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Both Citigroup and JPMorgan Have Now Received Huge Fines for Crimes the Regulators Won’t Reveal

Published: November 29, 2020
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Maybe it’s because Wall Street On Parade has been shining a bright light on the serial crimes and rap sheets of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase. Or maybe it’s because the nonpartisan watchdog, Better Markets, published a report last year titled “Wall Street’s Six Biggest Bailed-Out Banks: Their RAP Sheets & Their Ongoing Crime Spree.” Or maybe it all comes down to what Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said after the financial crisis of 2008: “And the banks – hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created – are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

Whatever the reason, the darkness that started growing around the crimes committed by the big Wall Street banks during the Obama administration has now evolved into such a complete dark curtain that regulators are refusing to say what the crimes actually are that are being settled for huge amounts of money.

On October 7, the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced consent decrees with Citigroup, the third largest bank in the country. The OCC imposed a $400 million fine on Citigroup’s federally-insured commercial bank, Citibank, and stated in its Consent Order that it had “identified unsafe or unsound practices with respect to the Bank’s internal controls, including, among other things, an absence of clearly defined roles and responsibilities and noncompliance with multiple laws and regulations.”

But for the first time in more than 35 years of our reading these Consent Orders against Wall Street banks, the documents from both the OCC and Federal Reserve failed to specify exactly what crimes the bank had committed. We were so stunned by a $400 million fine for crimes that can’t be put in print or shared with the public, that we penned the headline: Citigroup Is Slapped with a $400 Million Fine for Doing Something So Bad It Can’t Be Spoken Out Loud.

Yesterday, as further proof that this is a pattern coming out of the Trump administration, the OCC did the exact same thing with JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the country which on September 29 admitted to its fourth and fifth criminal felony charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in the past six years.

Yesterday, the OCC fined JPMorgan Chase $250 million without detailing any specific crimes it had committed. The Consent Order simply said the bank had, for several years, “maintained a weak management and control framework for its fiduciary activities and had an insufficient audit program for, and inadequate internal controls over, those activities. Among other things, the Bank had deficient risk management practices and an insufficient framework for avoiding conflicts of interest.”

A Wall Street bank like JPMorgan Chase that has brazenly committed five felonies for very specific crimes, doesn’t get fined $250 million for non-specific crimes. Something very bad has once again happened at JPMorgan Chase and its federal regulators who are all rushing to get new jobs on Wall Street, or at Wall Street’s outside law firms, don’t want to talk about it.

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