Justice Department Lacks Staff To Take Banks’ Phone Calls, Accept Their Checks

Barclays, RBS and StanChart might be looking at a post-January 2021 resolution to their many, many problems in Washington.
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By Carl Lender from Sunrise, USA (Real Estate) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Carl Lender from Sunrise, USA (Real Estate) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Back in mid-December, Credit Suisse told the outgoing Obama administration to get bent vis-à-vis that $5 billion-plus fine for subprime mortgage misdeeds. After all, self-proclaimed friend of banks Donald Trump was going to be president in a month and he was saying all of the right things from a banker’s perspective (well, with at least one notable exception, but he couldn’t really believe in bringing back Glass-Steagall, which of course he didn’t). Surely, the incoming president wouldn’t want to impede his buddies from getting all of those loans that all those regulations and massive fines were the preventing banks from giving them.

Less than a week later, Credit Suisse took the deal. This proved prescient. Because not only has Jeff Sessions proven more the Tea Party prosecutor type than the Wall Street-friendly G.O.P. stalwart, but he and his somewhat estranged commander-in-chief have been making it difficult even for banks that want to cut a deal by not hiring anyone with whom they could make such a deal.

For Barclays, RBS and Standard Chartered, hopes that their unresolved cases in the United States can be settled this year have been clouded by delays in appointing key staff at the DoJ since Donald Trump became president….

In recent weeks, further doubt has been thrown on staffing at the top of the Justice Department following Trump's repeated criticisms of its head, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the president branded "very weak" in tweets last month….

One of the bank chief executives, who did not wish to be named criticizing the DoJ, said delays in filling key roles at the department had played their part in the slow progress towards resolving issues with British banks.

"There's nobody home," the CEO said.

This of course fits quite easily into the lazy liberal media narrative about Trump being so incompetent and so unfocused and so venal and petty as to literally be unable to run the government in such a way as to achieve even the most marginal aspects of his alleged agenda. And this is probably true. But it is also possible that this is all part of Steve Bannon’s plot to uproot the “deep state,” in this case by literally starving the Justice Dept. to death. Or that Trump knows exactly what he’s doing, Making America(n Banks) Great Again by slow-playing their transatlantic rivals.

The specter of the U.S. investigations is causing the banks problems including depressed share prices, the need to hold billions of dollars in provisions against expected fines, and issues in Bank of England stress tests, analysts said.

British banks’ turnaround plans frustrated by U.S. justice delays [Reuters]

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