White collar crime – denial and punishment

Bernard Madoff has been given the maximum prison sentence of 150 years for masterminding a massive fraud that robbed investors of $65bn (£40bn).

Here’s a list of words in sequence as they appeared in an Irish newspaper reporting Madoff’s case.

Crooked…sentenced…swindling…a massive “Ponzi” pyramid scheme…duped thousands of investors…behind bars…prosecutors…fraudster…fraud… perjury…false reporting…fraud…crimes…fraud…wrong…criminal…fraud…fraud…pretence…scam.

Compare this list with the following list of words taken from another Irish newspaper reporting efforts by former National Irish Bank (NIB) boss Jim Lacey to avoid even the minimum consequences for his part in a massive ten year scam that saw countless millions robbed from the State and directly from customer’s accounts.

Improper practices…tax evasion scandal…falsified documents…hot money.

Ah yes the old reliable ‘improper practices’ it’s the term most favoured by politicians, government officials and journalists when reporting/commenting on major crimes within the Irish financial sector.

In most counties it is also common to witness white collar criminals (the term is still not officially recognized in Ireland) express regret and apologise for their crimes. Here’s what Madoff had to say.

I’m sorry I know that doesn’t help…apologised for the “legacy of shame” he had brought on his family and the industry…I’m responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain, I understand that.

As we know ‘errant’ Irish bankers do not do apologies, they don’t do accountability and they certainly do not do time.

Lacey, denying everything, blamed bank managers who weren’t up to the job or were out playing golf. He blamed Revenue for not testing the bank’s systems. He blamed internal and external auditors and he blamed the Central Bank. Everybody is to blame, maybe even the customer, but not Mr. Lacey.

And then there’s the proceeds/profit/loot gained from financial skullduggery.

Mrs. Madoff agreed to give up almost all of her property except for $2.5m (€1.7m) set aside by the Government as part of a $171bn (€122bn) forfeiture order against her husband by the judge.

She will relinquish her interest in the couple’s penthouse in New York and other homes worth an estimated $22m. She will also give up a $39,000 piano; $2.6m of jewellery; silverware worth $50,000; bed linen worth $18,000; 35 sets of her husband’s cufflinks; a $36,000 sable coat and a $12,500 mink.

She and her children are also under suspicion of complicity in the fraud.

Compare this to the family of the corrupt Haughey who were allowed to keep his millions.

Some; if not most of this money, is the proceeds of Haughey’s nefarious activities but there’s as much chance of a Haughey being investigated for complicity as there is of Lacey ending up in jail.