Aug 4 2012
The LIBOR scandal may well represent the biggest corruption case in the history of the world. Every morning at 11 a.m. UK time, 16 leading banks operating in the City of London report, under the auspices of the British Bankers’ Association, the rate of interest that they would expect to pay to borrow money from another bank. Of these 16 numbers, the four highest and the four lowest are removed from consideration, and the remaining eight are averaged together.
The result is LIBOR, meaning the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate, which is published by Thomson Reuters at 11:30 a.m. London time, and which represents the main point of reference for short-term interest rates around the world. The interest rates paid on almost $1 quadrillion ($1,000 trillion) of Eurodollar contracts, interest rate swaps, and various other derivatives are based directly on LIBOR. This entire process is almost completely unregulated by government agencies, relying instead on the word of honor of bankers who have repeatedly shown that they are predators and liars.
The banks taking part in the LIBOR fixing include Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyds Bank TSB (which absorbed HBOS in January 2009), Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Westdeutsche Landesbank, Société Générale of France, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UJF, Norinchukin of Japan, Royal Bank of Canada, and Rabobank of the Netherlands. The list of LIBOR participants is actually a membership list of the world’s “too big to fail” banking cartel of the most powerful – and the most insolvent – financial faction on the planet.
As early as 2007, Deputy Governor Paul Tucker of the Bank Of England was aware that some banks were reporting that they could borrow money at interest rates which were much lower than what they were really forced to pay. These banks were trying to conceal how close to bankruptcy they actually were, in the hopes of avoiding panic withdrawals by depositors. Sometimes, banks attempted to drive LIBOR up because of certain speculative positions they had taken. International financial authorities like the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements attempted to cover up the scandal, but it finally exploded into public view in March 2012.
Evidence in the form of e-mails showing a conspiracy to manipulate LIBOR emerged first in regard to Barclays Bank, which was fined $200 million by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $160 million by the US Department of Justice, and 60,000,000 Pounds by the British Financial Services Authority. Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius was forced to quit, as was Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond. But there were no criminal charges.
Timothy Geithner, who is currently Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, was in 2008 the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the flagship of the US Federal Reserve System. Geithner’s testimony at congressional hearings showed that he had done nothing to stop the criminal abuse of LIBOR, but he attempted to escape responsibility by saying it was up to the British to take the lead. Most importantly, no US or British official did anything to warn the public about the biggest financial fraud of all time. The central banks and government agencies, which are supposed to act as regulators, have all been captured and put into the service of the banks they are supposed to be overseeing.
It is impossible to imagine that Barclays Bank acted alone. Because of the way the LIBOR process is structured, a single bank cannot hope to manipulate the rate. Therefore, there had to be a conspiracy embracing most or all of the 16 LIBOR banks.
With these revelations, a final and conclusive case emerges that the US and British banking systems are indeed parasitical criminal enterprises which serve no positive social purpose, but which absorb government and other resources in such a way as to make economic recovery in their respective nations impossible.
Because LIBOR had been faked, many investors around the world, including pension funds and individuals, received smaller payments on various investments tied to LIBOR. Many of these investors will now sue the 16 banks in court, demanding payment of restitution plus punitive damages. Berkshire Bank of New York City is typical of the smaller financial institutions who now want payment for what they lost through the cheating. The City of Baltimore, Maryland is suing LIBOR banks. Deutsche Bank is being dragged into court by investors who say they lost money on Japanese yen investments governed by LIBOR. New legal actions are being filed every day, and it is already clear that the LIBOR scandal will generate more financial lawsuits than any other event in recent years. As for criminal action, the British Serious Fraud Office and the US Department Of Justice have a shameful record of leading criminal bankers get away with murder, with no penalty.
HSBC: Money launderers for al-Qaeda and Mexican drug cartels
The depth of bank corruption was further illustrated in July 2012 by a scandal involving HSBC, one of the LIBOR banks and by some measures the second largest bank in the world. HSBC has been called before the U.S. Congress to answer charges that this bank assisted Mexican drug lords in laundering billions of dollars of their profits, provided financial infrastructure for international terrorism, and routinely ignored US financial sanctions.
One beneficiary was a Saudi bank accused by some US officials of providing financial services for al Qaeda. The Mexican branch of HSBC is accused of providing these services by way of US dollar accounts located in the Cayman Islands, an offshore banking center in the Caribbean which one senator said was “known for secrecy and money laundering.” (US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has parked some $30 million of his personal fortune in 12 Cayman Islands accounts.)
HSBC, feeling that too big to fail also means too big to jail, wants to be allowed to apologize, and then get back to business as usual. So far, no US regulator has filed for criminal charges. HSBC is the current form of the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation, infamous for decades for its complicity in laundering the proceeds of international narcotics trafficking through the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Between 1839 in 1861, the British fought three Opium Wars to prevent China from blocking the importation of narcotics manufactured by the British East India Company in India. The predecessors of HSBC were historically implicated in that drug trafficking. Today, the CIA runs the drugs and the Wall Street banks launder the proceeds.
Jon Corzine and MF Global
More light was thrown on Anglo-American banking practices by the November 2011 bankruptcy of MF Global, a global financial derivatives broker known for risky transactions including the purchase agreements or repos. As MF Global approached bankruptcy, almost $900 million was removed from the trading accounts of individual customers, and was used by someone in the MF Global management to cover trading losses.
The prime suspect was Jon Corzine, a friend of Obama and a leading politician of the Democratic Party. Corzine had become rich during his time at Goldman Sachs, the classic predatory Wall Street firm. Helped along by his own millions, he had become US Senator from New Jersey, and then Governor of New Jersey. Shortly after leaving office in early 2010, Corzine became the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of MF Global.
Corzine has repeatedly denied any role in using the $900 million stolen from customer accounts to try to keep MF Global from going bankrupt. But, in March 2012, the Bloomberg news service reported that congressional investigators had found an MF Global internal email stating that Corzine had issued “direct instructions” to embezzle the money belonging to customers and use it to help the management avoid bankruptcy.
So far, no criminal charges have been made against Corzine, who was listed as Obama’s top Wall Street fundraiser at the moment MF Global went bankrupt. At that point, Corzine had gathered (or “bundled”) over $500,000 for Obama’s reelection. It is widely assumed that Obama’s Justice Department is reluctant to bring charges against Corzine during an election campaign in which Obama needs every dollar he can get to match Romney’s superiority in fundraising. The result for the American people is public corruption and plutocratic power.