Thursday, February 19, 2015
Financial Misconduct, Penalties and Corporate Accountability: Case of Fraud Under the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act
MATTHEW PONSFORD, McGill University - Faculty of Law
This project examines recent and ongoing misconduct in the financial sector and implications for corporate governance and accountability. The misconduct ranges from abusive mortgage trades and misreporting on derivatives losses to manipulation of commodity markets. Major corporations, such as JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, have paid billions of dollars to regulators in penalties. The research project reviews the events from the perspectives of corporate governance, specifically whether shareholders are penalized for wrongdoing of corporate managers, and how far the regulatory practice of making settlements with the companies promotes accountability and corporate governance. The penalties diminish shareholder wealth and the question is whether shareholders end up as “helpless victims.” The research herein has combined theoretical and empirical methods. The theory part of research includes discussion of various regulatory methods and their efficacy, the justification for the settlements concluded by the corporations with governments, grounds for proposed personal liability against executives, and possible class action lawsuits in the future. The empirical element consists of review of investigative reports, disclosures by the companies, and settlement orders made by regulatory agencies. This helps form an opinion on the culpability of executives and the related issue about whether the costs of misconduct in the form of penalties are passed on to shareholders.