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Stealing is wrong, right? “If you do the crime,” the old slogan says, “you do the time.” But… does everyone?
Let’s suppose that you robbed a Wells Fargo branch bank and scooted away with $5,000. Alas, you get caught, but you cut a deal with prosecutors. Naturally, you’d make restitution, paying back the 5K, plus you agree to a $500 fine. In return, you don’t have to go to jail or even admit guilt, plus you’re allowed to issue a press release blaming the wrongdoing, not on you, but on a “relatively small group” of rogue cells in your brain.
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What are the chances of a prosecutor (or Wells Fargo) letting you get away with such a “punishment?”
Zero. But, if it’s Wells Fargo doing the crime, such coddling is the norm in our so-called “justice system.”
Indeed, the financial giant was caught illegally tricking thousands of lower-income families into taking out predatory home loans with exploding interest rates that eventually would cost the families thousands of dollars and their homes. The bankers merrily falsified mortgage documents, and the bank raked in billions of dollars. It was a widespread illegality fostered by Wells Fargo’s top executives.
So, on July 21, Federal Reserve prosecutors handed down justice to these miscreant bankers. Their punishment? An $85 million fine and a $20 million restitution payment – or .001 percent of this behemoth’s annual revenues of $80-billion. Far from jail time, no Wells Fargo banker was even charged, nor did the giant have to admit its guilt – a corporate press release blamed the unpleasantness on a “relatively small group” of low-level employees.
Do the bankers and prosecutors think we don’t see this gross injustice? Banker thievery by Wells Fargo and its aloof peers will not stop until top bankers are made to do the time.
“This Is Considered Punishment?” The New York Times, July 26, 2011.
“Wells Fargo Target Of Justice Department Probe: Agency Alleges Discriminatory Lending,” www.huffingtonpost.com, July 26, 2011.