Department of Justice "Crackdown" On Wall Street Is Just a P.R. Stunt Targeting Small-Time Crooks

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

Alan Greenspan, William Black, James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz,
George Akerlof, Chris Whalen and many other economists and financial
experts all say that the economy cannot truly recover  unless those who committed fraud are prosecuted.

So we should be ecstatic that the Justice system is finally prosecuting fraud, right?

As the Washington Post notes:

 

At
a news conference headlined by Attorney General Eric H. Holder,
authorities unveiled "Operation Broken Trust," a collection of unrelated
criminal and civil cases involving Ponzi schemes, foreign currency
frauds, investment scams and other market cons.

 

The
announcement drew attention to President Obama's Financial Fraud
Enforcement Task Force, a group of agencies working to hold accountable
people and companies accused of financial wrongdoing during difficult
economic times. The task force has struggled to pursue high-profile
prosecutions connected to the financial crisis of 2007-09.

 

Authorities said the operation involved 343 defendants facing criminal
charges and 189 facing civil charges, though some will be counted in
both categories. The cases represent more than $8.3 billion in investor
losses and 120,000 victims.

 

***

 

"With this operation,
the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is sending a strong
message," Holder said. "To anyone operating or attempting to operate an
investment scam: Cheating investors out of their earnings and savings
is no longer a safe business plan. We will use every tool at our
disposal to find you, to stop you and to bring you to justice."

 

The schemes often targeted communities, churchgoers and the vulnerable,
including the elderly, a blind man and the bereaved family of a
recently deceased man, Holder and other law enforcement officials said.

That may sound impressive at first.

But
$8 billion divided by 343 (the number of criminal prosecutions) only
averages around $24 million per prosecution, which is small potatoes
given that financial fraud by the big banks has cost the country trillions.

As Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in the New York Times:

To hear Eric H. Holder Jr. tell it, the Justice Department is aggressively cracking down on financial fraud.

 

***

 

It
all sounded quite important, and the program’s slogan is pretty
catchy. But after you get past the pandering sound bites, a question
comes to mind: is anyone in the corner offices of Wall Street’s biggest
firms or corporate America’s biggest companies paying any attention to
Mr. Holder’s “strong message”?

 

Of course not. (I actually called
some chief executives after Mr. Holder’s news conference, and not one
had heard of Operation Broken Trust.)

 

That’s because in the two
years since the peak of the financial crisis, the government has not
brought one criminal case against a big-time corporate official of any
sort.

 

Instead, inexplicably, prosecutors are busy chasing
small-timers: penny-stock frauds, a husband-and-wife team charged in an
insider trading case and mini-Ponzi schemes.

 

“They will pick on
minor misdemeanors by individual market participants,” said David
Einhorn, the hedge fund manager who was among the Cassandras before the
financial crisis. To Mr. Einhorn, the government is “not willing to
take on significant misbehavior by sizable” firms. “But since
there have been almost no big prosecutions, there’s very little
evidence that it has stopped bad actors from behaving badly
.”

 

***

 

Fraud
at big corporations surely dwarfs by orders of magnitude the
shareholders’ losses of $8 billion that Mr. Holder highlighted
. If
the government spent half the time trying to ferret out fraud at major
companies that it does tracking pump-and-dump schemes, we might have
been able to stop the financial crisis, or at least we’d have a fighting
chance at stopping the next one
.

 

Shawn J. Chen, a
partner in the Washington office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen &
Hamilton, called the announcement by Mr. Holder “a public relations push more than anything else.”
Mr. Chen went so far as to suggest that the number of cases Mr. Holder
cited as evidence of the department’s crackdown were somewhat
fictional.

 

“It’s hard to believe that they built up all these
cases in the past four months,” since the task force was created, Mr.
Chen said, suggesting it was more likely that Mr. Holder counted every
case that had anything to do with financial fraud and put them all
under the Operation Broken Trust umbrella.

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jailnotbail's picture
From no less an authority than his CFR.org  "Backgrounder" page: Eric H. Holder Jr., Attorney General Author: Joanna Klonsky, Associate Editor

Updated: February 3, 2009

President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., served as the deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration and has considerable justice department experience. He will be the first African American to serve in the post. The U.S. Senate confirmed Holder's appointment on Febuary 2, 2009. At his confirmation hearing on January 15, he pledged to use all available tactics "within the letter and spirit" of the U.S. Constitution to defeat enemies of the United States. "Adherence to the rule of law strengthens security by depriving terrorist organizations of their prime recruiting tools," Holder said.

