BY: Sital S. Patel
August 20, 2014
The world’s biggest banks have now paid more than $142 billion in fines for wrongdoing tied to the financial crisis. That’s a huge number — but it pales compared to what tobacco companies have paid for their transgressions.
The top five U.S tobacco companies paid a combined $246 billion to settle with 46 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia in 1998. The states had successfully argued that tobacco companies should cover the exorbitant cost of treatment for health issues related to smoking.
For both industries, the settlements also led to heavy regulation and other significant changes to how companies do business.
For banks, the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010, forced them to scale back risk and increase the amount of capital held in reserve. The Federal Reserve also required the biggest banks to undergo “stress tests” that showed whether they could survive another crisis without taxpayer-funded bailouts.
For their part, the tobacco industry agreed to accept federal regulations, which included advertising bans and a halt to marketing that targets the young.
The following are some of the biggest fines that banks have paid:
Bank of America Corp. BAC has paid a staggering $74.65 billion in fines and tops our table. The bank announced a record settlement of $16.65 billion with the Justice Department on Thursday for charges stemming from its purchase of mortgage lender Countrywide in 2007 and Merrill Lynch. This is the largest-ever government settlement with a single U.S. company.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM has paid about $27 billion of fines. In November, the bank agreed what was at the time a record $13 billion settlement of charges also related to mortgages.
Citigroup Inc. C has paid about $12.14 billion in fines. The latest came in July, when the bank said it would pay $7 billion to the Justice Department, several state attorneys general and the FDIC, over mortgage-related charges.
On Wednesday, Standard Chartered Plc UK:STAN said it will pay a $300 million penalty for lapses in its money-laundering procedures, its second such penalty after a $340 million fine levied in 2012.
By comparison, the five largest tobacco makers, Philip Morris PM , R.J. Reynolds (now renamed Reynolds American Inc. ra RAI , Brown & Williamson, Lorillard LO and Liggett & Meyers made thebiggest litigation settlement to date in corporate America.