Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America's Malignant Malfeasance

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Despite the PR about how corporate profits benefit widows and orphans, this vast wealth is concentrated in the top 1% and the top 5%. 

I am honored to share a remarkable data base of Corporate Fines and Settlements from the early 1990s to the present compiled by Jon Morse. Here is Jon's description of his project to assemble a comprehensive list of all corporate fines and settlements that can be verified by media reports:
"This spreadsheet is all the corporate fines/settlements I’ve been able to find sourced articles about, mostly in the period from the 1990’s up to today (with a few 80’s and 70’s). This is by far the most comprehensive list of such things online. At least that I could find, because the lack of any decent list is what made me start compiling this list in the first place."
What struck me was the sheer number of corporate violations of laws and regulations--thousands upon thousands, the vast majority of which occurred since corporate profits began their incredible ascent in the early 2000s--and the list of those paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and settlements, which reads like a who's who of Corporate America and Top 100 Global Corporations.
I encourage you to open one of the three alphabetical tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet on Google Docs and scroll down to find your favorite super-profitable corporation.
Many have a long list of fines and settlements, and many of the fines are in excess of $100 million. Many are for blatant cartel price-fixing, not disclosing the dangers of the company's heavily promoted medications, destroying documents to thwart an investigation of wrong-doing, etc.
In other words, these were not wrist-slaps for minor oversights of complex regulations-- these are blatant violations of core laws of the land.
As you can see in the chart of corporate profits, enormous wealth has been concentrated in the hands of corporate managers and owners since 2002. This alignment with the start of the Federal Reserve's easy-credit policies is not coincidental.
Despite the PR about how corporate profits benefit widows and orphans, this vast wealth is concentrated in the top 1% and the top 5%:
I asked Jon for his views on the meaning of this mind-boggling list of corporate malfeasance, price-fixing and other wrongdoing in terms of the concentration of wealth: here is his response.
As for the connection to the concentration of wealth: I see two ways in which they are related, the first one is pretty direct and that is the increasing size of the settlements. You will notice that as the settlement date gets later the average size gets much larger. Corporate profits after tax (without IVA and CCAdj) from 1st quarter to 1947 to 4th quarter 2014 went from $21,900,000,000 to $1,837,500,000,000 which is a 8290% increase, even from 1st quarter 1980 to 4th quarter 2014 went from $211,600,000,000 to $1,837,500,000,000 which is a 768% increase.
The second link is less direct. With the increases in concentration of wealth there has been a culture of idolizing wealth, one example is how prosecutors no longer find it appropriate to put banker’s and CEOs in jail. I think one side-effect of the culture changing has been an increased willingness to break the law to increase profits.
The settlements with the banks along with the ongoing investigations have shown that virtually every market is being manipulated; the stocks, metals markets, LIBOR, FOREX, everything. The companies would only break so many laws if they felt they would have a reasonable chance of getting away with it; they would also need a reason to do it, which is provided by the infinite growth model our economy is based on.
Thank you, Jon, for compiling a tremendously important and valuable database of corporate fines and settlements, and for connecting this staggering list of violations to the cultural worship of maximizing private gains at any cost. I am reminded of socio-economist Immanuel Wallerstein's description of the current world-system of central-state/private-corporation collusion as “a particular historical configuration of markets and state structures where private economic gain by almost any means is the paramount goal and measure of success.”
Wallerstein and four colleagues explored the future of this wealth-concentration/maximizing private gain model in Does Capitalism Have a Future? (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Please consider these charts:
Of related interest:
IN my last year on Wall Street my bonus was $3.6 million — and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough. I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind. I wanted more money for exactly the same reason an alcoholic needs another drink: I was addicted

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KnuckleDragger-X's picture

For BofA that isn't malfeasance, that's best practices......

knukles's picture

Jeszzzz!  You'd think that goobermint and biznezz were in cahoots some how! 
Whoda thunk?


                    Welcome to the New Dystopia Brought to You by the New Kleptocracy

El Oregonian's picture

America Inc. is nothing but malignant malfeasance throughout it's political-business-moral-judicial enterprises.

MonetaryApostate's picture

One of my first blog post this year was on our lovely Criminal Corporatocracy...


All too real...

