator

Setting aside the fact that Warren is a Senator (and shortly in the minority party), the key problem with this is that the cases were settled by the government.
posted by dhartung at 11:00 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Civil cases. They could (and should) file criminal charges.

They won't, obviously, but they could (and should).
posted by Justinian at 11:03 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


With a Republican Congress and a lame duck Obama administration that's yet to act on any of this over the past 6 years...don't hold your breath.

Seems to me that the prospect of going after Holder with hard evidence would warm a Republican's heart. Of course it would be unwelcome on Wall Street and both parties are beholden there, but still....
posted by IndigoJones at 11:06 AM on November 7, 2014


I'm reminded of reading about Chase and Linda Almonte. She has a GoFundMe as well. It's really creepy how they have a Several PIs stalking her, and how used her child is to having vans tail her home from school.
posted by halifix at 11:11 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The assumption they make is that I won't blow up my life to do it [testify]," Fleischmann says. "But they're wrong about that."

This is so, so wrong. Good for her for having the courage to do this, but no one should have to blow up their lives and never be able to work again just because they testified against criminals. That's like organized crime bullying tactics.
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:12 AM on November 7, 2014 [15 favorites]


I certainly hope something can be done with the information she has.

The only barrier is the unwillingness of the government to prosecute. The only problem is that that might be an insurmountable barrier. Holder is killing time before he steps down, and Obama is a lame duck. This is all executive branch, so if Obama wanted to he could push the new AG to actually press charges. It certainly seems like Obama actually just doesn't want to do it, and it has nothing to do with campaign/electoral politics, and everything to do with Obama just doesn't want to press charges against the banks.
posted by DGStieber at 11:14 AM on November 7, 2014 [10 favorites]


this recent article in The Nation gives a little more detail on the JP Morgan Chase $13 billion settlement.

I'll wait for someone to come in and explain how this is DOJ standard operating procedure for big criminal fraud cases (which it actually seems to be if the supposed perpetrator is a large bank), how it's all very complicated, and the DOJ is going to move up the ladder with prosecutions eventually.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:16 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'll wait for someone to come in and explain how this is DOJ standard operating procedure for big criminal fraud cases (which it actually seems to be if the supposed perpetrator is a large bank), how it's all very complicated, and the DOJ is going to move up the ladder with prosecutions eventually.

Yes, because it would be some career-making move that a "lean, hungry, young" prosecutor/whoever would just kill to have. That has been an argument deployed before. Still waiting on those lean and hungry folks. Maybe they starved to death.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


It is more likely that Fleischmann will have charges brought against her (she was, after all, part of the team that approved these deals, so her objections are irrelevant) than it is that anyone still at Chase will.

Yet another reason to be infuriated at the Sophie's choice we are given in electoral politics. I don't really want to reward Obama and most of the Democrats, but..fucking Republicans somehow manage to be even worse.
posted by wierdo at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2014


In the other thread about the 6th circuit's recent ruling, there were many people using the ruling as an opportunity to shout about how the parties are different and voting matters. I would like to use this thread as an opportunity to yell about how the parties are the same, and so voting matters.

WE HAVE A FUCKING DEMOCRACY PEOPLE! USE IT!
posted by DGStieber at 11:35 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, because it would be some career-making move that a "lean, hungry, young" prosecutor/whoever would just kill to have. That has been an argument deployed before. Still waiting on those lean and hungry folks. Maybe they starved to death.

that would be Wagner, the US attorney who was working up the criminal charges against JP Morgan Chase:

from the nation article
For his part, Wagner was disappointed that the complaint would not be filed. “I had my nice blue suit on, and I was ready for the cameras,” he says. “Being out here in Sacramento, you don’t always get the opportunity to step on a national stage, so at a personal level, it was somewhat deflating. But on the other hand, you don’t let ego get in the way of these things. You want to do what’s right—not only for my case in the Eastern District of California, but for the department and the government generally. I’ve always been a team player, so it was back to negotiations.”
posted by ennui.bz at 11:57 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


What I want to know is why there isn't some left-wing version of the Tea Party for the Democrats?

Vote Democrat when it comes for the election but put up actual liberal/progressive people at primaries and vote for them. Go after DINO's with candidates who actually believe in something more than keeping their seat.

I guess the two thing's they'd need are left-wing versions of the Koch brothers and Fox News, but you've got George Soros and Comedy Central so it's a start.

(I'm in Canada where we have the NDP to keep everyone else in line)
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:03 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Actually, something Obama could do during his last two years is have the attorney general pursue this. Make it a white knight cause.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:08 PM on November 7, 2014


What I want to know is why there isn't some left-wing version of the Tea Party for the Democrats?

