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Janet Tavakoli

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Wall Street's Advice to Joran van der Sloot

Posted: 06/08/10 11:40 PM ET

Before we get to your problem areas, we'd like to congratulate you on almost having "the right stuff." You are a manipulator and an unabashed liar. You have no remorse. You are a master at twisting things to suggest your victims had it coming, and you don't think of them as human beings.

You suggest that Natalee Holloway threw herself at you when you weren't even interested. Stephany Flores "intruded" on your private life, after you escorted her to your room. She took your computer--presumably a computer that either didn't have logon password protection, or for which you gave her the password. She failed to acknowledge your greatness and recoiled in horror. How dare she? What an insult to your Weltanschauung! You couldn't allow her to roam free with that sort of judgmental attitude aimed in your direction. We appreciate your attitude and then some.

Unfortunately, you are a piker and more than a little sloppy.

Extorting money in exchange for information was truly inspired, but you only collected $25 thousand* of the $250 thousand you originally asked for. We are really big on extortion, and we know how to keep milking our victims. We threatened our government that the financial system would collapse, if it allowed shareholders to be wiped out and debt holders to accept debt for equity swaps. We had our government eating out of our hands, begging us to take hundred of billions in TARP money, and hundreds of billions more in back-door bailouts and ongoing Fed subsidies.

We deflected some blame to Fannie and Freddie, even though most of the problematic subprime mortgages were fueled by money raised from our private securitizations. We got Congress to pressure Fannie and Freddie to lower their standards and buy hundreds of millions of our "AAA" rot. After our Ponzi schemes unraveled, they were forced to pick up the slack. Meanwhile, we make money hand-over-fist funded by our victims, U.S. taxpayers.

We pillaged entire neighborhoods driving millions into bankruptcy. We destroyed families and drove a few of our victims to suicide. As for lack of remorse, we've even propagated what Elizabeth Warren calls the "myth of the immoral debtor." We excel at shifting blame and kicking our victims when they're down. Fortunately for us, we devastated the finances of the least powerful people. The public outcry from our victims has been successfully muted.

This brings us to the most important part, and here's where you really screwed up. If you kill an influential customer, don't get caught in unfriendly territory. If you forget that rule, don't confess.

Notice how well things went for you in Aruba where your family had connections? Your friends and family sheltered you. The justice system seemed designed to protect you. The entire investigation was a farce to feed the media. It left you free to commit more crimes. In Peru, your victim's family has connections, and now the shoe is on the other foot. You don't see us vacationing in China do you? They take financial crimes seriously.

We stay in friendly territory. "Investigations" and "financial reform" are designed to feed sensational--but harmless--content to the media. They love us! We've bought most of Congress, the SEC crafts lame complaints, the entire regulatory system is captured, rating agencies are in our pocket, the FBI's budget is a joke, and the Department of Justice can't seem to remember its purpose. We cratered the economy and got the financial equivalent of a traffic ticket. This has left us free to make a mockery of traditional banking and ramp up global systemic risk. We're rolling in more cash than ever before.

You probably noticed that all of this good advice comes a bit too late to be helpful. We'd like to say it's because we have a conscience, and that you are a bigger creep than we are, except you'd see through that. The fact is we enjoy rubbing salt in wounds, and when it comes to creating havoc and misery, we just want you to know that we are better at it than you are.

Endnote: Free Copies for the Grand Jury

My book on the the global financial meltdown, Dear Mr. Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street, (Wiley, January 2009) explains that the relationship between failed mortgage lenders and Wall Street securitization departments was a widespread interconnected Ponzi scheme, which is illegal in the United States, and names culprits: mortgage lenders, investment banks, CDO managers, credit rating agencies, monoline insurers, regulators, Congress, and more. Some were criminals, others were enablers. If the Department of Justice ever decides to prosecute, I will provide free copies for the first grand jury.

*Updated June 10, 2010