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The Criminal Elite Understanding White-Collar Crime (9780716787341) James William Coleman BooksJames W. Coleman is a professor of sociology at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and past chair of the Social Sciences Department. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a student of Donald R. Cressey who, until his death, was America's leading criminologist and the coauthor of this text.
Professor Coleman is an internationally recognized authority on white collar crime. In addition to numerous articles on the subject, he is the author of The Criminal Elite: Understanding White Collar Crime. He is also interested in the sociology of religion and has just published a new book on Western Buddhism called The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition.
Social Problems (9th Edition) James William Coleman, Harold R. Kerbo 9780131540538 Amazon.com Books
Profit Without Honor White Collar Crime and the Looting of America (6th Edition) Stephen M. Rosoff, Henry N. Pontell, Robert
Jaylia123 on December 18, 2014Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Profit Without Honor" is well written, informative, humorous and enlightening.
As regards, corporate fraud, you will learn a great deal on how and possibly why white-collar crime is committed. There are case studies that include Michael Milken, Martha Stewart and Ivan Frederick Boesky.
You will learn about insurance, government, consumer fraud, etc. This book made me laugh, gasp and shake my head. It is a really good book for anyone (student, youth, older people, housewives, husbands, executives, secretaries, etc.)
Reading this book could also help you spot and deter fraudsters.
Nov 24, 2016 | state.nj.uspresents an easy, affordable way to litigate legal disputes of less than $15,000 in value. The Small Claims division handles cases worth less than $3,000, the Special Civil Part division takes on cases between $3,000 and $5,000 in value, and the Landlord/Tenant division handles all landlord/tenant disputes. From auto repair issues to breach of contract, property damage, or personal injury, these courts are a great way for a plaintiff (the person suing) to bring a lawsuit against a defendant (the person being sued) without incurring large expenses or getting involved in complicated litigation.
While New Jersey residents may represent themselves in Special Civil Part for small claims, they can hire an attorney if they wish. Individuals and business entities can both sue and be sued under this system.
Claim Limit : Claims under $15,000 ; the Special Civil Part division handles cases $3,000 to $15,000 in value, while Small Claims handles cases under $3,000 in value.
Where to File : You should file your claim in the Special Civil Part office in the county where the defendant resides.
Cases Handled : Common disputes involve personal injury, property damage, failure to pay, auto repair disputes, and breach of contract. Landlord-Tenant disputes such as evictions are handled by a special Landlord-Tenant court.
Filing Eligibility : Business entities and individuals age 18 and over can file a small claim in New Jersey's Special Civil Part. Children under age 18 must have a qualified adult (parent or legal guardian) file on their behalf.
How to File : File a Small Claims Complaint Form with the office of the Special Civil Part. You must provide contact information and names for plaintiff and all defendants, explain the lawsuit, and state the amount claimed. You will be required to pay a small filing fee to file your claim; if you cannot afford the fee, you may file for indigent status and be exempted from this fee by a judge. Part of your filing fee will go towards service of copies of the lawsuit paperwork on the defendant(s) in question.
New Jersey Small Claims Assistance : Court clerks and legal librarians cannot provide legal advice, though they can provide forms for filing your small claim in New Jersey. For information, advice, and/or referrals, get in touch with a New Jersey small claims attorney , the New Jersey State Bar Association , or a legal aid society such as Legal Services of New Jersey .
For more state-specific information and links to your state's small claims court resources, see Small Claims Court Information and Links .
Nov 13, 2016 | www.amazon.com
This is an abridged version of CRS Report R41930, Mail and Wire Fraud: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law, by Charles Doyle, without the footnotes, appendix, quotation marks, or citations to authority found in the longer version. Related CRS reports include CRS Report R40852, Deprivation of Honest Services as a Basis for Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Convictions, by Charles Doyle.
Aug 27, 2013 | ctwatchdog.comBy LowCards.com The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed suit against a debt relief firm that has challenged the constitutionality of the consumer watchdog, alleging the company charged illegal fees and deceived customers.
The CFPB lawsuit against Morgan Drexen Inc. and its CEO, Walter Ledda, alleges the firm overcharged 22,000 of its customers millions of dollars in upfront fees tied to debt-relief services.
The agency said Morgan Drexen advertised its customers would not be charged any up-front fees, but ended up collecting them by disguising the fees as costs for bankruptcy-related services.
"This company took advantage of people who were struggling. The company charged consumers illegal fees and deceived them about the services provided," CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a statement.
Story by Michael Crittendon for the Wall Street Journal.
Sep 30, 2015 | www.consumerfinancialserviceslawmonitor.com
On September 2, the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida granted multiple motions for temporary restraining orders (TROs) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the matter of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Orion Processing, LLC, Bradley James Haskins, World Law Debt Services, LLC, and World Law Processing, LLC. The CFPB originally filed a Complaint under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act based on Defendants' violations of the CFPA and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The TROs include an asset freeze, injunctive relief, and other equitable relief against both World Law and its principals.
The CFPB alleges that "Defendants' marketers lure consumers into signing up for debt settlement services by falsely promising that consumers will be represented by local attorneys and that they will negotiate with consumers' creditors to settle their debts. Defendants are debt settlement veterans who joined forces after federal law changed to prevent fraud by banning the taking of up-front fees before settling consumers' debts. In an apparent attempt to circumvent that new law, Defendants began claiming that they provide legal representation," but continued charging consumers up-front fees for debt relief services.
The CFPB estimates that 21,000 consumers across the country have paid more than $67 million in unlawful advance fees to World Law, who ultimately provide little or none of the services promised to consumers. According to the agency, 99 percent of World Law's customers were made to pay illegal upfront fees, including a $199 initial fee, a monthly attorney service fee of $85, and other "bundled legal service fees" that ranged from 10 to 15 percent of the consumers' outstanding debt.
According to the CFPB, World Law and its affiliates made false representations about the quality and level of service World Law purported to provide. Consumers rarely, if ever, met or communicated with actual lawyers and, "[a]s a result, consumers paid millions of dollars in illegal fees and suffered additional harms, including being subjected to collection calls, lawsuits, late fees and lower credit scores," the agency said.
According to court documents, World Law, Orion Processing, and Family Capital have all entered into bankruptcy.
Using a debt negotiation, debt settlement, debt consolidation, or debt elimination company is usually not a good idea.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you may be tempted to use a debt relief company to help take care of your bills. Often times, settling with your creditors is a good alternative to filing bankruptcy. However, before you hire a company to help with your debts, you should first understand the differences in services that debt relief companies claim to offer, as well as the potential risks involved. This article discusses three basic types of debt relief schemes.
Debt negotiation, or debt settlement, programs work by modifying your existing credit cards, loans, or other debts, in the following ways:
reducing monthly payments
reducing or waiving finance charges and late fees
negotiating lump sum settlements, usually at a reduction of 50% or more of the principal balance, or
a combination of all the above.
Lump sum settlements and payment plans are frequently accepted by creditors. You can directly negotiate with them yourself, without having to use a debt relief company.Disadvantages to Using a Debt Settlement Company
If you do decide to hire a debt relief company, use caution. Here's why.Large Up Front Fees
Debt settlement companies often charge large fees up front for its services.Companies Take the Money and Run
While it is not uncommon for debt relief companies to charge upfront fees, some disreputable companies will then disappear and never perform the promised services. Or companies promise to use some or all of the fee it charges you to pay your debts, but then pocket the money instead of paying your creditors.
Go with a company that provides detailed disclosures on how the fee is charged and spent. Some debt settlement companies agree to defer their fee until after a settlement or payment plan has been reached.Payment Defaults
A debt relief company may tell you to stop making payments to your creditors. If you have already fallen behind on payments, then this is not an issue. But if you are current on your payments, this poses a dilemma.
Some creditors won't give you the best deal if you are a "good consumer." They have a policy of refusing to reduce balances or interest rates below a certain amount unless a borrower is in default, the theory being that you are in good financial shape if you are current on your payments. They will not agree to major reductions of balances, finance charges, or payment plans unless you show a financial hardship by way of a default, often of 90 days or more. Creditors sometimes call this being "90 days out."
A debt relief company may exploit this industry secret by advising you to default on all of your debts for 90 days, and then use this money to pay the debt settlement company instead. But by intentionally defaulting, you risk damaging your credit history and incurring default-rate finance charges and late fees.
If you are already having financial trouble, then this might not be a big issue for you. However, if you are not already in default, you should avoid this strategy. Here are some tips to effectively maneuver the default tango using a debt relief company:Related Ads
Communication Shut Down
Do not stop making payments to your creditors unless a specific creditor specifically conditions a desired settlement upon a default.
Carefully weigh all of your settlement options (payment plan vs. lump sum settlement) with the debt relief company, preferably using a budget.
Debt settlement is a last resort. You may be better off going with a reduced interest rate/payment plan rather than sacrifice your good credit with debt settlement.
Unfortunately, some debt relief companies will take the money and run, never once speaking with the creditors that they agreed to negotiate with on your behalf. A debt relief company may make you feel so comfortable that you stop communicating with your creditors. Don't. Stay in close communication with your creditors during the negotiation process.
(Learn more about debt negotiation firms and debt management companies .)
Some debt relief agencies offer to consolidate your debts for you. They promise to pool all of your debts together so that you make a single payment, to be shared by all of the creditors. While a consolidation of your debts can potentially save you a lot of money, there are many disadvantages.
Consolidations usually cover only unsecured debts like credit cards. They do not cover big expense debts like mortgages and student loans.
Creditors are not required to participate in the consolidation. If one of your creditors does not agree to be a part of the consolidation, you will have to deal with it separately.
Consolidations are not necessarily final. You are still exposed to lawsuits, judgments, liens, and other collection actions even after making your consolidation payments.
The fees a debt consolidation company charges you may be so high that it cancels any savings under a new consolidation plan.
Learn more about debt consolidation scams .
Treading into fantasy territory, there are some companies that claim to completely eliminate your debts. Not to be confused with debt elimination plans that provide for controlled spending and a structured payoff of your debts, a debt elimination scheme usually involves an upfront fee for a document that purports to be a legal declaration that the debt is eliminated. Unless the person advising you is an attorney or there is some legitimate legal basis for not paying a particular debt, you should immediately walk away from any such promises.