Occupy Wallstreet. They were too busy squatting in public parks to be bothered with organizing constituencies, mobilizing their vote and lining up candidates to challenge establishment hacks. And we think the Tea Party are the ridiculous ones!
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:33 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


re: the NDP in Canada; they ends up splitting the left-leaning vote allowing things like Harper to happen. If last election the Liberals and NDP had simply player Rock, Paper Scissors and the loser put their votes towards the other's PM we wouldn't have had harper. But they didn't, and we've still got Steven Harper's Government in power. Before the conservatives consolidated the vote splitting happened against them.

Unless there's a voting system like instant runoff (where one and prioritize votes for multiple candidates/parties), viable 3rd parties don't work out to be as great as they initially seem.
posted by nobeagle at 12:35 PM on November 7, 2014


Occupy Wallstreet. They were too busy squatting in public parks to be bothered with organizing constituencies, mobilizing their vote and lining up candidates to challenge establishment hacks.

Uh, actually, if you RTFA, you'll see this sentence in it:
In the spring of 2012, Fleischmann, who'd moved back to Canada after leaving Chase, was working at a law firm in Calgary when the phone rang. It was an investigator from the States. "Hi, I'm from the SEC," he said. "You weren't expecting to hear from me, were you?"

A few months earlier, President Obama, giving in to pressure from the Occupy movement and other reformers, had formed the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group. At least superficially, this was a serious show of force against banks like Chase.
So, "squatting in public parks" wasn't all they were doing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:38 PM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]




"Fleischmann quickly ran into a problem with this manager, technically one of her superiors. She says he told her and other employees to stop sending him e-mails. "

I guess we'll never know who this particular cancer cell was? No prosecution, trial, judgement for him?
posted by sidereal at 1:05 PM on November 7, 2014


Reading The Nation article...

In a conference call the day the settlement was announced, he mostly kept quiet while Marianne Lake, the firm’s CFO, led financial analysts through the details, including how $7 billion of the $13 billion fine would be tax-deductible.

Even ignoring the multitude of clauses saying if so-and-so does/doesn't happen they don't need to pay some subset of the fines... How is it a fine if they're don't even need to pay it?
posted by halifix at 1:06 PM on November 7, 2014


As a lawyer working for the bank was she bound by attorney-client privilege? As a witness to criminal activity and an officer of the court, did she not have a legal responsibility to blow the whistle back in 2006 and 2007?

As to suing her, Chase would be mad to try, surely? PR for one thing, opening up a serious can of worms via discovery. Or am I wrong?

Kelleher asks a rhetorical question: "Can you imagine the outcry if [Bush-era Attorney General] Alberto Gonzales had gone into the backroom and given Halliburton immunity in exchange for a billion dollars?"

Well, I expect it would have earned more than 22 comments in the blue.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:16 PM on November 7, 2014


This story is so sad. My perspective is that even here, there isn't really a true evil villain.

Everyone -- everyone -- who made this decision happen thinks it's in the best interests of the country.

The problem, as always, is the way the system is set up to perpetuate this exact type of outcome.

Gah.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 2:46 PM on November 7, 2014


who made this decision happen thinks it's in the best interests of the country.

This is not true. Dimon et. al. at Chase are not thinking in the best interest of the country. In fact, they almost certainly are contractually bound to act solely in the best interest of Chase Bank Inc.
posted by DGStieber at 3:16 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, yes. I agree with you. But the story they tell themselves (and everyone around them) is that the big banks are fundamental to the real economy, and that if Chase et al were to suffer, everybody would.

This is what they tell regulators all the time, and why settlements like this happen. People want to go back to the normal, business as usual economy, without disrupting the institutions that they perceive as enabling it.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 3:46 PM on November 7, 2014


Excellent idea, EmpressCallipygos. Done. Asked her to legislate for a restoration of a new Glass-Steagall and to run for President, too.

Clearly it's an uphill fight, people, but it's a fight worth fighting.
posted by CincyBlues at 4:51 PM on November 7, 2014


"everything to do with Obama just doesn't want to press charges against the banks."

Does the petition thing on WhiteHouse.gov still work? Anyone wanna take a run at getting 10,000 signatures to say WHAT THE FUCK OBAMA?
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 PM on November 7, 2014


Been reading through Jeff Horwitz's collection of articles. More focus on business and government than personal impact so far.
posted by halifix at 11:34 PM on November 7, 2014


klangklangston: ""everything to do with Obama just doesn't want to press charges against the banks."

Does the petition thing on WhiteHouse.gov still work? Anyone wanna take a run at getting 10,000 signatures to say WHAT THE FUCK OBAMA?
"

IIRC, it's kinda like the supreme court where they can simply say "we refuse to comment on this particular issue." It's all a giant scam meant to appear as if it's addressing the electorate, when it's really a huge load of plutocratic horse hockey.

