Finally, with about a two year delay, popular opinion has finally caught up with the fact that America has an Attorney General, and that Attorney General is not getting paid $186,600 a year merely to conduct medical research on the dangers of carbonite freezing. In its headline article "Prosecutors Faulted for Not Catching Credit-Crunch ‘Bandits’" Bloomberg has done what every other media was supposed to do years ago, namely ask the well-rested Eric Holder what the hell is the reason that not a single criminal investigation being launched against an entire generation of criminal and corrupt bankers (granted, not all of them....just the multi-millionaires). "In November 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed before television cameras to prosecute those responsible for the market collapse a year earlier, saying the U.S. would be “relentless” in pursuing corporate criminals. In the 18 months since, no senior Wall Street executive has been criminally charged, and some lawmakers are questioning whether the U.S. Justice Department has been aggressive enough after declining to bring cases against officials at American International Group Inc. (AIG) and Countrywide Financial Corp." It is stunning that this is only the first time someone in the mainstream media has had the temerity to actually wonder why nobody had previously thawed Holder from his resting place deep in the nether regions of Jaba's barge where his carbonite statue is publicly presented for all to enjoy.
Some observations on why America can just do away with its ranks of public prosecutorial muppets:
Prosecutions of three categories of crime that could be linked to the causes of the crisis -- corporate, securities and bank fraud -- declined last fiscal year by 39 percent from 2003, the period after the accounting scandals at Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., Justice Department records show.
“You need a massive prosecutorial effort,” said Solomon Wisenberg, a white-collar defense attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Washington and a former federal prosecutor. “I don’t see evidence that it’s happening. If we were talking baseball, it would be at the AAA level.”
The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation dispute that, saying they are continuing to investigate potential wrongdoing connected to the emergency, and some probes didn’t find criminal behavior. They say they stepped up mortgage-fraud prosecutions, which more than doubled in fiscal 2010 from 2009, the first full year for which there is data.
And some more:
To prosecute fraud, the government generally must show executives knowingly made false statements or omitted the truth about a company’s financial health. Bankers have argued that they broke no laws and can’t be blamed for an industry-wide breakdown in risk controls.
Well, for those who have read Levin's paperweight, so aptly summarized by Matt Taibbi, this is not the case, so if only Holder would be so kind to stop accepting indulgences from his Wall Street amigos, he may be better served (and serve the public) to actually do his damn job. For once in his life.
Luckily, the anger is building:
“Can that many companies have collapsed -- large financial firms -- and not one criminal case comes out of it?” said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit who previously was a federal prosecutor and attorney for the SEC. “That seems to go against the norm of the savings-and-loan crisis, and the accounting frauds 10 years ago.”
Lawmakers such as Representatives John Conyers of Michigan, the House Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, and Zoe Lofgren of California have criticized the Justice Department. At a May 3 hearing, Lofgren said prosecutors were more focused on immigration offenses than the financial crisis.
“The department is spending its resources prosecuting nannies and busboys who are trying to get back to their families,” she said. “And yet we have not brought any prosecutions on the bandits on Wall Street who brought the nation and the world to the brink of financial disaster.”
Which is short hand for nothing will change. After all, Wall Street didn't spend a few hundred million in lobbying for nothing.
Holder, 60, told reporters on April 26 his department is reviewing the conduct of Wall Street firms to determine whether crimes were committed. “There is certainly a basis for us to look, as we are, at some actions that were taken by some institutions and by some individuals,” he said. “Whether those will result in prosecutable cases, I don’t know.”
In at least two major cases linked to the financial crisis -- those of former AIG executive Joseph Cassano and Angelo Mozilo, former chief executive officer of mortgage lender Countrywide -- prosecutors concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges, people familiar with the matter have said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigations weren’t made public.
Gratned, there have been some truly brutal wristslaps. Brutal.
The SEC brought a civil case in which Mozilo agreed to pay $67.5 million over claims he misled investors about the firm’s exposure to risky loans.
So instead of Agent Orange, here is what the DOJ is focusing on:
Using government data compiled by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonprofit research center, Bloomberg News identified cases coded as corporate fraud by the Justice Department last year. Most involve people accused of stealing from companies, not wrongdoing by firms themselves.
They included the president of a roller derby team in Ohio, who skates under the name “Sadistic Sadie” and was accused of manipulating the ticketing system of her employer, United Airlines, to slash the cost of travel for her friends, family and teammates. A Maryland case involved a man who embezzled from his company. In New Jersey, a spa owner was prosecuted for a scheme to avoid paying taxes.
These are truly the villains haunting America's society. All those other guys in Manhattan, London and Brussels, well, they just do god's work. And in imitating the Outcast of Omaha, if questioned about this, or any other matter in the future, the elite Wall Street-based clergy will simply refer the questioner back to a release... form signed by Holder and granting Wall Street's criminal syndicate a perpetual get out of jail card for free.