The Biggest Financial Scandal In History?

We always knew that the financial markets were rigged, but this is getting ridiculous.  It is now being alleged that 20 major banks have been systematically fixing global interest rates for years.  Barclays has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for manipulating Libor (the London Inter Bank Offered Rate).  But Barclays says that a whole bunch of other banks were doing this too.  This is shaping up to be the biggest financial scandal in history, and criminal investigations have been launched on both sides of the Atlantic.  What those investigations are likely to uncover could shake the financial markets to their very core.  In the end, this scandal could absolutely devastate confidence in the global financial system and it could potentially bring down a number of major global banks.  We have never seen anything quite like this before.

What Is Libor?

As mentioned before, Libor is the London Inter Bank Offered Rate.  A recent Washington Post article contained a pretty good explanation of what that means….

In the simplest terms, LIBOR is the average interest rate which banks in London are charging each other for borrowing. It’s calculated by Thomson Reuters — the parent company of the Reuters news agency — for the British Banking Association (BBA), a trade association of banks and financial services companies.

Why Does Libor Matter?

If you have a mortgage, a car loan or a credit card, then there is a very good chance that Libor has affected your personal finances.  Libor has been a factor in the pricing of hundreds of trillions of dollars of loans, securities and assets.  The following is from a recent article by Maureen Farrell….

These traders influenced the pricing of the London Interbank Offered Rate or Libor, a benchmark that dictates the pricing of up to $800 trillion of securities (yes trillion)

$800 trillion?

That is a number that is hard to even imagine.

Most American consumers do not even know what Libor is, but it actually plays a key role in the U.S. economy as the Washington Post recently explained….

In the United States, the two biggest indices for adjustable rate mortgages and other consumer debt are the prime rate (that is, the rate banks charge favored or “prime” consumers) and LIBOR, with the latter particularly popular for subprime loans. A study from Mark Schweitzer and Guhan Venkatu at the Cleveland Fed looked at survey data in Ohio and found that by 2008, almost 60 percent of prime adjustable rate mortgages, and nearly 100 percent of subprime ones, were indexed to LIBOR

Who Was Involved In This Scandal?

According to the Daily Mail, in addition to Barclays it is being alleged that at least 20 banks (including some major U.S. banks) were involved in this interest rate fixing scandal….

Hundreds of bankers across three continents are embroiled in the interest-rate fixing scandal that has left Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond fighting to save his job.

As pressure intensified on Britain’s highest paid banking boss to quit, MPs heard a string of other financial institutions across the world were under investigation.

At least 20 banks are believed to be under suspicion, with growing demands for a criminal investigation.

There are also indications that the Bank of England itself may have been involved in this scandal.

What Did They Do?

Employees at Barclays (and apparently at about 20 other major banks) were brazenly manipulating interest rates.  A recent Yahoo Finance article described how this worked…

To help the bank’s trading positions between 2005 and 2009, and most notably during the global financial crisis of 2007-09, the bank made false submissions to the Libor-setting committee, which agrees rates daily in London.

At the request of its own traders of interest-rate derivatives, Barclays made false submissions relating to Libor and Euribor (the eurozone benchmark rate). By doing this, Barclays personnel aimed to help their trading colleagues to profit by manipulating Libor.

Rigging the world’s leading benchmark for interest rates is pretty serious stuff. Indeed, in the words of the FSA, “Barclays’ behaviour threatened the integrity of the rates, with the risk of serious harm to other market participants”.

Many in the financial world have been absolutely horrified by the details of this scandal that have been emerging.

One recent CNN article declared that “the stench” coming from London is now “overwhelming”….

The Libor scandal has confirmed what many of us have known for some time: There is something smelly in the London financial world and the stench is now overwhelming.

But It is only when I read the Financial Services Authority report — all 44 pages of it — that is became clear just how widespread, how blatant was the fixing of the benchmark interest rate Libor and Euribor by Barclays. Brazen is the only word for it.

The emails and phone calls reveal that on dozens of occasions those who stood to gain by the decisions asked for favors (and got them) from those who helped set the interest rates.

