Naked Capitalism: Zero Perp Walks for Bankers

William R. Black on Prosecuting Criminal Banker CEOs: Obama and Holder Don’t Even Care Enough to Fake It

Posted on September 29, 2014 by

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bill Black gives a fine and focused interview, with Sharmina Peries, Executive Producer at TRNN.

It’s all good, but this passage in particular caught my eye:

BLACK: [E]ric Holder has surprised me. I always predicted that he would at least find one token case to prosecute some bank senior executive for crimes that led to the creation of the financial crisis and the global Great Recession.

PERIES: Why did it surprise you, Bill?

BLACK: Well, he’s actually going to leave without even a token conviction, or even a token effort at convicting. So, in baseball terms, he struck out every time, batting 0.000, but he actually never took a swing. ….

Yep. You don’t bat zero for the season without a plan. (And that goes for a lot of what the administration does, or does not do, if you think about it.) So Bill Black wasn’t cynical enough!

[BLACK: ]And I couldn’t believe that he would leave without at least having one attempted prosecution against these folks. So he hasn’t done the most–he never did the most elementary things required to succeed [for some definition of success –lambert]. He never reestablished the criminal referral process, which is from the banking regulatory agencies, who are the only ones who are going to do widescale criminal referrals against bank CEOs, because, of course, banks won’t make criminal referrals against their own CEOs. Holder could have reestablished that criminal referral process in a single email on the first day in office to his counterparts in the banking regulatory agencies, and he’s going to leave never having attempted to do so.

And now to the whistleblowers, perhaps even more vicious and reprehensible than the administrations refusal to prosecute banker CEOs for accounting control fraud, because the message it sends is that even if you see your company or agency controlled by criminals, you’ll get no help from government:

[BLACK: ]On top of that, if you’re not going to have criminal referrals from the agencies, the only other conceivable way that you’re going to learn about elite criminal misconduct of this kind is through whistleblowers. And as you mentioned, this administration, and Eric Holder in particular, are known for the viciousness of their war against whistleblowers. What the public doesn’t know–and it doesn’t know because of Eric Holder–is that in the three biggest cases involving banks–again, none of them, not a single prosecution of the elite bankers that drove this crisis–all three of those cases, against Citicorp, against JPMorgan, and against Bank of America, were made possible by whistleblowers. Eric Holder was the czar at the Department of Justice press conferences in each of these three cases, and he and the Justice Department officials, the senior Justice Department officials, at those press conferences, never mentioned the role of the whistleblowers–never praised the whistleblowers and never used those press conferences as a forum for asking whistleblowers to come forward. And so your viewers should take a look at the Frontline special on this, where the Frontline producers made clear that as soon as word got out that they were investigating the area, dozens of whistleblowers came forward, and each of them had the same story: the Department of Justice had never contacted them.

So, instead of going after the big guys–by the way, they didn’t go after the small CEOs either. I keep talking about elite CEOs, for obvious reasons: they cause far greater damage. But there are all these CEOs of the not very big mortgage banks who are not prestigious, who are not politically powerful, and Eric Holder refused to prosecute them as well.

Right.

If you’re a CEO, you have impunity. Case closed! Simon Johnson made the right call, lo these many years ago.

UPDATE I forgot, or repressed, this part:

PERIES: Well, Bill, who is likely to be appointed as the attorney general next?

BLACK: No one better.

Perhaps Holder’s crusading deputy, um…. Um…. Um….

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