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July 15, 2012 8:56 AM Good Morning! (Corporate Malfeasance Edition)

By Adele Stan

The lead stories in the two newspapers that Washingtonians find pair nicely with Sunday-morning latte and brioche feature tales of the likely criminal actions of corporate big-wigs. One is a story that suggests justice may be on its way; the other is a tale of criminal negligence without prosecution.

The New York Times leads with news that the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal case against banking executives involved in the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal. The investigation, the Times reports, has been going on for years. From the article by Ben Protess and Mark Scott:

The department’s criminal division is building cases against several financial institutions and their employees, including traders at Barclays, the British bank, according to government officials close to the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. The authorities expect to file charges against at least one bank later this year, one of the officials said.
[…]
The multiyear investigation has ensnared more than 10 big banks in the United States and abroad. With the prospects of criminal action, several firms, including at least two European institutions, are scrambling to arrange deals, according to lawyers close to the case. In part, they are trying to avoid the public outcry that stemmed from the Barclays case, which prompted the resignation of top executives.
[…]
The criminal investigations come at a time when the public is still simmering over the dearth of prosecutions of prominent executives involved in the mortgage crisis. The continued trouble in the financial sector, including the multibillion-dollar trading losses at JPMorgan Chase, have only further fueled the anger of consumers and investors.

At the Washington Post, Stephanie McCrummin looks at the fallout from the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 miners on April 5, 2010, in the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years, and one that could have been avoided had owner Massey Energy obeyed safety regulations.

From the Post’s long-form report:

More than two years after an explosion that an independent panel appointed by former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin blamed on a corporate culture that put “the drive to produce coal above worker safety,” no former high-ranking Massey executives have been criminally charged. No new federal mine safety legislation has passed, a matter Gary Quarles and other families pressed in Washington recently, carrying posters of their lost sons, brothers and husbands into the red-carpeted offices of senators and representatives.

McCrummin’s report leaves one with the impression that Massey executives were able to simply buy their way out of any real repercussions.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on July 15, 2012 9:46 AM:

    "McCrummin’s report leaves one with the impression that Massey executives were able to simply buy their way out of any real repercussions."

    Republicans:
    "We're shocked. SHOCKED, we tell you! - that executives were able to simply buy their was out of any real repercussions!!!"

    'Here are your pay-off's, Sirs."

    "Thank you..."

    To be honest, it's not like Republicans have a monopoly on this kind of thing.
    I'm sure more than a few Democrat's won't have to take their cars to be lubed, since they can simply wipe their greased palms along the squeaky parts, too.

  • Skip on July 15, 2012 9:51 AM:

    Wow, I'm impressed. Those Who Seek Justice are so on it. Those Who Report Justice are so on it. Meantime where's Mitt's corporate malfeasance story? Slime sliding quietly off the back page? There should be time in these remaining months for hi-tech low-brow voters to forget there once were questions...Now ON TO THE CONVENTION!

  • TT on July 15, 2012 10:03 AM:

    The Supreme Court said that it's pefecty fine and dandy for a corporation to buy its way out of any jam. After all, according to John Roberts, when a coal baron spends millions of dollars to get his hand-picked judge on the West Virgina Supreme Court, and get rid of a judge who has ruled against him, that coal baron is just doing it out of the goodness of his heart and a sense of civic pride and duty.

  • Mark Rubin on July 15, 2012 10:24 AM:

    Don't skip the story by Loren Feldman in the Times about the sale of Dragon Systems? Maybe there's no criminal action by Goldman Sachs, but the story hardly puts the entity in a worthy light.

  • dweb on July 15, 2012 11:20 AM:

    I have absolutely NO confidence that anyone will be prosecuted for the LIBOR mess. Look closely at that NY Times article. The legal maneuvering is already underway:

    QUOTE: With the prospects of criminal action, several firms, including at least two European institutions, are scrambling to arrange deals, according to lawyers close to the case. In part, they are trying to avoid the public outcry that stemmed from the Barclays case, which prompted the resignation of top executives.

