Financial News StoriesExcerpts of Key Financial News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of banking and finance news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Opening unauthorized bank accounts. Cheating customers on mortgages and car loans. If you can dream up a financial scam, there’s a good chance that Wells Fargo ran it on its customers in recent years. After years of pressure, the company finally parted ways with its second chief executive in three years. But this isn’t real accountability. When a criminal on the street steals money from your wallet, they go to jail. When small-business owners cheat their customers, they go to jail. But when corporate executives at big companies oversee huge frauds that hurt tens of thousands of people, they often get to walk away with multimillion-dollar payouts. Too often, prosecutors don’t even try to hold top executives criminally accountable. They claim it’s too hard to prove that the people at the top knew about the corporate misconduct. This culture of complicity warps the incentives for corporate leaders. The executives know that, at worst, the company will get hit with a fine — and the money will come out of their shareholders’ pockets, not their own. It doesn’t have to be this way. With sustained resources and a commitment to enforcing the law, we can bring more cases under existing rules. Beyond that, we should enact the Ending Too Big To Jail Act, which I introduced last year. That bill would make it easier to hold executives at big banks accountable for scams by requiring them to certify that they conducted a “due diligence” inquiry and found that no illegal conduct was occurring on their watch.
Note: The above was written by US Senator Elizabeth Warren. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
American billionaires are calling for changes to the system that enabled them to get rich. Warren Buffett, Jamie Dimon, Ray Dalio, Bill Gates and a list of others say that capitalism in its current form simply doesn’t work for the rest of the United States. Some of their remedies involve higher taxes. Hedge fund titan Ray Dalio is the most recent to criticize the current economic system. On Monday, the Bridgewater founder told CNBC that while it doesn’t need to be destroyed, capitalism does need to present an equal opportunity, which Dalio said he received through public education. The issue chafing billionaires and politicians alike is a growing income gap. The inequality between rich and poor Americans is as high as it was in late 1930s, Dalio pointed out in a paper posted online. The wealth of the top 1 percent of the population is now more than that of the bottom 90 percent of the population combined. Dalio called growing inequality and lack of investment in public education “an existential risk for the U.S.” Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett - third on Forbe’s 2019 billionaires list - has repeatedly said the wealthy should be taxed more. In 2006, the CEO committed to give all of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic foundations. He and Bill and Melinda Gates have asked hundreds of wealthy Americans to pledge at least 50 percent of their wealth to charity in the so-called “the Giving Pledge.” There are now 190 people signed on, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In his annual letter to shareholders, distributed last week, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon took aim at socialism, warning it would be “a disaster for our country,” because it produces “stagnation, corruption and often worse.” Dimon should know. He was at the helm when JPMorgan received a $25bn socialist-like bailout in 2008, after it and other Wall Street banks almost tanked because of their reckless loans. Dimon subsequently agreed to pay the government $13bn to settle charges that the bank overstated the quality of mortgages it was selling. According to the Justice Department, JPMorgan acknowledged it had regularly and knowingly sold mortgages that should have never been sold. To state it another way, Dimon and other Wall Street CEOs helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis when the dangerous and irresponsible loans their banks were peddling – on which they made big money – finally went bust. But instead of letting the market punish the banks (which is what capitalism is supposed to do) the government bailed them out and eventually levied paltry fines which the banks treated as the cost of doing business. Call it socialism for rich bankers. America’s five biggest banks, including Dimon’s, now control 46% of all deposits, up from 12% in the early 1990s. But, of course, Dimon isn’t really ... concerned about socialism. Dimon’s real concern is that America may end the kind of socialism he and other denizens of the Street depend on – bailouts, regulatory loopholes, and tax breaks.
