Tags: Holder | Dayen | Wall Street | banks

Fiscal Times' Dayen: Wall Street Criminals Have Breathed Easy Under Eric Holder

By    |   Friday, 19 September 2014 01:24 PM

Eric Holder's record of prosecuting Wall Street criminals is a shameful one that will be his legacy as U.S. attorney general, according to Fiscal Times columnist David Dayen.

The fact Holder once again is saying charges will be brought against fraud ringleaders — six years after the near-collapse of the U.S. financial system, and in the midst of the mid-term election season — does not exactly inspire the confidence, Dayen notes.

In fact, the statute of limitations has conveniently run out for many Wall Street types responsible for the meltdown.

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"The unlucky executives who happen to still be legally culpable when Holder needs to establish a legacy appear to include former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, who has been retired for six years (and whose case would be a civil prosecution), and individuals involved with the illegal rigging of foreign exchange trades."

Dayen pointed out that the foreign exchange scandal mainly involves foreign banks.

In a speech this week, Holder said many of the big banks have opaque lines of authority that make it hard to pin down who is responsible, that he "engaged in the time-honored tradition of blaming Congress" and that he called for heftier whistleblower awards.

"I've talked to plenty of whistleblowers in my day, and not one of them ever mentioned getting into it for the money. Most just want to do the right thing, at great personal risk," Dayen wrote. "Whether or not they should be rewarded handsomely (and they should, since they invariably put their careers on the line), I don't think announcing a bigger payday will move the needle on more people coming forward."

Dayen said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is finally getting around to trying to get small-fry financial criminals to turn on their bosses — something he said even small police departments do as a matter of routine.

"The fact that Marshall Miller, No. 2 at DOJ's criminal division, pleaded with banks this week to turn in their own employees, effectively handing over investigative power to the banks to make their own scapegoats, is similarly dispiriting."

Dayen's bottom line on Holder: "If his record constitutes relentlessness, I'd hate to see nonchalance."

Holder has faced unrelenting criticism for failing to bring criminal charges against any Wall Street executives in the wake of the 2008 crisis, The Washington Post reported.

"Even after the Justice Department secured multibillion-dollar settlements with JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America for their role in selling faulty mortgage securities, lawmakers and financial reform advocates have questioned why individuals behind such schemes have never been charged," The Post said.

While the DOJ has focused more on imposing civil fines than on prosecuting criminals in the 2008 meltdown, the government is not exactly doing a stellar job in collecting the money, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The DOJ has managed to collect only $21.2 billion of enforcement fines levied since 2004, an amount that dropped to only 21.7 percent of the outstanding total by 2013.

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Eric Holder's record of prosecuting Wall Street criminals is a shameful one that will be his legacy as U.S. attorney general, according to Fiscal Times columnist David Dayen.
Holder, Dayen, Wall Street, banks
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2014-24-19
Friday, 19 September 2014 01:24 PM
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