TheRedScourge's picture

When one sees the distribution of tax payments, it becomes evident why those at the top have so much power. Wouldn't you want all the power you can buy if millions of welfare idiots can vote themselves your wallet?

It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

centerline's picture

It is ironic actually.  Because it is a vicious cycle.

FrankDrakman's picture

Yes, and the only way to end is to cut the link between giving away money and gettng elected - end universal suffrage! As I've noted before, it's the FSA voting themselves benefits and goodies that has ruined Western democracies. In the US, it's particularly virulent, since the interest level of the FSA in any intellectual political debate is nil. That means politicians have to spend billions to get enough of the clowns' interest to get them to vote. Since slander and slurs are much more entertaining than, you know, thought, that's what we get. Hours and hours of it, and we end up with pols who are in debt to their election paymasters. 

However, the stop-gap is end corporate and union political contributions, and cap individual contributions at a low number (say, $1,000 annually). You Yankees need look no farther than Canada to see how that works. At the fed level, contributions were banned/capped almost 20 years ago, and the Fed gov't doesn't act like it's beholden to anyone. At the provincial level in Ontario, there are no limits; as a result, the public service unions (cops, teachers, nurses) pour millions of dollars to defeat the Tory challenge at election time and prop up their Liberal benefactors. (Ironically, those same unions are now turning on the Liberals, who realizing the province is pennies from bankruptcy, have made noises about restricting public service wages.)

Only people who've contributed to society voting. Campaigns that are short and focus on issues (because mud and slander don't interest anyone who qualifies to vote). It's enough to bring a tear to one's eye... 

kchrisc's picture

It is not that they buy off big-criminal governmnet, but that there is a big-criminal governmnet to purchase in the first place.

1) End fraudulent-reserve banking.
2) Eliminate big-criminal government, and put what remains back in the Constitution box.

Liberty is a demand. Tyranny is submission.

Ruffmuff's picture

"It's a big club and YOU ain't in it"

Fuck those guys!!!

CH1's picture

So long as everyone keeps obeying, the game will continue.

Urban Redneck's picture

If we made them actually say Plase, Sir... to Uncle Sam in order to receive their gruel allowance, they might see their actual position more clearly, and cease obeying.

raywolf's picture

It's the Govt. that creates the corporate monopolies. No one can get anything done in business without an army of expensive accountant and lawyers and without navigating a web og bureaucracy, licensing and nonsese which claims to keep the public safe, but actually undermines the competition and put the Govt. in business with big corporations...

Butterflying's picture
Butterflying (not verified) KnuckleDragger-X May 6, 2015 4:23 PM

My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do...

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

But not in the way you think.

If the Top 10% owns 83% of Wealth assets, then what do TPTB need the Bottom 90% for -- in an age of dwindling resources, natural space, tech and automation? 

Long Agenda 21.  Plan accordingly. 

Dr. Engali's picture

Whew, it's only Charles. When I read the title I was afraid it was one of Michael Snyder's lists.

greyghost's picture

finally chuckie comes thru with an article with substance and a great website about corporate welfare and criminal behavior.......

GRDguy's picture

Simply go to the most expensive neighborhoods in your area, and you'll see why it's so necessary to lie, cheat, and steal.  What's truly amazing is how much "respect" these people get from their victims.  And as been said, "Making large donations to elitist charity is like sending flowers to their rape victims."

Cpl Hicks's picture

Government kleptocracy: 6,300,000,000 examples of malfeasance by the Obama administration.

See the 2009 stimulus program.

Amish Hacker's picture

Those fines are really just kickbacks from business to government, the two sides of the current statist system, and represent nothing more than a cost of doing business. Don't expect anything to change. 

Chief Wonder Bread's picture

O it will change, that's what TPP is all about. Another cost efficiency.

knukles's picture

When I first read your comment I thought it was "O will change it"

_SILENCER's picture

Jimmy Saville will fix it!

LawsofPhysics's picture

Define "wealth"...  ...full faith and credit...

tick tock motherfuckers...

centerline's picture

Absolutely.  If the lights went out all of a sudden, the definition of wealth would change instantly. 