Note: The above was written by former US secretary of labor Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
All over the western world banks are shutting down cash machines and branches. They are trying to push you into using their digital payments and digital banking infrastructure. Financial institutions ... are trying to nudge us towards a cashless society and digital banking. The true motive is corporate profit. Payments companies such as Visa and Mastercard want to increase the volume of digital payments services they sell, while banks want to cut costs. The nudge requires two parts. First, they must increase the inconvenience of cash. Second, they must vigorously promote the alternative. But a cashless society is not in your interest. It is in the interest of banks and payments companies. Their job is to make you believe that it is in your interest too, and they are succeeding in doing that. The recent Visa chaos, during which millions of people who have become dependent on digital payment suddenly found themselves stranded when the monopolistic payment network crashed, was a temporary setback. Digital systems may be “convenient”, but they often come with central points of failure. Cash, on the other hand, does not crash. It does not rely on external data centres, and is not subject to remote control or remote monitoring. The cash system allows for an unmonitored “off the grid” space. This is also the reason why financial institutions and financial technology companies want to get rid of it. Cash transactions are outside the net that such institutions cast to harvest fees and data.
Note: For more on this questionable trend, see this article and this one in the UK's Guardian. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
Despite being the taxpayers’ greatest investment - more than $700 billion a year - the Department of Defense has remained an organizational black box throughout its history. It’s repelled generations of official inquiries, the latest being an audit three decades in the making, mainly by scrambling its accounting into such a mess that it may never be untangled. Ahead of misappropriation, fraud, theft, overruns, contracting corruption and other abuses that are almost certainly still going on, the Pentagon’s first problem is its books. It’s the world’s largest producer of wrong numbers. At the tail end of last year, the Department of Defense finally completed an audit. At a cost of $400 million, some 1,200 auditors charged into the jungle of military finance, but returned in defeat. They were unable to pass the Pentagon or flunk it. They could only offer no opinion, explaining the military’s empire of hundreds of acronymic accounting silos was too illogical to penetrate. Twenty-nine years ago, in 1990, Congress ordered all government agencies to begin producing audited financial statements. In 2011, [the Pentagon] finally agreed to be ready by 2017, which turned into 2018. If and when the defense review is ever completed, we’re likely to find ... the military’s losses and liabilities hidden in Enron-like special-purpose vehicles, assets systematically overvalued, monies Congress approved for X feloniously diverted to Program Y, contractors paid twice, parts bought twice, repairs done unnecessarily and at great expense, and so on.
Note: Read more about the Pentagon's massive accounting fraud in this article. Read a 2017 article documenting an investigation which found $21 Trillion unaccounted for in government coffers. Then read summaries of several major media articles showing the Pentagon's blatant lies and disregard for accounting. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption from reliable major media sources.
The United States and key ally Saudi Arabia saw their lobbying efforts pay off on Friday after the European Commission's proposed dirty money blacklist - which included the oil-rich kingdom and several American territories - fizzled. "The Americans fell on us like a tonne of bricks," an anonymous Brussels official [said]. The effort "to protect the integrity of the E.U. financial system," the commission said last month, included blacklisting 23 territories that had "strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks." They included American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico as well as Saudi Arabia. However, as the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, "European governments, under pressure from Washington and Riyadh, have refused to endorse" the list. "The rejection of the governments is a farce at the expense of security," declared Sven Giegold, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany. "Governments must ask themselves whether they are on the side of autocrats or their citizens!" As Politico reported, the list, which would need the backing of the European Parliament and Council of the E.U. to go into effect, "is politically sensitive because it has teeth. E.U. banks that handle payments connected to the blacklisted countries and territories would have to conduct 'enhanced due diligence' on any cash that moves to and from the E.U. and the blacklisted jurisdictions."
