Helen has a genetic commitment to making the world a better place. If she sees a problem, she raises her voice to try to fix it. And she sees a major problem for America’s future in the fact that financial institutions – which make money by taking money away from other people – are able to buy control of the legislative and executive branches of the government through their political contributions. The enormous power wielded by financial institutions also threatens the integrity of the judiciary which, after all, is appointed upon the recommendation of Senators who are generously supported by the financial services industry.
The most glaring example of the corruption of American values by the financial services industry is the government’s recent refusal to prosecute any individual at JPMorgan Chase for providing banking services to Bernard Madoff for almost 20 years with knowledge that he was dishonest. The prosecutor was Preet Bharara, formerly chief counsel to Senator Schumer who has enjoyed, over the years, a flow of political contributions from the entire Madoff family and from JPMorgan Chase. The details of this story will be told, month by month, in a book to be published on this website.
Another example occurred in July 2013 when the government settled with HSBC charges that HSBC had degenerated into a “preferred financial institution” for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, money launderers and other wrongdoers through what the U.S. Department of Justice called “stunning failures of oversight.” HSBC acknowledged compliance lapses, including a failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, and conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan, which were all subject to U.S. sanctions.
“Compliance lapses.” That’s the term for crimes committed by people who work for financial institutions. In fact, what happened was that individual officers of HSBC had knowingly violated the law and put innocent Americans in danger. And what did our government do to enforce the criminal laws against these people? Absolutely nothing. It accepted a payment form HSBC – not the criminal officers – of $1.92 billion and did not even require that a single HSBC officer be fired. Thus, our government ignored the fundamental tenet on which our criminal justice system is based – that criminals must be put in prison to teach others that crime does not pay. Apparently, in our current governmental environment, crime does pay, so long as the largesse is shared with those in power.
If this bothers you, then join Helen in raising your voice for change.
Helen and Lance are partners of Chaitman LLP, 465 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10022. (888) 759-1114
For nearly four decades, Lance Gotthoffer has represented clients in large, high profile commercial and financial litigations in courts throughout the United States. He has handled landmark cases in a variety of federal and state appellate courts, including in the New York Court of Appeals, and has been involved in approximately a dozen cases and certiorari petitions in the United States Supreme Court.
Lance and Helen are partners of Chaitman LLP, 465 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10022. (888) 759-1114