“The $2 billion deal JPMorgan Chase (JPM) cut with the government to make its Bernie Madoff problem go away truly stands out among the blizzard of recent giant settlements between the largest U.S. banks and the regulators paid to keep an eye on them.
“All of these deals have one thing in common: they allowed the banks to pay big fines in lieu of criminal prosecutions either of the bank itself or any individuals who might have been held culpable for alleged illegal activities. But remember this: while the fines look big in headlines they are usually spit in the ocean to the banks.
“Perhaps Dennis Kelleher, CEO of investor advocacy group Better Markets, put it best: ‘Banks do not commit crimes; bankers do,’ he said.
“Given the amounts of money that Madoff was churning through JPMorgan, it’s inconceivable that the bank didn’t have a point man – or a team of liaisons – responsible for monitoring Madoff’s accounts.”
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