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Many on Wall Street say greed isn't just good -- it's necessary

July 10, 2012|By David Lazarus
  • A quarter of high-finance types say it's OK to bend the rules to get ahead; "Wall Street's" Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) would approve.
A quarter of high-finance types say it's OK to bend the rules to get… (Twentieth Century Fox )

They say it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch. So how rotten can things get when a quarter of those apples are no good?

A survey of 500 top Wall Street execs by the law firm Labaton Sucharow finds that 24% believe that professional money people need to engage in unethical or illegal behavior to be successful.

Moreover, 26% say they've seen or know of such behavior, while 16% would commit insider trading if they thought they could get away with it.

Nearly a third of survey respondents say their compensation plans create pressure to bend ethical standards or violate the law.

"When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk," says Jordan Thomas, chair of Labaton Sucharow's whistle-blower representation practice.

As we all know, Wall Street has been saying for years that no further regulatory oversight is necessary. Banks and brokerages are basically straight arrows, execs say, and can be trusted to do the right thing.

Apparently not. Any industry in which a quarter of workers believe they need to violate rules to get ahead is an industry that's inherently messed up.

That's why adult supervision from agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is necessary.

That's why no one trusts these guys.

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