Consider Other Debt Relief Options
Getting the right kind debt relief is not easy. It involves time, careful planning, and full consideration of your legal rights and financial abilities. Many debt relief schemes, even if done perfectly, may not fully address all of your problems. Despite the allure of their promises, you could wind up in worse legal and financial shape than when you started. Instead, consider other options for getting your debts under control, including:
- dealing with the creditors directly yourself (for tips on how to do this, see our Debt Settlement & Negotiation With Creditors topic area)
- consulting with local consumer credit counselors, home mortgage assistance agencies, and similar nonprofit programs
- talking to an attorney, who can offer a wider range of debt-related representation such as potential consumer law and contractual issue defenses, or
- considering bankruptcy .
Mar 18, 2016 | www.consumerfinance.govCourt Rules that Morgan Drexen and Walter Ledda Charged Illegal Upfront Fees and Deceived Consumers
WASHINGTON, D.C. -At the request of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal district court entered a final judgment this week against debt relief company Morgan Drexen, Inc., resolving a lawsuit filed by the CFPB in August 2013. The Bureau's lawsuit against Morgan Drexen alleged that the company charged illegal upfront fees and deceived consumers. The court found that the company violated federal law, prohibited Morgan Drexen from collecting any further fees from its customers, and ordered it to pay $132,882,488 in restitution and a $40 million civil penalty. This decision follows a stipulated final judgment against Morgan Drexen's president and chief executive officer, Walter Ledda, that the court approved in October. The court found that Ledda violated federal law, banned him from providing debt relief services, and required him to pay restitution and a civil money penalty.
"The CFPB's victory sends a strong message that debt relief companies break the law when they defraud struggling consumers, and those actions have consequences for which we will hold them accountable," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "The court's orders against Morgan Drexen and Mr. Ledda ensure that they will never again violate the rights of consumers, and the significant penalties imposed reflect the severity of this illegal conduct."Debt Relief Scheme
Morgan Drexen is a nationwide debt relief company that was founded by Walter Ledda in 2007. The CFPB sued Morgan Drexen and Ledda in 2013, alleging that they had violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by charging illegal upfront fees for debt relief services and misrepresenting their services to consumers.
The Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits deception in telemarketing and generally prohibits debt relief providers from charging a fee for any debt relief service until they have actually settled, reduced, or otherwise altered the terms of at least one of the consumer's debts.
When consumers signed up for Morgan Drexen's services, the company presented them with two contracts, one for debt settlement services, and the other for bankruptcy-related services. Based on its investigation, the Bureau brought suit alleging that consumers who signed up sought services for debt relief and not bankruptcy, that little to no bankruptcy work was actually performed for consumers, and that the bankruptcy-related contract Morgan Drexen presented to consumers was a ruse designed to disguise impermissible upfront fees for debt relief work.
In January 2015, weeks before trial was scheduled to start, the Bureau learned that Morgan Drexen had created and altered bankruptcy petitions that it submitted to the court as evidence of having provided bankruptcy services.
The CFPB informed the court of its findings and filed a motion seeking the sanction of default judgment against the company. After hearing testimony from Ledda, other Morgan Drexen representatives, and a whistleblower who exposed the company's conduct, the court issued an order in April 2015 finding that Morgan Drexen misled the court and "acted willfully and in bad faith by falsifying evidence." On the basis of its findings, the court sanctioned Morgan Drexen by entering default judgment against the company.
Shortly thereafter, in June 2015, the court issued a permanent injunction against Morgan Drexen in which it deemed that the company had charged consumers illegal upfront fees for debt relief services and violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and Dodd-Frank Act by deceptively describing its services. The court prohibited the company from collecting any more money from customers and banned it from charging upfront fees for debt relief services. Morgan Drexen sought bankruptcy protection the day after the court issued its order, and a trustee was appointed to administer the company's shutdown and to maintain proper communication with affected consumers.
Final Judgments Against Ledda and Morgan Drexen
The court's March 16, 2016 final judgment against Morgan Drexen memorializes its June 2015 conclusion that the company violated federal law, and its ruling that the company may not collect any more advance fees for debt relief services, or any more fees at all from its customers. The final judgment also orders Morgan Drexen to:
- Pay $132,882,488 in restitution: Morgan Drexen is required to pay this amount to borrowers who enrolled in the company's program between Oct. 27, 2010, when the federal ban on upfront fees went into effect, and June 18, 2015, when Morgan Drexen stopped selling debt relief services.
- Pay a $40 million civil penalty: Morgan Drexen must pay this amount to the CFPB's civil penalty fund.
Because Morgan Drexen has declared bankruptcy, any payment of this judgment will occur through the bankruptcy process.
The court's October 2015 final judgment against Walter Ledda contains similar findings and injunctive and monetary relief. In that judgment, the court found that Ledda and Morgan Drexen violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Dodd-Frank Act by charging consumers illegal upfront fees for debt relief services, and by making deceptive statements about the company's services. Under the terms of the final judgment, Ledda will:
- Pay $500,000 to the CFPB for consumer redress: The final judgment requires Ledda to pay $500,000 to the CFPB for use in providing redress to consumers.
