by: Ellen Brown
July 20, 2012
Antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid-rigging, and price-fixing
At one time, calling the large multinational banks a “cartel” branded you as a conspiracy theorist. Today the banking giants are being called that and worse, not just in the major media but in court documents intended to prove the allegations as facts. Charges include racketeering (organized crime under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO), antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid-rigging, and price-fixing. Damning charges have already been proven, and major damages and penalties assessed. Conspiracy theory has become established fact.
In an article in the July 3rd Guardian titled “Private Banks Have Failed – We Need a Public Solution”, Seumas Milne writes of the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal admitted to by Barclays Bank:
It’s already clear that the rate rigging, which depends on collusion, goes far beyond Barclays, and indeed the City of London. This is one of multiple scams that have become endemic in a disastrously deregulated system with inbuilt incentives for cartels to manipulate the core price of finance.
. . . It could of course have happened only in a private-dominated financial sector, and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free-market ideology that still holds sway in public life.
. . . A crucial part of the explanation is the unmuzzled political and economic power of the City. . . . Finance has usurped democracy.
Bid-rigging and Rate-rigging
Bid-rigging was the subject of U.S. v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm, a ten-year suit in which the U.S. Department of Justice obtained a judgment on May 11 against three GE Capital employees. Billions of dollars were skimmed from cities all across America by colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. Other banks involved in the bidding scheme included Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and UBS. These banks have already paid a total of $673 million in restitution after agreeing to cooperate in the government’s case.
Hot on the heels of the Carollo decision came the LIBOR scandal, involving collusion to rig the inter-bank interest rate that affects $500 trillion worth of contracts, financial instruments, mortgages and loans. Barclays Bank admitted to regulators in June that it tried to manipulate LIBOR before and during the financial crisis in 2008. It said that other banks were doing the same. Barclays paid $450 million to settle the charges.
The U. S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission said in a press release that Barclays Bank “pervasively” reported fictitious rates rather than actual rates; that it asked other big banks to assist, and helped them to assist; and that Barclays did so “to benefit the Bank’s derivatives trading positions” and “to protect Barclays’ reputation from negative market and media perceptions concerning Barclays’ financial condition.”
After resigning, top executives at Barclays promptly implicated both the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve. The upshot is that the biggest banks and their protector central banks engaged in conspiracies to manipulate the most important market interest rates globally, along with the exchange rates propping up the U.S. dollar.
CFTC did not charge Barclays with a crime or require restitution to victims. But Barclays’ activities with the other banks appear to be criminal racketeering under federal RICO statutes, which authorize victims to recover treble damages; and class action RICO suits by victims are expected.
The blow to the banking defendants could be crippling. RICO laws, which carry treble damages, have taken down the Gambino crime family, the Genovese crime family, Hell’s Angels, and the Latin Kings.