The New York State Attorney General has sued the Trump Foundation accusing the Trump family of essentially using the non-profit as their personal piggy bank. The New York State attorney general’s office filed a scathingly worded lawsuit on Thursday taking aim at the Donald J. Trump Foundation, accusing the charity and the Trump family of …
Sep 14 2015
As quickly as it opened its doors and our eyes to fraudulent televangelism, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemptions has closed. John Oliver, pastor and host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” announced the end of his church’s mission not because they had to, they were perfectly legal, but because, as his “wife” Wanda Jo put it, “when someone send you jizz in the mail, its time to stop whatever you’re doing..”
Warning the video below contains NSFW material.
Aug 19 2015
We are all familiar with the televangelical preachers that flood the airways telling their believers that they have the cure for everything from cancer to a hang nail if you just send them your money. They prey (pardon the pun) on those who can least afford to send them money while they live in the lap of luxury.They also don’t pay any taxes on their bounty.
To demonstrate the absurdity of these charlatans, John Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight,” opened his own church with the assistance of a tax lawyer.
To expose the industry’s fraudulent activity, his team got close with leading celebrity televangelist Robert Tilton of Word of Faith Worldwide Church. After mailing Tilton $20, with a request to be added to his church’s mailing list, a correspondence was reportedly struck up, which resulted in the televangelist requesting larger and larger sums of money.
As Oliver said: “As of tonight, I’ve sent him $319 and received 26 letters – that’s almost one a week. And again, this is all hilarious until you imagine these letters being sent to someone who cannot afford what he’s asking for.”
Oliver wrapped up the segment in fitting fashion: he formed his own church. He claims to have filed paperwork for establishing Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption last week, a process he called “disturbingly easy”.
The church is now open to the public and has its own site. On it, Oliver encourages people to send cash, check or money orders to a New York PO box. The fine print states that should the church choose to wind down and dissolve in the future, “any assets belonging to the Church at that time will be distributed to Doctors Without Borders, a non-proﬁt charitable organization that is tax-exempt under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 13-3433452) and which provides emergency medical aid in places where it is needed most”.
Bless you, John Oliver
Apr 27 2015
Once a well respected and brilliant cardiac surgeon with a worldwide reputation, Dr. Mehmet Oz has taken quite a fall since a study in British Medical Journal that less than 50% of his television advice could be backed by actual science and his appearance before a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection where he caught a harsh scolding about his diet product ads.
Last June, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” took on Dr. Oz in an epic segment that outlined what was problematic with him and the nutrition supplement industry. Then this month a group of ten prominent physicians sent a letter to Dr. Lee Goldman, Columbia’s Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine calling for Dr. Oz’s ouster from the hospital’s faculty, citing, among other reasons, his “egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain.”
Once again, at the beginning of his show, John Oliver blasted him, calling him “the worst person in scrubs who has ever been on television” and included an amusing reference to actress Katherine Heigl who played a doctor on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“No. You are scientifically wrong about that as you are about so many things. Let’s be clear: The First Amendment protects Americans against government censorship, and that’s it. It does not guarantee you to simultaneously hold a faculty position at a prestigious private university and make misleading claims on a TV show. It absolutely protects you to say whatever you like on it, just as it protects my right to say what I think about you on mine, which is this: You are the worst person in scrubs who has ever been on television-and I’m including Katherine Heigl in that. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be worse than Katherine Heigl? You are also the admittedly handsome ringmaster of a middling mid-afternoon snake-oil dispensary and it says something that even when you do a show with seven fake models of human feces, the biggest piece of shit on the stage has his name in the title.”
(h/t The Daily Beast)
Feb 27 2015
The International Business Times is reporting the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered the destruction of state government e-mails older than 90 days. Cuomo ordered this in the midst of a Federal investigation into public corruption.
In a memo obtained by Capital New York, Cuomo officials announced that mass purging of email records is beginning across several state government agencies. The timing of the announcement, which followed through on a 2013 proposal, is worth noting: The large-scale destruction of state documents will be happening in the middle of a sprawling federal investigation of public corruption in Albany. That investigation has been looking at state legislators and the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo’s move to purge state emails follows a similar move he made as state Attorney General. International Business Times confirmed that in 2007, he put in place a mass deletion policy for emails in the New York Attorney General’s office that were more than 90 days old, making it difficult for the public to know how — or whether — his office investigated bank fraud in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008. In the Cuomo administration’s announcement this week, the governor’s chief information officer, Maggie Miller, justified the new email purge as a cost-saving measure aimed at “making government work better.”
