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This evening, the MSM brings us the latest--and, perhaps, one of the most egregious--in a growing list of Wall Street outrages perpetrated against Main Street in: "JPMorgan, Lehman, UBS Named as Conspirators in Muni Bid-Rigging."

In tonight's report, we're now learning of how more than 12 of the world's largest financial institutions have been named as "co-conspirators" in a scam to outright ripoff towns and cities across America via underpayments " U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case."

The coverage of this matter reminds us of recently-publicized cases reported in municipalities spanning the globe -- from Jefferson County, Alabama to Milan, Italy -- all relating to Wall Street involvement in local kickback schemes and/or the conveyance of fraudulent/misrepresentative information by those firms to local government officials and investors.

Apparently, based upon this latest information, those stories may have merely scratched the surface of an ongoing, widespread Wall Street scam perpetrated throughout the U.S. concerning "...alleged collusion in the $2.8 trillion municipal securities market that the government says delivered profits to Wall Street at taxpayers' expense."

JPMorgan, Lehman, UBS Named as Conspirators in Muni Bid-Rigging
By William Selway and Martin Z. Braun

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG were among more than a dozen Wall Street firms involved in a conspiracy to pay below-market interest rates to U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case.

A government list of previously unidentified "co- conspirators" contains more than two dozen bankers at firms also including Bank of America Corp., Bear Stearns Cos., Societe Generale, two of General Electric Co.'s financial businesses and Salomon Smith Barney, the former unit of Citigroup Inc., according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24. The papers were filed by attorneys for a former employee of CDR Financial Products Inc., an advisory firm indicted in October. The attorneys, as part of their legal filing, identified the roster as being provided by the government. The document is labeled "list of co-conspirators."

None of the firms or individuals named on the list has been charged with wrongdoing. The court records mark the first time these companies have been identified as co-conspirators. They provide the broadest look yet at alleged collusion in the $2.8 trillion municipal securities market that the government says delivered profits to Wall Street at taxpayers' expense.

`Sufficient Evidence'

"If the government is saying they are co-conspirators, the government believes they have sufficient evidence that they can show they were part of the conspiracy," said Richard Donovan, a partner at New York-based law firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and co-chair of its antitrust practice. Donovan isn't involved in the case.

Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith weighs in on tonight's story:

JP Morgan, Lehman, UBS Alleged as Conspring to Cheat Municipalities on Investments
Yves Smith
Naked Capitalism
Friday, March 26, 2010

Now it is getting closer to being official. This Bloomberg story reports that not only do Wall Street firms screw their clients (hardly a novel revelation these days) but a large group of firms allegedly conspired to price-fix on guarantee investment contracts, a product used by government issuers to park cash raised via bond issues before they deploy it...

Just yesterday, we read of how JPMorgan--one of the named co-conspirators in this latest case and the recipient of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in early Wall St. bailout-related programs relating to their government-funded takeover of investment firm Bear Stearns in 2008--received almost $2 billion in federal tax refunds in 2009. 24 hours later, we're being told of how Bear Stearns was involved in the systematic ripoff of municipal governments throughout the U.S.

Last week, we were informed of how Lehman Brothers, another named co-conspirator in this evening's story, was (more or less) taken by the hand by the NY Federal Reserve and enabled to post more than $50 billion in highly-questionable "assets," for which they received 100 taxpayer - provided - cents on the dollar from our government.  Then they were comprehensively enabled to fraudulently misrepresent those transactions -- posting collateralized, short-term government "Repo" loans to their books as "sales" -- to the investing public by big-five accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Some call this "financial innovation." I call it blatant corporate kleptocracy which has led us into the worst unemployment/underemployment crisis in this country since the Great Depression.

IMHO, it's the biggest financial ripoff of a society in recorded history.

Kossack gjohnsit had some great words to say about this, just a few weeks ago:

Junk economics and the rape of the middle class
Daily Kos
February 22, 2010

...JP Morgan was behind the financial derivatives that has bankrupted Jefferson County, Alabama over a sewer project.

Because of the financial disaster regarding the sewer project, sewer charges were raised to more than double the national average. Poor, working residents are being forced to chose between water and heat. Cuts in the sheriff's office are so severe that plans are being made to call in the National Guard for any breakout in civil order.

If this sounds suspiciously like the scenario of a 3rd world nation in Latin America, it only means that you are paying attention...

Are you paying attention?  (Because you are paying for this, in one way or another.)

What do you call it?

Originally posted to on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 02:04 AM PDT.

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