Holder began his career with the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, where he served twelve years, investigating federal corruption. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Holder to be an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, a post he filled for five years until President Bill Clinton chose him to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, the largest such office in the country.

Holder became deputy attorney general under Janet Reno in 1997 and later served as acting attorney general during the first few weeks of the Bush administration until President Bush appointed John Ashcroft to the position. He faced criticism from some congressional Republicans for his role in Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.  Holder told the White House he was "neutral, leaning towards favorable" on the pardon, which turned out to be Clinton's most controversial, in part because of funds donated to Clinton by Rich's former wife.

Holder argued in 2002 that detainees in the "war on terror" are not technically entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions. In an interview with CNN, Holder said the detainees should still be treated "in a very humane way and almost consistent with all of the dictates of the Geneva Convention." In a CNN interview in 2004, Holder was critical of the Bush Justice Department's use of the Patriot Act, saying it had been enforced in less-than-transparent way.

More recently, Holder has objected publicly to the Bush administration's handling of the "war on terror." In a June 2008 speech, Holder urged the closure of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, calling the facility an "international embarrassment." He also called for the United States to outlaw torture, to end the practice of rendition, and to stop warrantless domestic wiretapping. "Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the war on terror have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe," Holder said in that speech.

Selected Readings:

Eric Holder on the Rule of Law. Remarks at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. June 2008. (PDF)

Eric Holder on the Patriot Act. Interview with CNN's Judy Woodruff. April 2004.

He's quite a piece of work, this Holder. Very adaptable. Anybody who can stand in for Ashcroft and then come back and star as Mr Justice in "Change Has Come to America," well you've got to give him credit for having range, at least.

And he certainly has the "Change Has Come to America" routine down cold. He wants to close Guantanamo, end torture and rendition, stop warrantless wiretapping, and treat detainees  n a very humane way and almost consistent with all of the dictates of the Geneva Convention;" but he's been working his fingers to the bone to effect the opposite of all those goals.  Takes right after his boss.  A regular role model, inspiration to children, and by this time a made member of the organized crime family that runs this country.

Widowmaker's picture

The Dept. of Justice is a P.R stunt. (period)

Same with homeland insecurity.

doomandbloom's picture

Trust me...i know what i am doing.

shortus cynicus's picture

I read between a lines:

Cheating investors out of their earnings and savings is no longer a safe business plan.

He is admitting that cheating investors was in the past safe business plan. If it was so, mr. Holder should prosecute himself and whole administration for being decades long (probably since 1913) a complice of all this criminals.

The Real Fake Economy's picture

will we ever see the biggest crook of all Soros catch some heat or is he too politically powerful to go after? 

Miles Kendig's picture

Soros?!  Soros is a small time side show that essentially rode the churn potential, just better than most.  Heck, Soros success at this is smaller than Rupert Murdoch even.  Actually try digging and do some research rather than regurgitating data dumps.

I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half. - Jay Gould

tom a taxpayer's picture

Outrageous! Ridiculous sideshow.

Not only is DoJ not criminally prosecuting the Wall Street ringleaders in the greatest financial crimes in U.S. history, the federal government (Executive and Legislative) has been protecting the Wall Street mob for decades. And since 2008 the federal government has been openly, flagrantly, in-the-public's-face, bankrolling the Wall Street mob. And since 2008 the federal government has been actively saving mob bosses like Goldman Sachs from failure, from bankruptcy of mob operations. The federal government is allowing Too Big to Fail to be Too Big To Jail.

RICO criminals on Wall Street aided and abetted by the federal government (Executive and Legislative). Outrageous!

Miles Kendig's picture

RICO criminals on Wall Street aided and abetted by the federal government (Executive and Legislative). Outrageous!

You forgot the law...

It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder. - Frederic Bastiat

Widowmaker's picture

I get junked every time for this, but all law is not applicable upon incorporation.

Incorporated poor, incorporated business, incorporated politics, you name it, there is no such thing as "enforcement" after incorporation.

Laws without enforcement are called bonuses.

rocker's picture

Rember now, our voice is only small. We march at the captial with a TEA Bagger symbol.

Who should we really march upon. Congress ??? Or the FED ??? Who really steals our wealth ??? Just who ARE THEY ???

And really, who is the FED ???  Surely, a U.S.A. branch of government would not do this against the American People !!!

 

essence's picture

People have short memories.

Let me remind you all of the controversy that arose when Eric Holder was
nominated as a canidate for Attorney General. Seems he had pardoned a
tax cheat in a prior position under the urging of his superiors.

Little wonder why Obummer choose him.

A compliant bro.

 

David99's picture

Serious matter

Russian jets interrupt US-Japan drill
Japan's Sankei newspaper reported that Russian patrol planes this week entered airspace above the Sea of Japan where the United States and Japan were conducting drills, causing a halt to part of the exercises

David99's picture

Big sharks are too difficult to catch

China is going to increase interest rates by 0.25 basis points this weekend and another 3 hikes on 11th Feb, 11th April & 11th June making total 100 basis rise in 6 months.

Make a note on your calender and get out of your longs before it is too late

Widowmaker's picture

Big sharks are "too difficult to catch?"   That is such a pussy statement you should be ashamed.

I don't give a shit how "difficult" the predator, the means are the same. 

As said in the cranial realignment business, "bullets, bait, and a little wait."

Bob's picture

Of course, the banksters' mother ship transports money into their accounts directly out of the ether. 

DCCynic's picture

Fred Hayek and many others here get it.  They will string up a few "small fry."  I will believe they are serious when active partners in Goldman Sachs are led out of their offices in handcuffs.  

 

We have few choices.  The Republicans and the Democrats care only about maintaining their places in power and think the American people, no the whole world are fooled.

f16hoser's picture

Holder is a lazy Mo-Fucker! Questions?

 

 

Hoser

 

 

cosmictrainwreck's picture

yeah, I got a question.........who's the Attorney General now? follow-up: what exactly is it he does, again? does he have adequate staff? is he clean? does he dress well? is he married? does he have a girl-friend? does he do cocaine? how often? ooops, that's several questions...

Fred Hayek's picture

Attorney General Eric "Place" Holder isn't doing jack shit. 

But, let's be honest, some of the most hallowed names in government investigation didn't do jack shit.  No, that doesn't excuse Holder's overpowering inertia but I've heard a lot of references to the Pecora Commission that sound as though they should be delivered amid genuflecting.  But, IIRC, only one guy went to jail as a result of the Pecora Commission and that was because that particular bankster stole from some of the other banksters. 

Bill Black was the real deal.  Bill Black sent crooks to jail.  Eric "Place" Holder is no Bill Black.

JustACitizen's picture

They can arrest and prosecute all of the "small fry" - probably be thousands of people. However, those people were just imitating their "betters". The erosion of trust in the various institutions of society as a whole will not be cured by this. The perception of a "fair or just" marketplace will not be restored. Even the most optimistic person in the world would not believe perfect trading records...

benb's picture

Eric H. Holder. Eric H. Holder? Attorney General Eric H. Holder?…The name rings a bell. Wasn’t there an Eric Holder who was number three in the Clinton administration’s Justice Department? You know, could this be the same Eric Holder that ran the cover-up for the federal government blowing up the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City in 1995? Talking about sending in The Lone Ranger.

Is Obama going to give him The Medal of Freedom too?

liberal sodomy's picture

You might remember him better as Detective Harris from Barney Miller.

http://www.nndb.com/people/542/000046404/rg_barneymiller_02_70.jpg

 

Seymour Butt's picture

Just more waste of taxpayers' money. Our tax dollars at work folks.

ThisIsBob's picture

Holder comes across as a little weasel, so it probably wasn't too hard to pick up on his boss' example:

 

Remember how Obama said he was freezing Government salaries?  Then, oops, just cost of living, increases?  Then a reduction of ss taxes?  Turns out Government employees end up with a raise!

Rainman's picture

Fuckin' A, Bob .........must keep all regime insiders placid, content and willing to fight for the cause.

