“As Preet Bharara approaches his sixth anniversary as the powerful United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, with a track record of successful, attention-grabbing prosecutions that have made him the envy of his peers, it’s hard not to think that he is looking and sounding more and more like a candidate for higher office.”
“This argument—that the federal government would prosecute if it could, but it just doesn’t have the law on its side—infuriates Dennis Kelleher, the president and CEO of Better Markets Inc., a nonpartisan, independent Wall Street watchdog. He says the various multibillion-dollar settlements between Wall Street banks and, among others, the Justice Department are little more than an elaborate cover-up of what really happened.
“The Department of Justice worked hand in hand with Wall Street banks to come up with PR settlements to try to deceive the public into believing those settlements were meaningful punishments, when in fact no one was punished,” Kelleher says. The banks “used shareholder money to pay off the government, and they got to deduct it from their taxes to doubly victimize the American people.” He argues that many of the same executives, at various levels, who helped cause the 2008 financial crisis are still working in senior positions on Wall Street without the slightest accountability for what they did. He says federal prosecutors should have worked harder for justice: “Imagine what someone with real leadership—someone who really wanted to get to the bottom of this, and who had the entire FBI and subpoena power at his disposal—could really do. It’s just not credible to say there is not a single criminal violation in the largest financial collapse since 1929, which was ignited and built upon a massive, fraudulent subprime bubble. Not one? Not one criminal law violated?”
Read the full The Nation article by William D. Cohan here.