- Surrender additional assets: The final judgment requires Ledda to turn over additional assets to the Morgan Drexen bankruptcy estate.
- Pay a civil money penalty: Ledda is required to pay $1 to the CFPB's Civil Penalty Fund. The Bureau did not require Ledda to pay a larger penalty because of his limited financial resources after repaying harmed consumers.
- Exit the debt relief industry: The court has permanently banned Ledda from providing debt relief services or otherwise working in the debt relief industry.
The court also imposed a $99 million equitable money judgment and $20 million civil money penalty against Ledda, both of which are in large part suspended based on Ledda's inability to pay. If Ledda fails to make any of the required payments or turn over his assets, or if the CFPB discovers Ledda misrepresented his financial condition, the full $99 million judgment and $20 million penalty will become due immediately.
Attorneys Found In Contempt
After the court's June 2015 order prohibiting Morgan Drexen from charging fees for debt relief services, two attorneys, Vincent Howard and Lawrence Williamson, took the reins of Morgan Drexen and continued the company's unlawful conduct. Among other things, Howard and Williamson:
- Hired more than 50 former Morgan Drexen employees, including the company's former owner and chief technology officer, and former chief financial officer;
- Continued to charge fees to harmed consumers pursuant to the same contracts under which Morgan Drexen charged the consumers unlawful fees; and
- Provided consumers misleading information about Morgan Drexen's shut-down and contradicted the advice in court-approved letters about how consumers could protect themselves in light of Morgan Drexen's unlawful conduct.
When the CFPB learned of Howard and Williamson's actions, it filed a motion requesting that the court hold the attorneys and their law firms in contempt of the court's order. In October 2015, the court found that the attorneys' conduct had violated the court's order, and held the attorneys and their law firms in contempt. The court ordered the attorneys to return all payments they had received from former Morgan Drexen consumers since the court's June 2015 decision to ban Morgan Drexen from receiving such fees. The court also ruled that the attorneys will be fined $10,000 a day for each day they continue to accept fees from former Morgan Drexen consumers. The attorneys have appealed this order.
A copy of the court's final judgment against Morgan Drexen and Walter Ledda can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_final-judgment-against-defendant-morgan-drexen-inc.pdf
A copy of the civil minutes regarding the judgment can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_civil-minutes-regarding-the-final-judgment-against-defendant-morgan-drexen-inc.pdf
A copy of the court's contempt order concerning the attorneys can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_order-holding-vincent-howard-lawrence-williamson-howard-law-pc-the-williamson-law-firm-llc-and-williamson-howard-llp-in-contempt.pdf
Important information for customers of Morgan Drexen is available at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/debt-settlement-company-morgan-drexen-is-no-longer-in-business-what-you-should-know/
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov .
Nov 07, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends most of her time in India and other parts of Asia researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as writes occasional travel pieces for The National .
All right, all right. I can't take it any more. Yesterday I read a Facebook post that blamed the current US electoral predicament on the "pointless" 22nd Amendment. For those of you without a US Constitution handy, the 22nd Amendment is the one that limits US presidents to serving two terms.
That Facebook post implies that without the 22nd Amendment we'd get to see a third term for the Obamamometer . That risible suggestion, combined with the incessant legacy-burnishing that he's indulged in– at least until he realized that HRC might be in trouble and started to hit the campaign trail in earnest– made me realize the time for shredding aspects of that legacy is way overdue.
When the Obamamometer finally settles on what he'll do next– whether that would be run a sports team, become a venture capitalist, found a new religion, cure cancer, or merely hob nob with the global elite and play lots of golf, I'm sure he'll make a fine job job of it– just as he's done with his Presidency. Over the next couple of months, I intend to post occasionally on this legacy: but rather than burnishing that record, I'll indulge in a bit of legacy busting.
First up, the rule of law and corporate crime.
The Holder Doctrine
Federal prosecutors, and regulatory agencies, have turned into toothless tigers when it comes to prosecuting C-suite types, and pursuing corporations seriously, for economic crimes. Both financial institutions and their management got virtually a free pass for their activities that led to the Great Recession. And not only for those, but for subsequent foreclosure abuses, LIBOR and other market manipulations, money laundering, tax scams, and doing business contrary to US sanctions policy. Yet to date, not a single C-suite type has been indicted.
It's not just financial institutions that've received a free pass. Big Pharma, for example, has also been lucky, as have companies that have engaged in creative tax minimization strategies (Apple, anyone?). And if looked at from the perspective of legal topics, rather than corporate actors, entire areas of law– antitrust, for example– are not really relevant anymore.
You don't have to take my word for it. No less a source than the NY Times' DealBook column– not a venue, incidentally, renowned for its trenchant, timely critiques of either Wall Street or other corporate behavior– in September lamented, Law Enforcement 'Not Winning' War on White Collar Crime . I wrote about this article in a September post and so won't rehash all the arguments I made then here. But a few points are in order.
