Penalties Against Banks In Last Six Years Totals More Than $160 Billion

Since the beginning of 2010, two dozen major U.S. and foreign-based banks have paid more than $160 billion in U.S. penalties to resolve a wide range of cases brought against them by the Justice Department and federal regulatory agencies.

Philip Mattera Corporate Research Project Good Jobs First

Philip Mattera
Corporate Research Project
Good Jobs First

That’s according to a report — The $160 Billion Bank Fee — from the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.

According to the report, Bank of America alone accounts for $56 billion of the total and JPMorgan Chase another $28 billion. Fourteen banks have each accumulated penalty amounts — both fines and settlements — in excess of $1 billion, and five of those are in excess of $10 billion.

Along with misconduct that helped bring about the financial meltdown of 2008, the cases have involved alleged offenses in ten other categories ranging from manipulation of foreign exchange markets to violations of rules prohibiting business dealings with enemy countries.

The report was based on data compiled in Violation Tracker 2.0, an expanded version of a database on corporate misconduct.

Both the database will be available to the public starting tomorrow at no charge at

Violation Tracker, which was introduced last fall with environmental and safety cases, now also contains entries on 700 cases involving banks and other financial companies brought by the Justice Department and ten federal regulatory agencies.

Also newly added are 600 cases filed against non-financial firms by the Department of Justice and other agencies for offenses such as price-fixing, foreign bribery, and export-control violations.

“Violation Tracker 2.0 is another step in our effort to create a comprehensive database on corporate misconduct,” said Good Jobs First research director Philip Mattera, who heads the Corporate Research Project and led the work on Violation Tracker. “We want this to be a valuable resource for groups promoting corporate accountability.”

Using a proprietary system of parent-subsidiary matching developed by Good Jobs First for its Subsidy Tracker database, Violation Tracker links the companies named in the violations to their ultimate corporate parents. Users can see not only individual records but also aggregate penalty totals for more than 1,900 parents.

“We are pleased to employ our matching system to enhance another dataset of vital public interest,” said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy.

The $160 Billion Bank Fee report focuses on a subset of the new data: 144 mega-cases involving major banks, with penalties of $100 million or more (not including private litigation).

They account for more than 80 percent of the total-dollar penalties of the 1,300 cases in the Violation Tracker expansion.

The report found that along with Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, the other banks with the most penalties are: Citigroup ($15.4 billion), Wells Fargo ($10.9 billion), the French bank BNP Paribas ($10.5 billion) and Goldman Sachs ($9.1 billion).

The largest categories of cases are: sale of toxic securities and mortgage abuses ($118 billion in penalties), violation of rules prohibiting business with enemy countries ($15 billion), manipulation of foreign exchange markets ($7 billion), manipulation of interest rate indexes ($5 billion), and assisting tax evasion ($2 billion).

Of the 144 mega-cases, 120 were brought solely as civil matters.

The other 24 involved criminal charges, though in two-thirds of those cases the banks avoided prosecution.

The latter include 10 settlements with deferred prosecution agreements and six with non-prosecution agreements.

The banks that have pled guilty to criminal charges include — Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Royal Bank of Scotland.

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