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August 19, 2015

How ‘Too Big to Jail’ Will Haunt the 2016 Election

“In the roughly seven years since the failure of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns and the near-failure of many of the largest U.S. financial institutions, it is abundantly clear that criminal or civil charges against individuals related to the 2008 meltdown are never going to come.

“Former Attorney General Eric Holder said in February that, as one of his final acts as the nation’s top prosecutor, he was asking his deputies to identify any individuals who should be charged individually for actions related to the crisis within 90 days. His comments, notably, weren’t made in an announcement at all, but instead were in response to a question from the audience — almost as an afterthought. That 90-day window expired in May without any new charges being brought.”

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“Dennis Kelleher, president of public advocacy group Better Markets, said the ongoing hostility toward Wall Street is partly because there was no such catharsis after the housing bubble burst. Prosecutors not only did not pursue criminal charges against the banks, they also did not charge financial actors individually — all the many settlements that have been reached with banks and other institutions have been at the corporate level, rather than against individuals.”

“What should have happened and what must happen is the Department of Justice and SEC have to … enforce the law fully against individuals, and especially against executives and supervisors,” Kelleher said. “I guarantee you if the SEC and DOJ started doing that, there would be significant increases in compliance all over finance.”

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Read the full American Banker article by John Heltman here.

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