Banks charges should be for fraud, money laundering and corruption.

In no particular order I thought I’d make a list of bank crimes, one thing becomes obvious that I spite of entrenched criminality few go to jail, even the Nazi’s got off light.

Numerous Banks Worked With The Nazis

When the Nazis swept across Europe, they did a lot more than just invade other countries. They rounded up the disabled, homosexuals, Jews, and many more people whom they felt were undesirable. Then the Nazis took everything these people had.

Millions of people were exterminated in concentration camps, which is well-known. What many people tend not to consider is what happened to the victims’ assets. As it happens, some banks were complicit in seizing the assets of their Jewish customers and handing those assets over to the Nazis.

In 1998, Barclays Bank agreed to pay $3.6 million to Jews whose assets had been seized by the bank’s French branches during the war. Swiss banks agreed to pay a combined $1.25 billion in compensation in 1997. Many more banks were complicit, but it wasn’t just European institutions that were involved.


Details of accounts linked to 30,000 Credit Suisse clients all over the world are contained in the leak, which unmasks the beneficiaries of more than 100bn Swiss francs (£80bn)* held in one of Switzerland’s best-known financial institutions.

The credit Suisse scandalous history is to long to put here 😳

Bernard L Madoff

December 2008, it was revealed that the Wall Street Firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was  a massive ponzi scheme–meaning it paid back investments with money from other investors instead of actual profit. Prosecutors estimated the size of the fraud to be $64.8 billion.

Wachovia now Wells Fargo 2008

Though it was bought out by Wells Fargo in 2008, Wachovia was itself one of the largest banking institutions in the United States when it was found to have laundered money for Mexican drug cartels. A 22-month investigation by numerous federal agencies uncovered clear violations in the bank’s anti–money laundering program, which amounted to the transfer of $378.4 billion.

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard[1] for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” said federal prosecutor Jeffrey Sloman. The bank was fined just 2 percent of its $12.3 billion in profits for 2009 once the case concluded. Most of the money laundering was done via the remittance industry, which enables the bank to charge high fees to transfer money from the US to Mexico.

Chinese Underground Banking And Money Laundering

Chinese investigators have uncovered an underground banking industry for processing illegal money transfers in the amount of 200 billion yuan ($30 billion). One bank disguised itself as a trade company and was likely involved in channeling money for drug dealers and smugglers.

The case is only one of many that have involved more than 800 billion yuan of illegal transfers since November 2015.[2] As of August 2016, 450 people had been arrested by a special Chinese task force created to find and disrupt illegal banking activity in the country. Those arrested were involved in 158 separate cases of underground banking and money laundering for criminal activities and political corruption.

The Forex Scandal

In May 2015, five of the largest banks in the world—JPMorgan Chase, Citicorp, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and UBS—were fined $5.7 billion in a settlement over charges of market manipulation. Included in the settlement was a three-year period of federal oversight to ensure that all criminal activity stopped.

Four banks were responsible for rigging foreign currency exchanges, and one bank, UBS, was fined for manipulating key market interest rates. The prices of both the dollar and Euro were fixed by traders who called themselves “The Cartel.”[3] They used electronic chat rooms and code words to increase their profits by manipulating exchange rates.

The fines levied by the US Justice Department included $550 million for JPMorgan Chase, $925 million for Citicorp, $650 million for Barclays, $395 million for Royal Bank of Scotland, and $203 million for UBS. In a separate action, the US Federal Reserve fined these banks $1.6 billion.

In addition, Barclays agreed to pay $1.3 billion to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the New York Department of Financial Services, and the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority. Barclays was also assessed a $60 million penalty by the US Justice Department on a related charge.

HSBC Holdings Laundered Billions For Dictators, Terrorists, And Drug Cartels

Chase Manhattan Bank seized more than 100 accounts in Paris during the war. The US Treasury Department provided unclassified reports indicating that the Paris branches of Chase Manhattan Bank had worked “in close collaboration with the German authorities” to freeze the accounts of Jews during the 1940s.[4]

In July 2012, the United States Senate submitted a report accusing HSBC Holdings of exposing the US financial system to illegal funds from Mexican drug cartels, the North Korean and Cuban regimes, and Saudi Arabian terrorists. At the time, HSBC Holdings was the largest banking institution in Europe, with 470 US branches supporting approximately four million customers.

Despite the seriousness of the crimes, the Senate merely demanded an apology. HSBC said that it “will acknowledge that, in the past, we have sometimes failed to meet the standards[5] that regulators and customers expect,” which is a funny way of copping to what they did.

The amount of money involved over the time period was not easy to calculate, but a single affiliate exceeded $7 billion in one year. A lawsuit and criminal filing relating only to money laundered through the Mexican cartels cost HSBC $1.9 billion in 2012. HSBC disregarded their internal controls and was called “the place to launder money” by one drug lord.

