Who needs to work when you can just expose your boss’ criminal ways and retire with the “whistelblower” proceeds?
That’s the question three former Merrill Lynch insiders will ask themselves after their tips led to both a successful enforcement against parent company Bank of America in a $415 million settlement for engaging in complex transactions which allowed the bank to reduce the amount of client funds that had to be set aside in reserve accounts and – more importantly – the largest ever whistleblower award amounting to $83 million.
Two of the recipients will split a $50 million award, while a third person will receive $33 million for a tip in the same case.
The previous record was $30 million in 2014 – all done under an award provision under the post-crisis Dodd-Frank law.
The SEC announced on Thursday that Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit admitted wrongdoing and has agreed to pay $415 million to settle charges that it “misused customer cash to generate profits for the firm.”
According to the statement, Merrill violated the SEC’s Consumer Protection Rule by misusing customer cash that rightfully should have been deposited in a reserve account, freeing up billions to finance its own trading activities as a result.
Federal regulators in the United States are reportedly investigation no fewer than two major American banks with regards to their relationships with clients believed to be tied to Mexican drug cartels.
Reuters reported exclusively on Wednesday this week that the US Securities and Exchange Commission is probing both Charles Schwab Corp. and Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch brokerage firm because clients of those entities were linked to Mexican drug cartels.
NIXON’S BANKERS: When What Was Good for Wall Street Was Good for the President
Wall Street’s War
While the protests against the Vietnam War intensified in the first years of the Nixon administration, the financial elite was fighting its own war—over the future of banking and against Glass-Steagall regulations. National City Bank chairman Walter Wriston was a steadfast warrior in related battles, as he fought with Chase chairman David Rockefeller for supremacy over the US banker community and for dominance over global finance.
Rockefeller’s sights were set on a grander prize, one with worldwide implications: ending the financial cold war. He made his mark in that regard by opening the first US bank in Moscow since the 1920s, and the first in Beijing since the 1949 revolution.
If our leaders could have recognized the signs ahead of time, do you think that they could have prevented the financial crisis of 2008? That is a very timely question, because so many of the warning signs that we saw just before and during the last financial crisis are popping up again. Many of the things that are happening right now in the stock market, the bond market, the real estate market and in the overall economic data are eerily similar to what we witnessed back in 2008 and 2009. It is almost as if we are being forced to watch some kind of a perverse replay of previous events, only this time our economy and our financial system are much weaker than they were the last time around. So will we be able to handle a financial crash as bad as we experienced back in 2008? What if it is even worse this time? Considering the fact that we have been through this kind of thing before, you would think that our leaders would be feverishly trying to keep it from happening again and the American people would be rapidly preparing to weather the coming storm. Sadly, none of that is happening. It is almost as if they cannot even see the disaster that is staring them right in the face. But without a doubt, disaster is coming.
The following are 18 similarities between the last financial crisis and today…
The gold futures markets opened in New York on Friday 12th April to a monumental 3.4 million ounces (100 tonnes) of gold selling of the June futures contract in what proved to be only an opening shot. The selling took gold to the technically very important level of $1540 which was not only the low of 2012, it was also seen by many as the level which confirmed the ongoing bull run which dates back to 2000. In many traders minds it stood as a formidable support level… the line in the sand.
Does a shadowy group of obscenely wealthy elitists control the world? Do men and women with enormous amounts of money really run the world from behind the scenes? The answer might surprise you. Most of us tend to think of money as a convenient way to conduct transactions, but the truth is that it also represents power and control. And today we live in a neo-fuedalist system in which the super rich pull all the strings. When I am talking about the ultra-wealthy, I am not just talking about people that have a few million dollars. As you will see later in this article, the ultra-wealthy have enough money sitting in offshore banks to buy all of the goods and services produced in the United States during the course of an entire year and still be able to pay off the entire U.S. national debt. That is an amount of money so large that it is almost incomprehensible. Under this ne0-feudalist system, all the rest of us are debt slaves, including our own governments. Just look around – everyone is drowning in debt, and all of that debt is making the ultra-wealthy even wealthier. But the ultra-wealthy don’t just sit on all of that wealth. They use some of it to dominate the affairs of the nations. The ultra-wealthy own virtually every major bank and every major corporation on the planet. They use a vast network of secret societies, think tanks and charitable organizations to advance their agendas and to keep their members in line. They control how we view the world through their ownership of the media and their dominance over our education system. They fund the campaigns of most of our politicians and they exert a tremendous amount of influence over international organizations such as the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. When you step back and take a look at the big picture, there is little doubt about who runs the world. It is just that most people don’t want to admit the truth.The ultra-wealthy don’t run down and put their money in the local bank like you and I do. Instead, they tend to stash their assets in places where they won’t be taxed such as the Cayman Islands. According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the globe.
