Think the Banks Knew?

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 Bernard Madoff: "Banks Knew"

source: ABC News

Bernard Madoff will go down in history with nothing but bad connotations hitched to his name. The former Wall Streeter won’t likely breathe another breath of free air; however, it looks as though he’s quite determined to ensure he doesn’t go down alone.

In fact, he wants the world to know the banks in the U.S. knew about his illegal ponzi scheme. He’s ready to bring them down, too. Make no mistake – these are the big daddies in the American banking sector.

Many Banks

Madoff did business with multiple banks during his career and now he’s saying he wants to testify in front of Congress so that our elected officials and the rest of the world know that he’s not the only criminal. Those banks include J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup and HSBC Group – and that’s just the short list. Not a single bank admits to any wrongdoing and in fact, each has denied the accusations on more than on occasion.

For some time now, Madoff has exchanged emails back and forth with Fox Business journalist Adam Shapiro. In the latest exchange this week, Madoff told Shapiro that he will be offering indisputable information to the proper law enforcement and banking officials that would prove his statements. There have been several congressional committees investigating the monstrous crime since it was uncovered. Apparently, he’s ready to name names and provide information to those same investigations.

Shapiro was told by Madoff that because he couldn’t get the court appointed bankruptcy trustee to pay attention to his accusations, he said it was time to present the information to the media in hopes that would spark an investigation. The trustee, Irving Picard, has been involved in the case since it erupted in 2008.

Emails

Shapiro released part of one of the emails from Madoff. It reads,

From my first interview to the media I have said that “the banks must have known”, and were complicit and contributing to my crime. Although I have offered the bankruptcy TRUSTEE (sic) the information that I possessed that would demonstrate in detail their complicit behavior of banks like JP Morgan, Bank of N.Y., HSBC, Citicorp and others. The Trustee seems unwilling to act on my offer. Therefor (sic) I am offering this information to the appropriate governmental committees in the hope that this information will prove helpful in future regulation of the appropriate institutions.

Meanwhile, it appears Picard isn’t interested in addressing the claims either. Instead, a statement was released from his office that said the position of the trustee is to determine what’s legitimate or not when it comes to the “perpetrator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history”. The spokesperson said Madoff offers no legitimate information. For their parts, not a single bank has commented on these latest revelations. And too, it might be that they don’t comment until they know for sure what information Madoff is releasing. The last thing anyone wants to do is respond to accusations like that when the details haven’t been released.

Human Nature

There’s also another problem. The obvious one being the name “Bernie Madoff” is not synonymous with anything good in human nature. Plus, as the investigation began to unfold, it was learned not a single document confiscated from Madoff’s office was legitimate. That lends to a lack of creditability in anything he says. Still, it’s easy enough to dig further to determine the truth – were anyone interested in doing so.

Since his arrest, banks and other financial entities have stayed as far away from Madoff as possible out of fear that they might somehow be perceived as supportive of him. Because all of the records confiscated during the raids were falsified, it served the banks well. He no longer had any credibility. Still, most of those banks found themselves being sued by their customers. The argument was that there was no way to NOT have known what was going on. The suits say the banking leaders deliberately ignored the facts. The lawsuits could take years to resolve and it’s not likely the banks will settle, despite the billions in profits that will need to be explained. Not a single one has been resolved.

Treasury

There’s more, though. Turns out, the Treasury Department has been investigating JPMorgan’s relationship with Madoff. Remember, Jamie Dimon is this bank’s CEO. There are at least two board members who are said to be very concerned with this problematic truth. Prosecutors are taking a closer look into concerns that the bank might have filed to report certain events specifically related to Madoff. JPMorgan is facing a criminal inquiry over whether it lied to investors and regulators about the risky actions. This could set off a chain reaction headed up by the FBI. Of course, this isn’t the only case the feds are looking into when it comes this bank.

Law Enforcement

Also, all of these banks are dealing with plenty of bad publicity, including the foreclosure mess that hasn’t been properly dealt with on any level. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is expected to collect a cash payment from the banks to right the wrongs, if of course, the investigation proves the banks fell short in their efforts.

The total number of federal investigations into JPMorgan is eight. Those agencies include the FBI, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the SEC and others. The bank continues to do damage control after it was caught lying about improper foreclosures.

This isn’t the first time Madoff’s efforts to “tell the tales” have hit the media. In fact, he’s tried to tell anyone for quite some time what it is he knows. The question is why regulators and law enforcement refuse to even consider (or at least in those initial months) the possibility that there’s legitimacy to the claims.

So what do you think? Should investigators look into Madoff’s accusations? And does the fact his stories have remained consistent since before his conviction change your thoughts on how the banks should be handled? Let us know your thoughts.

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About Author

David is a CPA and has spent the past decade as a financial adviser helping clients meet their fiscal objectives. With an appreciation for journalism, he has spent the past few years overseeing several financial columns as well as writing two previous finance blogs. He resides on the East Coast with his wife and two sons and has guided many through the recent recession while providing a no-nonsense approach to spending and saving.


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CREDIT DAD is an independent, advertising-supported website. Many debit cards, credit cards and other financial offers that appear here are from companies from which CREDIT DAD Websites receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this website (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CREDIT DAD Websites do not include all card offers in the marketplace.