Failure to Prosecute Financial Fraud

Issue Bush Obama Change?
Prosecution of Financial Fraud Post Meltdown Not enough time before he was out of office, but one would not have high hopes considering what a crook GWB was. Nothing. Not a single investigation, let alone conviction, despite the fact that in the S&L crisis, 10,000 indictments were filed and 1000 bankers went to jail and it was only 2.5% the size of the current crisis. One wonders just how many bankers could be jailed if wrongdoing was actually investigated. Wall Street lobby money pays dividends again.

As an example, consider the following cozy relationship between regulators and Citigroup:
So to recap: a unit of Citigroup, having repeatedly violated the same laws and having repeatedly violated the SEC’s own cease-and-desist orders and injunctions, is dragged into court one more time for committing a massive fraud.

And what does the SEC do? It doesn’t even bring up Citi’s history of ignoring the SEC’s own order, slaps the bank with a fractional fine, refuses to target any individuals, allows the bank to walk away without an admission of wrongdoing, and puts a cherry on the top by describing the $160 million heist not as a crime, but as unintentional negligence.

Imagine a car thief who, when caught driving a stolen Lexus, tells the police he simply stepped into the wrong car and drove off by mistake. Now imagine he tells the same story when, two years later, he’s caught screaming over the GW bridge in a stolen Mercedes.

Then, two years after that, he’s caught on the Cross-Bronx Expressway blasting the stereo in a boosted 7-series BMW. Cops ask him for an explanation. “I must have gotten in the wrong car by mistake,” he says, shrugging. And the cops buy the story and send him home without a charge.

That’s roughly what we’re dealing with with this SEC action. To extend the metaphor just a little further – let’s say that BMW wasn’t even the only car he accidentally drove away that day, but the cops didn’t bother with the others. In the latest Citi case, the $700 million fraud was just one of many dicey CDOs marketed by that unit of Citi. But the SEC chose to address just that one case in its settlement.

Worse, but comparison not realistic.

Comments, corrections, or additions: