Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
The Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has been long viewed as one of the most corrupt of American institutions – and that’s saying a lot. Putting aside all the accusations with regard to silver manipulation in recent years, the most stunning controversy occurred back in 2010 when a retiring judge accused the other remaining judge of being a total bought and paid for Wall Street crony.
The retiring judge was George Painter, who accused fellow judge Bruce Levine of not once ever ruling in favor of an investor in his 20 years on the bench. Not only that, but he claimed this was the result of a promise Levine made to Wendy Gramm, the former head of the CFTC and the wife of Phil Gramm. Phil Gramm was the Congressman who spearheaded the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, which is seen by many (including myself) as one of the most catastrophic pieces of legislation in American history since it laid the groundwork for the financial crisis of 2008, as well as the continued cancerous permanence and power of TBTF banks. FiredogLake covered the CFTC controversy in 2010:
An Administrative Law Judge at the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission), George Painter, revealed in his retirement letter that a colleague of his, Judge Bruce Levine, has never awarded a case in favor of a plaintiff in 20 years on the bench. He traces this back to a deal Levine made with Wendy Gramm, the former head of the CFTC and the wife of Phil Gramm (R-Enron and UBS). Indeed, the numbers check out, at least for the time period we know about; Judge Levine has never decided in favor of a plaintiff, i.e. never decided in favor of an investor crying mistreatment or fraud by a commodity dealer or major broker in commodity futures and derivatives trading.
Here’s why Painter accused Levine of this misconduct: there are only two Administrative Law judges at the CFTC. “If I simply announced my intention to retire,” Judge Painter says in his letter, “the seven reparation cases on my docket would be reassigned to the only other administrative law judge at the commission, Judge Levine. This I cannot do in good conscience.” He wanted his docket to transfer to an admin law judge at the SEC or FERC instead.
Well it appears nothing has changed at the CFTC. Less than two weeks ago we learned that former CFTC commissioner Scott O’Malia, who had fought hard against any new rules intended to reign in Wall Street practices, was leaving the CFTC to head one the biggest bank lobbying groups in the world, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). This is the exact lobbying group that had been pressing against new CFTC rules. Reuters reported that:
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association said on Wednesday that Scott O’Malia, a Republican who often voted against new CFTC policy in the wake of the financial crisis, will become the trade group’s next chief executive. O’Malia will start his new job as of Aug. 18, ISDA said. The news came only days after O’Malia said he planned to leave the CFTC as of Aug. 8.
There is just zero shame at this point.
A staffer for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell – now the Senate Minority leader – from 1992 to 2001, O’Malia focused on energy policy during much of his career.
Links to Mitch McConnell. No surprise there.
ISDA is a global lobby group for non-listed derivatives, counting the world’s largest investment banks among its members, and has frequently fought regulatory efforts to reform the market after the financial crisis.
Moving along to today’s story, we learn that the CFTC will impose a meager $650,000 fine on JP Morgan, despite years of warnings about fraudulent data reports. The CFTC announced that:
Washington, DC - The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today issued an Order filing and simultaneously settling charges against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and a CFTC-registered Futures Commission Merchant (FCM), for submitting inaccurate reports to the CFTC relating to the required reporting of positions held by certain large traders whose accounts are carried by JPMS. The reporting violations occurred despite the CFTC notifying JPMS of numerous errors in its reports. The CFTC Order requires JPMS to pay a $650,000 civil monetary penalty to address its unlawful conduct. The reports are known as the “large trader” reports and are used by the CFTC in order to evaluate potential market risks and monitor compliance with CFTC requirements.
These reports are also used by investors to make judgments about markets, so just imagine how much money other firms or even individual investors may have lost using JP Morgan’s fraudulent data? I’m sure it was far more than $650k. As the CFTC itself notes:
CFTC Director of Enforcement Aitan Goelman commented: “The large trader reports are vital to the CFTC’s role in monitoring market behavior and are important to members of the public, many of whom rely on that information in forming trading strategies. Therefore, submission of accurate and reliable data to the CFTC is essential. The CFTC will be vigilant in enforcing these rules in order to ensure the integrity of the regulatory structure and to maintain transparency in the markets.”
The CFTC Order specifically finds that since at least 2012, the CFTC was notifying JPMS about errors in its large trader reports, which increased in frequency throughout the year. In December 2012, the CFTC notified JPMS that the on-going problems were unacceptable. JPMS, relying on its third-party vendor that generated the reports for JPMS, assured CFTC staff that the problems would be resolved on or before the end of January 2013. However, JPMS continued to submit large trader reports that contained hundreds of errors throughout the period from February 1, 2013 to February 2014.
So the CFTC claims it will be vigilant. Like, for example, allowing JP Morgan to continue to issue fraudulent reports for well over a year despite repeated warnings, and then ultimately settle for a dollar amount that is probably equivalent to the Dimon family’s annual budget for toilet paper? Yeah, that’ll show ‘em who’s boss.
You gotta love American justice. In the same week that an NYPD officer’s illegal and fatal chokehold was ruled a homicide (incredibly the man who shot the video has now been arrested), JP Morgan gets off with another slap on the wrist. As Glenn Greenwald noted, it’s Liberty and Justice for Some.
For more articles on the trend of harsh and disproportionate punishment for average citizens, yet immunity for banksters and other powerful figures, read: