There is substantial speculation that Bank of America will be WikiLeaks next target. At the Hack in the Box Conference in 2009, Julian Assange claimed to be in possession of a top executive’s hard drive.
But there is little reason to wait for the contents to be leaked. Bank of America's history of fraud and ethical misconduct are already well documented in the news.
Here are four reasons why leaving Bank of America should be your New Year's resolution.
On Friday, Bank of America joined PayPal, Visa, and Mastercard in blocking donations to WikiLeaks, reports David Murphy of PC Mag. This should come as no surprise.
In a November 11th interview with Forbes journalist Andy Greenberg Assange announced his plans for a "megaleak" early in 2011 that will target a "major American bank."
He stated, "It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume," adding, "For this, there's only one similar example. It's like the Enron emails."
A self-proclaimed fan of American Libertarianism, Assange commented that WikiLeaks can potentially impact executive behavior in the private sector. "WikiLeaks means it's easier to run a good business and harder to run a bad business, and all CEOs should be encouraged by this," he stated.
This may be true, but it provides a terrifying scenario for companies guilty of illegal or unethical business practices.
A spokesperson from Bank of America stated, "The decision [to block WikiLeaks' transactions] is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments."
Apparently financing the sale of the mercenary army, Blackwater (now Xe) is consistent with "internal policies for processing payments."
Blackwater's founder Erik Prince is selling the company to a group of Los Angeles financiers, reported the "New York Times," and sources say that Bank of America will be bankrolling the deal.
Blackwater’s crimes include the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad in 2007, allegations of falsifying paperwork to give a firearms gift to the king of Jordan, purportedly paying a businessman in Iraq to buy black-market steroids for Blackwater operatives, and trying to bill the U.S. government for prostitutes for hard-partying operatives in Afghanistan, as well as strippers in New Orleans in Katrina’s aftermath.
Jeremy Scahill’s blog for “The Nation,” documents all of this and much more, including testimony of Blackwater operatives spraying buildings that housed Iraqi civilians with AK-47s from the windows of drug-fueled parties.
The company, which generates 90% of its revenues from the U.S. government, has over ten years of documented illegal activity hanging over its head and is bearing numerous civil lawsuits.
Bank of America’s involvement in the $200 million sale of Blackwater is shameful, although not surprising, and should provide a reason to move your funds to another bank.
On December 7th, Ronald D. Orlo of MarketWatch reported that Bank of America admitted to fraud in the municipal bond derivatives market and will pay $137.3 million in damages. This story was covered in business sections, but made surprisingly few headlines.
"The conduct was egregious — in return for business, the company repeatedly paid undisclosed gratuitous payments and kickbacks and affirmatively misrepresented that the bidding process was proper," said SEC director of enforcement Robert Khuzami.
"According to the agency, in some cases these bidding agents gave Bank of America Securities information on competing bids, helping the financial institution win the transactions. The agency charged that Bank of America rewarded these bidding agents with payments and kickbacks.
The SEC reports that the bidding process generally was not competitive because it was 'tainted by undisclosed consultations, agreements or payments.'"
The Department of Justice stated that Bank of America "self-reported" the fraud, an act which usually results in a more lenient settlement.
4. Arizona/Nevada Lawsuit:
Arizona and Nevada are suing Bank of America on charges of misleading customers in loan-modification, reports the "Los Angeles Times."
On Friday, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard filed a lawsuit against Bank of America for "failing to implement anti-foreclosure measurements it promised in 2009."
"Bank of America has been the slowest of all the servicers to ramp up loss mitigation efforts in response to the housing crisis," he said. "It has shown callous disregard for the devastating effects its servicing practices have had on individual borrowers and on the economy as a whole."
Within hours of Goddard's complaint, Nevada’s Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto filed a similar complaint, stating the bank lied to customers.
"We are holding Bank of America accountable for misleading and deceiving consumers,' said Masto. "Nevadans who were trying desperately to save their homes were unable to get truthful information in order to make critical life decisions."
"Goddard said Bank of America failed to provide justifications for denials of modifications, misled borrowers into thinking they had to miss payments to obtain modifications, and initiated foreclosure proceedings while trial loan modifications were in place — all in violation of its settlement with the state last year."
There is often little that individual citizens can do to protest bad behavior of giant corporations. But seeing as how Bank of America received $45 billion in taxpayer-supported government bailout funds over the past two years, their recent conduct involving WikiLeaks transactions, financing the sale of Blackwater, fraud in the municipal bond market, and abuse of loan-holders in Nevada and Arizona is enough reason to exercise your dollar votes by choosing a different bank.
Source: Death & Taxes