Washington, DC — Better Markets President and CEO Dennis Kelleher released the following statement in response to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) issuing new policy guidelines that claim to prioritize the prosecution of individuals:
“DOJ’s statements today that it is going to prosecute criminals on Wall Street is good news and long overdue, but it will never erase the stain of its dereliction of duty before, during and especially after the financial crash of 2008. That was an historic crime spree where DOJ let the responsible Wall Street executives off the hook and this new policy won’t change that.
“Everyone but DOJ knows that Wall Street banks don’t commit crimes; Wall Street bankers do. Until those individuals, including executives and supervisors, are prosecuted civilly and criminally, then egregious lawbreaking will continue to be just a cost of doing business on Wall Street. The DOJ must end its indefensible and failed practice of checkbook-justice where it has repeatedly allowed Wall Street banks to buy their executives a ‘get out of jail free’ card using shareholders money to pay headline-grabbing fines, and often getting a tax deduction as well.
“Unfortunately, based on their past abysmal record on Wall Street, no one should believe what DOJ says until they see actual, concrete and repeated prosecution of supervisors and executives at Wall Street’s biggest, wealthiest and most politically connected too big to fail banks. Not an occasional scalp of a junior level person here or there at a second, third or fourth rate firm, but meaningful actions against powerful people at the biggest Wall Street banks on a consistent basis. Then – and only then – should anyone believe anything coming out of this DOJ regarding Wall Street. Then – and only then – will the rule of law be returned to Wall Street and applied to it in the same way it is applied to everyone else in the United States.
“The current DOJ-created double standard of justice is not justice. There is a legal, moral and democratic imperative to end it and apply the law without fear or favor to the powerful and connected on Wall Street just as it is applied to all other Americans on Main Street. We hope that today’s announcement is a beginning of that process, but we look forward to actions that prove the words really mean something.”
Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.