Wednesday, October 29, 2014

 

Bankers May Yet Face Prosecution for 2008 Roles: Holder

Bankers may yet face federal prosecution for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today.

“We have ongoing investigations that may perhaps produce individual prosecutions,” Holder said, defending the Justice Department’s handling of probes that have resulted in large financial settlements but few criminal prosecutions.

Holder announced his retirement last month, saying he would remain in the job until a new attorney general is nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He said he expects that process to take until the beginning of next year.

“My hope would be the Senate would take up that nomination the same way that mine was and, by early February, we have a new attorney general,” he said.

Obama’s preferred candidate, former White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, has taken herself out of the running, in part because she’d face a difficult confirmation process.

Other possible picks include U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney based in Brooklyn, New York.

That list might grow after Nov. 4 if a qualified lawmaker loses his or her re-election campaign.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters today that “the door does continue to be open to the possibility that this person could be nominated shortly after the election and we would call on the Senate to act on that” quickly.

Bank Settlements

Holder’s comments came in a question-and-answer session in Washington, sponsored by the Atlantic and the Aspen Institute, that delved into his almost six-year tenure as attorney general, racial strife, national security matters and even the movies: the 63-year-old would like Denzel Washington to play him in a film.

Some of Holder’s strongest comments came in response to a question by Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post about whether he had been tough enough on banks and why there had not been any criminal prosecutions of bankers involved in the financial collapse.

The attorney general cited record settlements -- at least $37 billion in the last year -- that were used to help homeowners who were hurt in the 2008 financial collapse.

Holder’s Justice Department is still fighting criticism it didn’t do enough to punish Wall Street executives who helped fuel the 2008 financial crisis. While regulators and prosecutors have repeatedly cited the need to sanction individuals, executives have been largely absent from recent major cases.

Ferguson Police

The Justice Department’s new criminal division chief, Leslie Caldwell, said in a Sept. 5 interview with Bloomberg News that charging individuals delivers the best deterrence.

Holder also addressed racial tension, defending comments he made in 2009 that the U.S. was a “nation of cowards” in dealing with race.

It was time for “wholesale” change in the Ferguson, Missouri, police force, he said. The Justice Department is investigating how that department handled a shooting by one of its officers that killed an unarmed teenager, leading to weeks of riots and protests.

When asked what decisions he would like to revisit, Holder said he wished he had better overseen how the the Justice Department had handled leak investigations that ensnared news organizations.

He said the department has adopted new procedures that should better protect journalists, adding that “no reporter is going to jail as long as I’m attorney general.”
Source:http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-29/holder-says-bankers-may-yet-face-prosecution-for-2008.html
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