A national inquiry into Australia's scandal-plagued financial sector has proposed sweeping changes in an attempt to end rampant industry misconduct. The Royal Commission spent 12 months investigating wrongdoing by some of the nation's biggest institutions. Prominent scandals included the charging of fees for no service - sometimes to dead customers. The government said it would act on all 76 recommendations made by the inquiry. The Royal Commission - Australia's highest form of public inquiry - came after a decade of scandals that shook confidence in the country's largest industry. After the report was made public on Monday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the public had paid an "immense" price for the misconduct. "It's a scathing assessment of conduct driven by greed and behaviour that was in breach of existing law and fell well below community expectations," he said. The Royal Commission received more than 10,000 public submissions. It interviewed over 130 witnesses in public hearings. The report made 76 recommendations for reform, including: More than 20 unidentified cases to be referred on to regulators, resulting in possible criminal or civil prosecutions; There should be an overhaul of the sector's sales culture to reduce conflicts of interest; Regulators need to more regularly prosecute breaches, or lose some of their powers. The government has been criticised for initially resisting the probe, which it later described as "regrettable but necessary" action to restore public trust.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Early support from deep-pocketed financial executives could give Democrats seeking to break out of the pack an important fundraising boost. But any association with bankers also opens presidential hopefuls to sharp attacks from an ascendant left. And it’s left senior executives on Wall Street flailing over what to do. “I’m a socially liberal, fiscally conservative centrist who would love to vote for a rational Democrat and get Trump out of the White House,” said the CEO of one of the nation’s largest banks, who, like a dozen other executives interviewed for this story, declined to be identified. After mentioning Bloomberg, Wall Street executives who want Trump out list a consistent roster of appealing nominees that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. Bankers’ biggest fear: The nomination goes to an anti-Wall Street crusader like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) or Sanders. “It can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders,” said the CEO of another giant bank. “It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.” Clearly, they're not afraid that Senator Professor Warren or Bernie Sanders "can't win," but, rather, they're struck into incoherence that one of them can. Somewhere in the gated community holding their souls, they know that there still is a considerable reckoning out there for what they did throughout the Aughts, and that scares them to death. And now, there are popular vehicles through which that reckoning can be wrought. The universe may be shopping for new masters.
Note: Trump promised to drain the swamp of corrupt bankers, only to then appoint many of them to key positions in his administration. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Banking Corruption Information Center.
Michaela Christian lost a long battle with Wells Fargo in 2013 to save her Las Vegas home, a defeat she says changed the course of her life. When the bank refused to modify her mortgage, Christian moved in with a friend and scrambled to rebuild her life. Five years later, Wells Fargo admits it made a mistake. It is a mistake the giant bank admits it made nearly 900 times over several years, pushing hundreds of distressed homeowners into foreclosure. Christian said when she learned of Wells Fargo’s error, “I was sick to my stomach. They destroyed me and destroyed my everything.” Wells Fargo says an internal review found that the bank denied help to hundreds of homeowners after fees charged by foreclosure attorneys were improperly used when the bank determined whom to offer mortgage help. The computer error began in 2010 and was not corrected until last April, the bank said. Wells Fargo’s admission is part of a cascade of lapses that increased scrutiny of the San Francisco-based bank. Over the past two years, the bank paid more than $1 billion in fines after admitting it opened millions of bogus accounts customers didn’t want and then found itself in more trouble after improperly repossessing thousands of cars. Critics have also jumped on Wells Fargo’s decision to cut 26,000 jobs while it reaps the benefits of a corporate tax cut that is expected to boost its profits $3.7 billion this year.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Banking Corruption Fact and Information Center.
After the financial crisis 10 years ago, unhappy customers were expected to flee the megabanks for smaller competitors. It didn’t happen. And the big banks became even more entrenched. Now another wave of alternative banks are at it again. Chime, the biggest new name to pop up, has opened two million fee-free online checking accounts and is adding more customers each month than Wells Fargo or Citibank. Venture capitalists are pouring money into American start-ups that are offering basic banking services — known as neo-banks or challenger banks. In 2018 so far, American neo-banks have gotten ... 10 times as much funding as they did in 2015. “In consumer banking, you have what is one of the largest industries in the United States, in terms of profits, and at the same time one of the least disrupted industries, and the most unpopular with consumers,” said Andrei Cherny, the founder of Aspiration, a neo-bank that has attracted nearly a million customers. “Those three things create a perfect storm for disruption.” The banks are struggling to adapt because they have built an expensive infrastructure of local branches and have become increasingly reliant on revenue from fees. Surveys have shown that a wide array of fees, for everything from A.T.M. use to checking account maintenance, have been steadily rising in recent years. The big banks have also held on to the interest payments they get rather than passing them along to depositors.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government’s largest single cost center - the Pentagon receives two of every three federal tax dollars collected - after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however ... that a reliable audit was simply impossible. Now, a Nation investigation has uncovered an explanation for the Pentagon’s foot-dragging: For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity. DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress - representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions - knowing that Congress would rely on those misleading reports. When the DoD submits its annual budget requests to Congress, it sends along the prior year’s financial reports, which contain fabricated numbers. The fabricated numbers disguise the fact that the DoD does not always spend all of the money Congress allocates in a given year. However, instead of returning such unspent funds to the US Treasury, as the law requires, the Pentagon sometimes launders and shifts such moneys to other parts of the DoD’s budget.