Miles Kendig's picture

Heck, the whole structure, private & public is premised upon the vulgarities of social parasitic predation ... remember to blast it all Rainman. 

anony's picture

Forget it.  There are any number of analogies, similes, metaphors and the like to describe essentially a barn door that is too late for closing.

You can vote into eternity, won't change a thing. 

The voter is already corrupt, coopted, or outright opposed once the newbies learn about pork barrel politics at the feet of the senior committed thieves. How do you think Barney Frank gets elected?

The republicans swept  the '94 elections taking over after 40 years in the Gobi desert? Anything change? They were victorious, throwing out such stalwarts as the Speaker of the House, ol' what's his face; Rostenkowski served time, Condit was screwing 18 year old staffers, they eventually tanked Daschle, Gephardt, and other liberal shitheads, then the republicans lost "the Hammer", tom delay.  Dodd ain't returning. 

And thru it all where are we today?

Just as bad or worse than ever.

There is only one solution: Anarchic violence. Severed heads, temporal apertures suddenly appearing in Supreme court justices heads, colorful explosions in the senate chambers.  Barring the action of militant extremists, prepare for a life of muddling thru, and every person for himself and his family.

All this other talk is just that: conversation.  

littlebuddy's picture

There is only one solution: Anarchic violence. Severed heads, temporal apertures suddenly appearing in Supreme court justices heads, colorful explosions in the senate chambers.  Barring the action of militant extremists, prepare for a life of muddling thru, and every person for himself and his family.

 

Thank you. 

 

Someone's gonna do it sooner or later. Matter of time. Let's face it, al Qaeda won't do it. The alleged terrorists have yet to kill a politician in this country. If they were really pissed at us for our freedoms and wanted to kill as many americans as they could in one go, ramming airplanes into buildings is hardly the way to go. 3,000+ people? chicken feed. what about an NFL stadium at playoff time? what about a britney spears concert? what about a gay rights demonstration? all these venues have considerably more people in attendance. the likelihood of killing more than 3,000 is much higher, if al Qaeda is what we're supposed to believe it is.

 

...but, since it's not, and since they will never kill a US politician that matters, sooner or later the people- or at least some of them- will turn anarchic, and political heads will be exploded.

 

if that happens, i might just buy a TV.

Encroaching Darkness's picture

When those who steal are punished, thievery goes down.
Is Chris Dodd in jail yet?
How about Franklin Raines?
I guess we'll have to wait until Barney Frank gets unelected to send him up the river.
Bound to be, oh, a few hundred thousand former Feds that need to do some hard time for their thieving before some semblance of "morality" returns to Washington.
We'll know the message is getting through when Ron Paul takes over his (sub)committee and starts holding hearings on who's guilty for this mess.
If he gets "unchosen" for chair of his subcommittee, then the existing Republican leadership remains a "target-rich" environment for the Tea Party.
In the 2010 primaries, Bennett, Specter and Murkowski went down; they won't be the last if the others haven't learned.
Rewarding the thieves with continued Federal office hasn't worked; let's see if electoral defeat (followed by incarceration) works better.
They can't clean up their own act; Rangel proves that (along with Geithner, Summers et. al. who should never have been confirmed). It's up to the people to show them the errors of their ways.
Several down, lots more to go: come on, 2012!

nmewn's picture

Agree with all.

I still want clawback...strip them of all benefits and pensions.

And to the new incoming Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee (you POS).

http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/earmarks.php?cid=N00004133

We're watching you in particular.

Ned Zeppelin's picture

And even better:  that succubus Andrew Ross Sorkin, who has served the Masters of the Universe well in their disinformation campaign, pretends to actually give a shit. Well done, succubus.

New Revolution's picture

You make a very good point Cognitive, that is exactly what happened in Russia and one of the primary reasons why the place sucks economically.   No one wants to work as there is more interest in either the scam or, if you've given up on ever getting ahead, vodka.   And we are approaching that tipping point as the crimes of the ruling Kleptocracy elite are unfortunately looked at with respect and the worship of money.   It must end and it is up to the everyday American Citizen to vote for those who will pledge to smash the crime ring that now passes for government in America.   Our battlefield is the ballot box.   We need  a few good candidates who will commit to a 7 point contract with America.  It can be done. 

Gene Parmesan's picture

You really think the ballot box is the answer at this point? I think we're at least a decade late for that option.

