A newly released study from BrokerChooser has revealed the biggest financial offenders of recent history and the penalities they experienced; with their figures revealing how some companies have racked up fines of $82.9 billion.
The study analysed fines imposed upon companies in the financial services sector from 2000 to the present day to reveal the most heavily fined banks and financial offences.
The top three biggest banking fines recorded are:
|1||Bank of America||$16.65 billion||2013|
|2||JPMorgan Chase||$13 billion||2014|
- Bank of America ($16.65 billion) – First place is awarded to Bank of America, who accounted for half of the top ten biggest fines of all time, but by far the biggest was the one that they incurred in 2013, for knowingly selling toxic mortgages to investors. This ultimately contributed significantly to the financial crisis of the late 2000s.The selling of these mortgages resulted in the spectacular collapse of the housing bubble, providing the global economy with ramifications for years to come. As a just result, the bank was fined a then-record-breaking $16.65 billion.
JPMorgan Chase ($13 billion) – The neighbouring US bank JPMorgan Chase comes in second place, with the bank being forced to pay $13 billion back in 2013.
Similarly to Bank of America’s mega-fine, their punishment was centred around toxic securities abuses in the time of the financial crisis and was agreed upon after lengthy negotiations with the US Justice Department.
UBS ($11.15 billion) – Swiss investment bank UBS comes in third place after being fined $11.15 billion for investor protection violation offences during 2008, agreeing to buy back $11 billion in securities and pay an additional $150 million fine.
They were found guilty of misrepresenting auction rate securities to investors and concealing the true liquidity risk of the products.
The three most fined banks:
|Rank||Bank||Number of Penalties||Total Amount Penalised|
|1||Bank of America||251||$82.9 billion|
|2||JPMorgan Chase||179||$35.9 billion|
- Bank of America ($82.9 billion) – We already mentioned how Bank of America’s dubious activities caught up with them in one of the biggest single fines ever recorded, but that still only makes up a fairly small percentage of the total amount that they’ve been fined over the years. In first place again, Bank of America is the most heavily fined bank clocking up a total of over $82 billion across 251 different fines over the past 20 years.
Many of these fines relate to the 2008 financial crisis and companies that Bank of America bought during this time such as Merrill Lynch and Countrywide.
JPMorgan Chase ($35.9 billion) – As was the case with one-off fines, JPMorgan Chase takes second place behind Bank of America, although by some distance, with fines totalling $35.9bn. The biggest of these was for $13 billion in 2013 and one of the most recent was a $250 million fine over weak controls in its wealth management division in 2020.
Citigroup ($25.5 billion) – The Citigroup investment bank and financial services corporation has been fined over $25 billion across 150 different fines, with the biggest of these being $7.1 billion that was bought back in missold securities in 2008.
This was closely followed by a $7 billion fine with the Justice Department over the group’s role in selling mortgage-backed securities that handed to them back in 2014.
So these are the biggest offenders, and the sheer amount of their fines should come as a warning to all that the watchful eye of financial justice can never be avoided.
We’ve touched on this topic briefly in terms of what these colossal fines were a result of, but delving a little deeper, what are the most heavily fined offences of our age?
The most heavily fined offences:
|Rank||Offence||Total Fined for Offence|
|1||Toxic Securities Abuses||$97 billion|
|2||Investor Protection Violation||$68 billion|
|3||Mortgage Abuses||$56 billion|
Toxic Security Abuses ($97 billion) – The offence that saw the heaviest penalties overall, racking up $97 billion in fines, was ‘toxic securities abuses’ which refers to the sale of investments that are either difficult or actually impossible to sell on, due to demand for them collapsing.
While $97 billion was fined for this offence in total, the actual number of fines handed out was only 96, meaning that each fine amounted to just over a billion dollars on average.
Investor Protection Violation ($68 billion) – In second place, there were over 1,400 fines that added up to over $68 billion for breaches of the Investor Protection Act, which was introduced in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis and aimed to prevent the same problems from happening again.
This regulation covers things such as new financial products, fee structures and trading structures, to ensure that investors aren’t caught out by shady practices.
Mortgage Abuses ($56 billion) – In third place, 83 fines were handed out for offences within the mortgage sector. They added up to over $56 billion, meaning that each fine was worth an average of over $680 million.
Many mortgage lenders have landed themselves in trouble over the years and each of the biggest fines handed out in this sector went to the Bank of America, including the aforementioned mega fine of $16.65 billion.