The Tom Barrack can of worms

From old-timer Mitch McConnell to green-behind-the-ears Madison Cawthorn and every crooked Republican in between, when they had an iron grip on power, they thought it would never end. But they played a risky hand and were dealt the cards they deserved on November 3, 2020, and January 5, 2021, with nothing up their sleeves, losing the Presidency, House, and Senate. Most of these power mongers clinging to their perceived invincibility thought they would get away with unprecedented corruption indefinitely. That’s the only way to explain their arrogance and corruption that continues today.

But when legitimate businesspeople got sucked in, they played along until they saw the deck running out and folded early. Enter, Thomas Barrack. Back in 2018 when it was revealed that Michael Cohen sent a $130,000 wire to Stormy Daniels from an account set up at First Republic Bank, it was also revealed that Thomas Barrack was one of the bank’s board members. Barrack has been a respected executive closely tied to First Republic Bank, having orchestrated taking the bank private and being a longtime board member. His close friend James Herbert, founder of First Republic Bank, prides himself on running a business that is politically agnostic and diverse, and he is an avid patron of the arts.

Many of us here in Hollywood who appreciate the bank’s personal banking style were shocked when Barrack’s ties to the Stormy Daniels scandal made national headlines in 2018. I personally considered taking the company accounts out of the bank, but my contacts there assured me that the bank had no connection to the scandal. Although he seemed to disappear from scrutiny, the arrest of Tom Barrack this week shines a new spotlight on banking, even as his name disappeared from the First Republic Bank board member list.

Barrack’s arrest threatens to open a Pandora’s Box for the banking industry and its shadier clientele. It signals renewed attention on the 2018 whistleblower reports that accompanied the Stormy Daniels scandal and other Trump-related suspicious activity. Going back to August 2011, Rolling Stone reported a whistleblower inside the SEC who came forward to Congress with testimony that the SEC had been, “systematically destroying records of preliminary investigations once they’re closed.”

It had been standard operating procedure for the SEC to destroy Suspicious Activity Reports (SARS) for decades, impairing the SEC’s ability to make connections related to fraudulent activity. “By whitewashing the files of the nation’s worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG.”

   

This practice is equivalent to a police department deleting criminal records so perpetrators of new crimes cannot be traced back to their old crimes or removing fingerprints. These next few months will be fascinating indeed. Should we expect more news about Deutsche Bank and others?

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