Too Big To BNProsecute: How Yet Another Criminal Bank Got Away With Just A Slap On The Wrist

Remember when the DOJ's banker lackey, assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer admitted to PBS that the US department of justice (sic) does not prosecute big banks because they are too systematically important and thus, above the law? Breuer was promptly fired (only to rejoin Covington & Burling as vice chairman and head the firm's white collar defense practice) and with his departure the DOJ was said to have "fixed" its practice of giving banks, the more massive and insolvent the better, not only a "get out of jail" card but "do not even enter the courtroom" card. Ironically, all of the DOJ's subsequent wrath fell mostly on foreign banks (with domestic banks actually benefiting from the addback of "one-time, non-recurring" legal charges to their non-GAAP bottom line). It goes without saying, that not a single banker has still gone to jail since the infamous Too Big To Prosecute incident, suggesting it was all, once again, merely lip service to so-called justice.

But nowhere is it clearer that nothing at all has changed when it comes to crony capitalist behind the scenes muppetry, than in the latest Reuters exclusive of the white glove treatment "evil" BNP got in order to make sure the full wrath of US justice doesn't damage the criminal money launderer too severely.

An official at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) broke ranks with other commissioners, and voted against granting BNP Paribas a critical waiver to continue operating several investment advisory units in the United States.


Kara Stein, a Democratic SEC commissioner who has recently demanded more accountability for big banks who break the law, was the sole dissenting vote on Monday on the temporary waiver, according to a document made public this week.


BNP's application was granted the same day that BNP, France's largest bank, pleaded guilty to criminal charges it violated U.S. sanctions.


The temporary waiver will become permanent, unless an "interested person" in the matter is granted a hearing. The deadline for requesting a hearing is July 25.


The SEC rarely denies such waivers because such a move risks destabilizing financial firms.

Which all leads us to this:

The New York state banking regulator on Monday separately decided not to pull BNP's banking license in the state, despite a criminal guilty plea, because of the risk it could put BNP out of business.

And as is well known, we can't risk a bank going out of business because of its criminal actions, now can we. As for actually sending someone to jail? Don't make us laugh.