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May 16, 2022

Wall Street’s Lawbreaking Continues as Six Biggest Banks Rack Up Another Billion Dollars in Fines in Just Over a Year

Washington, D.C.  –  Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO, issued the following statement in connection with the release today of Better Markets’ Rap Sheet Report:

“The Report we are releasing today shows that Wall Street’s biggest banks have racked another $1 billion in fines in 35 cases in just the last 15 months.  This lawbreaking comes on top of the decades long, ongoing crime spree by the six largest U.S. banks—Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.  These six banks are unrepentant recidivists which have now been involved in more than 430 legal actions and paid nearly $200 billion in fines and other monetary sanctions over the last two decades.  This proves that such so-called punishments are meaningless, and that regulators and prosecutors have utterly failed.

“These megabanks continue to commit shockingly serious violations of law, spanning an extraordinary variety of civil and criminal misconduct and resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars in penalties, civil judgments, and other monetary sanctions. These include egregious cases of fraud, market manipulation, and other abuses against their clients, investors, and the financial markets themselves.  Any other company in America with a RAP Sheet like this would have been put out of business by now.

“Yet, these Wall Street banks and their executives continue to avoid meaningful punishment, deterrence, or accountability.  Instead, they get sweetheart deals, pay puny fines, and continue their lawbreaking ways as if they were first-time small-time offenders.  Adding insult to injury, the responsible individuals at the banks almost always walk away unpunished, with their pockets stuffed with bonus money.”

The Report highlights several recent cases in which these banks ripped off, discriminated against, or otherwise victimized their customers:

  • In February 2021, Citibank agreed to refund $4.2 million to customers as part of a settlement of allegations brought by multiple state attorneys general that it overcharged credit card customers by failing to reduce interest rates as required by federal law.
  • In March 2021, J.P. Morgan entered a conciliation agreement with a borrower who alleged that J.P. Morgan undervalued her home because of racial discrimination. This followed an enforcement action in January 2017, in which J.P. Morgan paid $55 million to settle allegations it engaged in racially discriminatory practices with regard to mortgages.
  • In May 2021, Bank of America settled a class action lawsuit for $75 million, based on allegations that it had ripped off customers by charging overdraft fees that it had no right to collect.
  • In January 2022, Morgan Stanley settled a class-action lawsuit for $60 million, based on allegations of widespread failures to protect customers’ personal data.
  • In May 2022, the CFPB ordered Bank of America to pay a $10 million civil penalty for illegally processing out-of-state garnishment orders against customers’ bank accounts.

Better Markets will soon be issuing another report that examines the root causes of the ineffective and opaque approach to oversight and enforcement that the federal banking regulators have applied to the large banks for so long.  That report will also identify some sensible reforms that would increase the effectiveness of the supervisory process for large banks

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