Tag Archives: accounting control fraud

UK Determined to Win the Race to the Bottom and Remain the Global Financial Cesspool

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: December 16, 2014

On June 20, 2012 the UK Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon of Ashley Park gave a speech to the British Bankers Association – the group the U.S. government (i.e., the FDIC) found to have helped organize the world’s largest price rigging cartel and fraud in the form of rigging Libor. The financial crisis occurred under the “new” neo-liberal Labour when its championing of the three “de’s” – financial deregulation, desupervision, and de facto decriminalization – combined with modern executive and professional compensation and the effective elimination of “joint and several liability” to make the City of London the most criminogenic environment in the world for financial “control frauds.” Naturally, the Tories have decided that the answer to this disaster is to double-down on Labour’s embrace of the three “de’s.” Indeed, the first words in Lord Sassoon’s prepared speech were “Thank you Philip [Hampton].”

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New York City: Aggressive “Broken Windows” Policing but Carte Blanche for Banksters

By William K. Black
Kansas City, MO: December 6, 2014

New York City exemplifies two perverse criminal justice policies that drive many criminologists to distraction. It is the home of the most destructive epidemics of elite financial frauds in history. Those fraud epidemics hyper-inflated the housing bubble and drove the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The best estimate is that the U.S. GDP loss will be $21 trillion and that 10 million Americans lost their jobs. Both numbers are far larger in Europe. The elite “C Suite” leaders of these fraud epidemics were made wealthy by those frauds through bonuses that measured in the billions of dollars annually.

The most extraordinary facts about the catastrophic fraud epidemics, however, is New York City’s reaction to the fraud epidemics. Not a single Wall Street bankster who led the fraud epidemics has been prosecuted or had their fraud proceeds “clawed back.” Not a single Wall Street bankster who led the fraud epidemics is treated as a pariah by his peers or New York City elites. New York City’s elected leaders have made occasional criticisms of the banksters, but Mayor Bloomberg was famous for his sycophancy for the Wall Street banksters that made him wealthy. In 2011, Mayor Bloomberg attacked the “Occupy Wall Street” movement for daring to protest the banksters.

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Jeffrey Sachs Channeled His Inner Bill Black – and Obama and Holder Ignored Him Too

By William K. Black
Kansas City, MO: December 4, 2014

“Yves Smith,” the nom de guerre (and plume) of the finance expert who created and runs the invaluable blog Naked Capitalism, wrote an introduction to a piece roughly 18 months ago that mentions me. The points she made in that introduction, including the reason she invoked my name, are important but the lapse of time since she wrote it teaches us another important lesson. Here is the introduction.

“One of the things that Matt Stoller has stressed that the possibility of reform is remote until breaks within the elites take place.

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia professor and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia, is a controversial figure for his neoliberal stance on macroeconomics and his role in promoting the use of ‘shock therapy’ in emerging economies. But it is also important to recognize that criticism from a connected, respected insider has more significance than that of someone like Bill Black, who has made a career of taking on bank fraud but has never reached a top policy-making level.”

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The Wall Street Journal Still Refuses to Grasp Accounting Control Fraud via Appraisal Fraud

By William K. Black
Kansas City, MO: December 2, 2014

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) report described one of three epidemics of accounting control fraud that drove the financial crisis in these terms.

“Some real estate appraisers had also been expressing concerns for years. From 2000 to 2007, a coalition of appraisal organizations circulated and ultimately delivered to Washington officials a public petition; signed by 11,000 appraisers and including the name and address of each, it charged that lenders were pressuring appraisers to place artificially high prices on properties. According to the petition, lenders were ‘blacklisting honest appraisers’ and instead assigning business only to appraisers who would hit the desired price targets” [FCIC 2011: 18].

The FCIC Report then documents scale of this epidemic of loan origination fraud.

“One 2003 survey found that 55% of the appraisers had felt pressed to inflate the value of homes; by 2006, this had climbed to 90%. The pressure came most frequently from the mortgage brokers, but appraisers reported it from real estate agents, lenders, and in many cases borrowers themselves. Most often, refusal to raise the appraisal meant losing the client” [FCIC 2011: 91].

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Cochrane Demands that the Public Unilaterally Disarm while the Banksters Loot

By William K. Black
San Francisco, CA: November 19, 2014

(I’m participating in the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology. I presented Wednesday on a panel honoring the 75th anniversary of Edwin Sutherland’s announcement of the concept of white-collar crime.)