The lack of enforcement not only means that the guilty don't pay. It also determines what corporate strategies get pursued, which business models are developed or rejected, what attitudes corporations take to risk, and how resources get allocated to name just a few consequences. And as I'll discuss below, it also shapes how attorneys practice law, and the impact their advice carries in deterring certain types of corporate behavior.
I never thought I'd be nostalgic for President George W. Bush's Department of Justice (DoJ). Now, I'm well aware of the scandal that ensued over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales imposing ideological litmus tests on assistant US attornies. Nonetheless, in the wake of the collapse of the dotcom bubble, the Bush DoJ actually enforced the law. It prosecuted cases and claimed scalps. Companies such as Adelphi, Enron and WorldCom all saw top-level management prosecuted, and malefactors sent to jail.
Change We Can't Believe In
Those who voted for Hope and Change in 2008 certainly got the change part– at least with respect to the DoJ. But when we look at the DoJ's enforcement priorities and the track record that followed, it's perhaps not the change they were hoping for. The Obamamometer's first Attorney General, Eric Holder, outlined and followed what came to be known as the Holder doctrine.
Allow me to quote from my September post:
[Under the Holder doctrine the DoJ eschewed corporate charges against companies and executives, instead opting for negotiated settlements (often imposing de minimis, slap-on-the wrist penalties that were significantly undersized compared to the magnitude of damage done, especially by TBTF banks and other financial predators, to name just a few).
The DoJ under Obama's second AG, Loretta Lynch, originally followed the Holder doctrine, until that was superseded when Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates authored a memo outlining a new approach in September 2015. Under this approach, the DoJ intended to increase accountability for corporate wrongdoing, and this included an increased focus on pursuing criminal charges against responsible individuals. The DoJ sought to drive a legal wedge between individuals and the corporations for whom they worked by only allowing corporations to receive "cooperation credit" that would reduce their potential exposure (including penalties) if the corporation cooperates in surrendering as early as possible comprehensive detailed information concerning the individual misconduct.
There's much more in a similar vein in that earlier post, for those with an interest. But the bottom line for purposes of this post is what has this supposed policy shift, from Holder's doctrine to Yates's memo, meant in practice. The short answer: bupkis. We're still waiting for the more robust enforcement approach the Yates memo supposedly heralded to kick in. As an attorney I know who specializes in white collar defense work summed it up to me, "The DoJ's walking a new walk, and talking a new talk, but nothing's really changed."
In fact, in only two areas have we seen the DoJ take a muscular approach toward enforcement during the Obamamometer's administration, insider trading, and offenses under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
US Attorney for the southern district of New York Preet Bharara has compiled an undefeated string of convictions for insider trading (some of which may be at risk of being overturned due to some appellate decisions, which are beyond the scope of this post). But as I wrote last month in The SEC Fiddles While the System Burns: Insider Trading Enforcement As Securities Law Theater , focusing on insider trading as an enforcement priority constitutes a form of securities law theater. Scare prosecutorial resources are expended on insider trading abuses, rather than being deployed to investigate, punish, and (hopefully) deter, far more serious systemic problems.
The insider trading focus provides the illusion that the DoJ is doing something about high-level cheating. Yet it has little broader deterrent effect on stymieing the wider corporate scams that misallocate resources and erode confidence in the integrity of the system. Insider trading enforcement is usually directed at individuals, and doesn't implicate wider considerations of corporate strategy or policy. Prosecuting insider traders maintains the myth that the greatest threats to US capitalism are individual bad corporate actors, rather than anything more sweeping or systemic. Catch the bad actors, fine them or throw them in jail, and never think about any deeper problems.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Another area highlighted as an enforcement priority is bribery and foreign corruption, with prosecutions undertaken under authority of the FCPA. Allow me to quote from a speech made by assistant attorney general Leslie R. Caldwell last week:
The effects of foreign corruption are not just felt overseas. In today's global economy, the negative effects of foreign corruption flow back to the United States. American companies are harmed by global corruption when they are denied the ability to compete in a fair and transparent marketplace. Instead of being rewarded for their efficiency, innovation and honest business practices, U.S. companies suffer at the hands of corrupt governments and lose out to corrupt competitors.
This is why the fight against international corruption has been, and continues to be, a core priority of the Department of Justice. It has been a core priority for the Criminal Division, and our commitment to the fight against foreign bribery is reflected in our robust enforcement record in this area, which includes charges against corporations and individuals alike from all over the world. Since 2009, the Criminal Division's Fraud Section has convicted more than 65 individuals in [FCPA] and FCPA-related cases, and resolved criminal cases against more than 65 companies with penalties and forfeiture of approximately $4.5 billion.
Sounds reasonable, right? I mean, after all, no one would come right out in favor of more international corruption?
But when we unpack it, we butt up against a few problems. First, to quote my contact the white collar defence specialist again. The lack of an effective DoJ deterrent has enormously complicated his practice and his ability to get his clients to understand and act on prudent legal advice. "What I've seen happening more and more in the last couple of years is the chairs of audit committees of major companies openly mocking the DoJ's enforcement capability." This leads the companies to pursue courses of action that they wouldn't dare to undertake if they worried that the DoJ would aggressively pursue securities law violations.