Note: Other than the above article, and weak Bloomberg and Reuters articles, the major media blatantly failed to report on the Pentagon's outrageous accounting failure. CNN posted one article not about the problem, but how the Pentagon claims they are fixing the problem. This demonstrates the military-industrial complex's strangle hold over media reporting. To understand just how serious and deep this problem is, see our carefully researched article using reliable sources to show how trillions are missing and reveal rampant deception and outright lying on the part of the Pentagon.
Deutsche Bank's head office and other locations in Frankfurt were raided by 170 police officers and tax investigators on Thursday. The German bank is suspected of helping clients to set up offshore companies in tax havens, prosecutors said. Investigators are also looking at whether Deutsche Bank failed to report suspicious transactions. Both the lender and prosecutors said the probe is related to the Panama Papers, a 2016 investigation into money laundering networks and shell companies set up by Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The investigation is yet another headache for Deutsche Bank. The lender struck a $7.2 billion deal with the US government in January 2017 to settle claims that it packaged and sold toxic mortgages. It was fined $630 million the same month over a Russian money laundering scheme. In September, Deutsche Bank was ordered by German regulators to tighten its controls. Other European lenders have also come under scrutiny for potential money laundering. HSBC (HBCYF) and ING (ING) have both settled money-laundering allegations in recent years. Danske Bank (DNKEY), the largest bank in Denmark, said in September that an internal investigation had uncovered a large number of suspicious accounts and transactions at its branch in Estonia. [Former US Treasury] Jimmy Gurulé ... said that stronger deterrents are needed. "Even in the most egregious cases, banks are often only required to pay a monetary penalty for engaging in criminal activity," he said.
Note: For lots more on the shady dealings of this bank, read this New Yorker article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For a long time entrepreneurs, investors and advocates of sustainable investing have spoken longingly about the $2 trillion of institutional investor dollars that have been reputed to be sitting skeptically on the sidelines, teasing everyone with the prospect of finally putting their sizeable investment muscle to work to scale the sector. Throughout this period, institutional investors have argued that they have withheld their dollars over sound investment concerns with the sector. For a number of years, innovative entrepreneurs in growth sectors like food, energy, water and waster have been doing the heavy lifting to demonstrate that some of these smaller-scale projects can provide attractive investment returns for those investors willing to step in and pioneer these structures. Institutional investors are taking notice. Now a new investor survey and report issued by Bright Harbor Advisors, a private fund advisor, provides some compelling evidence that institutional investors are warming to sustainable investing. 81% now have some type of sustainability, impact, or ESG [Environment, Social, and Governance] mandate as part of their formal investment policy. And an increasing number are allocating internal resources to implement these policies. About a third of respondents have someone on their team dedicated to the space and nearly 20% have sustainable private fund managers in a dedicated investment bucket.
