Five of the world’s largest banks pleaded guilty to felony charges and will pay a total of over five billion dollars in fines to the Department of Justice and the U.S. Treasury for offenses ranging from manipulating the value of dollars and euros to rigging interest rates.
The main players in this criminal operation are Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS AG.
Traders operated a secret electronic chatroom labeled by participants as “The Cartel” or “The Mafia” where the stakes were so high that newcomers were warned to “sleep with one eye open” should anything go wrong.
The traders from the five banks collaborated to rig one of the largest financial markets in the world, the 5.3 trillion per day foreign exchange market. Traders colluded on pricing financial securities and agreed on what interest rates they would bid rather than compete.
Most of these banks were also involved in rigging the LIBUR interest rate market.
Notwithstanding the slap-on-the-wrist punishment exacted by the U.S. Treasury and DOJ, the banks will emerge from this scandal unscathed.
A slap on the wrist of the parasitic capitalist elite
Not a single trader or bankster will be arrested.
In fact a glance at the stock market suggests that the bottom line of the banks on question have actually improved. In the case of UBS the stock price rose 3 percent. In the case of Barclays it rose 3.7 percent.
JP Morgan, the largest bank in the U.S., is being fined about $900 million. In the first quarter of 2015, JP Morgan had a net income of $5.9 billion.
To put things in perspective, the largest fine for Citigroup at $925 million represents less than 1.174% of their 2015 estimated revenues. The criminal activity for which they have been fined is said to have begun in 2007 and continued for at least five years.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has already provided a number of waivers to the banks that allow them to conduct business as usual.
According to a press release issued by the New York Department of Financial Services:
UBS was also accused of foreign currency manipulation, costing the bank an earlier nonprosecution agreement related to the manipulation of another financial benchmark, the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, which underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans.
Loretta Lynch: an agent of capitalist exploitation
Loretta Lynch’s actions must be understood as evidence of the deep crisis of imperialism. What we are seeing is internal contradictions between contending sectors of the white ruling class as parasitic capitalism quakes in profound desperation and crisis from the resistance of oppressed peoples throughout the world fighting to wrest our resources back into our own hands.
The banks and the U.S. government are both institutions that constitute the social and economic machinery of parasitic capitalism, so it is fitting that the penalty for criminal acts by banks would be to shift a few billion dollars of the revenue from the banks into the coffers of the U.S. Treasury and Department of Justice.
Price fixing is only the latest crime committed by the biggest players in the U.S. banking industry. All of the banks in question have previously come under scrutiny for drug laundering, bribery, mortgage fraud, financial sanctions and the subprime mortgage scam.
The liberal sector of the white ruling class media is applauding Loretta Lynch as the new “Wall St. cop” for her “tough on white collar crime” stance, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Lynch was involved in the settlement with HSBC in 201 in which HSBC was caught laundering billions in drug money for the cartels in Mexico.
The reality is that the Mexican drug cartels, like the penny ante drug dealers in oppressed and impoverished communities inside the U.S., amount to contractors in the employment of the parasitic banks and the U.S. colonial state.
The real criminal collusion is not simply between traders from different banks, but between the banks, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Treasury, the drug cartels, and every other institution of the parasitic capitalist system.
Capitalism was born in disrepute
As Omali Yeshitela, the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party has explained, the capitalist system has its origins in the parasitic expropriation of wealth from Africa, the enslavement of African people, the genocide against the Indigenous people of the Americas and colonialism around the world.
All of the banks in the United States were born from slavery, pillage and drug pushing.
According to the article “HSBC: The World’s Dirtiest Bank,” “HSBC has served as the world’s #1 drug money laundry since its inception as a repository for British Crown opium proceeds accrued during the Chinese Opium Wars. During the Vietnam War, HSBC laundered CIA heroin proceeds.”
While bankers and U.S. politicians operate multi-billion dollar drug running operations, the prison population continues to swell inside the U.S., where millions of mostly African men are stuffed into prisons mostly for nonviolent drug offenses.
The banks owe more than five billion dollars; they owe every last penny they have in reparations to the Africans and oppressed peoples of the world upon whose backs the entire rotten edifice of parasitic capitalism rests, with increasing unease.