Banks Ask For Mercy


Big Banks Want A Plea Bargain

Banks are so big that no jail can hold them. But just in case an upstart judge or regulatory agency tries to send a big banker to the slammer, the bankers prefer to plead guilty to less troubling charges. And they are willing to pay up to stay out. The latest pleas for mercy are reported in Monday’s New York Times:

Two of the world’s biggest banks, facing threats of criminal charges, are mounting final bids for leniency.

To avoid the fallout from pleading guilty—no giant bank has done so in more than two decades—BNP Paribas and Credit Suisse made last-ditch appeals to prosecutors and regulators….that sought guilty pleas from the parent companies of both banks…BNP of France over doing business with countries [black-listed by the] United States and Credit Suisse for offering tax shelters to wealthy Americans. *

The bankers are willing to settle for “more modest guilty pleas.”* Like pleading guilty to trespassing after robbing a bank.

The Times article extensively reports on meetings with regulators in New York City and Washington to “discuss” the kind of pleas big banks would accept and pay for. A lot of space is needed for these sessions because the bankers bring a lot of lawyers. (The article does not mention whether the bankers’ lobbyists are simultaneously meeting with congressional folks to remind them the value that big banks provide for their way of life.)

Most important, what are these regulators thinking!? Jailing bankers is unthinkable: In no time, jailed bankers would be exposed to criminals from whom they would learn new ways to manage our money—and recruit new employees.

* Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Two Giant Banks Implore Authorities to Go Easy,” Business Day, The New York Times, pages B1,B11, May 12, 2014.

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