Fosun founder Guo Guangzhang, 48, who calls himself “China’s Warren Buffet,” is the latest in a long list of suspended or “disappeared” Chinese bankers and finance heads, after President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-graft campaign spread to the financial sector this year. Per Quartz:
From the article:
Since China’s stock market crash that vaporized nearly $5 trillion between June and August, China’s authorities have been ruthlessly looking for culprits guilty of insider trading, rumor-spreading, and what they called “malicious” short-selling.
The culprits (or scapegoats, some argue) include top executives at some of China’s largest banks, brokers, and hedge funds—a comprehensive round-up that would be almost unfathomable in any other country.
So what would this look like in America, especially given that our country is still picking up the pieces from the financial crisis?
The article paints the following picture:
Imagine, for example, if in the past year U.S. authorities had detained or “disappeared” Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan, Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein and several of his top executives, Charles Schwab’s Walter W. Bettinger, Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf, Third Point’s Dan Loeb, and Warren Buffet—as well as several others.
Contrast that with the approach the U.S. has taken.
In the years since the crisis, the Department of Justice reached a $ $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America (BAC) to resolve claims over toxic residential mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations and an origination release on residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Last year, Citigroup (C) officially announced a $7 billion dollar settlement with the DOJ, several state attorneys general, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to settle residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations.
But in each of those settlements, the DOJ did not prosecute the individuals responsible, causing many to wonder if the DOJ would ever go after the people actually behind the alleged crimes.
That strategy appears to be changing, as the DOJ announced in September that it would begin to target individual employees for corporate misconduct in addition to the companies themselves.
In a memo authored by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and addressed to all other assistant attorney generals as well as all U.S. attorneys, Yates said “One of the most effective ways to combat corporate misconduct is by seeking accountability from the individuals who perpetrated the wrongdoing. Such accountability is important for several reasons: it deters future illegal activity, it incentivizes changes in corporate behavior, it ensures that the proper parties are held responsible for their actions, and it promotes the public’s confidence in our justice system.”
Yates writes that there are many “substantial” challenges to holding individuals responsible for corporate misdeeds, including difficulty in determining if someone had the knowledge and criminal intent necessary to establish their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which Yates says can be especially difficult to determine with high-level executives, who may be insulated from the day-to-day activities of the company.
China, not surprisingly, operates very differently.
The Quartz article created a list of China’s top bankers and fund managers who have been detained, disappeared, or died of unnatural causes in the past year. In some cases, their company says they are still “unreachable” and they have not been seen in public since their disappearance.
This is just one example from the article:
Li Yifei, head of the China unit of London-based Man Group, the world’s largest publicly traded hedge fund, was taken into police custody to assist with an investigation into market volatility. Li showed up in November at a Beijing charity forum, denying she has been investigated. Li said she was on a vacation in China when the news of her disappearance came out, but her husband told Bloomberg earlier she was meeting with unidentified “relevant industry authorities.”