You can read many examples of the kinds of emails that were exchanged between traders in New York and traders at Barclays in London right here.

What Does This Scandal Mean For The Future?

This scandal is making the global financial system look really, really bad.  Confidence in global financial markets has already been declining, and these new revelations are not going to help at all.  The following is how an article in the Huffington Post put it….

The ballooning interest rate manipulation scandal at Barclays, coupled with stock market instability, is likely to fuel fresh doubts about the integrity of the stock market, insiders said.

“Every time people begin to gain a little confidence, something else comes up,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “If it’s not Europe, it’s [troubled] IPOs, or JPMorgan or Barclays. Something new blows up and people say, ‘I knew it was rigged.’”

In addition, we are undoubtedly going to see a huge wave of lawsuits come out of this scandal.  Those lawsuits alone will gum up the financial system for a decade or more.

So needless to say, this is a very big deal.

Sadly, the revelations that have come out about Barclays in recent days are probably just the very tip of the iceberg.  Before this is all over, we are probably going to find out that most of the major global banks were involved.

At a time when the global financial system is already on the verge of a major implosion, this is not welcome news.

This financial scandal is just another reason to be deeply concerned about the second half of 2012.  The house of cards is starting to look really shaky, and nobody knows exactly when it will fall, but anyone with half a brain can see that things are progressively getting worse.

A “perfect storm” is rapidly developing, and when it strikes it is going to be very, very painful.

The Crazy Things That One Whistleblower Says Are Happening At JP Morgan Will Blow Your Mind

Rampant silver manipulation?  Rampant gold manipulation?  Rampant LIBOR manipulation?  Hiding MF Global client assets?  These are all happening at JP Morgan according to an open letter reportedly written by an anonymous employee of the firm.  The whistleblower also warns of a “cascading credit event being triggered” by derivatives related to Greek government debt.  Unlike Greg Smith at Goldman Sachs, this whistleblower has chosen to remain anonymous for now.  According to the letter, the whistleblower is still an employee of JP Morgan and has not resigned.  But that does make it much more difficult to confirm what he is saying.  With Greg Smith, we know exactly who he is and what he was doing at Goldman.  As far as this anonymous whistleblower is concerned, all we have is this letter.  So we must take it with a grain of salt.  However, the information in this letter does agree with what whistleblowers such as Andrew Maguire have said in the past about silver manipulation by JP Morgan.  And this letter does mention Greg Smith’s resignation from Goldman, so we know that it must have been written in the past few days.  Hopefully this letter will cause authorities to take a much closer look at the crazy things that are going on over at JP Morgan and the other big Wall Street banks.

This anonymous letter was addressed to the CFTC, but unfortunately it looks like the CFTC has already chosen to ignore it.

The original letter from this anonymous whistleblower has already been taken down from the CFTC website. When you go there now, all you get is this message….

“The Comment Cannot Be Found. Please Return to the Previous Page and Try Again.”

Fortunately, there are many in the alternative media that copied this entire letter from the CFTC website.

The following is a copy of the original letter that the anonymous whistleblower from JP Morgan submitted to the CFTC….

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Dear CFTC Staff,

Hello, I am a current JPMorgan Chase employee. This is an open letter to all commissioners and regulators. I am emailing you today b/c I know of insider information that will be damning at best for JPMorgan Chase. I have decided to play the role of whistleblower b/c I no longer have faith and belief that what we are doing for society is bringing value to people. I am now under the opinion that we are actually putting hard working Americans unaware of what lays ahead at extreme market risk. This risk is unnecessary and will lead to wide-scale market collapse if not handled properly. With the release of Mr. Smith’s open letter to Goldman, I too would like to set the record straight for JPM as well. I have seen the disruptive behavior of superiors and no longer can say that I look up to employees at the ED/MD level here at JPM. Their smug exuberance and arrogance permeates the air just as pungently as rotting vegetables. They all know too well of the backdoor crony connections they share intimately with elected officials and with other institutions. It is apparent in everything they do, from the meager attempts to manipulate LIBOR, therefore controlling how almost all derivatives are priced to the inherit and fraudulent commodities manipulation. They too may have one day stood for something in the past in the client-employee relationship. Does anyone in today’s market really care about the protection of their client? From the ruthless and scandalous treatment of MF Global client asset funds to the excessive bonuses paid by companies with burgeoning liabilities. Yes, we at JPMorgan that are in the know are fearful of a cascading credit event being triggered in Greece as they have hidden derivatives in excess of $1 Trillion USD. We at JPMorgan own enough of these through counterparty risk and outright prop trading that our entire IB EDG space could be annihilated within a few short days. The last ten years has been market by inflexion point after inflexion point with the most notable coming in 2008 after the acquisition of Bear.