Note: See this Forbes article for more on these inspiring shifts in investing. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s; it now stands at 2,349 square feet. Whether it's a McMansion in a wealthy neighborhood, or a bigger, cheaper house in the exurbs, the move toward ever large homes has been accelerating for years. Consider: Back in the 1950s and '60s, people thought it was normal for a family to have one bathroom, or for two or three growing boys to share a bedroom. Well-off people summered in tiny beach cottages. Now, many of those cottages have been replaced with bigger houses. Six-room apartments in cities like New York or Chicago have been combined. Is it wealth? Is it greed? Or are there more subtle things going on? "Big picture is, they are fueling the local economy," says Pat Trunzo, a local builder. Trunzo says there's a different mindset among the wealthy today, compared to when his father started the family business. "Most of the big houses were visible from the road," he says. Now ... the wealthy "want their own private little enclave. And they don't even want the general public to know that they are there." For Trunzo, it's just a bit strange. But for John Stilgoe, a professor ... at Harvard University, it's emblematic. "The big house represents the atomizing of the American family," he says. "Each person not only has his or her own television - each person has his or her own bathroom. The family members rarely have to interact. And the notion of compromise is simply out one of the very many windows these houses sport."
Note: The year after this article was published, big banks were profiting immensely from record numbers of home foreclosures. The year after that, Wall Street was given a massive taxpayer-funded bailout.
On Saturday, September 13th, 2008, the world was about to end. The New York Federal Reserve was a zoo. The crowd included future Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then-Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson, the representatives of multiple regulatory offices, and the CEOs of virtually every major bank in New York. In the twin collapses of top-five investment bank Lehman Brothers and insurance giant AIG, Wall Street saw a civilization-imperiling ball of debt hurtling its way. The legend of that meeting ... is that the tough-minded bank honchos found a way to scrape up just enough cash to steer the debt-comet off course. The plan included a federal bailout of incompetent AIG, along with key mergers – Bank of America buying Merrill, Barclays swallowing the sinking hull of Lehman, etc. The legend is bull. Accurate chronicles of the crisis period [include] the just-released Financial Exposure by Elise Bean of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The crisis response dramatically accelerated two huge problems. First, we made Too Big To Fail worse by making the companies even bigger and more dangerous through ... state-aided mergers. In the next crisis, letting losers lose will be even more unimaginable. Secondly, an already-serious economic inequality issue became formalized. The people responsible for the crisis weren’t just saved, but made beneficiaries of another decade of massive unearned profits.
By the time Lehman Brothers filed for the largest bankruptcy in American history on Sept. 15, 2008, the country had been navigating stormy global financial waters for more than a year. Throughout the mess, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury had been permitting the largest banks in the country to funnel as much cash as they wanted to their shareholders ― even as it became clear those same banks could not pay their debts. Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner ... didn’t really rescue the banking system. They transformed it into an unaccountable criminal syndicate. Since the crash, the biggest Wall Street banks have been caught laundering drug money, violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Cuba, bribing foreign government officials, making illegal campaign contributions to a state regulator and manipulating the market for U.S. government debt. Citibank, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and UBS even pleaded guilty to felonies for manipulating currency markets. Not a single human being has served a day in jail for any of it. As a percentage of each family’s overall wealth, the poorer you were, the more you lost in the crash. The top 1 percent of U.S. households ultimately captured more than half of the economic gains over the course of the Obama years, while the bottom 99 percent never recovered their losses from the crash. The result has been a predictable and terrifying resurgence of authoritarian politics unseen since the Second World War.
Australia's financial intelligence czar Nicole Rose says she is shocked at the depth of money laundering in the economy involving organised crime, child exploitation and drug importation. "I thought coming from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission that I had a pretty good handle on serious and organised crime," she [said]. "I didn't appreciate the depth and breadth of involvement with private entities and banks. I didn't appreciate how many industries it does actually touch. There's a misperception that money laundering is a victimless white collar crime. It has a massive impact on everyday life whether that's child exploitation, serious and organised crime or drug importation. It all involves money laundering." A career public servant specialising in anti-terrorism strategy, Ms Rose was appointed chief executive of the Australian Transactions Reports & Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) in November last year. Ms Rose, a former deputy head of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, inherited AUSTRAC's high stakes case against the Commonwealth Bank which is fighting almost 54,000 allegations that it broke anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing laws. While not commenting directly on the CBA case, Ms Rose said she was confident that all Australian banks are now aware of the money laundering risk. However, Ms Rose was uncertain when the $10,000 reporting threshold on cash transactions would be extended from financial institutions to other high-risk sectors.
