Tag Archives: Eric Schneiderman

Pam Martens & Russ Martens ~ Dark Pools, Barclays And The ‘Tone At The Top’

“This is not an efficient market; it is not a sane market; it is not an ethical market; and it may well explain why the stock market rose yesterday on a shocking first quarter decline in U.S. GDP. Fundamentals don’t matter to pirates.” ~P & R Martens

New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, (Right) Announcing Fraud Lawsuit Against Barclays Over Its Dark Pool

New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, (Right) Announcing Fraud Lawsuit Against Barclays Over Its Dark Pool

Yesterday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil fraud complaint against the global bank, Barclays, for what can best be summed up as fostering an internal culture that rewards serial lying to customers and enforces the culture of lies by firing or intimidating employees who refuse to go along.

The lawsuit was framed around well documented allegations that Barclays is running a dark pool that allows, encourages, and facilitates high frequency traders to front run the orders of slower market participants like pensions and mutual funds; but the critical takeaway from the complaint goes to the very heart of global banking. The complaint is the clearest proof yet that the insidiously corrupt culture of global banking has not been reformed but has instead metastasized throughout each operating unit of the unmanageable behemoths.

To fully grasp this reality, it is helpful to reflect on what was happening at Barclays in the summer of 2012. Barclays was fined $451 million for fostering a culture which resulted in its traders colluding with other employees of the bank and outside banks to rig the interest rate benchmark known as Libor. Embarrassing emails showing the casual attitude the employees demonstrated toward breaking the law resulted in hearings by Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee in 2012 to examine Barclays’ leadership.

On July 10, 2012, the Treasury Select Committee called Barclays Chairman, Marcus Agius to testify. It also released an April 10, 2012 letter to Agius from the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, the main U.K. regulator of global banks at the time, which outlined a laundry list of serious concerns about Barclays and noted the following: “…I wished to bring to your attention our concerns about the cumulative impression created by a pattern of behavior over the last few years, in which Barclays often seems to be seeking to gain advantage through the use of complex structures, or through arguing for regulatory approaches which are at the aggressive end of interpretation of the relevant rules and regulations.” Continue reading

Matt Taibbi ~ 16 Major Firms May Have Received Early Data From Thomson Reuters

RollingStone  September 5 2013

The Thomson Reuters headquarters building in New York City.

Readers may recall an ugly story that broke earlier this summer, when New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman rebuked the news/business information firm Thomson Reuters for selling access to key economic survey data two seconds early to high-frequency algorithmic traders. The story strongly suggested that some Thomson Reuters customers were using their two-second head start (an eternity in the modern world of computerized trading) to front-run the markets.

“The early release of market-moving survey data undermines fair play in the markets,” Schneiderman said, back in the second week of July. Thomson Reuters suspended the practice of selling two-second head starts after Schneiderman insisted upon a change. Still, the firm defiantly refused to declare the change permanent and insisted that it had the right to “legally distribute non-governmental data” to “fee-paying subscribers.”

It turns out that there’s more to the story.

Back in June, journalist Simone Foxman at the global economic site Quartz reported that in addition to the two-second head start some Thomson Reuters customers were getting on the release of the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, other customers may have been getting their data even earlier, “nearly an hour in advance” in some cases.

Rolling Stone has since learned that a whistleblower complaint has been filed to the SEC identifying 16 of the world’s biggest banks and hedge funds as the allegedly even-earlier recipients of this key economic data. The complaint alleges that this select group of customers received the data anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour ahead of the rest of the markets.

The identity of these 16 firms has not been made public yet, but sources describe the firms as major financial institutions, many of them well-known to the general public. Their inclusion in this case would significantly expand the scope of the scandal.

Contacted by Rolling Stone today, the SEC declined to comment on the status of the case.

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Matt Taibbi ~ Wall Street Rips Off ‘The Sting’

RollingStone July 9 2013

Eric Schneiderman

Hilarious corruption story hit the news wires this week. It’s actually a two-part joke.

Part one is that Thomson Reuters got slapped in the face by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for its absurd practice of selling early access to the results of the consumer confidence survey it conducts each month in conjunction with the University of Michigan.

It turns out that in recent times, if you paid them an extra subscription fee of a few thousand dollars a month, Thomson Reuters would allow you access to the Consumer Confidence data a full two seconds earlier than the rest of its subscribers – at 9:54:58 a.m., as opposed to 9:55:00 exactly.

Thomson Reuters suspended the activity at the request of Schneiderman, who released a statement about this humorously brazen effort at the systematic sale of inside information. From the L.A. Times:

The consumer confidence data can move financial markets, and Scheiderman’s office said “that two-second advantage is more than enough time for these traders to take unfair advantage of their early access to this information as they execute enormous volumes of trades in the blink of an eye.”

“The securities markets should be a level playing field for all investors and the early release of market-moving survey data undermines fair play in the markets,” Schneiderman said Monday.

