Bankers are Harshly Punished, Even Executed, for Their Crimes – Just Not in the U.S.

In 2008, The United States was in the midst of a historical presidential election and a recession. When global financial services firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September, the largest bankruptcy in history, the curtains were forced open to reveal a global financial mess that had been occurring since 2007 and still haunts the world today.

In the following months, many other financial giants would fall into bankruptcy and the word ‘bailout’ became part of the everyday conversation. As the public became more aware of the complicated series of events that led to the worst financial crisis in a generation, people looked at the source of the problems. Occupy Wall Street became a worldwide movement that called for financial reform and punishment of those involved.

While people were losing their homes by the thousands due to subprime loans, the U.S. Government chose to protect many institutions through government loans. There were token attempts to help ordinary citizens during the crisis through extension of things like unemployment insurance and home loan modification attempts. However, most of the help was given to corporations, banks and other financial institutions under the premise that these groups were “too big to fail.”

Years later, even after investigations have shown that these same institutions were directly responsible for the financial meltdown, none of them have seen anything more than a fine – with only a few having had to deal with what amounted to a slap on the wrist.

The domino effect of the financial efforts worldwide was handled differently around the world. Many smaller countries were forced into austerity programs that cut social and financial programs for their citizens in order to receive financial help from the World Bank. This led to protests and sometimes dissolution of governments for ones that had a more populist approach.

When Iceland found itself in the midst of the crisis, it chose a different approach. While it, too, received a bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Iceland refused to bailout the banks, which ultimate defaulted to the tune of $85 billion. Resisting international pressure, policymakers focused on helping the people instead.  They forced the banks to bailout the people, making them write off the mortgages of their citizens. They have been able to maintain their budget allotment of roughly 43 percent for general welfare programs. In the end, only three banks remained, all of them Icelandic banks that were now under state control.

They also held the bankers accountable.

In December 2013, a Reykjavik district court sentenced four former bankers from the Icelandic Kaupthing Bank for their roles in the market abuses that led to the 2008 collapse. Two former CEOs, the former chairman, and the banks’ largest stakeholder were given sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half years in prison. The charges related to a loan given to a Qatari sheikh, which he used to buy shares in the bank.

Other nations have taken a harsher stance against bankers.

Last month, a director of a Vietnam Development Bank was sentenced to death for fake loans amounting to $89 million. Two other bankers were sentenced to death in December. In China, economic crimes are subject to a range of harsh penalties, including death.

In the United States, bankers aren’t just too big to fail, they are also too big to punish.

While we have seen the prosecution of people like Bernie Madoff, convicted of a ponzi scheme that stole money from the very wealthy, financial executives have suffered no serious consequences. A billionaire hedge fund manager was indicted on criminal fraud charges in July 2013, and avoided jail time by paying a $1.2 billion in fines. JP Morgan Chase has been faced with a litany of litigation for its role in the financial meltdown, resulting in about $1 billion in fines, yet no one has been prosecuted.

In fact, CEO Jamie Dimon received a 74 percent pay raise due to an $18.5 million bonus in 2013.


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jake B.
Past Member 2 years ago

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Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Banks have always stolen from the little guy. All those charges, what is that all about.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm3 years ago

Some good points there Marc. WE seem to have a horrbiole hangup in this country with ANY devanacm puritanical sex. Even though in the bedroom there is some really kinky shit going on… public we havent advanced much. WE still mock and ridiciula anything not “normal”………..whatever the hell that is.

WE have allowed outr society to make sex a power tool………not a sexual one. Rape doesnt happenb because of pleasure it happens because of misplace power issues. After all 90 year old wo,men get raped. Dont tell me someone got a woody by watching her walk down the street in her walker.
WE use sex for tons of shit it has no business being used for. Tits sell cars and toothpaste and almost everything in between. Dont ask me why,……..apparently it works…….or we have been sold a bill of goods by lazy advertisiers. WE seem to punish disproportionately as a society. Bankers get off scott free all the while destroying millions of lives. Another person has their entire life ruined because of a sodomy law that only affects them and most likely a willing partner. Who is damaging us more?

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm3 years ago

Is having sex with your kid a terrible thing?? well that depends on which society you live in….in some societies it is a mature member of a family who does the actual “deflowering”. Does sex with your child create crazy babies?? Yes there is documented proof of such happening. SOCIETY makes the victims life full of guilt with the guilt trips they read about constantly after the fact. SOCIETY makes the victim feel dirty and defiled because of our ludicrous puritanical views of what sex is and isn’t. If WE would shut up about it the chold wouldnt grwo up all screwed up in the brain about it.
But a Banker does that much damage a MILLION times over with what they do and not even a slap on the hand. There is something seriously wrong with our society.

Michael T.
Michael T3 years ago

Thanks Marc for your explanation of how it really works. It is all in the details most of us don't know, can't find, and are unaware of. Politicians will often explain it in such a way as to maximize what they want seen, and cover up what they don't want people to know when they start stumping.

I appreciate your information and explanation of this.

Marc P.
Marc P3 years ago

Continued: So when I hear people screaming that ALL sex offenders should be locked up for life, catsrated, executed etc. I realize that they are spewing this hatred on the propaganda they have heard. The REAL question we should be asking is "If recidivism rates for sex offenders is so low, why are we being told otherwise??? The answer to that is that in by creating the group labelled "Sex offender" the government has created a class of people for whom the Constitution doesn't exist. And that could not be done without creating a climate of hatred and fear first. Note that the 'class' is ever expanding. We now even have 7 year old's being classified as 'sex offender" and this is being accepted by the public. Problem is that what the Government does to one class or group of people it will soon do to another!

Marc P.
Marc P3 years ago

Barry T.: In my years in prison advocacy I have worked with many sex offenders. These crimes, while horrific, have been propagandized heavily in the media. In Connecticut the rate of recidivism for all categories of sex offender is about 2.7% - Far lower than the public believes. (All other categories of crime other than murder the rates are around 70%) Lifelong incarceration is fiscally unsound as the threat to safety is minimal upon release. AND - Believe it or not, most perpetrators of sexual assault commit their crimes on loved ones. Very often the victim does NOT want daddy to go to prison. They just want the behavior to stop. I have heard many victims throughout the years state that if they knew the perp. was going to receive the amount of prison time they got, the victim would have never reported the crime.

Frank Mugford
Frank Mugford3 years ago

It beggars belief that these 'establishment' criminals are not only not punished but often promoted/given raises. In the UK not one banker has been sent to jail despite clear malfeasance and clear, outright criminality.
I understand from that arch shit for brains Milton Friedman, monetarist supreme, that in any good capitalist system, the banks should have been allowed, no made, to go bankrupt; this surely is the 'dog eat dog' capitalist way, isn't it?
I'm always amazed that movements like 'Occupy Wall Street' do not lead to revolution.
A recent survey in the UK appears to show that people are more scared of what 'big business' can/might do to them than the actions of Trade Unions.
Maybe the message is finally getting through!