Friday, June 8, 2012

The US has one Jamie Dimon; we have 24 senators

Tempers apparently were running high when global bankers met in Washington over the weekend. According to the Financial Times, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase launched a tirade at Mark Carney, Bank of Canada governor, in a closed-door meeting in front of more than two dozen bankers and finance officials. Mr. Dimon’s beef was new capital rules . . . which he calls “anti-American,” and says discriminate against U.S. banks.” [Financial Post, 26th Sept 2011]

The honeymoon is over. “JPMorgan's $2 billion loss: Time to fire CEO Jamie Dimon? [The Week, 14th May 2012]. The nation's largest bank is scrambling to contain the fallout from a risky bet gone wrong, but some say the purge has to start at the top.” Dimon was likened to a “rock star” at the height of Wall Street’s implosion and especially after his bank absorbed a couple of failed financial institutions. But Americans saw it coming as Dimon aggressively led the fight against tighter bank regulations, and even invoked American patriotism.

Sounds familiar? Aren’t some of our legislators invoking Philippine sovereignty given that the international community is on our case re money laundering? And we wonder why our credibility is suspect? In the land that is synonymous to freedom, tax payers are reminded especially at tax time that . . . “The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (otherwise known as the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act) requires financial institutions in the United States to assist U.S. government agencies to detect and prevent money laundering. Specifically, the act requires financial institutions to keep records of cash purchases of negotiable instruments, and file reports of cash purchases of these negotiable instruments of more than $10,000 (daily aggregate amount), and to report suspicious activity that might signify money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities.” [Wikipedia]

Writes David Brooks of NY Times, 17th May 2012: “. . . The democracies in Europe and the United States were based on a . . . carefully balanced view of human nature: People are naturally selfish and need watching. But democratic self-government is possible because we’re smart enough to design structures to police that selfishness.” But in our cacique environment, we don’t entertain “any threats to our power.” We can be above all else, including the misery of Juan de la Cruz.

And so while the country and the economy is suffering due to inadequate and costly power, we can have a handful laughing their way to the bank. “Since 2003, two-thirds of foreign investments in infrastructure have gone to Vietnam, and the Philippines was getting “change” compared to the amount of trade investments coming into Asia and the rest of the Asean nations . . . One of the major reasons for the lack of trade investments is the lack of power or inexpensive power sources.” [Phl joins list of Next 11 Emerging Markets, The Philippine Star; 17th May 2012.] We can’t just watch the tail wagging the dog. The administration must, indeed, be front and center exercising stepped up leadership given the depth and breadth of this challenge – which, sadly, is a national debacle . . . and a disgrace!

Unsurprisingly, “The senators, particularly Sen. Joker Arroyo, have raised concerns over the ease with which Morales was able to secure Corona’s bank records from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) . . . The Senate impeachment court, led by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, admitted the AMLC records as evidence . . . “Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said the administration or whoever is in power might use the Office of the Ombudsman or the AMLC to harass or destroy its political enemies;” Senators cite need to amend anti-money laundering law; The Philippine Star, 17th May 2012.

And so our senators find laws like anti-money laundering incredulous? When is engaging in “ordinary and reasonable” banking transactions a concern? Our senators are not like errant drivers calling traffic cops names – because law-abiding citizens accept them as part and parcel of civilized societies? It is what the rule of law is about – and our incredulity confirms why we rate poorly in governance? And we wonder why we’re underdeveloped? Try banana republic . . .  

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