No Criminal Cases Yet Against Wall Street Banks Despite Obama Administration’s Vow To Go After Those Responsible for Financial Crisis

According to the Washington Post, even though the President Obama had vowed to hold Wall Street accountable for the economic collapse, his administration has yet to bring any charges against the large investment banks that took out loans from mortgage companies, turned them into toxic securities, and sent them into the world’s financial markets. Now, some are wondering whether government officials went too far in their promise to pursue charges that can’t really be filed because they could criminalize an “entire business model in the financial industry.”

Tim Coleman, a former senior Justice Department staff member,says that one of the problems is that not all of the people on Wall Street that contributed to the economic meltdown necessarily committed crimes. Rather, some of them made bad calls and took risks that fared poorly.

It was just last November that US Attorney General Eric H. Holder reinforced the vow to prosecute Wall Street executives and others. When launching the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, he said the Justice Department would be “relentless” in pursuing financial and corporate wrongdoing. Now, officials and Holder himself are defending this promise against critics.

At a recent news conference, Holder stated that the Justice Department’s efforts should not be assessed only in relation to Wall Street cases. Also, James M. Cole, Obama’s nominee for deputy attorney general, has said that it is essential to go after the individual executives whose actions led to the economic collapse.

The Justice Department has charged 1,215 people with mortgage fraud since the beginning of March. Also, earlier this month, the Justice Department arrested Lee Bentley Farkas, the former chairman of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker. The government is accusing Farkas of committing a $1.9 billion securities fraud against the government and investors, destroying evidence, falsifying documents, covering up the mortgage firm’s losses with money from Colonial Bank, and then tapping into the emergency bailout program for the banking system to help Colonial.

With 48 ongoing FBI investigations into financial institutions and businesses, officials say to expect more indictments. UBS, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, the former Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase are among the firms being probed. Also, the Justice Department obtained a 12% budget increase to combat financial fraud this year and is asking for an additional 23% for next year.

Related Web Resources:
Cases against Wall Street lag despite Holder’s vows to target financial fraud, Washington Post, June 18, 2010
Mortgage Scams Targeted in Sweep, The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2010
CEO of mortgage giant, Lee Bentley Farkas, indicted in $1.9B massive fraud scheme, NY Daily News, June 16, 2010
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

Eric H. Holder, US Department of Justice
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