Elizabeth Warren Asks Newly-Chatty FBI Director to Explain Why DOJ Didn’t Prosecute Banksters
David Dayen reports in The Intercept:
Like a lot of other Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to know why the Department of Justice hasn’t criminally prosecuted any of the major players responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.
On Thursday, Warren released two highly provocative letters demanding some explanations. One is to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting a review of how federal law enforcement managed to whiff on all 11 substantive criminal referrals submitted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown.
The other is to FBI Director James Comey, asking him to release all FBI investigations and deliberations related to those referrals. The FBI typically doesn’t release investigative details about cases that DOJ chooses not to pursue, but Warren pointed out that in releasing information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in July, he had pretty much shattered that precedent, and set a new one.
“You explained these actions by noting your view that ‘the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest,’” Warren wrote to Comey. “If Secretary Clinton’s email server was of sufficient ‘interest’ to establish a new FBI standard of transparency, then surely the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should be subject to the same level of transparency.”
In other words, if Comey can spend hours relating FBI decision-making about State Department emails, he can do the same for the activity that made millions jobless and homeless.
The FCIC’s criminal referrals, which were sent to the Justice Department in October 2010, have never been made public. But Warren’s staff reviewed thousands of other documents released in March by the National Archives, including hearings and testimony, witness interviews, internal deliberations, and memoranda, and found descriptions and records of them.
They detail potential violations of securities laws by 14 different financial institutions: most of America’s largest banks — Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan), and Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) — along with foreign banking giants UBS, Credit Suisse, and Société Generale, auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, credit rating agency Moody’s, insurance company AIG, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The FCIC presented DOJ with evidence that these institutions gave false representations about the loan quality inside mortgage-backed securities; misled credit ratings agencies; overstated assets and earnings in financial disclosures; failed to disclose credit downgrades, subprime exposure and the financial health of their operations to shareholders; and suffered breakdowns in internal company controls. All of these were tied to specific violations of federal law.
And the FCIC named names, specifying nine top-level executives who should be investigated on criminal charges: CEO Daniel Mudd and CFO Stephen Swad of Fannie Mae, CEO Martin Sullivan and CFO Stephen Bensinger of AIG, CEO Stan O’Neal and CFO Jeffrey Edwards of Merrill Lynch, and CEO Chuck Prince, CFO Gary Crittenden and Board Chairman Robert Rubin of Citigroup.
None of the 14 financial firms listed in the referrals were criminally indicted or brought to trial, Warren writes. Only five of the 14 even paid fines in civil settlements. None of the nine named individuals were criminally prosecuted, and only one – Crittenden, of Citigroup – had to pay so much as a personal fine, for a mere $100,000. . .
And see also this Wall Street on Parade column by Pam Martens and Russ Martens. It begins:
While Elizabeth Warren attempted to deliver her keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in July, which included an unabashed endorsement of Hillary Clinton after Warren had failed to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders during the critical primary campaign, chants of “we trusted you” could be heard reverberating through the cavernous hall in Philadelphia.
Warren rose to fame challenging the corrupt practices on Wall Street. She was now aligned with a Presidential candidate who was using Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains from the customers they had fleeced to finance her path to the Oval Office. There is no doubt that this has caused significant cognitive dissonance among Warren’s constituents in Massachusetts’ – the landing site of the Pilgrims and one of the original 13 colonies.
This bit of background might help to explain why, with less than two months before the November 8 election – and Hillary Clinton running for a third Obama term, promising to continue in his footsteps – Elizabeth Warren issued two letters that draw a sharp focus on the failures of Obama’s Justice Department and FBI to prosecute the myriad criminal acts on Wall Street that led to the 2008 financial collapse. (Warren’s letters were embargoed until midnight last evening, promising a full run of the news cycle today.)
In a 20-page letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Michael E. Horowitz, Senator Warren asked for an investigation into why the DOJ had failed to indict any of the Wall Street executives that had been referred to it for potential criminal prosecution by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC). In a separate letter, Warren asked FBI Director James Comey for his related files.
The FCIC released thousands of documents in March of this year, showing that it had made multiple criminal referrals to the DOJ. Warren wrote in her letter:
A review of these documents conducted by my staff has identified 11 separate FCIC referrals of individuals or corporations to DOJ in cases where the FCIC found ‘serious indications of violations[s]’ of federal securities or other laws. Nine individuals were implicated in these referrals (two were implicated twice). The DOJ has not filed any criminal prosecutions against any of the nine individuals. Not one of the nine has gone to prison or been convicted of a criminal offense. Not a single one has even been indicted or brought to trial. Only one individual was fined, in the amount of $100,000, and that was to settle a civil case brought by the SEC.
This particular paragraph is a Pandora’s Box by a factor of $2.5 trillion. The two individuals Warren refers to who were “implicated twice” in the FCIC’s criminal referrals are Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary in the administration of Bill Clinton, who in the lead up to the crash of Citigroup in 2008 served as Executive Committee Chair of Citigroup’s Board of Directors. (After advocating for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed Citigroup to own both an insured depository bank, an investment bank and brokerage firm, Rubin went straight from his post as Treasury Secretary to the Board of Citigroup, where he collected $126 million in compensation over the next decade.)
The other individual whose name appears twice is . . .