 

John Cochrane has written an article with an initial sentence that should spark broad agreement: “confiscating wealth is ultimately about political power.” The banksters who led the frauds that caused the financial crisis “confiscate[ed]” immense wealth from the public and “their” firms’ customers, creditors, and shareholders. They did so with nearly complete impunity, which is “ultimately about political power,” indeed it defines the extraordinary nature of their power. The banksters’ confiscation of wealth has caused a dramatic increase in inequality, which has exacerbated the banksters’ domination of the levers of power. In a prior article, Cochrane stated that the financial crisis was driven by runs on financial institutions and that the runs were typically driven by elite accounting fraud.

“Not for nothing have most runs been sparked by an accounting scandal or fraud.”

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Standard Chartered Is Outraged That It Is Treated Like A Criminal For Its Criminal Acts

By William K. Black

After a decade of committing tens of thousands of felonies that the U.S. government believes helped fund terrorism and Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, having the great fortune of settling the cases without any senior officers being prosecuted or its license to operate in the U.S. being pulled, having immediately violated the settlement agreement by lying about its prior actions, being discovered to have mislead the U.S. during the settlement negotiations, and being found to have continued to violate the same U.S. laws after entering into the settlement, one might think that Standard Chartered’s leaders would learn to keep their mouths shut and to obey the law at least until the settlement agreement restrictions lapse. Standard Charter’s senior leadership, however, is composed of the most arrogant and entitled class. When the bank’s Chairman of the Board is “Sir John Peace” entitlement (but no longer noblesse oblige) comes naturally. So, instead of mea culpa, the Standard Chartered mantra is: how dare you criticize us?

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NET 2 Black

INETeconomics’ Marshall Auerback interviews NEP’s Bill Black. Topic of discussion is the “f” word – fraud.

CEO Compensation: “Cheaters Prosper”

By William K. Black

As financial regulators we have been warning since 1984 that accounting control fraud is optimized by modern executive compensation. Modern executive compensation is so perverse that it creates overwhelming incentives to engage in fraud and the means of committing the fraud that makes it far more difficult to prosecute. The CEO is able to convert the firm’s assets to his own benefit through seemingly normal corporate mechanisms. CEOs also use executive and professional compensation to generate “Gresham’s” dynamics and incentivize fraud by employees, officers, and professionals.

George Akerlof and Paul Romer added their voice to this point in1993 in their article “Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit.” Among the points they emphasized were that accounting control fraud was a “sure thing” and that the way for the CEO controlling a lender to optimize to optimize his looting was to cause the lender to make very bad loans at a premium nominal yield. White-collar criminologists and the National Commission on Financial Institution Reform, Recovery and Enforcement (NCFIRRE) reached similar conclusions beginning in 1993.

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Zero Prosecutions Aren’t Few Enough – Wall Street Wants SEC Sanctions Reduced to DMV Points

By William K. Black
Kilkenny, Ireland: November 8, 2014

Wall Street’s full depravity was put on display in Joseph Fichera’s November 6, 2014 op ed in the New York Times. I hasten to add that the reason that the op ed is so revealing is that Fichera is one of the sometimes good guys who, for example, accurately warned that “auction-rate securities” were a dangerous scam and criticized JPMorgan’s odious abuse of Denver. When the Ficheras of the world join in Wall Street’s “race to the bottom” Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s President Dudley’s point about the corrupt culture that characterizes Wall Street is proven irrefutably.

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Thomas Curry: The Very Model of the Modern Failed Regulator

By William K. Black

I explained in a 2012 column as soon as Thomas Curry was publicly identified as the likely new head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) why he was such a poor choice to be a regulatory leader. Curry is such a good example of Obama’s crew of failed agency heads because he is neither evil nor stupid. As I explain below, he views morality as a misnomer in banking. He is the rarity among Obama appointees, a true professional regulator. He is well within the top 50% of Obama’s (dismal) appointees in finance and regulation.

Curry is also an abject failure who should be cashiered immediately. No one had to order him to fail or intimidate him into failure. He represents anti-regulation as usual, which has been the pattern in finance since 1993. One can read his speeches and see that he has learned none of the essential lessons from the crisis and lacks even a dying ember in his belly, much less the raging fire required for regulatory success. We know from his record of failure as an FDIC director from January 2004 throughout the crisis that had he been the top federal regulator in the savings and loan debacle rather than Ed Gray cost of the debacle would have grown to trillions of dollars. At that level it would have hyper-inflated real estate bubbles and likely caused a severe recession.

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