Today the United States Department of Justice issued a press release praising its work in the non-prosecution of Barclay's:
Barclays Bank PLC, a United Kingdom corporation headquartered in London, has agreed to forfeit $298 million to the United States and to the New York County District Attorney’s Office in connection with violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) ....
"Banks like Barclays will not be permitted to disregard sanctions put in place by the U.S. government," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. "Not just once, but numerous times over more than a decade, Barclays stripped vital information out of payment messages that would have alerted U.S. financial institutions about the true origins of the funds.
For over ten years, Barclay's broke the law. Thus, the total fine averages out to approximately $30 million a year.
I will give anyone here 10-to-1 odds that Barclay's earned more than $30 million in profits during each year. Would anyone want the other side of the bet?
Money laundering his highly profitable, and thus a $30 million a year licensing fee is a bargain. Barclay's made billions of dollars by trading with and laundering money for terrorist nations.
Although Barclay's bankers broke the law for over 10 years, no individual bankers were indicted. That's odd, when one considers how Barclay's laundered money for terrorists:
Barclays routed U.S. dollar payments through an internal Barclays account to hide the payments’ connection to OFAC-sanctioned entities and amended and reformatted the U.S dollar payment messages to remove information identifying the sanctioned entities.
Barclay's did no such thing. People did. Humans stripped out information, in order to earn out-sized bonuses.
A corporation is an entity that encourages commerce by limiting the liability of shareholders. A corporation does not act. People do. Who personally "routed U.S. dollar payments," and "amended and reformatted the U.S dollar payment messages to remove information identifying the sanctioned entities." It had to be a person, right?
Justice lawyer Kevin Gerrity said Barclays’ senior management was unaware of the criminal conduct at the lower level of the bank. The Justice Department, Gerrity said, conducted its own interviews and looked to hold individuals accountable. The government was unable to identify a person for prosecution, he said.
Does anyone really believe this? Barclay's is a bank. Banks exist to to count and keep track of money. That is what they do. It is almost impossible to embezzle money from within a bank, because bankers are so capable of keeping track of who had the money last.
The Barclay's settlement is a disgrace. The Department of Justice has yet again told bankers that they may violate the law - as long as the bankers will graciously allow shareholders to pay a fine years later.
And if the banks never get caught, everyone wins - especially DOJ lawyers who move on to private practice, brining them them Barclay's as a client.