A big financial firm pleads guilty to a criminal charge and lives to tell the tale.. The prevailing wisdom has been that no financial firm could survive a criminal conviction.
The potential consequences of the criminal conviction are far bigger. Clients scattered from Andersen after its conviction, precipitating the firm’s collapse and the loss of thousands of jobs. Mindful of this example, banks have fiercely resisted admissions of guilt in all their dealings with America’s regulators. Prosecutors, also worried about unintended consequences, have been hesitant to insist—especially since Andersen’s conviction was overturned on appeal. UBS, for instance, did not admit guilt, instead entering a deferred-prosecution agreement, whereby the Department of Justice has suspended legal action against it in exchange for a series of reforms, in addition to the fine. Indeed, in spite of the popular belief that wayward bankers precipitated the financial crisis, no bank in America has admitted to, or been convicted of, any crime related to it.