Things must be done and news shared, so I am glad to have a steaming cup of coffee. Sit right down with me and let’s get to the news.
Today we share a few stories from finance, and move forward from there. Some of the stories are dense, but they remind us of our ability to shine our light and set intentions for a better world.
JPMorgan Chase’s US Forex probe legal costs are staggering.
JPMorgan Chase is being investigated by the US Justice Department. They also face charges in the United Kingdom. The firm, along with a number of other institutions such as Citigroup and UBS, is accused of rigging international currency rates.
Chase is cooperating with the criminal investigation. In their quarterly report, the company projects losses of $5.9Billion in legal costs, above the reserves they have set aside for such matters. Chase spent $23Billion in settlement charges for illegal banking activities in 2013.
The US Justice Department is aggressively pursuing criminal behavior within the financial industry. Recently, BNP Paribas pled guilty to conducting illegal international transactions. Credit Suisse also admitted guilt for helping American clients avoid US taxes. Banks that were previously seen as too big to fail, are not to0 big to prosecute.
The currency fixing investigation is global in nature. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority initiated the investigation into various firms profiting from shared currency information and price fixing. Nineteen separate investigations are pending world-wide. This graphic provides clickable information on each case.
Ex-UBS banker exonerated in US tax fraud case.
UBS was fined $780Million, and admitted to assisting American clients evade taxes in a 2009 US Justice Department case. The firm was not prosecuted in exchange for the guilty plea. Top personnel also provided information to build cases against individual employees of the firm.
Raoul Weil directed overseas operations in Switzerland before he was fired by the firm. He was arrested while on vacation in Italy, and extradited to the United States to face trail.
It took the jury only 90 minutes to clear him of all charges. They felt the prosecuting attorneys could not prove his individual guilt. The case sets the tone for future prosecutions of bank personnel used as scapegoats for a systemic corporate culture.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani promises justice for rape victim.
Jahangir’s wife was gang-raped in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province eight years ago. The perpetrators were initially arrested, but most were released, because of their political connections. The family was afraid for their lives, so they moved away soon after.
Unlike many victims of sexual crime, who remain silent, the family chose to speak out and ask for justice. Jahangir’s pleas were picked up by local media, and a team from the BBC came to investigate his story.
President Ashraf Ghani, who was sworn into office in September, then called him to promise that the government would do everything they could to bring these men to justice. Five men were hanged in the country for gang rape in early October. Jahangir hopes their family’s experience will help others stand up to sexual violence in the nation.
Religious differences go awry, as a mob kills two Christians in Pakistan.
Two Christians, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, were beaten to death and burned after they were accused of blasphemy. The mob who attacked them believed they had desecrated a Koran in the village. Police say they tried to protect the victims, but the crowd was too large to control.
Blasphemy laws are often used to settle personal scores and minorities are often targeted. Rumors of blasphemy can make individuals a target for religious extremists.
Many Christians have been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan since the early 1990’s. Most lower court sentences have been overturned due to lack of evidence. The higher court recently upheld the death sentence for Asia Bibi, another Christian woman convicted of similar charges.
Fast food workers in Denmark are receiving a living wage.
Fast food workers in Denmark live comfortably on their wages, which are equivalent to $20/hour. Their US counterparts struggle to make ends meet on less than $9/hour. US workers have been demanding a living wage increase to $15. Most US fast food and minimum-wage workers cannot pay their bills on such low wages, and many apply for government assistance.
Economists point to Denmark as an example of worker equity. Companies say there is no comparison, as Denmark has a higher cost of living, a stronger social safety network and universal health care. Danish companies also have a smaller profit margin than their American counterparts.
There is no minimum wage in Denmark, but workers are paid fairly due to collective agreements between unions and employers groups.
That’s the news for today. Have a hopeful day. I hope to see you back here tomorrow for more news.
Be Well. Be Joy. Be Love!