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Which U.S. Bank Will Wikileaks Expose?

Posted by Larry Doyle on November 30, 2010 6:28 AM |

Truth, transparency, and integrity.

If I had a nickel for each and every time I wrote those prized virtues here at Sense on Cents, I would have a lot of nickels. I not only espouse these principles in my writing. I strongly believe that the pursuit of these virtues is the foundation for real economic success, if not life itself.

While each of these principles may be defined differently depending on one’s perspective, in terms of transparency, most people would be able to say, “Well, I’d know it if I saw it.” The world is now beginning to see a lot more transparency and accompanying material. How so? Wikileaks. Who is Wikileaks and what are they getting ready to release?

WikiLeaks is a not-for-profit media organisation. Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth. We are a young organisation that has grown very quickly, relying on a network of dedicated volunteers around the globe. Since 2007, when the organisation was officially launched, WikiLeaks has worked to report on and publish important information. We also develop and adapt technologies to support these activities.

Is it any surprise that in a world so interconnected that an organization such as Wikileaks has developed? No, certainly not. I shudder to think that people, including those in our military, may be harmed by the release of truly sensitive information that rises to the level of national security. That type of transparency we do not need. But what about transparency that might change corrupt corporate behaviors? Wouldn’t that be beneficial? Well, get ready because in Forbes’ An Interview With Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, we learn the following:

These megaleaks, as you call them that, we haven’t seen any of those from the private sector.
No, not at the same scale for the military.

Will we?
Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.

Is it a U.S. bank?
Yes, it’s a U.S. bank.

One that still exists?
Yes, a big U.S. bank.

The biggest U.S. bank?
No comment.

When will it happen?
Early next year. I won’t say more.

What do you want to be the result of this release?
[Pauses] I’m not sure.

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.

Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation. For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.

This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.

You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s not done, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest. The way they talk about it.

WOW! Might it be Citigroup? JP Morgan Chase? Bank of America? Wells Fargo? Goldman Sachs? Could it be a bank outside that group?

Think the executives within these organizations are running some fire drills right now?

I am not so naive to think that corporate practices along the lines of what may be released by Wikileaks have not gone on for a long time. That said, if the media, financial regulators, and government officials had all collectively performed their duties to the level expected by the public, Wikileaks may never have developed.

Comments, color, constructive criticism always encouraged and appreciated.

Larry Doyle

I want to thank the regular reader of Sense on Cents who brought this story to my attention.

Please subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook.

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • LMS

    Who thinks it is BofA and all of the dregs related to the underwriting of mortgages in and around California both by its own bankers and also from Countrywide?

  • Drew

    The real question here is will the documents expose fraud and corruption and ALSO implicate government officials and regulators.

    Will not be much of a surprise if the fraud and corruption is exposed BUT will be interesting if smoking guns are provided which link Wall Street to Washington.

  • Matt

    Larry –

    In an October 2009 interview with “Computer World” magazine, Julian Assange said that Wikileaks had acquired a large cache (5GB) of information from Bank of America. This would lead me to guess that this is going to be about Bank of America, and the more I think about it, that one makes the most sense out of any of the banks you mentioned. Here is the article about that 2009 interview:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/30/wikileaks-targeting-bank-of-america_n_789804.html

    Matt

  • Lisa

    Very interesting.

    I couldn’t agree more, especially about the fine line between sunshine and national security.

    One comment worth adding (which I think at minimum is already implied by your article) is that the development of wikileaks is very Darwinian in nature.

    If the economic landscape supported more mainstream development of true ground-level and gritty news reporting then perhaps a lot of “old school” news publications would still be thriving. Fortunately we have alternatives. It will be interesting to see how some of the for-profit news organizations either pick up on and validate or seek to invalidate wiki’s information, actions, and motives.

    Keep the punches coming !!!!!! Maybe we’ll eventually see a wikileak about Rupert Murdoch or other “information management” barons in the future . . .

  • Bill

    I’d like to see an electronic dump of congressional private emails and documents. That would be a toxic cesspool to end all scandals.

  • HOTEL CALIFORNIA

    SEC showed leniency to bailed-out Bank of America, watchdog report say:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
    dyn/content/article/2010/11/30/AR2010113006893.html

    Heck screw the regulations, and bail out the fat cats, while many of us “little folk” are still suffering and enduring the fraud of these banking & brokerage criminals.. still a case in point the Auction Rate Security scandal.

    The FED and SEC could have resolved this mess 2 years ago, yet too busy bailing out banks, other countries, looking after the wealthy, and throwing money into endless wars.

  • Scott

    No matter who it is, when(and if)dividends are raised by the banks, it will be a poker call. All that raise, will be immune to WikiLeaks, but should one, not raise, and also be the focus of Wikileaks, lookout below!






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