Billy Moyer interviews Matt Taibbi, a political and financial reporter who’s been covering the ongoing saga between the U.S. Department of Justice and the big Wall Street banks.
Some of my favorite lines;
Taibbi on the HSBC scandal:
…they laundered money for terrorist connected banks in the Middle East. Russian gangsters. Literally, you know, I talked to one prosecutor who’s, like, ‘They broke basically every law in the book and they did business with every kind of criminal you can possibly imagine. And they got a complete and total walk.’ I mean, they had to pay a fine… But it’s five weeks of revenue for the bank, to put that in perspective. And no individual had to suffer any consequences at all. There were no criminal charges no individual fines, which was incredible. Incredible.
On the LIBOR scandal:
This is the, I think the biggest financial scandal of all time. It was a price fixing scandal where, essentially, some of the world’s biggest banks got together and they conspired illegally to artificially rig the global interest rates which are based upon this London inner bank offered rate, which is a rate that measures how much it costs for banks to lend money to each other.
This LIBOR rate affects the prices of hundreds of trillions of dollars of financial products. And it goes from everything from credit cards to mortgages to municipal bonds. Basically everything in the world the price is, you know, is somehow connected to LIBOR. And these guys were monkeying around with this for individual profit. And they got, again, a complete and total walk on this. There were no criminal charges, which is just unbelievable.
…And Taibbi on the DOJs unwillingness to prosecute big banks:
He’s [Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, now stepping down] essentially saying that some individuals are so systemically important, that they can’t be arrested and put in jail. Now, it’s only a few steps forward to the corollary to that, which is if some people are too systemically important to arrest, other people may safely be arrested. So we’re creating a class of people who are arrestable and another class of people who are not arrestable, which is crazy. It’s a crazy thing for the assistant attorney general to say, to admit out loud that he’s dividing Americans up into these two classes. There’s no reason they couldn’t have taken a number of individuals from some of these companies and put them on trial.
Historically, we’ve always done this. Even under the Bush administration, if you go back just ten years, you know, WorldCom, Enron, you know, Adelphia. We took the leading individuals of these companies and we put them on trial to make an example out of them. And this is exactly what we’re not doing in this case. Those companies were systemically important then. I don’t see why they can’t do the same thing now.
Well, that’s a downer. You should watch the full interview below.