Where does this leave their lawyers? Well, it often means that they must either moderate their advice, or risk losing their clients. Clients who want to do something will resist their impulses and continue to listen to what they hear as their lawyers crying wolf only for so long. Eventually, the less scrupulous among them are going to ignore the contrary advice, or get another lawyer. The lack of effective enforcement at the DoJ hinders the efforts of the best, most prudent, and most ethical members of the legal profession to practice law as we would want them to.
So, what happens instead? Well, the most scrupulous of them will continue to give what they regard as sound legal advice (even if what some privately call the Department of Jokes does not enforce the law in a way that lends credence to that approach). But that means they often have to develop new areas of expertise when their clients beat a path away from their doors. "We have to act sometimes as shoe salesmen, flogging competence in FCPA violations, that occur in subsidiaries or with foreign suppliers," says my white collar defense specialist contact. "This work leads us to countries and legal systems we don't know well, to uncover chickenshit violations that occur far from home." Far better, he believes, would be for the DoJ to focus on law-breaking that occurs in the United States, as that could be effectively deterred by the agency refocusing its enforcement priorities. Now that would be a legacy we could all believe in.
On the contrary, one persistent legacy of the Obamamometer is to say one thing and then do another. The DoJ has recently signalled its intention to get tougher on white collar crime. But so far, there's been no follow through on the rhetoric. Instead, we see federal prosecutors either turning a blind eye to major problems, or conducting various forms of enforcement theater– much sound and fury, but in the end, signifying nothing.
Some legacy!Steve H. November 7, 2016 at 10:32 amPortia November 7, 2016 at 11:46 am
"… I'm sure he'll make a fine job job of it– just as he's done with his Presidency."
"… one persistent legacy of the Obamamometer is to say one thing and then do another."
"… the job of the Galactic President was not to wield power but to attract attention away from it.
Zaphod Beeblebrox was amazingly good at his job." – D. AdamsAdams November 7, 2016 at 11:03 am
The Galactic President, yes. and maybe the real Ruler of the Universe is "a man living in a shack with his cat who doesn't believe anything is real or certain except that which he is seeing and hearing at that moment." [Wikipedia] Except he won't answer any of our questions…Mark John November 7, 2016 at 11:18 am
Yeah, and Dawn Johnsen has been pretty quiet about all this over at OLC. Oh, wait.Anon November 7, 2016 at 11:38 am
Thanks. It will be a meaningful discussion to delineate what the Obama rhetoric was and what the actual policies and results were and the reasons for this.
It was an utterly disappointing presidency in my view, and I give him no pass for not fighting for the progressive and ethical policies on which he vigorously campaigned.Portia November 7, 2016 at 11:48 am
I watched the Obamarama at a 2008 campaign rally. During the speech I turned to a friend and said, "This guy is nothing more than a Slick Willy." Eight years later I look like the Oracle of Delphi. (Except this guy turned out to be slippery than Willy.)
There is simply no end to the political psycopathy in the U.S.Kurt Sperry November 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm
I felt the same, but then I still had "hope". LOLOLOLoho November 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm
I was so naive back in 2008 that I bought the whole Hope and Change schtick. It's so embarrassing to think back on now in hindsight. I'll never believe a Democrat again–unless they are telling me what I don't want to hear. Lesson learned.HopeLB November 7, 2016 at 3:20 pm
ya, and i wish i could get my $80 contribution back.
will never donate to any Democrat for the rest of my life. (ps, never have donated to the GOP)medon November 7, 2016 at 8:49 pm
I saw Obama in 08′. What struck me as a tell was his fawning talk about the founding father Alexander Hamilton,the pro Central Bankster. Last night they had a Federalist Historian who wrote a book about Hamilton on c-span. This historian said he wished Jefferson had never come back from France and that the US would be better off for it. These banksters are sure trying to burnish their legacy even historically. Did Goldman produce "Hamilton"?flora November 7, 2016 at 11:47 am
let us not forget Jefferson died $100,000 in debt forcing his heirs to sell Monticellococomaan November 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm
The Brains of the Obama's campaign:
No wonder an Obama Dem operative pined for days gone by.lyman alpha blob November 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm
This passage about the Bush DOJ hit home hard.
It prosecuted cases and claimed scalps. Companies such as Adelphi, Enron and WorldCom all saw top-level management prosecuted, and malefactors sent to jail.
You're completely right. I cannot imagine Obama's DOJ dismantling any company so thoroughly. All we've seen out of them are settlements. Now, that's not to say that these settlements aren't a big deal (look at Deutsche Bank's, a major factor in their systemic risk) but have any companies faced the kind of scrutiny of Enron or WorldCom?
Holder was the only AG to ever be held in contempt of Congress over his gun running insanity. And his actions on marijuana (prosecuting like a madman until CO legalized and now staying silent but not rescheduling) have been completely embarrassing and a waste of everyone's time.trgahan November 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm
Yeah I actually bought a few hundred shares of Enron after the share price collapsed thinking Georgie would never let his buddy Ken Lay down. Even though I lost a few bucks I was glad to be proven wrong.