The LIBOR Scandal

The LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal is probably the largest financial crime you’ve never heard of. When the scandal was uncovered in 2012, LIBOR was an interest rate that was being used in trillions of dollars of financial contracts around the globe. It can affect the cost of corporate loans, student loans, mortgages, and more. So yeah…LIBOR is a big deal.

It’s supposed to be the average rate at which banks can borrow money from each other for a short term. Each day, leading banks would submit their borrowing rates to the British Bankers’ Association (BBA). The BBA would throw out some of the highest and lowest rates and average the rest. Although the rates were calculated for various currencies and maturities, US dollar LIBOR for three months was considered to be the most important.

Unfortunately, some banks conspired to fudge their numbers. They were providing inflated or deflated interest rates to the BBA for years. When a bank changed their numbers, they could then profit on trades of financial instruments that were based on the inflated or deflated numbers. But the fraud also impacted corporations and individuals who had loans based on LIBOR.

It’s complicated, but it boils down to bankers rigging the numbers to make money. Deutsche Bank was one of the biggest participants in the fraud. They were fined $1.74 billion,[6] even though proving fault and imprisoning people remains difficult.

Wells Fargo Illegally Seized Cars Belonging To US Servicemembers

When servicemembers take government-sponsored vacations to war zones, they are granted certain rights to protect their property. Let’s say a soldier is captured by the enemy and is in a POW camp for a period of time. He’s probably not going to be able to make payments on his car.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is supposed to protect the soldier’s possessions so that they cannot be repossessed while he is actively serving. Unfortunately, not all banks follow the rules. Wells Fargo fell into that category when they seized the cars of several military members who were deployed overseas.

Between 2008 and 2015, Wells Fargo repossessed cars in at least 413 such cases. In one instance, the bank seized the car of an Army National Guardsman who was serving in Afghanistan and auctioned it off.[7] Then the bank went after the soldier’s family to recover an additional $10,000 to clear the car loan.

Ultimately, the bank was fined $24 million over the illegal repossessions. But the servicemembers who had to deal with this while fighting for their country should have had their attention focused elsewhere.

Shaved Money From Pension Accounts

When you work for a living, you expect your dues when you retire. Pension accounts help the working class reach an age where it’s appropriate to finish working and sit in an easy chair until they die. It’s the American way.

There wouldn’t be pension accounts if there weren’t bankers. But that doesn’t mean we can trust them. In lawsuits filed by New York state and federal authorities in 2011, Bank of New York Mellon was accused of scraping $2 billion from pension funds throughout the US by inflating foreign exchange fees and defrauding customers out of that money.

The lawsuits contend that the bank guaranteed competitive rates but provided the worst possible rates instead. Then they pocketed the difference, which totaled more than $2 billion. This amounted to 75 percent of the bank’s foreign exchange revenue, which should have gone to the customers. In 2015, Bank of New York Mellon agreed to pay a $180 million settlement[8] related to these claims.

Bank Of Credit And Commerce International Complicit In Numerous Illegal Activities

During the Iran-contra affair, the US provided arms illegally to Iran. Part of the money from the weapons sale was used to fund the contras, a guerrilla group opposed to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The arms sale was sanctioned by the Reagan administration and is not generally seen as a great move by the United States.

How does this relate to banking scandals you might ask? Well, the US required a bank, specifically the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), to illegally launder the money[9] from the sale . . . and they did.

In fact, BCCI had been laundering money for just about everyone—from drug cartels to military dictators. The bank was secretly controlling smaller institutions and became something of a piggy bank for the world’s less reputable people and organizations. BCCI was one of the largest financial institutions in the world before it became defunct in 1991 due to its illegal activities.

Fraudulent Mortgage Scam And The Great Recession

Many people and institutions were responsible for the so-called Great Recession that hit in 2007. But if we had to point a finger, it would be at the bankers who allowed it to happen.

The primary reason for the recession was that banks provided loans to almost anyone who asked. People would get loans with variable interest rates so that they could afford their homes for the first year. Then the rates would increase drastically the second year, making their homes unaffordable.[10]

As a result, businesses were building more homes than people could actually afford, which flooded the market. Suddenly, a home that had been worth $250,000 one day plummeted to $95,000 the next day. (That happened to this writer!)

With the market so full and few people able to get loans anymore, the United States entered into the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. Due to paperwork and accounting errors, banks even foreclosed on properties that they shouldn’t have. So people lost their homes when they deserved to—and when they didn’t. Thanks, banks!