U.S. GDP for 2011 was about 15 trillion dollars, and the U.S. national debt is sitting at about 16 trillion dollars, so you could add them both together and you still wouldn’t hit 32 trillion dollars.
It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you’d think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we’ve been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?
It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.
United World Federalists founder James Warburg’s father was Paul Warburg, who financed Hitler with help from Brown Brothers Harriman partner Prescott Bush. 
Colonel Ely Garrison was a close friend of both President Teddy Roosevelt and President Woodrow Wilson. Garrison wrote in Roosevelt, Wilson and the Federal Reserve, “Paul Warburg was the man who got the Federal Reserve Act together after the Aldrich Plan aroused such nationwide resentment and opposition. The mastermind of both plans was Baron Alfred Rothschild of London.”
The first ever GAO (Government Accountability Office) audit of the Federal Reserve was carried out in the past few months due to the Ron Paul, Alan Grayson Amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill, which passed last year. Jim DeMint, a Republican Senator, and Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator, led the charge for a Federal Reserve audit in the Senate, but watered down the original language of the house bill(HR1207), so that a complete audit would not be carried out.
Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, and various other bankers vehemently opposed the audit and lied to Congress about the effects an audit would have on markets. Nevertheless, the results of the first audit in the Federal Reserve’s nearly 100 year history were posted on Senator Sander’s webpage earlier this morning.
Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch wealth-management unit was fined $2.8 million by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for overbilling customers by $32.2 million over an eight-year period.
Merrill Lynch charged the fees to about 95,000 accounts between April 2003 and December 2011, FINRA said in a statement today. New York-based Merrill Lynch, which was acquired by Bank of America in 2009, lacked an adequate supervisory system to ensure that customers were billed in accordance with their contracts and disclosure documents, the regulator said.
What you are about to read should absolutely astound you. During the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve secretly conducted the biggest bailout in the history of the world, and the Fed fought in court for several years to keep it a secret. Do you remember the TARP bailout? The American people were absolutely outraged that the federal government spent 700 billion dollars bailing out the “too big to fail” banks. Well, that bailout was pocket change compared to what the Federal Reserve did. As you will see documented below, the Federal Reserve actually handed more than 16 trillion dollars in nearly interest-free money to the “too big to fail” banks between 2007 and 2010. So have you heard about this on the nightly news? Probably not. Lately Bloomberg has been reporting on some of this, but even they are not giving people the whole picture. The American people need to be told about this 16 trillion dollar bailout, because it is a perfect example of why the Federal Reserve needs to be shut down. The Federal Reserve has been actively picking “winners” and “losers” in the financial system, and it turns out that the “friends” of the Fed always get bailed out and always end up among the “winners”. This is not how a free market system is supposed to work.
According to the limited GAO audit of the Federal Reserve that was mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the grand total of all the secret bailouts conducted by the Federal Reserve during the last financial crisis comes to a whopping $16.1 trillion.
AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.
The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).
“Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it’s conspiracy theories or free-market,” says James Glattfelder. “Our analysis is reality-based.”
This story from Bloomberg just hit the wires this morning. Bank of America is shifting derivatives in its Merrill investment banking unit to its depository arm, which has access to the Fed discount window and is protected by the FDIC.
This means that the investment bank’s European derivatives exposure is now backstopped by U.S. taxpayers. Bank of America didn’t get regulatory approval to do this, they just did it at the request of frightened counterparties. Now the Fed and the FDIC are fighting as to whether this was sound. The Fed wants to “give relief” to the bank holding company, which is under heavy pressure.
This is a direct transfer of risk to the taxpayer done by the bank without approval by regulators and without public input. You will also read below that JP Morgan is apparently doing the same thing with $79 trillion of notional derivatives guaranteed by the FDIC and Federal Reserve.
