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Financial Times: US & Britain Played Financial "War Games" This Week

 

 

 

US and UK to play financial ‘war game’

Britain and the US will stage the first transatlantic simulation of a crisis in a large bank on Monday. It is a sign of growing confidence that the authorities can now deal with the failure of large institutions.

 

All of the main players who would need to be involved in a failure of a company such as Bank of AmericaGoldman SachsBarclays or HSBC will gather in Washington DC to make sure they would know what to do, who to call and how to inform the public.

 

 

Please read more in the Financial Times.

International Business Times: JP Morgan Executive Killed Wife With Shotgun in Murder-Suicide

 

JP Morgan executive director Julian Knott blasted his wife Alita to death with a shotgun before turning the gun on himself. 

The 45-year-old, who worked for the investment bank in London until July 2010, shot his 47-year-old wife multiple times before committing suicide with the same weapon.

Please read more here.

CEPR: Bankers Could Go To Jail

 

Morning Edition had a strange piece discussing how regulators can punish banks for breaking the law. The piece focused on the various fines and regulatory measures that can be imposed as penalties when banks are found to have broken the law. Remarkably it never considered the underlying logic of the punishment and the likely deterrent effect on criminal activity.

While banks are legal institutions, ultimately it is individuals that break the law. The question that any regulator should be asking is the extent to which the penalties being imposed will discourage future law breaking. As a practical matter, the immediate victims of the measures mentioned in the piece are banks' current shareholders. Since there is often a substantial period of time between when a crime is committed and when regulators discover it and succeed in imposing a penalty, the shareholders facing the sanction will be a different group from the shareholders who benefited from the original crime. This makes little sense either from the standpoint of justice or from the standpoint of deterring criminal activity by bankers.

The imposition of large fines may cause current shareholders to demand the executives who broke the law be fired, but in many cases they will have already moved on to other jobs or retired. In the case of the fraudulent loans that were passed on in mortgage backed securities (MBS) in the housing bubble years, most of the top executives had already left their banks by the time actions were brought by the Justice Department.

In this case, they made enormous amounts of money by breaking the law. The financial crisis may have caused them to retire or leave their banks somewhat sooner than they would have preferred, but almost all of them come out as net gainers from their actions. 

The one sanction that would clearly be effective in deterring bankers from breaking the law would be putting them in jail for breaking the law.

Please read more here.

The Trading Report: Will All 50 States Raid Your Dormant Bank Accounts?

by Michael Snyder

Do you have a bank account that you don’t actively use or a safe deposit box that you have not checked on for a while?  If so, you might want to see if the government has grabbed your money.  This sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  All over the world, governments are shortening the time periods required before they can seize “dormant bank accounts” and “unclaimed property”...

 

For instance, the waiting period in the state of California used to be fifteen years.

Now it is just three years.

And when California grabs your money they don’t just sit around waiting for you to come and claim it.  Instead, it gets dumped directly into the general fund and spent.

If you do not believe that California does this, just check out the following information that comes directly from the official website of the California State Controller’s Office

The State acquires unclaimed property through California’s Unclaimed Property Law, which requires“holders” such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the Controller’s Office after there has been no customer contact for three years. Often the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.

And it is not just bank accounts and safe deposit boxes that are covered by California law.  The reality is that a vast array of different kinds of “unclaimed property” are covered

 

And some states are even more aggressive than the state of California in going after bank accounts.

In a recent article, Simon Black noted that the state of Georgia can go after “dormant bank accounts” after just one year of inactivity…

In fact, each of the 50 states has its own regulations pertaining to the seizure of dormant accounts. And the grand prize goes to… the great state of Georgia!

Georgia’s Disposition of Unclaimed Properties Act sets the threshold as low as one year.

In other words, if you have a checking account in Georgia that you haven’t touched in twelve months, the state government is going to grab it.

So much for setting aside money for a rainy day and having the discipline to never touch it.

As economic conditions get even worse, the temptation for governments all over the planet to grab private bank accounts is going to become even greater.

We all remember what happened in Cyprus.  When the global financial Ponzi scheme finally collapses, politicians all over the world are going to be looking for an easy way to raise cash.  And our bank accounts may be one of the first things that they decide to confiscate.

So please don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket, and check on all of your accounts in regular intervals.

In this day and age, it pays to be diligent.

Please read more here and here.

Iran Hangs Billionaire & 3 Others Over $2.6 Billion Bank Fraud

Largest fraud case since 1979 Islamic Revolution sends four scammers to the gallows, including tycoon Mahafarid Amir Khosravi.

 

A billionaire businessman at the heart of a $2.6 billion state bank scam, the largest fraud case since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution, was executed Saturday, state television reported.

Authorities put Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, also known as Amir Mansour Aria, to death at Evin prison, just north of the capital, Tehran, the station reported. The report said the execution came after Iran's Supreme Court upheld his death sentence.

Khosravi's lawyer, Gholam Ali Riahi, was quoted by news website khabaronline.ir as saying that his client was put to death without any notice. 

"I had not been informed about execution of my client," Riahi said. "All the assets of my client are at the disposal of the prosecutor's office."

State officials did not immediately comment on Riahi's claim.

The fraud involved using forged documents to get credit at one of Iran's top financial institutions, Bank Saderat, to purchase assets including state-owned companies like major steel producer Khuzestan Steel Co.

Khosravi's business empire included more than 35 companies from mineral water production to a football club and meat imports from Brazil. According to Iranian media reports, the bank fraud began in 2007.

A total of 39 defendants were convicted in the case. Four received death sentences, two got life sentences and the rest received sentences of up to 25 years in prison.

