Counterparties: 2012 — The year of bank fraud

By Ben Walsh
December 19, 2012

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It’s been a relatively decent year for financial stocks: they’ve had their best performance since 2003. It’s truly been a boom year, though, in investigations, lawsuits, fines, and settlements at the world’s biggest and most important banks. There are 28 banks on the FSB’s list of systemically important financial institutions, and as Felix writes, “pretty much the whole financial sector is still trading at less than book value”.

What follows is a list of notable accusations, admissions and settlements in 2012 alone. (It’s long, so just scroll down if you just want the links):

Bank of America: the US Justice Department is seeking $1 billion in fines for troubled loans sold to Fannie and Freddie; MBIA’s lawsuit against Countrywide, which was disastrously acquired by BofA, rolls on; BofA is one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. (Price to book: 0.56, here and throughout via Yahoo Finance)

Bank of China: the families of Israeli students killed in a 2008 terrorist attack are suing the BOC for $1 billion “intentionally and recklessly” handling money for terrorist groups.

Bank of New York Mellon: a subsidiary paid $210 million to settle claims it advised clients to invest in Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme; the DOJ continues to investigate possible overcharges for currency trades that it says generated $1.5 billion in revenue. (Price to book: 0.86)

Barclays: $450 million settlement in the Libor scandal; also fined by the FSA for mis-sold interest rate hedges. (Price to book: 0.72)

BBVA: settled overdraft suit for $11.5 million. (Price to book: 0.83)

Citigroup: settled CDO lawsuit for $590 million; one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement; paid $158 million to settle charges it “defaulted the government into insuring” risky mortgages. (Price to book: 0.62)

Credit Suisse: sued by NY state for allegedly deceiving investor in the sale of MBS. (Price to book: 0.85)

Deutsche Bank: settled a DOJ mortgage suit for $202 million; FHFA fraud case is ongoing. (Price to book: 0.56)

Goldman Sachs: FHFA fraud case is ongoing; after a ruling by federal appeals court, a class action lawsuit over MBS will go forward. (Price to book: 0.91)

Crédit Agricole: sued by CDO investors two times. (Price to book: 0.35)

HSBC: settled money laundering charges for $1.9 billion; set aside $1 billion for future settlements related to mis-selling loan insurance and interest rate hedges in the UK; Libor settlement still to be reached. (Price to book: 1.17)

ING: settled charges that it violated sanctions against Iran, Cuba, etc. for $619 million. (Price to book: 0.5)

JP Morgan Chase: being sued by NY state for MBS issued by Bear Stearns; class action lawsuit and criminal probe over failed derivatives trades in its Chief Investment Office; one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. (Price to book:0.87)

Mitsubishi UFJ: paid an $8.6 million fine for violating US sanctions on Iran, Sudan, Myanmar and Cuba. (Price to book: 0.54)

Morgan Stanley: fined $5 million for improper investment banking influence over research during Facebook’s IPO. (Price to book: 0.63)

Royal Bank of Scotland: $5.37 billion shareholder lawsuit related to 2008 rights issuance; set aside $650 million to cover claims it mis-sold payment protection products; also fined by the FSA for mis-sold interest rate hedges. (Price to book: 0.28)

Santander: fined by the FSA for mis-sold interest rate hedges. (Price to book: 0.77)

Société Générale: rogue trader Jerome Kerviel loses appeal his appeal 3-year sentence for trades that generated $6.5 billion in losses. (Price to book: 0.45)

Standard Chartered: $340 million fine paid to NY state department of financial services for allegedly hiding the identity of customers in transactions with Iran and drug cartels; $327 million paid to the Federal Reserve and US Treasury’s anti-money laundering unit.

State Street: fined $5 million for lack of CDO disclosure. (Price to book: 1.09)

UBS: $1.5 billion Libor fine and two traders criminally charged; rogue trader responsible for $2.3 billion loss found guilty of false accounting. (Price to book: 1.12)

Wells Fargo: Federal lawsuit over mortgage foreclosure practices ongoing; paid $175 million over mortgage bias claims; one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. (Price to book: 1.29) — Ben Walsh

On to today’s links:

Liebor
Fannie and Freddie may have lost more than $3 billion because of Libor-rigging – WSJ
“JUST BE CAREFUL DUDE”: The full FSA notice on UBS’s huge fine for manipulating – FSA

Helpful Reiminders
Remember Internet, “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” doesn’t really mean anything – Derek Powazek

EU Mess
Spanish workers no longer guaranteed a paycheck, apparently – NYT

New Normal
Person of the Year: The Corporation – Tim Fernholz
Time’s person of the year: Obama – Time
At selective colleges, high-income applicants outnumber their low-income peers 15 to 1 – Bloomberg

Alpha
Investment themes and fads, 1996-2012: A retrospective – Josh Brown

Charts
Corporate credit, now at its most expensive level in 30 years (when compared to equities) – Sober Look

Wonks
A pessimistic case about long-term US oil output and the shale gas boom – Econobrowser
To understand Christmas, go to the pub – John Kay

Oxpeckers
Twitter is a saturated and repetitive medium, just like cable news – Ben Walsh

Investigations
Feds looking into trades by one of SAC’s most successful portfolio managers – Reuters

Says Science
Planet discovered in the “Goldilocks zone” – Guardian

Yup
Newport residents love the free market as long as their yacht harbor is subsidized – Kevin Drum

Think of the Children
David Brooks, Professor of Humility – Yale Herald

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