(By Jack Bigelow) An article in the October 29 New York Times describes a pattern of what is believed to be a series of broken promises (to be good) among big banks caught in illegal transactions. The article, authored by Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, describes the pattern as the “Wall Street equivalent of a parole violation.”
The article makes specific references to reopened or potentially reopened investigations of Standard Chartered (“at risk of becoming Exhibit A of corporate backsliding…”), Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Barclays, and UBS. Prosecutors are apparently realizing that current punishment strategies fall short in preventing further wrong-doing. Also implicated are consultants (PricewaterhouseCoopers is named) suspected of compromising “independence” in assessing the scope of wrongdoing to favor the firms (including defense lawyers) paying their fees.
The typical case goes like this:
• Investigation discloses illegalities;
• Prosecutors agree to suspend charges if bank pays a fine and promises to behave;
• The magnitude of the wrongdoing (hence the use of consultants to determine it) drives the size of the fine;
• The fine is paid, the wrist is slapped, the promise is made;
• And it’s back to business as usual.
And apparently, “as usual” can sometimes mean more transgressions. It is, as the article describes it, “a cycle of misbehavior …difficult to break,” blamed by regulators and prosecutors on a culture that puts profit over compliance. The book, “A.B.C.s of Behavioral Forensics” would label that culture “a bad crop (rather than just a bad apple or bushel).”
I read the article with growing rage that the execution of justice just isn’t taking place.
Several posts concerning the implications and behavioral forensics in this sordid state of affairs will follow. And the first will address one element of justice.
Join us for more insights into behavioral forensics (behind fraud and similar white collar crimes) from the authors of ABCs of Behavioral Forensics (Wiley, 2013): Sri Ramamoorti, Ph. D., Daven Morrison, M.D., and Joe Koletar, D.P.A., along with Vic Hartman, J.D. These distinguished experts come from the disciplines of psychology, medicine, accounting, law, and law enforcement to explain and prevent fraud. Because we are inspired to bring to light and address the fraud problems in today’s headlines, we encourage our readers to come back and revisit us regularly at BringingFreudtoFraud.com.