Full Measure News is broadcast to 43 million households in 79 markets on 162 Sinclair Broadcast Group stations, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, MyTV, Univision and Telemundo affiliates and streams live Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. ET.
In some markets they are seen more than the cable news competition in that time slot, and by more viewers than CNN, MSNBC, and CBNC combined and equal or surpass the audience size of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and ABC’s “This Week.” They explore “untouchable topics in a fearless way,” from immigration, terrorism, government waste, national security and whistleblower reports on government and corporate abuse and misdeeds. It is hosted by Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting.
This past Sunday, I was honored to be featured on my “experience” at Citigroup, which many have called “The Immaculate Corruption.” [watch it here].
The interview started with, “This is the story of how systems intended to hold people accountable failed and Bowen claims even helped cover for them… Richard Bowen knew where the figurative bodies were buried at banking giant Citigroup, once the largest company in the world. As a senior vice president, Bowen blew the whistle on Citigroup’s practices leading up to the banking crisis – practices like buying and selling risky mortgages and misrepresenting them to the public and investors.”
Sharyl noted, ”Not much has happened in terms of from what I can see to the actual people at Citigroup who were allegedly responsible for this behavior.” “That would be very accurate,” I responded.
In 2009, Congress created the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Six members were appointed by Democrats, four by Republicans.
Bowen was asked to testify. And he was eager to do it. It was a setting where he says he could publicly tell what he knew, exempt from his Citigroup confidentiality agreement. He wrote up his testimony, naming names and laying blame. However, shortly before he testified Bowen was told to “take out much of the damning evidence that they had originally told me to put in.”
He says the commission wanted major edits; “what they also conveyed is that the edits were not optional. If I did not make the edits I would probably be taken off the witness list.” Bowen says he had to cut out eight pages, almost a third of his planned testimony. And almost nobody knew that when he testified on April 7, 2010.
Last March, the financial commission’s records were quietly unsealed for the first time. And we were able to obtain copies of Bowen’s original testimony, including parts that were cut.
Sharyl: “Did they have you take out names of people responsible”?
Richard Bowen: “Yes. They had originally wanted me to put in the names and the specific instance of cover-ups that I had witnessed. All of that had to be taken out, at least the names”.
Financial commission staff members who dealt with Bowen say the reason his testimony was shortened is simply because it was too long. They deny suggesting any edits, say there was no attempt to censor or silence Bowen, and say that all acted with the best of intentions and followed the highest ethics…
And there’s something of a bombshell in the formerly hidden documents: In 2011, when the Financial Commission concluded work, it secretly determined some of the world’s largest financial institutions had possibly violated securities law.
The Financial Commission privately referred 11 charges against nine executives, including Robert Rubin and two other Citigroup officials, to Justice Department Attorney General Eric Holder for possible prosecution.
Now that the documents have finally been released after 5 years, Senator Elizabeth Warren has written the FBI and Justice Department Inspector General asking why nothing came of those criminal charge referrals.
“The [Department of Justice] has not filed any criminal prosecutions against any of the nine individuals,” writes Warren. “Not one of the nine has gone to prison or been convicted of a criminal offense. Not a single one has even been indicted or brought to trial.”
On the program I expressed my concern, ”If we do not hold people accountable, then we’re going to see the same behavior. In the 1980s and the banking and S&L crisis, we sent over 800 senior bankers to jail. This crisis which is 70 times worse, I’d say, maybe even greater than that, we have sent no one to jail. And, and I think we basically are saying, there’s no downside to doing this.”
I fervently believe that by allowing the big banks to get away with fraud we are condoning their behavior and it will happen again. The large banks have a stranglehold on the financial services industry. If we are going to institute real change, then we must first break up the large banks, then repeal parts of the Dodd-Frank act to open up the banking industry to real competition.
Although Dodd-Frank was originally passed to reign in the large banks, it has turned into a gift to the larger banks because they have the wherewithal to lobby and gut those provisions that directly affect them. This leaves a disproportionate share of compliance costs on the smaller banks; which then has them selling to the larger banks as they can’t afford to compete.
And Sharyl concluded the interview, “As for Citigroup, it continues to rack up the fines. Last week, it paid $28 million more to settle claims that it gave homeowners the “runaround” when refinancing their home mortgages.”
Sadly, fraud seems to be the gold standard for ‘big’ business models instead of being considered a crime. I think banks weigh out possible fines vs. profit in their decision making process.
Richard Bowen says
I absolutely agree. The banks consider the fines and settlements a cost of doing business.
I would like to read Richard Bowen’s original, unedited testimony. Is it available on line?