All of these companies went belly up and somehow the world didn't end, as Holder has tried to convince us it would had he actually done his damn job.cocomaan November 7, 2016 at 7:38 pm
Be careful….with agencies you need to differentiate between employees, bureaucrats, and political appointees. There are undercurrents that have nothing to do with politics and lag times in political appointed staffing and such.
As it happened in 2001-2002, outside the AG, the DOJ at the time was more Clinton's than Bush's. Bush would go on to gut the DOJ's white color crime division leaving it effectively toothless by time Obama took office.
A more complicating factor, the entire task force that prosecuted these cases left for private firms (many now defending company actions). The DOJ's white collar institutional knowledge went to zero overnight. To replace the talent and knowledge needed to take on further cases, on a constrained enforced austerely budget is a tall order.
Even then, those company's were other worldly idiotic in committing the offenses. What they did was the equivalent of leaving their wallet at the crime scene. Most company's aren't so careless.
,crittermom November 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm
This is a great point. Thank you for making it. Civil service is a very different animal than other, more corporate bureaucracies.BradK November 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm
"settlements". Gawd, how I now hate that word!
In fact, those 'settlements' usually amounted to no more than 10% of their ill-gotten profits so there was no incentive to change their evil ways.
AND, those 'settlements' didn't go to we victims, either.
Still wondering what Obamer will put in his 'library'. Copies of all his empty promises that got him elected a second term?timbers November 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm
Not to mention the convenient timing of the DoJ's "pivot" towards white collar crimes now that the statute of limitations has passed for all the pre-2008 criminal activities. Something about closing the barn door after the horses have run off.Bugs Bunny November 7, 2016 at 12:27 pm
Thank you great article. I frequently tall the young'ins that even Ronald Reagan (or was it Bush?) prosecuted the Keating 5 from the S&L crisis and even sent them to jail for a really really long time, just for shook affect in comparison to the Obamanation we have today.
My how things have changed.Sam Adams November 7, 2016 at 12:41 pm
Jerry-Lynn, I know this situation:
"Clients who want to do something will resist their impulses and continue to listen to what they hear as their lawyers crying wolf only for so long."
Usually the breaking point is when the client tells me "competitor X committed this 3 times that we know of last year and you're telling me that I have to adhere strictly to the law?"
Or even better, they'll pull me into a meeting with some crook they've just recruited from competitor X to tell me how their lawyers advised them on how not to get caught.
Painful. Glad I moved on.Jeremy Grimm November 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm
Do they even teach Antitrust or Sécurités Regulation in LawSkools anymore?Bugs Bunny November 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm
I respect that you moved on.
Obama's legacy - turning Corporate attorneys into proto mob consiglieres?Katharine November 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm
He's only the latest one…Kokuanani November 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm
>I respect that you moved on.
I too. The obvious answer to that "You're telling me I have to obey the law" bs is, yes, if you want to be my client, but not everybody gives it, either literally or by their actions.Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author November 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Jerri-Lynn, I think it's "Alberto" Gonzales, although maybe his similarity to "Fredo" confused you.Tom Stone November 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm
You're absolutely right. Just fixed it. (Thought I'd corrected the mistake before, but see that I hadn't.) Thanks for reading my work so carefully.steelhead23 November 7, 2016 at 2:44 pm
I'm surprised that the GunWalker program didn't get individual attention, conspiring to illegally sell thousands of firearms to one of the most vicious criminal groups in the Americas is a big deal. Hundreds of Mexican public officials were murdered using these guns and perhaps a thousand total. Two of the .50 BMG anti materiel rifles seized at "El Chapo" Guzman's estate were sold to him at the behest of the US DOJ.
When the DOJ is the largest single supplier of firearms to criminals, gets caught and no one goes to prison…WASSWisdom Seeker November 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm
I think you may be to harsh on Eric and Loretta. My guess regarding Obama's legal legacy is that he "would rather look forward than back," meaning that he was afraid to aggressively prosecute financial crimes for fear it could bring down the system – and I believe that fear was fed by the likes of Timothy Geithner, who as Sec. Treas. didn't want the job of liquidating firms he had done business with at the NY Fed. Hence, prosecuting Wall Street would have required the AGs to butt heads with fellow cabinet members – and while the Obamamometer understands the law well enough, he doesn't understand macroeconomics at all and was deathly afraid of causing an economic catastrophe. And please note, the literati (or those generally accepted as knowledgeable on economics) mostly shared a view that the big banks were innocent, duped by the likes of Angelo Mozilo and fraudulent borrowers. (Aside: I'd bet that even after The Big Short and Econned, most still cling to that explanation for the crisis)
Many seem enthralled by the recent release of Hillary Clinton's emails, looking for a pay to play smoking gun. I'd be much more interested in the notes from Obama's meetings with T. Geithner in early 08. That's when the real crimes were committed.NotTimothyGeithner November 7, 2016 at 5:59 pm
History is going to record Obama's legacy as being the third massive credit bubble in 2 decades, together with a massive erosion in the rule of law. Obama's cowardice in failing to pursue real justice for the public, including his failure to prosecute individual criminals at the major banks, will be a major stain.
