Re "U.S. gives bank's execs a free pass," Column, Jan. 8
Michael Hiltzik is right on the money. JPMorgan Chase was clearly in violation of laws regarding suspicious activity reporting, and the fact that it got its own money out of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme shows it was aware of what was going on.
However, like almost all of the other "investigations" related to the 2008 financial meltdown, no major JPMorgan executive has been indicted. Why is that?
Does the federal government think that fining JPMorgan $2.6 billion is going to substantially change the bank's behavior? Will Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon have to start taking the bus to work or pull his kids out of college?
Indicting and prosecuting top executives would make a much bigger impact on corporate behavior than a fine that has almost no effect on the people responsible.
In making loans and investments, banks rely on the numbers, but they also rely on relationships. Business and investment managers often function in the same manner.
Madoff cultivated these relationships. He had the veneer and he made a reputation off of it. But egregious malfeasance should not be confused with Madoff's criminal liability.
If the bank is guilty, there's plenty of guilt to go around because business and investment managers were advising their individual clients to invest while collecting handsome percentages on the returns, until the pyramid collapsed. Some of these were very knowledgeable people who either failed to do their due diligence or saw only what they wanted to see.
Investors should make decisions based on facts and what they know to be true. Usually, a con can succeed only if people fail to be diligent.
Hiltzik's column is a public service. He made clear the muddled business of the Madoff connection to JPMorgan Chase so we can understand the monumental failure of our laws to protect consumers.
I wish Hiltzik's words could be emblazoned on the walls of Wall Street banks. Some young, upcoming stockbroker or banker might form a conscience early on.
Hazel Lee Ray