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Pam Martens ~ Schneiderman To Sue Big Banks

Wall Street On Parade May 7 2013

Monitor Has Known For Months That Banks Are Flagrantly Violating Mortgage Settlement

Yesterday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said his office would bring suit against Bank of America and Wells Fargo for “flagrant” violations of last year’s National Mortgage Settlement – a deal signed onto by 49 state attorneys general which promised to reform the shady mortgage servicing practices of five of the largest mortgage lenders in the U.S.

The question that arises is why the Monitor of the National Mortgage Settlement had not already brought a lawsuit in Federal Court to stop the violations.

During his press conference yesterday announcing the lawsuit, Schneiderman said his office has logged 210 complaints against Wells Fargo for violations of the settlement and 129 involving Bank of America. Those figures, however, are dwarfed by the findings of Joseph A. Smith, Jr., the man put in charge of monitoring the settlement and bringing enforcement actions to the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. when serial violations occur. In his February 13, 2013 report, Smith reported receiving 5,763 complaints from consumers from May 2012 through February 1, 2013 and 600 complaints from advocates such as legal aid attorneys.

Even more troubling, the pace of complaints had skyrocketed by 34 percent, rising from an average of 550 per month to 830 complaints per month more recently.

Continue reading @ Wall Street On Parade

Matt Taibbi ~ Another Bailed-Out Bank Accused Of Fraud

Reader Supported News | October 11 2012

OPINION ~ Earlier this year, Charlie Munger, who is billionaire Warren Buffet’s right hand at Berkshire Hathaway and a sort of self-proclaimed mad oracle of Wall Street, made some interesting comments. He bashed people who buy gold, delivering an all-time amazing quote:

Gold is a great thing to sew onto your garments if you’re a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939 but civilized people don’t buy gold – they invest in productive businesses.

Munger, if you might remember, is the same gazillionaire dickhead who two years ago ripped people experiencing post-crash economic hard times, saying they should “suck it in and cope” and that anyone who wants to complain about the Wall Street bailouts should realize they were “absolutely required to save your civilization” (Munger thinks a lot about “civilization”). He added that even if you didn’t like them, “you shouldn’t be bitching about a little bailout. You should have been thinking it should have been bigger.”

Some of those bailouts we shouldn’t have complained about, of course, were directed at one of Munger’s favorite companies – banking giant Wells Fargo, in which Munger and Buffett are heavily invested. Wells Fargo got as much as $36 billion in federal aid after the crash and got a massive push from the government to help it buy up the dying crash-era megabank Wachovia for $12.7 billion, a shotgun wedding that created the second-biggest bank in America. Wells Fargo not only got $25 billion in TARP funds just before it bought Wachovia, it got a special tax break from then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, which some reports say was worth as much as $25 billion to WF at that time.

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Matt Taibbi ~ Why Obama’s JOBS Act Couldn’t Suck Worse

Reader Supported News | April 10 2012

OPINION ~ Boy, do I feel like an idiot. I’ve been out there on radio and TV in the last few months saying that I thought there was a chance Barack Obama was listening to the popular anger against Wall Street that drove the Occupy movement, that decisions like putting a for-real law enforcement guy like New York AG Eric Schneiderman in charge of a mortgage fraud task force meant he was at least willing to pay lip service to public outrage against the banks.

Then the JOBS Act happened.

The “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” (in addition to everything else, the Act has an annoying, redundant title) will very nearly legalize fraud in the stock market.

In fact, one could say this law is not just a sweeping piece of deregulation that will have an increase in securities fraud as an accidental, ancillary consequence. No, this law actually appears to have been specifically written to encourage fraud in the stock markets.

Ostensibly, the law makes it easier for startup companies (particularly tech companies, whose lobbyists were a driving force behind its passage) attract capital by, among other things, exempting them from independent accounting requirements for up to five years after they first begin selling shares in the stock market.

The law also rolls back rules designed to prevent bank analysts from talking up a stock just to win business, a practice that was so pervasive in the tech-boom years as to be almost industry standard.

Even worse, the JOBS Act, incredibly, will allow executives to give “pre-prospectus” presentations to investors using PowerPoint and other tools in which they will not be held liable for misrepresentations. These firms will still be obligated to submit prospectuses before their IPOs, and they’ll still be held liable for what’s in those. But it’ll be up to the investor to check and make sure that the prospectus matches the “pre-presentation.”

The JOBS Act also loosens a whole range of other reporting requirements, and expands stock investment beyond “accredited investors,” giving official sanction to the internet-based fundraising activity known as “crowdfunding.”

But the big one, to me, is the bit about exempting firms from real independent tests of internal controls for five years.

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Greg Hunter ~ Will Big Banks Get Free Pass in Robo-Signing Mortgage Mess?

USA Watchdog | February 7 2012

The State AG’s are supposed to settle the enormous mortgage mess for a mere $25 billion.  The alleged fraud has been reported to be in the neighborhood of $13.5 trillion.  Will the crooked big banks who perpetrated this scam on America get a free pass in the so-called “robo-signing” mess?  There have been multiple lawsuits over the rip-offs, and there are at least a few states that are holding up the settlement for a better deal and the right to proceed with possible criminal investigations.   NASDAQ.com is reporting some of the negotiations going on with a story filed yesterday that said, “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman expressed confidence Friday that his main concern with a pending settlement of alleged foreclosure abuses by U.S. banks would be resolved, but he didn’t commit to participating in an agreement.  Schneiderman also said the settlement is being structured so as to not interfere with a separate probe into the packaging of shaky loans into mortgage- backed securities, a practice that preceded the financial crisis.”

