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There are two ways to look at the Justice Department’s new focus on corporate recidivism. Both were conveniently expressed at this week’s foreign bribery shindig in the bizarre confected bit of small-town Americana known as National Harbor, Md.

On the one hand, there’s the “it’s not fair” argument propounded by the white-collar bar, here represented by Gibson Dunn litigation chief Joseph Warin.

“These are big organizations and try as you might to get it right, there’s gonna be misconduct. That’s what’s troubling us,” he said. “One of our clients has three million employees…that’s bigger than every city but eight or nine in the United States.”

Actually, Joe, it’s bigger than all but two cities in the United States, and that sounds an awful lot like the “few bad apples” theory that didn’t work out so well for John Stumpf. And to which Justice’s David Last’s riposte is, “guess they didn’t teach anthropology at Creighton in the early 1970s.”

“Look, if there are so many instances to count, that may be another conversation that we need to have,” Mr. Last added. “If you’re in the 50s, or the hundreds of prior touches, that’s something we probably need to know.”

Speaking of which!

EU antitrust regulators on Thursday fined Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC and NatWest 344 million euros ($390 million) for foreign exchange market rigging, closing a key chapter in a high-profile investigation…. Some of the world's biggest banks have been fined more than $11 billion collectively by U.S. and European regulators since allegations first surfaced around 2013 that dealers were rigging the world's largest financial market….

"Today we complete our sixth cartel investigation in the financial sector since 2013 and conclude the third leg of our investigation into the foreign exchange spot trading market," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

All totally unconnected and having nothing to do with any of those banks’ culture, or indeed banking culture more generally, right, Joe? Anyway, while we’re talking about things that Warin’s bank clients aren’t going to like, let’s have a little look-see at what Rohit Chopra’s been up to over at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The bureau did not identify any banks it may be targeting, but Mr. Chopra said it had asked its examiners to focus on banks that rely heavily on overdraft fees. Banks with “a higher share of frequent overdrafters or a higher average fee burden for overdrafting” should also expect close supervisory attention, he said.

Mr. Chopra said the bureau would take action against banks that violated rules governing overdraft fees and would “seek to uncover the individuals who directed any illegal conduct.”

Justice Department Officials Dig In on Corporate Repeat Offenders [WSJ]
EU fines HSBC, Credit Suisse, others over 'Sterling Lads' forex cartel [Reuters]
The C.F.P.B. says it will scrutinize banks that rely heavily on overdraft charges. [DealBook]

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