I noted yesterday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission planned to fine Barclays Bank for its role in manipulating US energy markets. The fine came out and it was a record, a $470 million penalty.
After the London market had closed, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced the scale of the fine – $435m, plus a $35m order to disgorge alleged profits made by the bank – for the alleged offences which are supposed to have taken place between 2006 and 2008.
Barclays had warned earlier in the day that it faced a potential penalty for the alleged movement of Californian electricity prices when it reported that it had made a loss in the third quarter of 2008.
Barclays plans to challenge the fines. But they should be thrilled that their company stands accused of manipulating energy markets without any individuals actually committing the fraud. FERC proposed only fines for the individual traders who manipulated the markets. Similarly, the Justice Department had the opportunity to nail Barclays traders with criminal charges in the Libor case and passed on it. So bank fraud persists without the kind of accountability that puts the perpetrators behind bars.
And here’s perhaps the most comical example. It’s now been a full year since MFGlobal paid off its bad bets with customer funds. And yet nobody has gone to jail for this fraudulent act. Nor have the auditors or broker-dealers or anyone associated with the theft at MFGlobal. Even though it’s now clear that MFGlobal officials knew internal controls were weak, even though the sequence of events clearly points to fraud, nobody has been held accountable.
I suppose we’re supposed to be comforted with the fact that Jon Corzine doesn’t live the same go-go lifestyle these days.
The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc chairman and New Jersey governor has expressed worry about the chance he could lose his license to work in the securities industry despite repeatedly insisting that he did nothing wrong at MF Global [...]
Another person says Mr. Corzine has shown signs of restlessness and frustration about essentially being forced out of work by MF Global’s demise and aftermath. Yet he is optimistic about eventually making a comeback and has kicked around the idea of managing money after the MF Global mess is cleaned up [...]
This year, Mr. Corzine worked on a service project in Central America and relaxed in France, where he and his wife have a pied-à-terre. He also spent time running and golfing with friends on Long Island. He sold his Hoboken, N.J., penthouse for $2.8 million, or 14% less than its 2008 purchase price.
14%! Can you imagine? I’m going to decline to weep loudly for a multi-millionaire who should be responsible for the sins of his money management firm.
This is of course life in the big city of no accountability. But it doesn’t make it any more palatable.