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan was on the warpath on yesterday’s show.  He thinks the big banks could be getting away with the biggest scams in history.  He says the Obama Administration is strong-arming states to sign onto a deal, but that has not happened just yet.  By the way, I have to give Ratigan a hat tip because it seems he is one of the only members of the MSM doing his job.    Check out how he laid out the case.  If you only listen for the first 4 minutes or so, you’ll get the picture and just how outrageous this proposed $25 billion settlement really is.

View Ratigan video here


Why the AGs Must Not Settle: Robo-signing Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Ellen Brown (Guest Writer for USAWatchdog.com)

A foreclosure settlement between five major banks guilty of “robo-signing” and the attorneys general of the 50 states is pending for Monday, February 6th; but it is still not clear if all the AGs will sign.  California was to get over half of the $25 billion in settlement money, and California AG Kamala Harris has withstood pressure to settle.

That is good.  She and the other AGs should not sign until a thorough investigation has been conducted.  The evidence to date suggests that “robo-signing” was not a mere technical default or sloppy business practice but was part and parcel of a much larger fraud, the fraud that brought down the whole economy in 2008.  It is not just distressed homeowners but the entire economy that has paid the price, resulting in massive unemployment and a shrunken tax base, throwing state and local governments into insolvency and forcing austerity measures and cutbacks in government services across the nation.

The details of the robo-signing scam were spelled out in my last article, here.  The robo-signing fraud and its implications are expanded on below.

Why All the Robo-signing?

Over half the homes in the country are now held in the name of an electronic database called MERS—Mortgage Electronic Registration Services.  MERS is a smokescreen behind which mortgages were sold to trusts that sold them to investors.  The mortgages were chopped into pieces and sold as “mortgage-backed securities” (MBS), which traded in a supposedly liquid market.  That meant the investors could sell them in the money market at any time on a day’s notice.  Yale economist Gary Gorton gives this example:

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Mr. President, Stop Protecting Bankers From These State Law Enforcement Officials

Richard (RJ) Eskow | Nation of Change
December 12 2011

OP-ED | Lately we’ve been hearing some strong words from President Obama about Wall Street crime. But when the cameras and lights aren’t around, his administration’s been working feverishly to protect bankers from state law enforcement officials.

There are conscientious state attorneys general who believe the law applies to everyone. While they’re working to bring justice to Wall Street, White House officials are obstructing them by pushing a sweetheart deal with the banks that would end their investigations and prevent them from prosecuting crooked bankers.

If more people knew what was happening, the White House would be flooded with calls and emails demanding that it stop protecting Wall Street.

It’s still not too late for that.

The Evidence

The evidence for Wall Street’s criminality is overwhelming. The big banks have already signed consent decrees and other documents in response to well-documented charges of perjury and filing of false documents; illegal foreclosures; criminal solicitation through the repeated use of law firms and foreclosure servicers known to have violated the law; investor fraud; and other major crimes.

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A Fire Sale for Arsonists: The “Revised” Bank Mortgage Settlement Still Stinks

By Richard (RJ) Eskow | Nation Of Change
October 25 2011

Imagine that a group of arsonists was terrorizing your town. First they’d buy insurance on a stranger’s home, then they’d show up with a blowtorch and a tanker truck filled with gasoline and burn the place down. Imagine that they’ve burned down a thousand homes this way, ruining the lives of the homeowners – and everyone else’s, too, as real estate values plunged and the local economy collapsed.

Now let’s imagine that the Mayor, the DA, and the Chief of Police said they’ve come up with a great “settlement”: The arsonists will pay a small fine, and they’ll never be prosecuted for arson. Plus, if they’re asked very nicely, they’ll also agree to provide a little help to 27 out of the 1,000 families they made homeless – although they’d control the ‘help’ process and the town might wind up footing the bill anyway.

And one more thing: They get to keep the gasoline truck and the blowtorch

Substitute “country” for “town” and “banker” for “arsonist,” and that pretty much sums up the mortgage fraud settlement that the Administration and some Attorneys General keep trying to impose on the nation. It’s a sweetheart arrangement that asks for pennies on the dollar, would only help a tiny fraction of those harmed, and would allow the wrongdoers to keep the tools of their criminal trade – making future crimes all but irresistible to the feloniously inclined.

Here are four reasons why California Attorney General Kamala Harris and her colleagues must reject this proposal:

1. Crime must be punished

The bankers’ crimes during the mortgage crisis have included perjury, forgery, and investor fraud. These aren’t the baseless accusations of some wild-eyed radicals. They’re well-documented in the “consent orders” that the banks signed with the Treasury Department, most of which resemble the one executed with JPMorgan Chase. It’s the kind of deal that’s all too common these days: The bank “neither confirms nor denies” it did anything wrong.

Then it promises to stop.

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