Dot-Com bubble = fool me once, shame on you
Housing bubble = fool me twice, shame on me
Current bubble = fool me three times, shame on Obama…zapster November 7, 2016 at 8:46 pm
How is it a harsh criticism? Even if we accept Obama's good intentions, what was next? It's completely deluded to say the economy would get better with rampant fraud and corruption. Screw this whole "he doesn't understand economics enough." He can read. The Founder of the Federal Reserve, Senator Glass, was a newspaper editor. Obama ran for President not a seat on the PTA. He should have quit if he couldn't handle it.Bob November 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm
Remember, he was a Chicago boy. If he ever took an econ class, it was pure Friedman. And that stuff sticks like glue.RBHoughton November 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm
Such charity by many posters towards the Obama administration. But the truth is that he and his team have been hell bent on purposefully moving the Democratic Party as far to the right as they could and jettisoning all liberal, progressive, new deal thinking and supporters all the while lying through their teeth about it. And they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. And with the upcoming passage of TPP, TISA, and the rest, it's game over for anyone who isn't part of the billionaire clan.Elizabeth November 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm
The Rule of Law is one of those things that we all suppose is A GOOD THING. It is only recently, now wealth has become so pervasive, that we see how a few dollars can buy impunity from justice. The high-powered lawyer is the latest incarnation of the papal indulgence. Prison and purgatory are optional.
The magic reason is the burden of proof in criminal law – beyond a reasonable doubt. All the defendant has to establish is a doubt he did the dirty deed and he's off.
There is another way of creating a respect for fairness and justice. Its the adoption of the Rule of Propriety. We no longer concern ourselves with the endless variety of means a crook will use to cheat his way to a fortune. We simply require him at all times to justify his acts. You can actually see this system operating in Asia and, whilst its under attack, it is a beautiful thing to behold.Mark John November 7, 2016 at 7:28 pm
I never voted for Obama because I thought he was an empty suit. After enduring 8 years of George Bush, who couldn't speak coherently, anyone would have seemed like a scholar. I agree with someone upthread that Obama has eviscerated the rule of law, started more wars than any other president, protected criminal banksters, and lies about the spectacular 'recovery" we are all enjoying. The political corruption has been laid bare.
If Hillary wins, I wonder if she'll keep the Terror Tuesdays going? One shudders to think about it.oh November 7, 2016 at 7:36 pm
Here is a sample of Obama during the 2008 campaign. It speaks for itself.
Thank you Jerri-Lynn for this piece. The grifter will go on to own a
vultureventure fund a sports team or a strip club but he'll receive his just due from karma.
Nov 08, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ChiGal in Carolina November 7, 2016 at 3:14 pmChiGal in Carolina November 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm
Re the OH forensic inspector:
Does FOP have different standards for women and men? What is a little disturbing about this piece is it seems someone's work is being called into question based on personality issues (in fact she sounds a bit Trumpish – no impulse control!)
From the article:
"Yezzo conducted her analysis of evidence without much oversight. Her reports summarizing findings would be reviewed by her supervisors, but her actual work, methods and conclusions rarely were checked by anyone.
"Now, defense attorneys in at least two cases have done their own investigations and believe they have proof that Yezzo's work is suspect. In one of those cases, a judge already has freed a man from prison because of credibility issues described in Yezzo's personnel file. "
Not clarifying whether the lack of oversight is standard procedure seems prejudicial.
And again from the article:
" 'There may have been issues between me and my co-workers, but it was not a circumstance where those issues fell to the analysis of evidence,' Yezzo said. 'You're trying to portray me as a prosecution expert. I testified to the results, not to try and make any points with anybody.'
"Yezzo's direct supervisor, Daniel Cappy, defended her work. Cappy testified that Yezzo had some behavioral issues, but he stood behind the quality of her work as a forensic scientist."
Just sayin'Katharine November 7, 2016 at 3:45 pm
Yes, there is detail about accusations made with no evidence to support them!
"A review of her personnel records by The Dispatch shows that colleagues and supervisors raised questions about Yezzo time and again while she tested evidence and testified in an uncounted number of murder, rape and other criminal cases in the state."
Nice trick, implying that the questions raised related to her work while in fact the examples are all behavioral.Jeremy Grimm November 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm
You seem to be ignoring a lot of detail in the article. Her analyses are not being questioned because of her behavior but because experienced analysts say they were poorly performed and improperly interpreted.ChiGal in Carolina November 7, 2016 at 4:07 pm
The description of Yezzo's behaviors fit my layman's understanding of behaviors characteristic of a mental health issue - NOT A CRIMINAL ISSUE - not matter how her behaviors may have affected the cases she handled.Jeremy Grimm November 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm
Agreed, she would have benefited from intervention. And if it WAS affecting the quality of her work and not just her relations with colleagues, her supervisors had a duty to see that she got it or pull her from the investigations.
My point is just that the article doesn't really provide evidence that her work was affected, only that opposition attorneys on learning of her personal issues have succeeded in making them an issue.
And my further point is I think women are more vulnerable to this sort of thing than men.
Men are not less vulnerable to assaults on their minds. What a strange idea.
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