"Wrecking an Economy Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry"

"...It’s a disgrace that the Justice Department has failed to bring a single criminal charge against any Wall Street or mortgage executive of consequence for their roles in wrecking the economy, despite having managed to make arrests in the comparatively piddling schemes of Enron and the Savings & Loan flimflam. (The latter resulted in more than 800 convictions, including those of many top executives.)...

...Not only has the Department of Jus­tice (DOJ) failed to build any criminal cases for financial-crisis misdeeds, but it’s also now settling with these banks without even filing civil complaints. A complaint is the cornerstone of civil litigation, the foundation for even routine lawsuits. One of its primary benefits—and of adversarial legal proceedings generally—is that a complaint can bring huge amounts of previously undisclosed information into the public record. In these mortgage securities cases, the Justice Department had not only an obligation but an opportunity: to show the country what it found, to deter future misconduct...

...by imposing a fine without documenting the underlying abuses, the Justice Department has permitted the banks, for a price, to bury their sins.

...in the current cases, in which institutions are accused of systematic wrongdoing with historic consequences, the government is letting banks discreetly settle out of court, as if the facts at issue were some kind of fender bender.

...Better Markets Inc., ...sued the Justice Department in an effort to block the J.P. Morgan settlement... The department’s response was unintentionally revealing. It submitted a motion to have the lawsuit thrown out, contending that it would require an “invasive inquiry into DOJ’s decision-making process.” In the department’s estimation, the aspects of its settlement process that should remain unknowable include:

    “The nature, scope, and thoroughness of DOJ’s investigation, including its duration and the number of documents reviewed and witnesses interviewed ...;

    “JPMorgan’s conduct, including the number, type, and content of its misrepresentations and when they occurred ...;

   ...we don’t get to know how many rocks DOJ looked under. Nor just what misdeeds it discovered at the bank...

...We know the banks are eager to put the scandal of the financial crisis behind them. What’s disturbing is that, in the name of deference, convenience, or something darker, the Justice Department is letting them do just that."


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