Justice Department Too Busy Busting Fake Designer Handbag Cartel to Prosecute Bank Crime

Go read this whole piece by Richard (RJ) Eskow:

If only. If only Brian Moynihan designed fashionable shoes, Jamie Dimon pitched a mean slider, and Lloyd Blankfein had written the song “Boyfriend” for Justin Bieber. Then they’d prosecute bank fraud.

The Justice Department used as many people to investigate one baseball player as it’s doing to pursuing Wall Street housing fraud. It hascoordinated fifteen federal agencies to seize counterfeit goods worth $178 million, yet all but ignored a bankers’ crime wave which cost the global economy trillions.

Our largest (and, lest we forget, taxpayer-rescued) banks have already paid tens of billions of dollars to settle civil and criminal charges — and now there’s LIBOR. Yet there have been no arrests for a well-documented litany of charges which includes bribery, perjury, forgery, investor fraud, consumer fraud, and money-laundering for Mexican drug cartels.

Let’s do the numbers. Number of seizures to recover counterfeit goods worth $178 million: 24,792. Number of arrests for crimes worth tens of billions in settlements and trillions in losses: Zero.

Earlier today I took part in a press call with the Campaign for a Fair Settlement in which its campaign director, Brian Kettenring, noted that the Department of Justice assigned 93 agents to investigate ballplayer Roger Clemens and “about 100 to investigate misconduct responsible for millions of underwater homeowners and $800 bllion in underwater equity.”

They weren’t investigating Clemens for his pitching technique (although I think there’s more to be learned about his split-finger fastball), but for something even less consequential: his alleged steroid use. Kettenring’s right to contrast the government’s Clemens probe with its response to the well-documented Wall Street crimes which triggered a worldwide financial crisis.

Roughly 1,000 investigators were assigned to the much smaller Savings and Loan scandal, and 100 to the Enron case alone. Now we’re told that 100 people have been assigned to a Task Force which must investigate every major bank in the country.

My participation in today’s call was prompted by some reporting I did recently, where confidential sources close to the RMBS investigation told me it could deliver concrete results, and soon,with as little as twenty or thirty more people. But that the Justice Department won’t provide them.

. . .

And as for tone, a personal note: Some of us have written about the financial industry for years — its dishonest underwriting, its often-falsified risk management practices, and its ongoing patterns of criminal behavior. We’ve used both personal experience and the mounds of data pointing to massive bank fraud in order to lift our soft voices in protest. Some of us are well-known, respected, even Nobel Prize winners. Others, like yours truly … not so much.

But each of us has tried to find our niche in this little ecosystem of economic resistance so we can speak out as best we can. Years have passed. In the meantime bank executives, and too often our leaders, have continued to behave in breathtakingly cynical ways.

Trust me: I’d rather be still be using the analytical, dispassionate tone of a corporate consultant or State Department team member. But the times don’t call for that anymore. Harsh truths sometimes call for harsh language. Some people enjoy doing it; I don’t. But only the Justice Department can disprove the charge of “inactivity, obfuscation, and obstruction” — and it can only do it with action.

I hope they do. According to polls, it would do a lot for the President and his party. Much more importantly, justice will remain unserved — and our economy will remain endangered — until they do.

It would also help change the tone if the Administration did more, and spoke more, about the damage bank fraud has inflicted on millions of innocent people. The best way it can do that is by fighting for jobs and defending our social safety net.

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