WTF2's picture

News Flash!  Holder is a joke and the big boys go unscathed?  Rising social acceptance of fraud is a symtom of a third world country.  WE ARE NO LONGER NUMERO UNO!  Richest man in the world is a Mexican.

MarketTruth's picture

As i have posted on ZH before, this is VERY MUCH like the drug cartels of the 1980's in Miami. The Big Fish feed the Feds small fish. The small fish busts make happy headlines while the Big Fish keep bribing/feeding the Feds. At the same time the Big Fish eliminate their profit-stealing competition. It truly is that simple.

Miles Kendig's picture

And this has been going on for so long that "law enforcement" doesn't know any other way to operate.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

When are we going to admit what is plainly evident, that we live in a country beset by corruption at nearly every level of corporate and government leadership and that it has filtered down to the lower ranks? And when will we actually do something about this?

From a practical point of view, there is only one more level of corruption before we as a nation and as individuals choke to death in our own pool of vomit. That of the average citizen turning to his own version of corruption. We are not that far away. I'm talking about that point where everyone has lost faith in ever seeing the end to the madness and it all becomes one huge "everyone for him or herself" cluster fuck.

It's time to recognize that "we the people" must stand up and lead so that our leaders will find the courage to follow.

ronin12's picture

This reminds me of stories I've heard about Eastern Europe where people will try to shake you down for additional "entrance" fees to public parks, etc. The corruption and scams are everywhere.

I fear we are steamrolling in that direction.

Miles Kendig's picture

If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself - Justice Brandeis

Dburn's picture

That of the average citizen turning to his own version of corruption.

Personally I think we are there now. People now see it as a Darwinian struggle for survival that has no morals and no law. One does anything to anyone to make sure they get the last paycheck in town and the last dollar in town.When jobs are limited and people feel threatened who have jobs. They will do what they have to do to whoever they perceive as a threat to that safety.

People have gotten downright mean. That's why a popular uprising with pitchforks and flames will start at the neighborhood level as we try to kill each other off. The people watching from the safety of Camp Hampton will find this incredibly funny too knowing we are killing for moldy scraps after they made off with everything including the silverware. It will be like watching a couple of scorpions fight complete with betting and loads of fun for everyone.

It's inevitable and unavoidable.Rush Limbaugh doesn't make 50 million a year for nothing nor does the liberal commentators make their millions for nothing. I guess we all are a bunch of real tools.

Milestones's picture

Hey, don't knock it, Mr. Barnum and Mr. Bailey made good $$$ at it. Tailor your business plan to what works.

Gawd, are we a great country or what!!      Milestones

DavidPierre's picture

Meet your real Mafia Over Lords...

Family of Secrets

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52hrzJZkJd8

The Bush Family Fortunes : The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

http://freedocumentaries.org/teatro.php?filmID=42&lan=en&size=big

And from a ZH Contributor 'geopol'...

George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography

http://tarpley.net/online-books/george-bush-the-unauthorized-biography/

While everybody else is out running around in circles chasing their tails over...

'The WackiLeaks' BS...

do something more useful with your precious time and limited energy... learn the true story of what is hidden in plain sight.

Shell Game's picture

It's time to recognize that "we the people" must stand up and lead so that our leaders will find the courage to follow.

Hear, hear, C.D.

Hulk's picture

You are spot on with your statement on corruption at every level. For those who actually take it on, as I have, be prepared for the battle of your lifetime, they don't go down easy and I assure you, you will be stunned by the level of corruption you will find...

I highly recommend watching the Markopolis senate hearings before embarking. This will help prepare you for what you will run into. Good luck.

iDealMeat's picture

From a practical point of view, there is only one more level of corruption before we as a nation and as individuals choke to death in our own pool of vomit. That of the average citizen turning to his own version of corruption.

 

That's the problem..  Liars, cheaters, and scumbags > honest people.  Scumbags are the majority at every socioeconomic level.  and the higher you go the higher the % of scumbag.

DisparityFlux's picture

We have already reached that point.  There is no down-side risk to immoral behavior.  It is either ignored, envied or parodied.  What happened to being shamed and ashamed?

DavidPierre's picture

"Government of the Mafia, by the Mafia, and for the Mafia !"

Tony Soprano's New Jersey Address.