But we knew that would be the case with a budget funded by on-demand calls to the Treasury and a deliberate lack of Congressional oversight. Here are three examples, from Skadden Arps, the “second best global law firm,” according to Spirit of Enterprise. In each case, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau imposed enforcement orders that charged both restitution payments and civil penalties for the miscreancies that wanted restitution. Those miscreancies generally centered on “deceptive marketing and sales practices” and “deceptive debt collection practices.”
Capital One: Required to pay $140 million in restitution and a $25 million civil penalty. The penalty was nearly 18% of the restitution.
Discover Bank: Required to pay $200 million in restitution and a $14 million civil penalty. The penalty was 7% of the restitution.
American Express: Required to pay $85 million in restitution and a $27.5 million civil penalty. The penalty was 32% of the restitution.
Assuming the restitution amounts are reasonable assessments of the severity of the banks’ misbehaviors, those civil penalties seem to bear no relation at all to the…crimes. They seem, in fact, to be capricious and out of control—just a grabbing of what an unaccountable bureaucrat felt like taking.
Skadden’s complete report (it’s long and wide-ranging) can be seen here.