I wish to remain anonymous as of now as fear of termination mounts from what I am about to reveal. Robert Gottlieb is not my real name; however he is a trader that is involved in a lawsuit for manipulative trading while working with JPMorgan Chase. He was acquired during our Bear Stearns acquisition and is known to be the notorious person shorting in the silver future market from his trading space, along with Blythe Masters, his IB Global boss. However, with that said, we are manipulating the silver futures market and playing a smaller (but still massively manipulative) role in manipulating the gold futures market. We have a little over a 25% (give or take a percentage) position in the short market for silver futures and by your definition this denotes a larger position than for speculative purposes or for hedging and is beyond the line of manipulation.

On a side note, I do not work directly with accounts that would have been directly impacted by the MF Global fiasco but I have heard through other colleagues that we have involvement in the hiding of client assets from MF Global. This is another fraudulent effort on our part and constitutes theft. I urge you to forward that part of the investigation on to the respective authorities.

There is something else that you may find strange. During month-end December, we were all told by our managers that this was going to be a dismal year in terms of earnings and that we should not expect any bonuses or pay raises. Then come mid-late January it is made known that everyone received a pay raise and/or bonus, which is interesting b/c just a few weeks ago we were told that this was not likely and expected to be paid nothing in addition to base salary. January is right around the time we started increasing our short positions quite significantly again and this most recent crash in gold and silver during Bernanke’s speech on February 29th is of notable importance, as we along with 4 other major institutions, orchestrated the violent $100 drop in Gold and subsequent drops in silver.

As regulators of the free people of this country, I ask you to uphold the most important job in the world right now. That job is judge and overseer of all that is justice in the most sensitive of commodity markets. There are many middle-income people that invest in the physical assets of silver, gold, as well as mining stocks that are being financially impacted in a negative way b/c of our unscrupulous shorts in the precious metals commodity sector. If you read the COT with intent you will find that commercials (even though we have no business being in the commercial sector, which should be reserved for companies that truly produce the metal) are net short by a long shot in not only silver, but gold.

It is rather surprising that what should be well known liabilities on our balance sheet have not erupted into wider scale scrutinization. I call all honest and courageous JPMorgan employees to step up and fight the cronyism and wide-scale manipulation by reporting the truth. We are only helping reality come to light therefore allowing a real valuation of our banking industry which will give investors a chance to properly adjust without being totally wiped out. I will be contacting a lawyer shortly about this matter, as I believe no other whistleblower at JPMorgan has come forward yet. Our deepest secrets lie within the hands of honest employees and can be revealed through honest regulators that are willing to take a look inside one of America’s best kept secrets. Please do not allow this to turn into another Enron.

Kind Regards,
-The 1st Whistleblower of Many

———-

Another Enron?

If what this letter says is true, then the problems facing our financial system are more serious than most of us thought.

And the allegations of corruption at JP Morgan are absolutely shocking.

But this is not the first whistleblower to come forward to the CFTC with charges of rampant market manipulation by JP Morgan.

Back in 2010 I wrote about the stunning allegations that a former silver trader named Andrew Maguire presented to the CFTC.  The following is an extended excerpt from that article….

