Eric Holder’s Last Chance to Prosecute Financial Meltdown Bankers

Thursday, February 19, 2015
Eric Holder (AP photo)

Americans should know within the next three months if the U.S. Department of Justice is going to punish Wall Street executives for causing the financial meltdown last decade.

 

Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been accused repeatedly by critics during his six years in office of being soft on banking executives, has told his top prosecutors to decide in the next 90 days if they have enough evidence to indict any top bank officials for crimes related to the 2008 financial crisis.

 

Holder is leaving his post as AG, making the decision his last opportunity to shape his legacy on the matter of financial misdeeds.

 

“I’ve asked the U.S. attorneys … over the next 90 days to look at their cases and to try to develop cases against individuals and to report back in at 90 days with regard to whether or not they think they’re going to be able to successfully bring criminal and or civil cases against those individuals,” Holder said in a speech at the National Press Club this week, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

 

If the previous six years is any indication, it is unlikely any executives of financial institutions will be charged. The Obama administration has consistently opted for civil, not criminal, punishment of major banks for their alleged wrongdoing. Time and again, huge settlements have been reached between Holder’s department and Wall Street firms but there have been no admissions of guilt or executives facing criminal charges.

 

For example, JP Morgan Chase agreed two years ago to pay $13 billion, but that didn’t affect CEO Jamie Dimon’s 74% pay raise.

 

Holder said that his prosecutors have investigated financial executives, but haven’t found any smoking guns. “We have exacted or extracted record penalties from banks who we have found to have engaged in inappropriate practices,” Holder said. “To the extent that individuals have not been prosecuted, people should understand that it is not for lack of trying.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Holder Starts 90-Day Clock on Potential Prosecution of Bankers (by Alison Fitzgerald, Center for Public Integrity)

Eric Holder’s Biggest Failure (by Danny Vinik, New Republic)

World’s Biggest Banks in Fresh Crosshairs of U.S. Justice Department…But Will Anyone Go to Jail? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Holder Claims Big Banks are Too Big to Jail (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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