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Bill Black: A “Jihadist” Against the Banks?
Bill Black: A SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network.
I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Also welcome to the Bill Black report. As you know, Bill is an associate professor of economics
and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City. He’s a white collar criminologist and former
financial regulator, and author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is To Own One. Bill,
thank you so much for joining us today.
BILL BLACK: Good to be back.
PERIES: So Bill, give us a sense of what you have in your bank vault today.
BLACK: Ah. Well, I have officially arrived. I flew, getting up at 3:00 AM, to Miami immediately
after giving my last exam for the semester very late the night before, to do one of my pro bono acts
of testifying as an expert witness in a criminal case in which the Justice Department is going after
the fraud mice and gerbils instead of the elite criminals. And I say I’ve officially arrived because on
the record, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case said that the court shouldn’t listen to me
because I was waging, quote, jihad, unquote, against the–.
PERIES: That must be because of your beard, Bill.
BLACK: Well, maybe it’s because I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, which has one of the largest
populations of Arab-Americans in America, and frequently appear on Al Jazeera. It was particularly
nasty because it was in fact I think the day that morning where they’d confirmed the San Bernardino
attack as a terrorist attack. So you know, it was designed to be prejudicial and to discredit the folks.
But this is how far the Justice Department has fallen. Not only will they not prosecute the elite bank
frauds that drove the crisis, but anyone that wants them to do their job they’re treating as a terrorist.
And this is now the third of these pro bono gigs that I’ve taken on. And I can now confirm that it is
a consistent pattern. And it’s truly amazing. It isn’t simply that they’re not prosecuting the elite
bankers whose frauds caused this crisis. They are actually acting as a collection agency, they being
the Justice Department, for the absolute worst fraudulent institutions. And they are prosecuting
people and putting hundreds of small-time folks in prison on the basis of thoroughly false theories
of the case in which they, the Justice Department, go in as a matter of routine. They claim that the
institutions which are the largest criminal enterprises in the world–so in the case I was just in in
Miami, was JP Morgan and Countrywide. Two of the largest criminal enterprises in the world.
And we know criminal enterprises, because the United States of America has said that what they
were doing was fraudulent front to back. How does the Justice Department present their case?
Well, they put on the absolute lowest people in the food chain. Underwriters. And they ask them,
well, you know, if you were being–you knew you were being given false information, would you have
approved a loan? Well, you know, what underwriter without a grant of immunity from prosecution is
going to say anything other than, well, of course I would have said no.
But we know at JP Morgan, and we know at Countrywide, and we know because the United States of
America has investigated and has filed formal pleadings that this underwriting was completely phony.
The Justice Department also supports [liar’s] loans, says that it was perfectly okay and that they were
made prudently by places like Countrywide and JP Morgan, even though we know that they had fraud
incidents of up to 90 percent. And even though we know Countrywide, for example, did internal reviews
that found massive fraud in their liar’s loans, and in response to that what did they do? They adopted
a more extreme version of liar’s loans.
And so the Justice Department presents this case in which the bankers that the United States of
America says are the worst frauds that completely lead this fraudulent pattern, and where we’ve
actually banned liar’s loans because A, they’re inherently fraudulent, and B, they’re inherently
anti-consumer, the Justice Department reverses all of that, says the bankers were great.
They’re the poor, innocent victims of these clever, you know, hairdressers and such.
Or small-time property developers. And proceeds to put hundreds of small-time folks in prison
while completely ignoring, as we’ve seen, the elites.
It’s just a staggering abuse, especially for a group that calls itself a Justice Department.
PERIES: And just before Eric Holder left office last year, he actually bragged about having settled
for $16 billion with the Bank of America. What kind of breakdown does that settlement has, or you
would like to expose here?
BLACK: Well, I can tell you from having been on both sides of the negotiations, it’s easy to get when
you’re negotiating with a large bank what sounds like a very large settlement.
Now, the Justice Department played games with the numbers as well. They took all kinds of transactions
that the banks were going to do anyway to restructure loans, and they claimed that those things that the
bank was actually doing to maximize profits or minimize losses were part of the settlement. So about
$5 billion of that is phony money.
But put that aside. Every big bank goes into these negotiations knowing one thing for sure, and that
is the Justice Department will never impose a fine significant enough to cause the slightest chance
that the bank might get into economic trouble. Because that’s what the Justice Department is scared
to death of. And therefore all of these settlements relative to the size of the bank are trivial. And the
proof is in the pudding in virtually every case. And I say virtually just to protect myself. In every case
that I’ve looked at, the stock price rose when the settlement was announced.
PERIES: Shame. Bill, I thank you so much for joining us today and giving us this brief report,
which we hope you continue to do on the Real News Network and look forward to having you back.
BLACK: A network that apparently supports people waging jihad against corrupt bankers.
PERIES: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Bill.
BLACK: Anything I can do for the cause.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program.
TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.