MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT Omerta: Jamie Dimon is a "made man"
On Tuesday, BuzzFlash wrote about how the late Aaron Swartz represented the double standard of the Department of Justice on aggressively prosecuting progressive activists – and demanding jail time – but letting off those in political and financial power. This can also be said about the government's treatment of Bradley Manning and many others versus the unprosecuted number of pro-administration classified leakers who are authorized to talk anonymously to the press on behalf of the administration.
Just think, is anyone getting prosecuted for all the leaks, including a book, about the Osama bin Laden raid? Not a chance.
BuzzFlash, also pointed out, as have numerous others, that the Wall Street bank fraudsters get bonuses and impunity, while the small fish of the financial world get prosecuted with an iron fist so that the Department of Justice (DOJ) can claim that it is enforcing the law. It's the appearance of abiding by the "rule of law," but in reality abandoning that standard for the powerful elite. For them the DOJ observes the ruling managerial class standard of omerta. It is the DC "masters of the universe" code of silence.
Top Wall Street dog and Obama favorite Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's CEO, recently endured the "punishment" of having his yearly bonus reduced to $10 million dollars for not driving Chase's stock price and profit even higher. (Meanwhile, Chase cut its staff by 1500 last year.)
But the venerable Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel.net recently wrote a commentary that nailed down how the DOJ gives Dimon and bank executives at behemoths like HSBC a legal pass on criminal prosecution, while forcing a small fish in Los Angeles to go to jail for five years for lesser crimes. In this case, it involves the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Act. Wheeler describes how the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued orders to JPMorgan Chase to comply with the act (which is primarily meant to reduce the illicit money laundering of cash). But JP Morgan Chase continues to flout the law.
Wheeler reminds us, "Remember, it has been less than 18 months since JPMC got caught–among other things–sending a ton of gold bullion to Iran in violation of sanctions. That time, at least, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls fined JPMC, if only $88.3 million."
Then she contrasts the lax enforcement in regards to Jamie Dimon's too big to fail bank with how the DOJ came down on the manager of a check cashing business in Los Angeles like a ton of bricks:
Still, here were are a year and a half later, with JPMC still refusing to police what it is helping its customers do, and the government is letting JPMC off with no fine.
Compare that to the treatment of a [Mr.] Gasparian, the manager of the G&A Check Cashing company out in LA. Today, he got sentenced to five years in prison for doing precisely what Jamie Dimon did: fail to comply with BSA/AML law. In his sentencing, he [his attorney's] even submitted records of all the big banks that have skated for doing what he did, including HSBC’s 1.9 Billion wrist slap, and noted the disparity in treatment:
"An even greater problem with the Government’s seeking a sentence of incarceration in this case is the disparity when compared to other instances of the same offense, or instances involving even more egregious conduct, such as much larger financial institutions conducting business with drug trafficking organizations and terroristic regimes like Iran. Time and time again, the United States Government has offered deferred prosecution agreements (and fines) to financial institutions whose conduct was exponentially more egregious than the conduct at issue here. Mr. Gasparian’s offense, while serious, was still far short of the conduct committed by these other institutions. Any sentence of incarceration in this case would be a loud proclamation that the rich and powerful receive one type of justice, while those less powerful receive another type."
….Remember HSBC provided over $990 million in cash to a terrorist bank over a four year period. All that’s before you consider their money laundering for Mexican cartels and probable Russian mafia. Not a single HSBC employee was so much as indicted, much less sent to jail for five years or for a lifetime for material support for terrorism.
The DOJ conducts these show trials (as in the case of Gasparian), it claims, in order to deter violations of the Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Act. But it does little but occasionally slap a fine on behemoth financial institutions who are run by "made men" in the Washington DC insider's club of the powerful. The fines -- even on the rare occasion when they are seemingly large -- just come out of gargantuan profits, so they are hardly a deterrent, as the DOJ claims. For giant banks, they are just another cost of doing business.
On January 9, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote a commentary, "When US Doesn't Prosecute Wall Street Fraudsters, Taxpayers Get the Blowback." Buzzflash argued then: "While the DOJ and SEC should have been regarding the 2007 economic crash as a crime scene, they treated it like something deserving a parking ticket for the financial elite. As a result, the same people who were responsible for so much economic misery have been emboldened to once again let greed trump accountability. "
And when the masters of Wall Street are not subject to the rule of law, the law is corrupted.
With the draconian prosecution of Andy Swartz, the five year prison sentence of Garsapian in Los Angeles, the persecution of Bradley Manning, and so many other selective prosecutions, we are seeing an ominous pattern here.