U.S. authorities' $8.9bn settlement last month with BNP Paribas for sanctions busting will pay for New York cops to get live computer feeds of street crime and for new carpets in the offices of prosecutors, among many other things.
Reuters reports that in the past few months, American regulators and prosecutors have forced some of the world's largest banks to pay massive fines for everything from breaching U.S. sanctions to alleged mortgage abuse and illegal tax schemes.
Now the question is what the U.S. is going to do with all the cash. In some places - particularly New York state - that is leading to ugly wrangling over how to spend it.
Some of the $18.5bn in penalties U.S. authorities have levied on banks since May was already earmarked in settlement papers for specific purposes, such as principal forgiveness on struggling homeowners' mortgages.
But a lot is not allocated for anything in particular, raising many questions. One is whether there should be clearer standards for how such money is used by a maze of state and federal authorities. Another is whether the money has distorted incentives for officials.
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