But former prosecutors and open-government advocates interviewed by IBTimes say the move seems designed to hide information.
According to the Capital News article, the memo (pdf) from Ms. Miller, a former Girls Scouts of America executive who was hired in December, was sent to agency heads of Friday. The article goes on tho site that over a dozen advocacy agencies sent a letter to the governor’s office (pdf) last month arguing that the policy was out of step with federal guidelines and technologically unnecessary:
“In this era, government runs on email, and access to email and electronic records has become a cornerstone of public transparency. Our groups are very concerned that the administration’s June 2013 policy of using centralized software to automatically delete state employee emails after 90 days is resulting in the destruction of emails that are considered public records under New York’s Freedom of Information Law,” wrote the groups, which were organized by Reinvent Albany. “This policy was adopted without public notice or comment. Furthermore, we are extremely concerned that the inevitable destruction of email records under your 90-day automatic deletion policy directly undermines other public accountability laws like the False Claims Act.”
New York’s contract with Microsoft, which developed Office 365, allows for 50 gigabytes of e-mail storage per employee. Reinvent Albany estimated this would be enough to handle up to 30 years worth of messages. [..]
In addition to the federal seven-year standard, other states like Washington, Florida and Connecticut have retention periods of between two and five years. The Central Intelligence Agency recently proposed a three-year retention period for departing employees, and was criticized for not archiving messages for longer. Shorter retention periods are more common in corporations seeking to reduce their exposure in litigation, according to a memorandum compiled by Reinvent Albany (pdf).
After Cuomo abruptly ended his Moreland Commission that was investigating campaign finance and public corruption when it apparently got too close to his own office, US Attorney Prete Brarara began a federal probe into Albany. The timing of this order raises significant legal questions, according to Melanie Sloan, a former Clinton Justice Department official:
“This is potentially obstruction of justice,” she told IBTimes. “The only reason that the government destroys records is so no one can question what it is doing, and no one can unearth information about improper conduct. There’s no reason for New York not to preserve this information.”
Sloan said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who is spearheading the Albany probe, could issue a letter to Cuomo ordering him to preserve all documents that could be relevant to the public corruption investigation. In May 2014, Bharara issued such a letter to state legislators. Bharara’s office declined to comment when asked by IBTimes if it had now issued a similar directive to Cuomo.
John Kaehny, the head of a coalition of transparency group called Reinvent Albany, said the purge order may be designed to circumvent obstruction of justice statutes that are designed to prevent deliberate document destruction.
“[The policy] may mean that you could never be accused of obstructing justice or destroying evidence because you could claim that the machine automatically deleted it,” he told IBTimes. “It creates a loophole and opportunity to destroy embarrassing emails.” [..]
Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, says beyond questions about legality, the public should be concerned about how the policy may preclude journalists from reporting on state government.
“This policy will allow the Cuomo administration, in many cases, to delete newsworthy emails faster than reporters can even request them,” Timm said. “It looks like an attempt to avoid accountability.”
This lookng more and more like a cover up of Cuomo’s corruption ever since he was the state’s attorney general. Hopefully, he won’t get away with it.
Feb 05 2014
It’s time we all apologized to our neighborhood conspiracy theorists.
They were right all along. Everything in the world really is being controlled and manipulated. They just had the groups wrong.
The Bilberberg Group? Noobs. The Trilateral Commission? Posers. The Freemasons? Wannabe’s.
Don’t believe me? Then you aren’t keeping track of the financial news, because it is all written down in court records.
Here is a list of seven global markets that are proven to have been controlled.
Everything from the food you eat to your credit card statement to the gas in your car to the budget of the city you live in. There literally is no free market setting prices on anything, but don’t blame governments for it.
Jan 09 2014
Why are these two tales of fraud not the same in the eyes of the law?
Charges for 106 in Huge Fraud Over Disability
By William K. Rashbaum and James C. McKinley Jr.JAN. 7, 2014
The retired New York City police officers and firefighters showed up for their psychiatric exams disheveled and disoriented, most following a nearly identical script.
They had been coached on how to fail memory tests, feign panic attacks and, if they had worked during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to talk about their fear of airplanes and entering skyscrapers, prosecutors said. And they were told to make it clear they could not leave the house, much less find a job. [..]
