In yet another case of an irresponsible hedge fund manager defrauding his clients out of millions of dollars and getting away with it, Owen Li of Canarsie Capital LLC was let off without sentencing today after pleading guilty to securities fraud and making a false statement. Li managed to lose $57 million in just three weeks in 2014. Initially Judge Sweet who oversaw the case was inclined to give Li a sentence of five years in prison, which was already less than what federal guidelines recommended. Today he decided to not punish Li at all, since Li had been “open and honest about his crimes.”
While we must grudgingly admit it is nice to see a banker taking responsibility for once, it is unacceptable that rich hedge fund managers continue to act irresponsibly with enormous sums of money and suffer no consequences for their wrongdoings. If there is any lesson of the financial crisis of 2008 it is that bankers cannot be permitted to recklessly gamble with large sums of money that they can lose without suffering dire consequences. Simply put, Li is an example of why hedge fund managers need to be managed by regulators; he did not have a personal stake in the money he played with, so he felt comfortable making bets that were far too risky. When Wall Street has too many Li’s, the economy sooner or later goes under. It’s clear that Li and the rest of the ravenous Wall Street vultures who feed off the carcass of the American middle class show no compunction in extorting even their own peers – there is no bounds to their greed.
While the American recovery has picked up, there is still growing inequality and crushing wage stagnation for the middle and working classes. For too long the upper 1% of America has been allowed to play with vast sums of money while claiming immunity from the consequences of their actions, that ultimately hurt those much further down the socioeconomic ladder – in other words, those who can’t afford it. Saying sorry and admitting guilt isn’t good enough in a murder trial, there is no reason why it should be acceptable in a fraud trial, especially given clear federal sentencing guidelines. This kind of leniency in the courts continues to enable Wall Street’s reckless disregard for the 99%.
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