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Back in November 2009, Andrew Maguire, a former Goldman Sachs silver trader in Goldman’s London office, contacted the CFTC’s Enforcement Division and reported the illegal manipulation of the silver market by traders at JPMorgan Chase.

Maguire told the CFTC how silver traders at JPMorgan Chase openly bragged about their exploits – including how they sent a signal to the market in advance so that other traders could make a profit during price suppression episodes.

Traders would recognize these signals and would make money shorting precious metals alongside JPMorgan Chase.  Maguire explained to the CFTC how there would routinely be market manipulations at the time of option expiries, during non-farm payroll data releases, during commodities exchange contract rollovers, as well as at other times if it was deemed necessary.

On February 3rd, Maguire gave the CFTC a two day warning of a market manipulation event by email to Eliud Ramirez, who is a senior investigator for the CFTC’s Enforcement Division.

Maguire warned Ramirez that the price of precious metals would be suppressed upon the release of non-farm payroll data on February 5th.  As the manipulation of the precious metals markets was unfolding on February 5th, Maguire sent additional emails to Ramirez explaining exactly what was going on.

And it wasn’t just that Maguire predicted that the price would be forced down.  It was the level of precision that he was able to communicate to the CFTC that was the most stunning.  He warned the CFTC that the price of silver was to be taken down regardless of what happened to the employment numbers and that the price of silver would end up below $15 per ounce. Over the next couple of days, the price of silver was indeed taken down from $16.17 per ounce down to a low of $14.62 per ounce.

Because of Maguire’s warning, the CFTC was able to watch a crime unfold, right in front of their eyes, in real time.

So what did the CFTC do about it?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

———-

You can read the rest of that article right here.

So will the CFTC do anything about all of this?

Based on past history, probably not.

Basically, the CFTC is a government agency that appears to do next to nothing.

Another scandal involving JP Morgan has come out in recent days as well.

This one involves their credit card division.  If you have a moments, you should really read the recent American Banker expose of credit card debt collection practices at JPMorgan Chase.  It exposes some things that will absolutely blow your mind.

Linda Almonte, a former executive at JPMorgan Chase’s Credit Card Litigation Support Group, has revealed some incredible stuff regarding the debt collection practices at the company.  Almonte says that she was shocked at what she saw when she began examining the details of a $200 million package of debt collection judgments to an outside debt collection agency….

Nearly half of the files her team sampled were missing proofs of judgment or other essential information, she wrote to colleagues. Even more worrisome, she alleged in her wrongful-termination suit, nearly a quarter of the files misstated how much the borrower owed.

In the “vast majority” of those instances, the actual debt was “lower that what Chase was representing,” her suit stated.

Almonte says that she warned that this sale of debt collection judgments must be stopped, but that a company executive told her that “she had better go along with the plan to sell the misrepresented asset“.

Almonte refused to go along, and she was fired on November 30th, 2009.

You are probably thinking that this sounds very much like the “robo-signing” foreclosure scandal and you would be right.

The more we dig into these giant financial companies the more corruption we find.

It really is shocking.

And remember, JPMorgan Chase is also the company that makes more money whenever the number of Americans on food stamps goes up.

JPMorgan Chase issues food stamp debit cards in 26 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and they actually want more Americans to go on food stamps so that they can make bigger profits from the division that issues them.

So now are you starting to understand why so many Americans are upset about the corruption on Wall Street?

This isn’t a “conservative issue” or a “liberal issue” – it is an American issue and the outrageous behavior of these firms has brought our financial system once again to the edge of disaster.

Over the past six months, more than 350 prominent executives have resigned from major banks and financial institutions all over the globe.

Is this a sign that the rats are fleeing a sinking ship?

Do they know something that we don’t?

What we do know is that the financial crisis in Greece is far from over and the European financial system is getting closer to a complete meltdown with each passing day.

Very few of the things that caused the financial crisis of 2008 were ever corrected and our financial system is even more vulnerable today than it was back then.

In the end, this entire pyramid of debt, leverage and corruption is going to come crashing down really hard, and the consequences are going to be absolutely catastrophic.

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