Please read more here.

Too Big To Fail Battle: Nassim Taleb vs. Larry Summers

 

 

 

MarketWatch

A riveting debate between “Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb and former Treasury secretary and White House adviser Larry Summers captivated the SALT hedge-fund conference in Las Vegas Thursday.

Taleb, who recently authored a paper entitled “Skin in the Game,” argued that the aftermath of the financial crisis unfairly rewarded bad actors and that the system remains dangerous.

Summers, who served as Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and more recently as an adviser to Barack Obama, took exception and charged that Taleb was being unrealistic about the difficulties identifying the institutions that pose systemic risk.

Summers told Taleb that he was for more capital, more liquidity, living wills for banks and procedures to wind them down. “What are you for?” he challenged.

“I’m for punishment,” Taleb replied.

Well, there you have it folks. Taleb is the man!

It would be nice to see the video of this debate.

In addition, I would have loved to have had a front row seat too. LOL!

Please read more here.

Wall Street on Parade: Suspicious Deaths Of Bankers Treated As "Trade Secrets" By Federal Regulator

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 28, 2014  

It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees.  Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy of a 25 year old male with a Bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2006 was 81 years of age. But in the past five months, five highly educated JPMorgan male employees in their 30s and one former employee aged 28, have died under suspicious circumstances, including three of whom allegedly leaped off buildings – a statistical rarity even during the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

 

There is one other major obstacle to brushing away these deaths as random occurrences – they are not happening at JPMorgan’s closest peer bank – Citigroup. Both JPMorgan and Citigroup are global financial institutions with both commercial banking and investment banking operations. Their employee counts are similar – 260,000 employees for JPMorgan versus 251,000 for Citigroup.

Both JPMorgan and Citigroup also own massive amounts of bank-owned life insurance (BOLI), a controversial practice that pays the corporation when a current or former employee dies. (In the case of former employees, the banks conduct regular “death sweeps” of public records using former employees’ Social Security numbers to learn if a former employee has died and then submits a request for payment of the death benefit to the insurance company.)

Wall Street On Parade carefully researched public death announcements over the past 12 months which named the decedent as a current or former employee of Citigroup or its commercial banking unit, Citibank. We found no data suggesting Citigroup was experiencing the same rash of deaths of young men in their 30s as JPMorgan Chase. Nor did we discover any press reports of leaps from buildings among Citigroup’s workers.

Given the above set of facts, on March 21 of this year, we wrote to the regulator of national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act (See OCC Response to Wall Street On Parade’s Request for Banker Death Information):

The number of deaths from 2008 through March 21, 2014 on which JPMorgan Chase collected death benefits; the total face amount of BOLI life insurance in force at JPMorgan; the total number of former and current employees of JPMorgan Chase who are insured under these policies; any peer studies showing the same data comparing JPMorgan Chase with Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

The OCC responded politely by letter dated April 18, after first calling a few days earlier to inform us that we would be getting nothing under the sunshine law request. (On Wall Street, sunshine routinely means dark curtain.) The OCC letter advised that documents relevant to our request were being withheld on the basis that they are “privileged or contains trade secrets, or commercial or financial information, furnished in confidence, that relates to the business, personal, or financial affairs of any person,” or  relate to “a record contained in or related to an examination.”

Please read more in Wall Street on Parade.

ZeroHedge: Banker Jumps To Her Death In Paris

by Tyler Durden

There have been 13 senior financial services executives deaths around the world this year, but the most notable thing about the sad suicide of the 14th, a 52-year-old banker at France's Bred-Banque-Populaire, is she is the first female. As Le Parisien reports, Lydia (no surname given) jumped from the bank's Paris headquarter's 14th floor shortly before 10am. FranceTV added that sources said "she questioned her superiors before jumping out the window," but the bank denies it noting that she had been in therpapy for several years.

Please read more on ZeroHedge.com.

ZeroHedge: Banker, Wife & Nephew Murdered in Belgium

 

by Tyler Durden

In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.

L'venir reports:

 
 

According to Marcel Neven, Mayor of Vise, nothing can yet explain what caused the violent shooting that rocked the neighborhood sports hall of his town this Friday, April 18, late at night. A man of 37 years, Benedict Philippens, bank manager Ans-Saint-Nicolas, was shot. A little 9 year old boy, living in Dolhain, was also killed. A lady, the wife of the man and the boy aunt and godmother, Carol Haid, 37 also died of his injuries on Saturday, in the morning. She was hit by three bullets in the back, said a judicial source.

According to information from the survey and some witnesses, a car waiting outside their house Berneau street near the sports hall Visé. When the victims' car is back in the driveway, shots were fired from the car that waited patiently. The author of the shots is actively sought.

Please read more on ZeroHedge.

Bloomberg: CEO Of Liechtenstein Bank Frick Murdered In Broad Daylight

 

A Liechtenstein banker was shot dead after a feud involving an investment fund, and police said they believe the alleged killer later committed suicide.

The 48-year-old man was shot in the underground garage of a financial institution in Balzers at 7:30 a.m. local time, the Liechtenstein police said on their website today. Neither the victim nor the institution was identified in the statement. The deceased was Juergen Frick, CEO of Bank Frick & Co. AG, according to Switzerland’s Radio 1, which cited employees of his bank.

The suspect, Juergen Hermann, fled the scene in a Smart car with Liechtenstein license plates, according to police. The authorities later said Hermann appears to have committed suicide after they found the vehicle in Ruggell, 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Balzers, with his passport and a confession.

Please read more here.

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