Said redefining, one way or another, is coming.  And many folks in the 10% are just sheep ready for shearing.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Personally I don't see a lot of real value in financial "products"...   ...did everyone forget that these paper bullshit games nearly destroyed the world once already.  Seem more to me like they are in fact toxic waste that you do not want to be owning...

centerline's picture

Earlier article talked about productivity.  I was squirming while reading it because I think the concept of productivity is lost in general.  Masses of people playing middle-men is not real productivity.  Only the necessary infrastructure. In truly free market, added inefficiencies would result in failure as another more efficient producer would win. 

Let alone anyone talking about productivity in the sense of the greater good of mankind.  Oh, fuck no.  It is about immediate profit... instant gratification.  Living like rock stars. 


buzzsaw99's picture

the free market has spoken. [/SARCASM]

1stepcloser's picture

wealth transfers to the top in any debt based monetary system..  Keep calm and transfer on...


in fact, debt based monetary systems are designed to do this very thing!

Pool Shark's picture



"It's a small club,

and you ain't in it..."

carbonmutant's picture

Hillary says Destroying documents doesn't matter...

G_T_A_44's picture

Full blown Fascism.....Banana Republic-3rd World status.

phoenixdark's picture

2015 median income 51000  median income 30 years ago 48000.  doesn't realy support your contention.  

Happy daiz aheah AWESOME

swmnguy's picture

That's household income, not individual.  30 years ago there were a lot more single-paycheck households.  Also, 30 years of inflation should have nearly doubled that number.  So it's actually worse than it appears for those earning below, at, or up to double the median household income.

Urban Redneck's picture

$3000 over 30 years... and over those 30 years has the money supply grown by more 6.25% (total, not annualized)? 

SillySalesmanQuestion's picture

Quite a list, not shocking or stunning, but still, quite a list.
Thanks CHS and Tyler...this should go to all of the non-believers, but they probally will still choose to be sheepie...bbbaaaaaahhhhhh.

rejected's picture

Now we know why Lady Justice has two scales. One for them and one for the rest.

kchrisc's picture

It is not the "distribution" of wealth that is the problem, but the means by which many of them get their "distribution."

Corzine, Dodd, Clinton, Bush, Cheney, Gore for example.

Liberty is a demand. Tyranny is submission.

SmittyinLA's picture

the US Attorneys crafting these deals have to be getting a bonus somehow

mastersnark's picture

No cash now, but always a lucrative post-government job...that's why the SEC/DOJ have the gall to insert credits in their press releases. Check it out, any atty that reveiwed even a single memo gets a mention. Sickening.

Jack Burton's picture

One of my most hated features of modern American media consumption is the inability to buy what you want, without the bundles which force you to pay lots of money for media you do not want. Plus, all bundle contracts like for Internet/phone/tv are written in such a way as to need two lawyers to figure out what you just signed. So you then face the bill, with it's fees and taxes, and more fees upon fees, plus price increases. You know that if you bundle for $140 a month, in 6 months you will be paying $200 plus!

TV, in order to get one decent channel, you are forced to pay for 100 channels of shit. Before you know it, to get the three channels you like, you buy 250 channels of shit at a cost pushing $100 dollars.

I was raised to believe the customer was always right. To stay in business you must give the customer what he wants. Or someone else will!

Ha! That's a fucking lie. Because nobody will give the customer what he wants. They all collude to manage their businesses the same way, so the consumer can never escape their traps, the traps that bleed you of money for things you do not want.

The only defense to get media you want, and avoid buying thousands of dollars of shit you do not want, is to go pirate! Use the internet in all it's forms to get at video files of what you do want to watch. TV programs and Movies, one by one, you only download the TV show you want, or movie you want. This works good, but you always have the copyright police after you.

I cancelled all TV deals and movie services. HULU, NETFILX etc. Cable TV etc.  Now I rely on finding video files and downloading them to the cloud storage I maintain. About 70% of the time I can get what I want, sometimes it's hard, but mostly I get what I am after. Until I get arrested I guess.

Max Cynical's picture

J.P. Morgan...$52B!

TrumanShow's picture

Amazing List. JPMorgan has had US$52 billion dollars in fines this century most of them while Dimon was either COO or CEO, and he is still employed?? Clearly whatever malfeasance they were fined for is condoned by JPMorgan (and the regulators) as it was worth it in profits.