The room filled with almost 300 bankers plus was very quiet. The 60 Minute interview with Steve Kroft, which told about what I had experienced at Citi, had just finished playing.
There was a collective sigh when the clip stopped and I asked, “What would you do?,” if you had experienced widespread fraud, corruption and cover ups in your bank that put the company and your customers at risk?
What would you do if you knew that by speaking out and exposing the fraud you could lose your job, some of your colleagues could lose their jobs, and some could even go to jail?
The attendees, bankers from all over the southwest were attending the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking (SWGSB). Many, in key positions, could, in fact, experience some of the same challenges in their career which I had.
I told them that I was only doing my job as a Citigroup Business Chief Underwriter overseeing a division of the business which purchased and sold over $90 billion annually of mortgage loans. Granted, these bankers were independent bankers from much smaller community banks, still what I had observed and blew the whistle on, could happen anywhere.
I reminded them the largest “Too Big To Fail” banks were recognized early on as being largely responsible for the financial crisis, resulting in Congress passing the Dodd-Frank legislation , which was specifically crafted to control the large banks. However, these same banks had gotten even larger since that crisis, with the four largest banks growing by $2 trillion plus in assets in the last five years and gathering even more economic power than before.
I told them I believed these banks have been using that enormous economic power to quietly control and manipulate our legislative and regulatory processes to benefit their own banks, imposing a stranglehold on our country:
- No Wall Street bankers have been prosecuted. Yet, over 800 bankers were sent to jail in the last financial crisis of the eighties, with that crisis being only one third as severe as the current crisis. It appears the large settlements paid by the largest banks were merely payments of extortion by the banks for the Department of Justice to lock up the evidence so the American public would not know how widespread the fraud was that was perpetrated on them.
- The Dodd-Frank provisions attempting to place controls on the large banks have been systematically gutted, including a key provision prohibiting the banks from using FDIC-insured deposits to fund risky derivatives trading, despite widespread proof that the large-scale trading of risky derivatives substantially increased the losses coming out of the financial crisis. Also, much of the mandated additional investor disclosures on mortgage and loan backed securities is not being required, resulting from continuous involvement by the large banking lobby. The outcome, little or no control or accountability.
- Combined limits on the amounts contributed by individuals and large political action committees to political campaigns have dramatically increased, allowing the largest banks to more easily funnel large amounts to political campaigns.
In a recent interview on Bloomberg, I mentioned that I had requested a Congressional investigation be undertaken by the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee. I asked each and every one of them to call their Congressmen (and women), ask for an investigation, stop the hijacking by the TBTF banks and restore banking’s reputation.
The American public needs to be much more aware of how this financial crisis and fraud is affecting them, I asked for their involvement.
So my initial question, “What would you do?,” prompted many conversations afterwards. I was surrounded by many young leaders, who said frankly they didn’t know what they would do. They’d want to do the right thing, of course. There’s a price. Not any of us know what we would do when faced with circumstances that are so crippling.
However, right now each of us can do something. I’m only one individual. My asking for a Congressional investigation is only one voice. The banking debacle and how the TBTF banks are controlling our country needs to be stopped.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@RichardMBowen”]Let’s stop the financial bleeding of America… before it’s too late.[/tweetthis]
Share your voice. Call your Congressmen/women. Let’s stop the financial bleeding of America…before it’s too late.
Congressional Committees Asked to Investigate the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
Congressional Representatives – Dallas area
District 3 – Congressman Sam Johnson
District 5 – Congressman Jeb Hensarling
District 6 – Congressman Joe Barton
District 24 – Congressman Kenny Marchant
District 26 – Congressman Michael C. Burgess
District 30 – Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
District 32 – Congressman Pete Sessions
District 33 – Congressman Marc Veasey