Former police officers who had told government doctors they were too mentally scarred to leave home had posted photographs of themselves fishing, riding motorcycles, driving water scooters, flying helicopters and playing basketball.
“The brazenness is shocking,” Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said on Tuesday.
While those fraudsters were being indicted, arrested and arraigned, these fraudster were planning their next rip off of their investors.
JPMorgan Is Penalized $2 Billion Over Madoff
By Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, and Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, gathered in Lower Manhattan as Mr. Bharara’s prosecutors were considering criminal charges against Mr. Dimon’s bank for turning a blind eye to the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard L. Madoff. Mr. Dimon and his lawyers outlined the bank’s defense in the hopes of securing a lesser civil case, according to people briefed on the meeting. [..]
Within weeks of meeting Mr. Bharara and recognizing their limited bargaining power, JPMorgan’s lawyers accepted the $1.7 billion penalty, the people briefed on the meeting said, which was within the range that prosecutors initially proposed. The bank also agreed to pay $350 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, accepting the agency’s only offer, one of the people said.
It could have been worse for the bank. At one point, prosecutors were weighing whether to demand that the bank plead guilty to a criminal charge, a move that senior executives feared could have devastating ripple effects. Rather than extracting a guilty plea, prosecutors struck a so-called deferred-prosecution agreement, suspending an indictment for two years as long as JPMorgan overhauls its controls against money-laundering. [..]
For JPMorgan, the Madoff case is the bank’s latest steep payout to the government. In November, JPMorgan paid a record $13 billion to the Justice Department and other authorities over its sale of questionable mortgage securities in the lead-up to the financial crisis. All told, after paying these settlements, JPMorgan will have paid out some $20 billion to resolve government investigations over the last 12 months. [..]
And critics of Wall Street are unsatisfied, noting that Mr. Bharara’s office opted to defer prosecution and did not charge any JPMorgan employees with wrongdoing.
“Banks do not commit crimes; bankers do,” said Dennis M. Kelleher, the head of Better Markets, an advocacy group.
A United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, Jed Rakoff, wants to know why have no high-level executives been prosecuted for the financial crisis
Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.
Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever more esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?
If it was the former – if the recession was due, at worst, to a lack of caution – then the criminal law has no role to play in the aftermath. [..]
But if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years. [..]
In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high-level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears likely that none will be. It may not be too soon, therefore, to ask why. [..]
But the stated opinion of those government entities asked to examine the financial crisis overall is not that no fraud was committed. Quite the contrary. For example, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in its final report, uses variants of the word “fraud” no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the crisis, concluding that there was a “systemic breakdown,” not just in accountability, but also in ethical behavior. [..]
Without giving further examples, the point is that, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the prevailing view of many government officials (as well as others) was that the crisis was in material respects the product of intentional fraud. In a nutshell, the fraud, they argued, was a simple one. Subprime mortgages, i.e., mortgages of dubious creditworthiness, increasingly provided the chief collateral for highly leveraged securities that were marketed as AAA, i.e., securities of very low risk. How could this transformation of a sow’s ear into a silk purse be accomplished unless someone dissembled along the way? [..]
Thus, Attorney General Eric Holder himself told Congress:
It does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute-if you do bring a criminal charge-it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.
To a federal judge, who takes an oath to apply the law equally to rich and to poor, this excuse-sometimes labeled the “too big to jail” excuse-is disturbing, frankly, in what it says about the department’s apparent disregard for equality under the law.
Mar 13 2013
I’ve often said the left is essentially dead–or moribund (I love the word). Certainly the old left looks dead very much like Polly Parrot in the Dead Parrot sketch.
But there’s something simmering below the surface that those of us who are veterans of the old left can take heart in–massive numbers of people are unhappy and disillusioned. They lack any framework for their disillusion other than things like buying guns but I think we have a chance to step into an opening.
There are two issues only a new revivified left can work with: 1) massive criminality of all the major actors in the political economy; and 2) the lying mainstream media. That’s the only issues we need. We don’t need to talk about the debt or the deficit or “entitlements” or imperialism or any of that. Yes those are issues that are important, more or less, but not as important as the fact our society is run, at the top, by criminals. And it is not that this is hard to determine. The evidence is overwhelming and we don’t even have to go to the assassinations of the sixties or 9/11 or anything like that. No just the simple facts as they are The government and the media allowed massive fraud to occur in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
In 2006 one third of all lending were “liar’s loans” meaning that these loans were deliberately created out of falsified income statements and property appraisals. Washington Mutual, Andrew Cuomo (when he was AG of NY) found out, had created a blacklist of honest appraisers that were never to be used. Regulators, the FBI and many others consistently warned that there would be a financial crisis because of massive fraud going on. I knew it, though I’m hardly that well-connected I just happened to know a Wall Street guy who tole me in 2005 that the whole thing was going to blow in the next few years because Wall Street was creating fraudulent instruments.
