Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for the U.S. Department of Labor to hold public hearings to decide if the criminal banks that rigged the foreign exchange market should handle retirement accounts, reported Reuters.
“When banks plead guilty to a crime, federal agencies must do more than look the other way,” said Warren. “The SEC has already granted waivers to each of these banks without any detailed explanation, but it is not too late for the Department of Labor to hold a public hearing before it decides that such brazen lawbreakers can be trusted managing workers’ retirement accounts.”
JPMorgan Chase, CitiGroup, and other large, international banks pleaded guilty last week to manipulating the foreign currency exchange markets and rigging interest rates on various loans. In response, authorities fined the banks a collective total of $5.7 billion dollars for their crimes, but no one will be prosecuted it seems.
Reuters reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed waivers for the banks to continue their business after they agreed to pay the penalty, an obvious sign that the “too big to fail” mantra is still in effect. However, the banks have to separately apply for waivers to keep handling retirement accounts.
Despite banks having to apply for the privilege to handle their customers’ retirement accounts, the SEC is still allowing banks to handle them during the application process. Really, nothing much has changed. SEC Commissioner Kara Stein has criticized the agency for “rubber stamping” bank applications.
Big banks have “rigged the game,” as Warren would say, against low- and middle-income people in order to become wealthy. Everything big banks do is designed to serve the interests of rich executives and increase their bottom-line.
Warren is demanding transparency, and until we get it, banks will continue to do as they please and break the law.