I wanna ask why the USA and Russia are butting heads so much when we appear to be becoming more and more alike. It's truly sad when the watergate era seems to be the high water mark of the USA's political system.

PS - Fuck the Koch brothers and their ilk.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:17 AM on November 8, 2014


Maybe I've read too many Grisham novels but is anyone else surprised that she hasn't suffered a tragic accident by now? What a brave woman.
posted by Jubey at 3:55 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


In fact, they almost certainly are contractually bound to act solely in the best interest of Chase Bank Inc.

I believe these people were solely motivated to make fuck-you money for their own bad selves and every single other thing in the world -- Chase, Chase's investors, The U S of A, everything -- was an means to that.

I can't find the bit from the hearings about this, but hopefully you remember how these people were talking among themselves about these things. About the "Bullshit" stocks they were selling. There was them, and there was a world full of suckers.

The corporation was no more than an instrument then, and a hole to hide in when the crap hit the fan.
posted by Trochanter at 6:45 AM on November 8, 2014


This is familiar ground, the excellent documentary Inside Job went over a lot of this, back in 2010. The film clearly discusses the illegal activites going on at the banks with insider witenesses and testimony. It was widely distributed and received several awards including the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

And nothing changed.
Nothing. Zip. Nadda. Zilch. I don't see how an article in Rolling Stone magazine, no matter how shocking, is going to change this. I commend Ms. Fleischmann for her bravery and hope she will be an example for others to step forward. However I am highly doubtful that anyone will go to trial for this, let alone see any jail time.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:17 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, this is all very depressing.
posted by nzero at 9:35 AM on November 8, 2014


The corporation was no more than an instrument

Every thing you say in your comment about Chase I have come to believe about civilization as a whole: that it is an instrument for sociopathic individuals to yoke the rest of us for their own aggrandizement.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:40 PM on November 8, 2014




STAND BY YER MAYUN!1!
posted by Trochanter at 8:12 PM on November 8, 2014


Occupy Wallstreet. They were too busy squatting in public parks to be bothered with organizing constituencies, mobilizing their vote and lining up candidates to challenge establishment hacks.

More like they were too busy having the shit beaten out of them by the cops at the slightest hint that something further to the left of the status quo might be attempting to organize. Whereas the Tea Party mysteriously did not face that kind of opposition. As I recall it, they were pretty well funded and helped along by those in power at every step.

Maybe if the street protests and squatting had continued instead of being violently and viciously repressed something would have been done about this, even if it was just a few bones thrown down in the hopes of avoiding riots or further expropriation. Instead not a single person has done jack shit, no one is going to jail, and all this wishful thinking about if only we had voted harder is so silly since the Obama administration could have done this at any point and hasn't, and won't.

The problem, as always, is the way the system is set up to perpetuate this exact type of outcome.

This article is like the most perfect example of "you can't use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house" I've ever read.
posted by bradbane at 12:12 PM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Loretta Lynch’s Wall Street friends: What you should know about AG nominee’s finance past. Looking for accountability for financial crimes that wrecked the economy? Here's why the status quo is more likely
Lynch’s other major financial fraud case was a $1.9 billion deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC for facilitating money laundering for terrorists and Mexican drug cartels. Carl Levin’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations basically gift-wrapped this case for federal prosecutors in an extensive report, relating lurid tales of HSBC collaborating with some of the worst people on the planet for years. But nobody from the bank went to jail or paid any fines. Lynch’s office didn’t even force HSBC to plead guilty; the deferred prosecution agreement just imposes a fine and a monitoring process as an out-of-court settlement. As Matt Taibbi pointed out at the time, a kid caught with a few ounces of drugs will get thrown into jail for years, but a bank helping the criminals sell billions in drugs to those kids will have no trouble.
posted by homunculus at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's all ultimately about social control. We've gained so much efficiency through automation that too many people find themselves time to do dangerous things. Just imagine all the dangerous activities that'll take off if the banksters stopped stealing all the money.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:12 AM on November 11, 2014


Good article! I particularly liked this sentence of Dennis Kelleher's:
"The kid-gloves approach that the DOJ and the SEC take with Wall Street is as inexplicable as it is indefensible."
It's a good laugh line.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:00 PM on November 11, 2014


Taibbi's latest on how differently law enforcement treats people like Jamie Dimon and Michael Brown:

The Police in America Are Becoming Illegitimate: The crooked math that's going to crash American law enforcement if policies aren't changed
posted by homunculus at 12:43 PM on December 6, 2014


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