The legacy of Eric Holder

The Real News Network interviewed Bill Black, an expert on white-collar crime and a former financial regulator, on the legacy of Attorney General Eric Holder.  Here is part of what he said:

Eric Holder has surprised me.  I always predicted that he would at least find one token case to prosecute some bank senior executive for crimes that led to the creation of the financial crisis and the global Great Recession. … …

Well, he’s actually going to leave without even a token conviction, or even a token effort at convicting

So, in baseball terms, he struck out every time, batting 0.000, but he actually never took a swing.  So he was called out on strikes looking, as we would say in baseball.

Too-big-to-jailAnd I couldn’t believe that he would leave without at least having one attempted prosecution against these folks.

So he hasn’t done the most–he never did the most elementary things required to succeed. He never reestablished the criminal referral process, which is from the banking regulatory agencies, who are the only ones who are going to do widescale criminal referrals against bank CEOs, because, of course, banks won’t make criminal referrals against their own CEOs.

Holder could have reestablished that criminal referral process in a single email on the first day in office to his counterparts in the banking regulatory agencies, and he’s going to leave never having attempted to do so.

On top of that, if you’re not going to have criminal referrals from the agencies, the only other conceivable way that you’re going to learn about elite criminal misconduct of this kind is through whistle-blowers.  And as you mentioned, this administration, and Eric Holder in particular, are known for the viciousness of their war against whistle-blowers.

What the public doesn’t know—and it doesn’t know because of Eric Holder—is that in the three biggest cases involving banks–again, none of them, not a single prosecution of the elite bankers that drove this crisis—all three of those cases, against Citicorp, against JPMorgan, and against Bank of America, were made possible by whistle-blowers.

via After Eric Holder Resigns, A Look at His Record on Bank Prosecutions.

Instead of prosecutions, Holder negotiated settlements in which the big banks agreed to pay big fines.  That would have shifted the penalty from the actual wrongdoers to the stockholders.  Black pointed out that the stockholders didn’t suffer, either, because when the settlements were announced, the stock prices of the banks rose by more than the amount of the settlements.

LINKS

Financial Criminals Have Been Fined Billions But They Rarely Pay by Joe Pinsker for The Atlantic.

Bankers and financiers have many ways to hide and shield their incomes.  Government regulators like to announce big fines for financial wrongdoing, but these fines are rarely collected in full.

The Quiet Coup by Simon Johnson for The Atlantic in 2009.

The former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund wrote that the United States has all the hallmarks of an emerging nation that has been taken over by a wealthy oligarchy.

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