JPMorgan Chase and Chase Bank

In September 2013, JP Morgan Chase announced they will pay $970 million in fines to US and British regulators and made a rare admission of wrongdoing over action involved in last year’s “London Whale” trading scandal. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that JPMorgan Chase and Chase Bank have agreed to pay refunds totaling $309 million to more than 2.1 million customers after the Office of Comptroller or Currency “found that Chase engaged in unfair billing practices for certain credit card ‘add-on products’ by charging consumers for credit monitoring services that they did not receive.”

In 2009, Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay at $175 million to settle accusations that its brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.

In September 2013, JP Morgan Chase announced they will pay $970 million in fines to US and British regulators and made a rare admission of wrongdoing over action involved in last year’s “London Whale” trading scandal. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that JPMorgan Chase and Chase Bank have agreed to pay refunds totaling $309 million to more than 2.1 million customers after the Office of Comptroller or Currency  “found that Chase engaged in unfair billing practices for certain credit card ‘add-on products’ by charging consumers for credit monitoring services that they did not receive.”

In the fall of 2010, major U.S. lenders such as JP Morgan Chase, Ally Financial (GMAC), and Bank of America suspended judicial and non-judicial foreclosures across the United States over the potentially fraudulent practice of robo-signing. This became known as “foreclosuregate,” which refers to refers to “the widespread epidemic of improper foreclosures initiated by large banks and other lenders.”


 In 2012, UBS lost $2.3 billion after 32 year old Kweku Adoboli went rogue and made a number of “vast and risky bets.” Britain’s financial regulator fined UBS after determining that it’s “internal controls were inadequate.” Adoboli was sentenced to seven years in prison


In 2010 it was reported that a Kabul Bank took $861 million out of war-ravaged Afghanistan in a massive fraud centered around fake loans to 19 individuals and companies. A bailout of the bank costs the equivalent of 5 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, ensuring this is one of the world’s largest banking failures of all-time.

Lehman brothers

In the early/mid 2000’s financial services firm Lehman Brothers borrowed significant amounts to fund its investing, a process known as leveraging. A significant portion of this investing was in housing-related assets, making it vulnerable to a downturn in that market. When that happened, Lehman was forced to file for bankruptcy–it remains the largest bankruptcy filing in history, with Lehman holding over $600 billion in assets

In August 2012, the Senate reported that HSBC’s lax anti-money laundering policies allowed Mexican drug money and Iranian terrorist to enter the U.S. and gain access to U.S. dollar liquidity over the past few years. Forbes reported that “HSBC actively circumvented rules designed to ‘block transactions involving terrorists, drug lords, and rogue regimes.’” They were ordered to pay US and British regulators $1.9 billion.

In March 2010, a report from Anton R. Valukas, the Bankruptcy Examiner, called attention to the use of Repo 105 transactions to boost Lehman Brother’s apparent financial position around the date of the year-end balance sheet. Attorney general Andrew Cuomo later filed charges against the bank’s auditors Ernst & Young in December 2010, alleging that the firm “substantially assisted… a massive accounting fraud” by approving the accounting treatment.

A month later, a New York Times story revealed that Lehman had used a small company named Hudson Castle to move a number of transactions and assets off Lehman’s books as a means of manipulating accounting numbers of Lehman’s finances and risks.

Standard Chartered bank

In December 2012, British bank Standard Chartered paid $327 million in fees to U.S. regulators over alleged illegal transactions with Iran, Sudan, Libya, and Burma. In August of 2012, Standard Chartered paid $340 million to a New York state regulator over similar allegations. The NY Department of Financial Services noted that the British bank colluded with Iranian government for almost an entire decade, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in fees through thousands of secret transactions, coming to a total of $250 billion.

Countrywide Financial

In June 2009, the SEC charged Angelo Mozilo, former executive of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial with fraud for allegedly misleading investors about the quality of Countrywide’s loans. Among other things, this included tens and billions of dollars of risky subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages. Before Countrywide was sold to Bank of America, it had been the largest NY mortgage lender.

Galleon Group

In 2009 a grand jury accused Raj Rajaratnam, founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds called The Galleon Group, of using a network of company insiders to tip him off to information that netted $20 million in illegal profits over a three year period. He was found guilty in May 2011, and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.


 October 2009, the SEC demanded a jury trial on claims that Bank of America misled shareholder about $3.6 in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch employees before the companies merged. According to Reuters, “U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff was disturbed that the SEC did not require the bank to disclose the names of executives and lawyers who vetted the bonuses.”

Macquarie Bank became entangled in an $80 billion scandal

It’s been called “the devil’s machine” and the “biggest bank scandal in history”.

But on a spring morning in October 2010, the Macquarie Group board sat down to discuss the tax scheme using a more technical name: “German Short Trading”.

The proposal before the board was to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to overseas funds, enabling them to take advantage of a quirk of the German tax system.

It had the potential to deliver up to $30 million to Macquarie for each lending agreement.

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