August 15th, 2012
07:00 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Everything is “fine” (and more fines) for some big global banks these days.

Barclays has agreed to pay $453 million in fines for the Libor scandal, charged with manipulating key lending rates.

HSBC has set $700 million aside to pay for penalties after the bank failed to prevent money transfers linked to drug cartels and terrorist groups.

Now Standard Chartered has agreed to pay $340 million to New York regulators for years of conspiring with Iran to avoid U.S. sanctions and laundering $250 billion in transactions over 10 years.

As CNN’s Maggie Lake points out, a $340 million fine is “not a lot of money for a company that in 2011 made record profits of $4.5 billion,” although she notes this is only a New York state fine – there may be federal fines levied on top of that.

But where are the criminal charges? As an attorney who used to work in enforcement with the U.S. Treasury told Lake, “This is absolutely indefensible. When someone other than bank officials willingly, knowingly, repeatedly does this kind of conduct, they go to jail.”

Rather than face prosecution, there is a rising chorus of complaints that wrongdoing in the banking industry has become merely the cost of doing business with little criminal risk or brand-killing ramifications. As Lake asks, “Name one other industry where that’s true?”

Have we moved from too big to fail, to too big to prosecute?

UPDATE: More trouble for major banks. As CNNMoney reports, a who’s who list of banks – Barclays, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS – have all received subpoenas into the manipulation of Libor, the world's benchmark interest rate, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

Have your say. Leave a comment below.



soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Tadpole

    Too big to fail, too big to prosecute... sounds to me like they are simply "too big". Aren't there mechinisms to change that? (I think of "Ma Bell" in the 1970s).

    August 15, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  2. whocares

    Then after the fine they send a letter out saying their banking fees are going up due to cost of business, and their CEO and upper management take giant bonuses. But it's not a problem because they make nice campaign contributions. Banks are going to be the downfall of western civilization if we don't get them in line.

    August 15, 2012 at 8:30 am |
  3. Guest

    Banks and Corperations having more power over the Government and can do thing like sell launder money to terrorist and finance "unfriendly" rouge nations nuke weapons program.

    Sounds like the days od Dues Ex (Human Revolution) and Perfect Dark ain't too far ahead.

    August 15, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  4. rightospeak

    Until some of the banksters go to jail, nothing will change. Some need to go bankrupt.

    August 15, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  5. jamiesin

    It is infuriating–but more maddening is that the regulatory authorities do not even deign to notice it and at least try to explain why all they do is levy what is, in these days–"slap the wrist" fines and nothing of a size to actually hurt their bottom line for more than the current quarter–regulation has become a joke!

    August 15, 2012 at 11:16 am |
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    August 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  7. Jojo

    The punishment has to be severe enough, but not anything like fine, cause all they have is money. Pls put them to jail so tht the lesson can be well learnt !

    August 18, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  8. DBSW

    As mentioned above, most of these fines are "pocket change" to most of these banks and really don't affect their bottom line a great deal. You can argue that it's their reputation that takes the most damage, but if that was the case, then why aren't we seeing the affects of this reputational damage? Unless there is serious reform in how these banks are run, forced to bridge the gap between Compliance and Governance, as well as ensuring the individuals being criminally held accountable for the actions of the banks (Money Laundering outside a bank is illegal and people get thrown to prison, so why doesn't the same apply within a bank?) nothing will change.

    August 21, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  9. Samwel o arianda

    We are undergoing in a very bad situation,kenya goverments must follow the rules on govership.

    August 29, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  10. lewis j cook

    i am the reason that the cold war ended because i shook gods hand 1986 and i volunteered to die in the us army in sep 1979 and the usmc in 1982 so why do these snake tongue charlatans who are post civil war oppurtunist immigrants to us army gen washingtons usa continue t9o aspire to rule world and usa via tv and radio ?

    September 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  11. lewis j cook

    samual roth who was a jew said we jews come to the nations pretending to escape persecution but we are the most dangerous persecuters of man . he also said we jews are a people of vultures liveing off the labors of the rest of the world. i read this in a book about the holocaust i found in buenos aires argentina in around 2004

    September 3, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  12. lewis j cook

    tv and radio is the most powerful communication system in the world so in the 1900s the german jews came to usa and subverted control of tv and radio from ww1 us army radio and ww2 us army tv this live volatile beast of mind control manipulation must go back under the tight control of 1964 us navy and 1973 us army dept.the 1945 un is the base of operations for the german jews and 666 hollywood is their cash cow that no one holds them to account for the trillions of us dollars they generate.because they stold control of the u7s govt via the sham 666 hollywood tv election illegitamate tv go9vt that only began in 1960 but 90% of the world popu8lation born since 1960 and 80%born since 1973 when abortion was made legal due to the population explosion that had already occured by 1973.

    September 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  13. drew2sen

    "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!" What part of this political maxim have banking regulators failed to understand? Too big to fail? What banking regulation covers that? Insatiable greed is at the root of these banking scandals, compounded by regulatory failures! Ultimately, everybody pays except the bankers! If criminal activity is involved by the banks, the CEOs should be jailed. Failure to prosecute will only result in their rewarding themselves with bonuses from taxpayer bailouts!

    September 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
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