No Evidence Justice Department Will Prosecute U.S. Banks Responsible for Financial Crisis

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Bill Black is in particularly fine form in this Real News Network video. Black recounts the various excuses for not prosecuting the parties that blew up the global economy, and gives a new one from the Justice Department: that regulators told them that yanking bank charters would blow up the global economy. Of course that’s a straw man; Black and others who’ve been serious about prosecution have stressed the importance of targeting individuals.

And we continue to get far too many apologies for the lack of prosecutions. Jesse Eisenger, for instance, argued last week that the Justice Department had been too bold and successful in going after Andersen as part of the Enron bankruptcy; it led to a “counteroffensive” by the corporate bar. But this again was the prosecution of companies; Eisenger fails to offer convincing explanations as to the failure to go after individuals successfully. Hint: despite his explicitly saying the reverse, it really was lack of nerve. The Justice Department badly botched its prosecution of two CDO fund managers at Bear Stearns who were if anything victims and went into retreat. And as we’ve said, having Geithner at Treasury and Robert Khuzami as head of enforcement at the SEC didn’t help either.

Real prosecutors like Eliot Spitzer and Neil Barofsky disagree vehemently with the “it’s all too hard/Corporate America is too well defended” palaver. As those who saw the movie Inside Job may recall, Spitzer laid out a simple way to go after Wall Street: hit firm employees with charging drugs and prostitutes to research budgets (this practice is so common that it’s even discussed in thinly disguised personal memoirs like ex Goldmanite CDO salesman Tetsuya Ishikawa’s How I Caused the Credit Crunch.

In case you’ve got friends and colleagues who’d like better talking points as to why the banks (or more accurately banksters) got away with murder, this segment is a great place to start.

More at The Real News

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  1. The Dork of Cork

    Bill fails to understand that the bank is the state and the state is the bank.
    The true government is centralized NYFR type operations where the production and control of credit poison is emitted. i.e. the scarcity management headquarters.
    I mean Jesus – look at the simplier Irish estate…the judge quite rightly through out a case against two Anglo Irish bankers because the instructions came from higher up the government ladder.

    The only possible response to the bankers at this stage ts to ban the production of credit and government debt creation and give each citizen a fiat allowence.
    Of course this will not happen as again lets us remind ourselves………..the bank is the state and the state the bank.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        I have read somewhere on these pages recently that your brain must live in some sort of 1984 land to hate stuff or someone.
        What utter Bollox
        I hate Jesuitical thinking because of its product (the boys it turns into middle management men of dubious character)
        I hate Calvinisitc capital accumulation as it is so pointless and soul destroying.

        I hate the Talmudic moral relativism which works in a quite twisted manner hand in hand with a supremely arrogant system of rewards and punishments of a Mosaic and monetary nature

        Its actually quite logical to hate.
        I mean Sweet Jesus look what they have done !!!!

  2. Moneta

    It’s a small world…. they are all from the same class… most probably have skeletons in the closet… when you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones…

  3. allcoppedout

    My Uncle’s assertion on glass houses was ‘don’t undress with the light on’. It would be interesting to know if cops have serious complaints on the drugs on file. Most cops are very lazy and don’t go looking for work. They are usually attracted in by disturbance calls. Standard drug enforcement still involves such as ‘test purchase’ to get in on the chain of supply. Nicking people for other crimes than what you investigate is considered bad form, though I did it to give victims relief (boys in uniform turning up to breathalyse fraudsters and anti-socials).
    If Wall Street drug abuse is as bad as claimed, I can see a lot of reasons to get some of these people nicked in order to get into the lines of supply. They are presumably “respectables” and likely to give up contacts and take part in stings to save their own bacon. It would be an expensive operation requiring under-cover and wire tap. Very hard to justify on ‘evidence’ that might just pimp books. Plus the class problem arises again when you apply to a judge for warrants. You’d need a designated squad.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “boys in uniform turning up to breathalyse fraudsters and anti-socials”

      Like getting Capone on income tax violations, except updated to modern times for hookers and blow. That would be sweet. I love the picture of, say, testing the bills in Lloyd Blankfein’s wallet for residue. I wonder if his desk has a mirror?

  4. Doug Terpstra

    You don’t prosecute your current boss and future benefactor. It’s an immediate career killer…and could lead to “suicide” by nail-gun or late night fall.

    I’m sure Bill Black had opportunities to sell out his soul but didn’t. After the next collapse, we will need people like him to put these bankster-polititian felons away permanently … including the Felon-in-Chief.

  5. steelhead23

    While I truly admire Dr. Black and agree with him, at some point we all need to accept that until our political reality changes, this injustice will continue. That is, it isn’t so much Eric Holder who is corrupt, it is the American government that is corrupt and he is merely the face of that corruption. Yesterday, Darryl Issa stated that the IRS went after right-leaning tax exempt organizations for spending too much money on political advertising, in an attempt to reverse the SCOTUS decision in the Citizens United case, threatening to toss the perpetrator in jail for refusing to answer questions under oath. What a hypocrite. Where were the subpoenas, where were the questionings under oath of Lloyd, Jamie, and the rest of the Wall Street gang? And Mrs. Warren, if you are reading this, shaming your colleagues over their treatment of the elites is not our number one priority – the loss of democracy is. Please do all you can to bring it back. Then perhaps, we could achieve a modicum of justice.

    1. diptherio

      With the increasing visibility of our rotten state apparatus, and with the Supreme Court doing everything in its power to make our electoral process the exclusive plaything of the rich, the window may be starting to open for one of my more hair-brained ideas.

      Wresting control of the state from the Wall Street d-bags would no doubt be a desirable occurrence. But in practice that means winning a whole lot of elections, which currently requires the support of one of the two major parties, both of which are firmly in the pockets of the Wall Street stock-jobbers. But as this situation becomes apparent to more and more people, it may be possible to do an end-run around the whole lot of ’em by doing the totally counter-intuitive thing: not raising any money.

      Imagine a candidate or a party whose platform has one major plank: we don’t take money from anybody. Build the rest of the platform around policies that enjoy high popular approval ratings (Medicare for all, decreasing military expenditures, prosecuting Wall Street criminals, etc.) and run as a third party, or as a D or an R, whatever seems most likely to succeed in your state.

      Crowdsource the Revolution. You want a yard sign or poster for the candidate, print one off of our website. Use the internet for all our publicity (hell, it seems like every time I turn the TV news on they’re showing some youtube clip anyway). Leverage the power of the internet (while we’ve still got it) to create and galvanize a truly grassroots movement to reform the electoral and political systems. Occupy spread to quickly and grew so large due largely to the internet and social networking. Now we could use a more long term effort that draws on that same energy. Imho.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Thank you for this post, Yves.

        No rule of law and no prosecutions of individuals under a false “Too Big to Prosecute/Jail” doctrine. Attacks on whistleblowers, rather than encouragement. Suppressing the criminal referral process from regulators that is both essential and effective to successful strategic success against these mammoth control frauds, and now blaming the regulatory agencies for the lack of prosecutions… Interesting group of individuals in this administration.

        If neither of the two legacy political parties will carry the water for the People’s interests because to do so would deprive them of their largest funding sources under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings, then I support diptherio’s suggested approach. And I see no indication from the leadership of either legacy political party of any changes in their approach to funding.

      2. ChrisPacific

        If I’m not mistaken, that’s what Beppe Grillo’s party did in Italy. Lack of cash was a feature, not a bug.

  6. MedicalQuack

    All these folks go after the low hanging fruit with cases that don’t involve prosecuting any technology and there’s your fraud, running on servers 24/7 with math models that run subsequent algorithms. Watch Too Big to Jail and you can see former DOJ Lanny just squirm all over the place because he’s over his head and has no sense of data logic. We had the Sebelius Syndrome too, same thing it’s all over the place and we’ll have more quit as they don’t have the logic or refuse to admit that the code on servers is the tool that keeps fraud going. If you want to learn more, check out the Killer Algorithm page which is full of videos from Quants who used to write it and they’ll tell you.

    Learn to how you get duped as well believing in quantitated justifications for thing that are just not true.

  7. monday1929

    Yves, Typo- criminals name s/be Robert Khuzami, not Ray. (keeping record clear for future anthropologists).

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oops, I keep doing that! I wonder if my propensity to mangle the names of Important People is a subconscious way of dissing them.

  8. Lafayette

    No Evidence Justice Department Will Prosecute U.S. Banks Responsible for Financial Crisis

    Right and proper words, “No evidence”.

    In order to prosecute, the JD needs evidence. It is very difficult to come by.

    Unless, somebody out there knows something that the JD doesn’t know? Squeak up!

    1. pretzelattack

      maybe they could have a private meeting with jaime dimon, ask him if he knows anything. no? no problem!

    2. sleeper

      There is plenty of evidence. And much evidence has been accepted as fact.
      The banks knowing laundered drug money, the banks created tons of fraudulent mortgage documents, the banks stole homes from service men and women while overseas. The banks engaged and continue to engage in wire and mail fraud.

  9. The Dork of Cork

    “The other alternative, while recognising the necessity for discipline in the world, does not
    (20) concern itself with that necessity in considering the modern productive process. It
    surveys the facts, finds an inherent incompatibility between the substitution of solar
    energy for human energy, on the one hand, and the retention of a financial and industrial
    system based on the assumption that work is the only claim to goods, on the other hand,
    and takes as its objective the delivery of goods, making the objective always subordinate
    to human individuality. It is not concerned with abstractions, such as justice. It has no
    comment to make on the fact that one man does twice as much work as another, except to
    enquire whether he likes doing it; or that one man wants twice as much goods as another,
    except to investigate the difficulties, if any, in giving them to him. It observes, or thinks it
    observes, that it has sufficient data to predict not only that such a policy would work, but
    that it is the only policy in sight which would work”

    CH Doulgas

    Justice !!!!
    The state operates a scarcity system that is perhaps failing …………
    Why would the state want to prosecute its minions other then as a sop to popularism.

  10. The Dork of Cork

    “The vast majority of discussions which take place in regard to industrial problems are
    prevented from arriving at any conclusion from the fact that the disputants do not realise
    the premises on which their arguments are based, and in many cases use words (and
    “justice” is an example of such words) which beg the whole (21) question at issue. It is
    not too much to say that one of the root ideas through which Christianity comes into
    conflict with the conceptions of the Old Testament and the ideals of the pre-Christian era,
    is in respect of this dethronement of abstractionism. That is the issue which is posed by
    the Doctrine of the Incarnation”

    CH Douglas.

  11. rich

    NY Fed Joins War On Whistleblowers To Shield Goldman Sachs From Its Own Examiner

    And this sort of egregious behaviour from a ‘regulator.’ They argue out of both sides of their mouths whether Goldman is a ‘bank’ or not, in order to get what they want for… Goldman.

    The Fed is not a government agency, but a privately owned creature of the very Banks whom it is charged to regulate and restrain.

    And as we have seen, over and over again, the Fed is not part of the solution, but has become very much a part of the problem in distorting the banking system in favour of a few powerful financial interests.

    A Mangled Case of Justice on Wall Street
    By Pam Martens
    May 8, 2014

    If this Federal Court allowed a regulator to twist a Federal whistleblower law inside out and upside down, it would be sending a chilling message to every other bank examiner in America: keep your mouth shut or you too can be fired with impunity.

    The unfairness of the proceeding was heightened when just 20 days before the Judge issued her written decision on April 23, she convened a phone conference with both sides to make a shocking announcement: “it had just come to her attention that her husband…was representing Goldman Sachs in an advisory capacity” according to the telephone conference transcript.

    Judge Abrams’ husband is Greg Andres, a partner at law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP who previously worked under Lanny Breuer in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. (Breuer announced his resignation one day after the PBS Frontline program reported that “when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.”) To date, not one key executive at any Wall Street bank that played a role in the financial collapse has been indicted.
    Following that telephone conference, Segarra’s lawyer, Linda Stengle, filed a letter with the court asking for a more complete disclosure of the Judge’s husband’s relationship with Goldman Sachs.

  12. jgordon

    This pretty much seals the notion that our entire political/economic/monetary system is nothing but a sham and a scam. Those who control the creation of currency units, and their watchers, are irredeemably corrupt. So hopefully this system does not approximate too closely the system MMTers would like installed in its stead–because it’s hard to see how any sort of of similar system could avoid the evils that have (intentionally, by design?) befallen our own.

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws.”

  13. Lafayette


    I am one of the many who think Tim Geithner had a hand in the Obama Staff’s dislike of prosecuting the banks for the kleptocracy that occurred in the run-up to the Credit Mechanism Seizure in the fall of 2008 that prompted the Great Recession of 2009 – from which many have yet to see the light at the end-of-the-proverbial-tunnel.

    Tim is saying his piece in the matter and it is worth noting his self-defense here. What Tim is saying is that, at the time, it was more important to put out the fire than to find the culprits who lit it. In a way, he’s right.

    Once the house is consumed, who cares about those responsible? We would have had on our hands, without ARRA Stimulus Spending, a full-blown depression. Let’s remember that, as in the 1930s, unemployment rates could have reached 20/25% instead of the 10% we did have.

    There are always at least two-sides of a story. Whilst I think the Fed botched the job of Market Oversight as regards the SubPrime and Toxic Waste Mess, few seem to be partisan to that sentiment. At the heart of the matter is personal greed. Far too many knew what was happening, and no one wanted to blow whistles, because the kleptomaniacs were making a killing. Overnight millionaires were being created, many of which less than 50 are tanning themselves nowadays in the eternal Florida sunshine.

    If Obama cared to overlook the kleptocracy and punishing them, I figure it was a political calculation. To have done so in his first tenure would have put the fox midst the chickens and killed the funding he needed for reelection. No one can get elected in this Media-Bent democracy of ours without Mucho Moulah. Which is why Holder has only now been given the green-light. But Holder is not going after the perpetrators in person – because the time-limit on any such actions is well passed (we are told). He’s going after the banks themselves settling out of court for humongous fines.

    Ok, Ok – that’s not what we, the inflicted, were all expecting in this end-game. We wanted blood to quench our anger.

    And it looks like that jus-aint-gonna-happin …

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