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Study: Banker Ethics Sharply Decline

One might have thought we had seen the worst there was in terms of bankers’ greed at the height of the housing bubble. Banks were recklessly packaging toxic mortgages to unsuspecting investors, saddling homeowners with unrealistic mortgages and generally cutting whatever regulatory corners they had to in order to make a buck.

Since then, banks have reluctantly conceded some degree of contrition in the form of sweetheart deals extended by the U.S. Department of Justice and a smattering of state attorneys general. Yes, these deals cost banks billions, but they were structured in such a way that no real consequences were suffered – certainly not by individual bankers.

It’s that “too big to jail” mindset that seems to be tainting whatever remorse bankers may have had. A recently-released study conducted by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business suggests to us it’s not going to get better. In fact, it’s getting worse.

Some seven years after the global financial crisis destabilized investor confidence and knocked consumers to their knees (forcing many from their homes in Miami foreclosures), the study authors noted the research “Clearly shows a culture of integrity has failed to take hold” among bankers in both the U.S. and Britain.

The survey indicated most bankers still believe their colleagues are engaged in unethical or even illegal activity in an effort to get ahead among fierce competition.

There is news of legal and regulatory sanctions almost daily. For example:

  • Four of the biggest banks in the world pleaded guilty to felony charges and agreed to pay $5.6 billion in fines to the USDOJ for fixing the price of money on the foreign exchange market.
  • A fifth bank was muscled out of its deferred prosecution deal because of its purported involvement in the currency exchange fraud.
  • Bank of New York Mellon Corp. settled a class action lawsuit related to foreign exchange fraud for $180 million. That was after it paid $715 million for overcharging for pensions and currency purchases.
  • JP Morgan Chase settled a robo-signing settlement for more than $50 million after it was determined the firm submitted numerous fraudulent documents during foreclosure hearings.

But is any of this going to change anything? Not according to the Notre Dame survey.

Among the key findings by researchers:

  • Nearly 50 percent of respondents say it’s likely competitors have engaged in unethical or illegal activity to succeed in the market. That is a marked increase from the 39 percent who answered this question affirmatively just three years ago.
  • A quarter of respondents said it was likely their own colleagues are engaged in illegal or unethical activity.
  • More than one-third of bankers raking in $500,000 or more said they personally witnessed other bankers engaging in illegal or unethical activity. That is almost double the 12 percent that answered this question affirmatively in 2012.
  • Twenty-five percent said if they could engage in illegal activity themselves and be guaranteed to make $10 million with no chance of arrest for insider trading, they would do it. Those with less experience were more likely willing to take the risk.

Of course, given the fact that no top-level bankers went to jail for the financial crimes (felonies!) committed during the market bubble that later led to international collapse and recession, there is little fear that incarceration is even a possibility for wrongdoing – even egregious wrongdoing.

If you’re battling debt collection in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Legal for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Tuesday at 6 p.m. on “Debt Warriors with Bruce Jacobs and Court Keeley,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

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