What this means for you is that when Europe finally implodes and banks fail, U.S. taxpayers will hold the bag for trillions in CDS insurance contracts sold by Bank of America and JP Morgan. Even worse, the total exposure is unknown because Wall Street successfully lobbied during Dodd-Frank passage so that no central exchange would exist keeping track of net derivative exposure.
This is a recipe for Armageddon. Bernanke is absolutely insane. No wonder Geithner has been hopping all over Europe begging and cajoling leaders to put together a massive bailout of troubled banks. His worst nightmare is Eurozone bank defaults leading to the collapse of the large U.S. banks who have been happily selling default insurance on European banks since the crisis began.
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
Among some of the discoveries of the financial crisis is that the entire financial system is now, following the Lehman bankruptcy, built entirely on fraud. And while Ken Lewis may spend the remainder of his days on some private island with stolen taxpayer money providing for his every last wish, it was he, in following the Fed’s and the Treasury’s orders to make a mockery of fiduciary responsibility, that was among the first people to confirm that there is no rule of low in America, or rather whatever law there is, it only applies to the less than immortal (i.e. the sub-banker class). Below, in an indication that Zero Hedge will never forget, we present the salient highlights from the Ken Lewis deposition on the MAC clause surrounding the Merrill transition, emphasizing the threats from Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. For as long as neither of these three is in jail for what is documented shareholder (and taxpayer) fraud, we fail to see why the remaining 300+ million Americans continue to diligently pay their share of taxes into a government that is now beyond (and in full documentation) corrupt. Also, how BofA’s lawyer Wachtell was not at all present during the discussion of the MAC clause, makes a complete mockery of the US legal process in its entirety. We wonder just when the official scribe of the kleptocracy, Andrew R. Sorkin, will write a book disclosing the truth of what happened, including a listing of all the laws broken with full premeditation by every single player, and not the watered down, PG13 (and rather expensive)version that makes everyone come out like a law-abiding superman.
Full transcript highlights, presented without commentary:
Top recipients of overnight loans made by the Federal Reserve under special program that ran from March 2008 through May 2009.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The Federal Reserve made $9 trillion in overnight loans to major banks and Wall Street firms during the financial crisis, according to newly revealed data released Wednesday.
The loans were made through a special loan program set up by the Fed in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse in March 2008 to keep the nation’s bond markets trading normally.
The amount of cash being pumped out to the financial giants was not previously disclosed. All the loans were backed by collateral and all were paid back with a very low interest rate to the Fed — an annual rate of between 0.5% to 3.5%.
Still, the total amount was a surprise, even to some who had followed the Fed’s rescue efforts closely.
“That’s a real number, even for the Fed,” said FusionIQ’s Barry Ritholtz, author of the book “Bailout Nation.” While the fact that the markets were in trouble was already well known, he said the amount of help they needed is still surprising.
“It makes it very clear this was a very serious, very unusual situation,” he said.
Watch an ‘Inconvenient Truth (Lie)’ again (What a horrible thought!) or watch the following video from 2:20 and you will see that CO2 lags 800 years behind temperature rises:
And yes, the hockey stick graph is a fake and it is obvious to anybody:
Redd scheme designed to prevent deforestation but critics call it ‘privatisation’ of natural resources
An aerial view of trees at a forest on Sumatra, Indonesia where millions are being spent to fight deforestation. Photograph: Beawiharta/Reuters
Some of the world’s largest oil, mining, car and gas corporations will make hundreds of millions of dollars from a UN-backed forest protection scheme, according to a new report from the Friends of the Earth International.
The group’s new report – launched on the first day of the global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, where 193 countries hope to thrash out a new agreement – is the first major assessment of the several hundred, large-scale Redd (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) pilot schemes. It shows that banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection.
While forestry is billed as one issue where significant progress could be made at the talks, over the weekend David Cameron, Chris Huhne, the climate change secretary, and the government’s chief scientists all played down the prospect of a global deal to cut carbon emissions.
“British ministers are going to Mexico this week with an approach that is both realistic and optimistic,” the prime minister wrote in the Observer . “Realistic, because we don’t expect a global deal to be struck in Cancun, but optimistic too, because we are viewing this as a stepping stone to future agreement.”
Huhne, who will attend the second week of the talks, was more blunt: “No one expects a binding deal on climate change in Cancun.” But he said deforestation and longer-term climate finance were areas where progress could be made.