    QUOTE: According to people briefed on the matter, the Swiss bank UBS is among the next targets for regulatory action. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is pursuing a potential civil case against the bank. Regulators at the agency have not yet decided to file an action against the bank, nor have settlement talks begun. UBS has already reached an immunity deal with one division of the Justice Department, which could protect the bank from criminal prosecution if certain conditions are met. The bank declined to comment.

    Did you catch that? UBS has already reached an immunity deal with one division of the Justice Department, which could protect the bank from criminal prosecution if certain conditions are met.

    Mountains of lawyers, understaffed Justice Department and SEC. The outcome is always the same....banks pay some small amount of money and promise never to do it again.....and then go out and do it again and complain about how "excessive regulation" is killing them.

  • Adele M. Stan on July 15, 2012 12:11 PM:

    TCinLA -- Actually, no. Your post is more than inappropriate; it's heinous. Please remove it immediately. The U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone a trial by their peers. Lynching is traitorous.

    UPDATE: Note that I deleted TCinLA's heinous comment. Calling for murder is never acceptable.

  • mb on July 15, 2012 12:13 PM:

    Manchin, unfortunately, is a Democrat. The problem is not "Republican scum." It is "conservative scum." Manchin is a conservative Democrat. Conservatism is the cancer eating at the heart of our Republic.

  • Adele M. Stan on July 15, 2012 12:19 PM:

    Mark Rubin is right: you really should check out the story about Goldman Sachs' destruction of Dragon Systems, and the fortunes of the technology pioneers who built it: Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole

  • schtick on July 15, 2012 3:20 PM:

    If anything does happen with LIBOR other than a lot of press to get everyone's mind off of Willard's Bain, it will only be the scapegoats and not the people responsible anyway.
    Another day, another million.

  • Patango on July 15, 2012 6:59 PM:

    ""The bank says that it provided extensive cooperation during the three inquiries, and has spent around $155 million on its own three-year investigation. Because it agreed to settle with British authorities, Barclays received a 30 percent fine reduction.

    In the United States, Barclays offered to pay a fine of $200 million to the C.F.T.C., slightly below the initially proposed range, according to government officials close to the case. Mr. Meister’s team soon accepted the offer, securing the biggest fine in the commission’s history.

    On June 27, British and American authorities announced the deal with Barclays, which agreed to pay more than $450 million total. “For this illegal conduct, Barclays is paying a significant price,” Mr. Breuer said then.

    Susanne Craig contributed reporting

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48187483/ns/business-us_business/ ""


    Their deals have already been cut ,as was expressed by another poster , they are already saying how hard it will be for the U S to make a case in the U S , since all the info is in europe , and AG Holder is already rolling over for the criminals ...

    A reminder , obama campaigned on going after tax evaders at UBS in 2009 , they immediately cut a deal with them after they got in office , and pretty much let everyone off scott free , it is disgusting , now they cut them another deal , if the obama team tries to sell themselves as going after corrupted corporations in 2012 , they are telling stories that are as false as romney

    Obama express' that he wants to do the right thing , i e the charlie rose interview , he correctly observes the president can only do so much ...Well , these are examples where obama could have made a difference

    But but we need to cut food stamps , and crack down on the poor who are getting an extra bag of potato chips

  • Daniel Kim on July 16, 2012 10:04 AM:

    "the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years, and one that could have been avoided had owner Massey Energy obeyed safety regulations."

    But regulations kill jobs! Ignoring regulations only kills workers.

  • Pat on February 25, 2013 11:09 PM:

    Empty bottle politics may be just what consumers need to dissuade the current climate of anything goes corporate malfesance that government and regulators refuse to deter, or control.

    Americans are tired of being skewered by tax exempt and tax evader companies who claim to be patriotic. perhaps it should even be global since that is how business is done these days.

    if Americans don'trotect themselves, who will?
    certainly not this Congress.