Archive for the ‘Fraud’ Category
In case you hadn’t hear, those telephone calls claiming to be from the IRS demanding you immediately pay back taxes are a scam.
(Cross-posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update, so you may refer your clients to an article that provides depth on how to avoid becoming victim of recent scams.)
The most frequent scam in 2016 was the phone calls saying “This is the IRS and if you don’t pay your past due taxes this instant we will send someone to your house to arrest you right now.”
There are many things wrong with those calls.
As a starter, your first contact with the IRS will never be by phone. You will instead get a letter explaining what the IRS thinks you messed up.
Either there hasn’t been much going in the money laundering news or I’ve not paid enough attention. On the other hand, governmental investigations are run behind the scenes. Perhaps the regulators are working out of sight.
Here are a few articles I’ve noticed in the last few months.
7/28 – U.S. Prosecutors Probe ‘Panama Papers’ Law Firm’s Employees – Leaks say Department of Justice has opened an investigation of various staff in the D.C. office of Mossack Fonseca.
One thing I’ve learned while being in leadership at my church is that a conflict that appears simple to outsiders is usually far more complicated and messy and ugly than it appears, with blame for a conflict sometimes belonging to the party that appears innocent.
I’m slowly catching on that maybe that idea sometimes applies to massive financial fiascos. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I usually catch on really slow.)
Who is at fault?
Back in January 2008 a trader, Jérôme Kerviel, engaged in €50B of unauthorized trades for Société Générale and hid his trades. That’s fifty billion euros. He admits to making fake entries to hide his admittedly unauthorized trades.
Unwinding the trades cost the bank €4.9B.
I recall at the time that the story line was he was a rogue, a scoundrel, etc., doing all this by himself, etc., single handedly pulling off a huge scam, etc, cleverly wending his way between those tight internal controls, etc.
Previously, Mr. Kerviel was tried and convicted on criminal charges. His initial sentence was five years, which was reduced to two years (I think it was 2 but maybe was 3).
He served five months in prison, according to the following article.
Well, multiple parts of the French judicial system are saying that allocating the blame is a bit more complicated.
Deep sigh. Another banking fiasco hit the papers yesterday. The Wall Street Journal reported Wells Fargo to Pay $185 Million Fine Over Account Openings.
The bank will pay a mere $185M to settle claims brought by OCC, CFPB (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the new creation of the Dodd-Frank legislation), and LA city attorney.
This scheme involved customer-facing employees opening fake bank accounts in the name of existing customers without the customer’s permission. Another variation is opening a fake account in the name of a nonexistent customer. Article says sometimes money would be transferred from a customer’s account into the new, fake account with occasional NSF fees because there wasn’t enough money in the legitimate account to cover legitimate checks.
If a judgment at trial were big enough, it could mean the end of a large firm. Writing on August 13th at Market Watch, Francine McKenna explains PwC faces 3 major trials that threaten its business.
That threaten its business phrase in the headline actually means could take down the entire firm.
There are three major cases, each with a serious enough impact, that an adverse ruling in any one could take out the firm. One is in court now, another expected next February, with the final one in court within a year.
Work with me as I try to process through the cases. Here is the thumbnail version.
Two lawsuits over one client
Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp allegedly generated massive amounts of fraudulent loans, a large portion of which were sold to Colonial Bancgroup. Both companies failed during the financial crisis.
PwC audited Colonial Bank and allegedly did not discover the bad loans that their client, Colonial Bank, bought from PwC’s non-client Taylor Bean.
An ongoing challenge for law enforcement in pursuing charges against bankers is actually getting convictions at trial. Even manipulating Libor is a tough sell to juries.
For those who wanted to see bunches of bankers in prison stripes, keep in mind there is that hurdle of persuading a jury a crime was committed. It may be difficult, but is possible to do.
Here are a few recent articles on the Panama Papers leak. Doesn’t seem to be a lot of new developments since my last post three weeks ago.
6/5 – New York Times – Panama Papers Show How Rich United States Clients Hid Millions Abroad – The NYT has finally gained access to the Panama Papers.
In their research they have only found 2,400 Americans who ran money through companies set up by Mossack Fonseca, none of them high-profile, and apparently none of them from the political world.
Article tells the tale visible from correspondence for a few people who had already built a private fortune and then decided to park money overseas.
The basic asset protection shell structure includes two entities: a for-profit into which money is moved from the US, and a Panamanian based foundation which receives a contribution from the first shell, thus protecting the money from litigation, taxation, or disclosure.