Violation Tracker Documents Wide Variety of Misconduct by Big Banks

June 28, 2016

Washington, DC, June 28, 2016 — Since the beginning of 2010, two dozen major U.S. and foreign-based banks have paid more than $160 billion in U.S. penalties to resolve a wide range of cases brought against them by the Justice Department and federal regulatory agencies. Bank of America alone accounts for $56 billion of the total and JPMorgan Chase another $28 billion. Fourteen banks have each accumulated penalty amounts (both fines and settlements) in excess of $1 billion, and five of those are in excess of $10 billion.

Along with misconduct that helped bring about the financial meltdown of 2008, the cases have involved alleged offenses in ten other major categories ranging from manipulation of foreign exchange markets to violations of rules prohibiting business dealings with enemy countries.

These are some of the key findings of The $160 Billion Bank Fee , a report that analyzes the data contained in Violation Tracker 2.0 , an expanded version of a database on corporate misconduct. Both the database and the report are produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First and are available to the public at no charge at

Violation Tracker, introduced last fall with environmental and safety cases, now also contains entries on 700 cases involving banks and other financial companies brought by the Justice Department and ten federal regulatory agencies. Also newly added are 600 cases filed against non-financial firms for offenses such as price-fixing, foreign bribery, and export-control violations. The database now covers cases from 27 federal agencies and the DOJ.

“Violation Tracker 2.0 is another step in our effort to create a comprehensive database on corporate misconduct,” said Good Jobs First Research Director Philip Mattera, who heads the Corporate Research Project and leads the work on Violation Tracker. “We want this to be a valuable resource for groups promoting corporate accountability.”

Using a proprietary system of parent-subsidiary matching developed by Good Jobs First for its Subsidy Tracker database, Violation Tracker links the companies named in the violations to their ultimate corporate parents. Users can see not only individual records but also aggregate penalty totals for more than 1,900 parents. “We are pleased to employ our matching system to enhance another dataset of vital public interest,” said Good Jobs First Executive Director Greg LeRoy.

The $160 Billion Bank Fee report focuses on a subset of the new data: 144 mega-cases with penalties of $100 million or more (not including private litigation) involving major banks. They account for more than 80 percent of the total-dollar penalties of the 1,300 cases in the Violation Tracker expansion. Among the report’s other findings:

  • Along with Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, the other banks with the most penalties are: Citigroup ($15.4 billion), Wells Fargo ($10.9 billion), the French bank BNP Paribas ($10.5 billion) and Goldman Sachs ($9.1 billion).
  • The largest categories of cases are: sale of toxic securities and mortgage abuses ($118 billion in penalties), violation of rules prohibiting business with enemy countries ($15 billion), manipulation of foreign exchange markets ($7 billion), manipulation of interest rate benchmarks ($5 billion), and assisting tax evasion ($2 billion).
  • Of the 144 mega-cases, 120 were brought solely as civil matters. The other 24 involved criminal charges, though in two-thirds of those cases the banks avoided prosecution. The latter include 10 settlements with deferred prosecution agreements and six with non-prosecution agreements. The banks that have pleaded guilty to criminal charges include: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Good Jobs First is a Washington, DC-based resource center on economic development accountability. Its Corporate Research Project provides research resources for non-profit organizations. The initial version of Violation Tracker was supported by a grant from the Bauman Foundation.


Cases involving banks and financial companies:

Justice Department
Commodity Futures Trading Commission (selected cases)
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (cases with monetary penalties)
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (selected cases)
Federal Housing Finance Agency (settlements with investment banks)
Federal Reserve
National Credit Union Administration (settlements with investment banks)
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Securities and Exchange Commission (selected cases)
Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (money laundering cases)

Cases Involving Non-Financial Companies:
Justice Department Antitrust Division, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Division and Tax Division
Bureau of Industry and Security (export violations)
Federal Trade Commission (all cases involving monetary penalties)
Office of Foreign Assets Control (export-control violations)
Securities and Exchange Commission (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases)
Treasury Department Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau