This is a wide-ranging interview with Bill Black on a subject of the keen desire of the public to see more corporate officials prosecuted for big business misdeeds, and why that never happens these days. Interviewer Richard Eskow starts with the case of the GM ignition switch defect that GM covered up for a decade. Black points out that this should have been a case for prosecution of executives, particularly since it’s now estimated that 100 people died as a result, yet GM merely paid a big fine and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement.
Black goes through the history of how the theory of non-prosecution came to be institutionalized and comments on important precedents, like Enron, and more recent cases. He also debunks the classic excuse “It’s too hard to prosecute these people”. The experience of Benjamin Lawsky at the a secondary regulator with a tiny staff, the New York Department of Financial Services, with no prosecutorial powers, was able to force resignations of senior executives as part of his settlements. Imagine what he would have been able to do had he been able to lodge indictments.