Note: Explore an eye-opening article by Fiona Barnett, which claims the Watergate break in's real purpose was steal a list of high level political pedophiles from both parties. As reported in this Sydney Morning Herald article, Ms. Barnett testified to Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on being a victim of a high level pedophile ring. More on this is available in this article from the UK's Daily Mail.
The Los Angeles City Council is preparing to ask voters if they want to create a publicly owned bank, something no city or state in the United States has done in nearly a century. Council members voted Tuesday to start the process of putting a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot that would allow for the creation of such a bank by amending the city charter. The move is an early step in council President Herb Wesson’s plan to create a public bank, which he said could offer accounts to scores of city cannabis businesses that are shunned by commercial banks because of federal drug laws. It also could help finance affordable housing, he said. David Jette, legislative director of advocacy group Public Bank L.A., said putting the issue to a citywide vote could be a make-or-break moment for public banking, an idea that has gained steam since the financial crisis and lately seen an influx of support from the cannabis industry. Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and the state of California are all in the process of studying whether they can or should start public banks, in part to serve cannabis businesses. For now, though, the U.S. has just one public bank: the Bank of North Dakota, established in 1919. “We’re cautiously ecstatic,” Jette said after Tuesday’s vote. “This will be a referendum on the idea of public banking. I think this is an existential vote for our entire national movement.”
Note: The measure was approved and will be on the November ballot for LA voters. For more, see this excellent webpage. Read a revealing article on how the Bank of North Dakota allowed the state to sail through the 2008 financial crisis while all other 49 states suffered. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The House’s bipartisan vote Tuesday to weaken Dodd-Frank, the banking and consumer reform legislation passed in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse and recession ... dramatically shrinks the number of institutions deemed important to the financial system and therefore subject to strict oversight. It raises the threshold automatically triggering such measures from $50 billion to $250 billion in assets. Small banks, defined as under $10 billion in assets, would also be exempt from the Volcker Rule, which prohibits certain risky investments of customers’ money. And an estimated 85 percent of banks would also be excused from reporting requirements meant to detect discrimination in home mortgage lending. Supporters of the regulatory retreat would have the public believe that Dodd-Frank constitutes a crushing burden on a struggling financial industry. Meanwhile, on the very day that the House approved the rollback, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported that the commercial banks and savings institutions it covers made $56 billion in the first quarter of the year, a 27.5 percent increase from a year earlier. Congress’ ... likely motivation is another figure: the $1.1 billion in contributions to federal campaigns attributed to financial institutions in the last two-year election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than any other sector spent. That haul favored Republicans only modestly, with 46 percent going to Democrats. Judging by this week’s vote, it was money well spent.
In 2009, shortly after the housing market crashed and the markets melted down, the owners of a small community bank in New York City’s Chinatown discovered fraud within their loan department. The bank’s owners, the Chinese-American Sung family ... reported the fraud to their regulators. But two-and-a-half years later, the bank was accused of mortgage fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office — making Abacus Federal Savings the only U.S. bank to be prosecuted in relation to the financial collapse and the first bank indicted in New York since 1991. Why did Abacus face charges, while the biggest banks on Wall Street all avoided prosecution for fraud? That’s the question at the heart of [the new documentary film] Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. Abacus chronicles the Sung family’s quest to clear their names, the district attorney’s case against the bank — and how 19 of the bank’s ex-employees, largely immigrants, were treated by the justice system. When 12 ex-employees of the bank who refused to plead guilty were arraigned, [they were] handcuffed to each other, and in the words of one of their attorneys, “herded like cattle” down courthouse hallways. “Reporters ... were treated to this extraordinary photo opportunity, this almost Stalinist looking chain gang” of Asian Americans, says journalist Matt Taibbi. “I had never seen that in my entire time at the DA’s office,” says Chanterelle Sung, whose father, Thomas, is the bank’s founder. She had worked at the office as a prosecutor for seven years.
Note: You can watch the PBS special on this strange story on this webpage. A transcript of this documentary is available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.