Are the architects of the financial crisis immune to prosecution simply because it would be too complex? So says an ex-official from the Justice Department. ProPublica writes:
Years after the financial crisis, there have still been no prosecutions of top executives at the major players in the financial crisis. Why’s that? Well, according to a now-departed Justice Department official who used to be in charge of investigating such matters, the Justice Department has decided that holding top Wall Street executives criminally accountable is too difficult a task.
David Cardona, who recently left the FBI for a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the Wall Street Journal that bringing financial wrongdoing to account is “better left to regulators,” who can bring civil cases:
While at the FBI, Mr. Cardona oversaw dozens of criminal probes of large financial firms. The FBI’s probes haven’t led to any successful prosecutions of high-profile executives in relation to the financial crisis, despite demands from some lawmakers and angry Americans. In contrast, the SEC has filed crisis-related civil-fraud cases against 81 firms and individuals, and it has negotiated almost $2 billion in penalties in cases that have been settled.
Cardona told the Journal that the failed first attempt to charge financial players with crisis-related fraud — the 2009 trial and eventual acquittal of two Bear Stearns Cos. hedge-fund managers — triggered “a lot of rethinking on how we do things.” After that, he said, the federal government began to question its “ability to convince a jury that criminality has occurred” on complex and technical financial cases.