July 10 (Reuters) - If the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes were to go out with his lantern in search of an honest many today, a survey of Wall Street executives on workplace conduct suggests he might have to look elsewhere.
A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success, according to a survey by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow released on Tuesday.
In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.
Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.
"When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk," Jordan Thomas, partner and chair of Labaton Sucharow's whistleblower representation practice, said in a statement.
The survey's release comes as the fallout from Barclays PLC's Libor-rigging scandal continues and other banks including Citigroup Inc, HSBC Holdings PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and UBS AG await the outcome of an industry-wide probe.
Bank Of America
In July, a federal probe revealed claims that the drug cartel Los Zetas had used accounts at Bank of America <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/09/los-zetas-laundered-money-bank-america_n_1658943.html" target="_hplink">to launder drug money.</a> Drug traffickers allegedly used accounts at BofA to purchase aircraft to transport cocaine, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-06-29/banks-financing-mexico-s-drug-cartels-admitted-in-wells-fargo-s-u-s-deal.html" target="_hplink">according to Bloomberg.</a>
Since it's founding in 1940, the Vatican Bank has reportedly been involved in transactions with criminals and shady politicians, the German paper <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/a-growing-vatican-bank-scandal-threatens-catholic-church-image-a-842140.html" target="_hplink"><em>Spiegel</em> reports</a>. One such incident involved Roberto Calvi, known as "God's Banker" because of his extensive dealings with the Vatican, who was found hanged beneath London's Blackfriars Bridge in 1982, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/12/roberto-calvi-blackfriars-bridge-mafia" target="_hplink"><em>The Guardian</em></a> reports. Renewed allegations of the Vatican Bank <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/21/jp-morgan-chase-closes-vatican-bank-account.html" target="_hplink">laundering money</a> may have contributed to the forced departure of former bank head Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/9319414/Ex-head-of-Vatican-bank-planned-to-give-dossier-to-Pope.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Telegraph</em> reports.</a>
In 2009, UBS claimed that U.S. government pressure was forcing it to close nearly 19,000 offshore accounts, according to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/business/09ubs.html" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a>. Such accounts were regarded as a means of avoiding disclosures to the IRS and could be viewed "as criminal evidence, not just of tax evasion but also of money laundering," <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/09/business/09ubs.html" target="_hplink"><em>NYT</em> reported at the time</a>.
In 2005, Riggs Bank plead guilty to laundering the money of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and the government of Equatorial Guinea, <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2005-01-27-riggs_x.htm" target="_hplink"><em>USA Today</em> reported</a>. The laundering scandals led to the sale of Riggs to PNC Bank, according to <a href="http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/print-edition/2012/04/27/following-scandal-riggs-bank-sold-to.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Washington Business Journal</em></a>
In 2010, Wachovia was fined $150 million by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/business/18launder.html" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a> reports.
In 2010, Mario Ernesto Villanueva Madrid, the former governor of the state of Quintana Roo, was indicted for conspiring to smuggle "hundreds of tons" of illegal drugs into the U.S. as well as laundering $19 million through a Lehman Brothers account, <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-05-10/former-mexican-governor-used-lehman-to-launder-drug-funds-u-s-says.html" target="_hplink">Bloomberg reports</a>. Five years earlier, former Lehman Brothers broker Consuelo Marquez admitted she funneled about $11 million in drug proceeds through a Lehman account.
In 2009, Credit Suisse was fined $536 million by U.S. authorities for allegedly hiding the identities of Iranian clients in order to move millions of dollars into the U.S. banking system against U.S. sanctions, the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8417239.stm" target="_hplink">BBC reports</a>. It was also accused of similar activity for Libyan, Burmese and Sudanese clients.
In 2007, the U.S. Justice Department charged Lloyds Bank with helping its client Lycourgos Kyprianou, former chairman of Cypriot software maker AremisSoft, launder millions of dollars, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/16/lloyds-tsb-cyprus-markets-equity-cx_vr_1016markets10.html" target="_hplink"><em>Forbes</em></a> reports. In 2009, the British-based bank was fined $350 million for disguising funds from Iran and Sudan so that they could be funneled into the U.S. banking system against national sanctions, <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jan/10/lloyds-forfeits-350m-to-us" target="_hplink"><em>The Guardian</em> reports</a>.
In July 2012, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations announced that it would detail its findings on breakdowns of money laundering safeguards at HSBC, Reuters reports. According to Reuters, HSBC has been the subject of investigation by the Senate and two U.S. attorney offices since January. (h/t <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-hsbc-launderingbre8680x3-20120709,0,6711100.story" target="_hplink"><em>Chicago Tribune</em></a>)