The Redd scheme is central to slowing, or halting, deforestation, which causes huge releases of carbon dioxide. But critics say that the scheme amounts to privatisation of natural resources.
FoE’s report shows, for example that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm Shell has linked with Russian gas giant Gazprom and the Clinton Foundation to invest in the Rimba Rey project, 100,000ha of peat swamp in Indonesia. The project is expecting to prevent 75m tonnes of carbon being emitted over 30 years, which could earn the three groups $750m at a modest carbon price of $10 a tonne.
It also says that an investment of little more than $10m by the bank Merrill Lynch, the conservation group Flora and Fauna International and an Australian carbon trading company could generate more than $430m, over 30 years, from a project to protect 750,000ha of forest in Aceh province, Indonesia.
David Fiderer’s below piece, originally published on the Huffington Post,continues probing the topic of Goldman and AIG. For all intents and purposes the debate has been pretty much exhausted and if there was a functioning legal system, Goldman would have been forced long ago to pay back the cash it received from ML-3 (which in itself should have been long unwound now that plans to liquidate AIG have been scrapped) and to have the original arrangement reestablished (including the profitless unwind of AIG CDS the firm made improper billions on, by trading on non-public, pre-March 2009, information), and now that AIG is solvent courtesy of the government, so too its counterparties can continue experiencing some, albeit marginal, risk, instead of enjoying the possession of cold hard cash. Oh, and Tim Geithner would be facing civil and criminal charges.
Yet as we look forward, we ask, who now determines the variation margin on Greek CDS (and Portugal, and Dubai, and Spain, and, pretty soon, Japan and the US), the associated recovery rate, and how much collateral should be posted by sellers of Greek protection? If Greek banks, as the rumors goes, indeed sold Greek protection, and, as the rumor also goes, Goldman was the bulk buyer, either in prop or flow capacity, it is precisely Goldman, just like in the AIG case, that can now dictate what the collateral margin that Greek counterparties, and by extension the very nation of Greece, have to post on billions of dollars of Greek insurance. Let’s say Goldman thinks Greece’s debt recovery is 75 cents and the CDS should be trading at 700 bps, instead of the “prevailing” consensus of a 90 recovery and 450 spread, then it will very likely get its way when demanding extra capital to cover potential shortfalls, since Goldman itself has been instrumental in covering up Greece’s catastrophic financial state and continues to be a critical factor in any future refinancing efforts on behalf of Greece. Obviously this incremental margin, which only Goldman will ever see, even if the CDS was purchased on a flow basis, will never be downstreamed on behalf of its clients, and instead will be used to [buy futures|buy steepeners|prepay 2011 bonuses|buy more treasuries for the BONY $60 billion Treasury rainy day fund].
In essence, through its conflict of interest, its unshakable negotiating position, and its facility to determine collateral requirements and variation margin, Goldman can expand its previous position of strength from dictating merely AIG and Federal Reserve decision making, to one which determines sovereign policy! This is unmitigated lunacy and a recipe for financial collapse at the global level.
This is yet another AIG in the making, with Goldman this time likely threatening to accelerate the collapse not merely of the US financial system, but of the global one, in order to attain virtually infinite negotiating leverage. Of course, the world will not allow a Greece-initiated domino, allowing Goldman to call everyone’s bluff once again.
Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) — Italy’s financial police are seizing 73.3 million euros ($102 million) of assets from Bank of America Corp. and a unit of Dexia SA as part of a probe into an alleged derivatives fraud in the region of Apulia.
Police are investigating losses on derivatives linked to the sale of 870 million euros of bonds sold by the regional government in 2003 and 2004, according to an e-mail from the prosecutor’s office in Bari today. The banks misled the municipality, located in the heel of Italy, on the economic advantages of the transaction and concealed their fees, the prosecutor said.
The region, also known as Puglia, joins more than 519 Italian municipalities that face 990 million euros in derivatives losses, according to data compiled by the Bank of Italy. In Milan, prosecutors seized assets from four banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS AG in April and requested they stand trial for alleged fraud. Hearings started this month.
“Italy, like other countries, is full of these examples,” said Dario Loiacono, a banking lawyer in Milan who isn’t involved in the case. “It’s the result of the unavoidable asymmetry of information between the banks and the municipal borrowers.”