Despite the havoc that has occurred with the economy, mortgages and the banking system over the last several years, no Wall Street executives have been prosecuted since the economy went down the drain in 2008. One can only imagine the fraud and illegalities that were occurring to have such a significant effect on our financial system. It seems logical that the federal government might be able to find a couple people who broke the law as billions of dollars in wealth were erased from people’s accounts and pensions. However, as of today, not one Wall Street executive has been prosecuted in criminal court.
A recent article in the Washington Examiner suggests that conflicts of interest with the Department of Justice are to blame for the lack of prosecutions. As is often the case, when a new president takes over, he appoints people from the largest financial institutions and law firms to positions of power in government. These people worked for the companies who may have broken the law or worked with the executives who might be the targets of federal white collar crime prosecutions or represented those same companies and executives at their law firms. For example, as the article points out, Attorney General Eric Holder used to work for the law firm of Covington & Burling which represents Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and many others. When those relationships exist among the people making the decisions to prosecute white collar crimes and the people and companies potentially committing the white collar crimes, you can see why the following counter-intuitive situation exists today: according to the article, financial fraud prosecutions by the Department of Justice are at a twenty year low even though there seems to be more questionable financial dealings than ever.