In the S & L crisis there were 1000 FBI agents investigating criminals at the top and there were over 1000 convictions even though many particularly high profile suspects got away due to political influence. But in the more recent crisis that was 70 times greater only 120 agents were assigned to mortgage fraud!!!! On the surface this looks like massive criminality and I can assure you that a clear case with loads of evidence beyond anything that I’m indicating here can prove that the basis of our current political economy is naked criminality in almost every sphere, to be sure, but particularly prevalent in the financial industry. I’m also confident that there is no possible counter-argument.
The fact this is so obvious has to automatically indict the mainstream media from Fox News to PBS for covering up and refusing to cover the truth about the financial crisis which, as I said, is stunningly obvious. It will then quickly be seen how corrupt the media is. Not the reporters who do what they can but who have editors that continually and systematically discourage them to pursue stories that might make powerful people look bad (other than celebs, but they are toys of powerful people so they don’t count). When people understand that, for the most part, they are being fed a pile of turds everyday that they then have to pretend to eat–man, no wonder people are stressed and the U.S. leads the world in mental illness.
All we have to do is hammer away at those two issues ONLY and then the unassailable wall around the imperial court will break. We don’t have to talk about income inequality just criminality–not about class-struggle just criminality–not about the environment just criminality. We don’t have to argue with Tea Baggers about anything–just say that crime is a bad thing dontcha think? No argument. Sure a few will say, but it was Acorn that caused the crash, gov’t bureaucrats who wanted to put people in homes–you say sure AND those banks made a lot of money falsifying information, corrupting appraisers, originators. There’s no absence of proof and no possible counter-argument to the central fact that our problem is not Republicans or Democrats or private enterprise of the government our problem is criminal gangs have taken over–over and out.
Mar 13 2013
Once again Sen. Elizabeth Warren demonstrated why the voters of Massachusetts sent her to the Senate when in a Senate Banking Committee hearing about money laundering, she questioned why British bank HSBC is still doing business in the U.S., with no criminal charges filed against it, despite confessing to what one regulator called “egregious” money laundering violations
Her comments came just a day after the attorney general of the United States confessed that some banks are so big and important that they are essentially above the law. His Justice Department’s failure to bring any criminal charges against HSBC or its employees is Exhibit A of that problem.
(..} Warren grilled officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about why HSBC, which recently paid $1.9 billion to settle money laundering charges, wasn’t criminally prosecuted and shut down in the U.S. Nor were any individuals from HSBC charged with any crimes, despite the bank confessing to laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels and rogue regimes like Iran and Libya over several years.
Defenders of the Justice Department say that a criminal conviction could have been a death penalty for the bank, causing widespread damage to the economy. Warren wanted to know why the death penalty wasn’t warranted in this case.
“They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it,”
“How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”
“You sit in Treasury and you try to enforce these laws, and I’ve read all of your testimony and you tell me how vigorously you want to enforce these laws, but you have no opinion on when it is that a bank should be shut down for money laundering?”
“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re gonna go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life,” Warren said. “But evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your bed at night — every single individual associated with this. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
As staunch an opponent of the death penalty as I am, I would have voted for it and watched the “execution” of HSBC with glee.
Feb 20 2013
Nearly a year ago Rolling Stone contributing editor, Matt Taibbi wrote about how the Bank of America had defrauded everyone yet the US government kept bailing it out. They got a slap on the wrist and a paltry $$137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities all the while plotting to rig global interest rates. In that same article from March 29th, 2012, Matt noted that BoA was still failing, yet they were still being bailed out. Why? The government’s excuse then and still is that they are too big to fail and too big too jail.
This was not fixed by Dodd-Frank and the promise to investigate the mortgage fraud and hold the banks accountable for bringing down the housing market and the economy along with it never materialize.
On Saturday in her New York Times article Gretchen Morgenson revealed that, we, the American taxpayer, are still bailing out Bank of America in secret deals :
That the New York Fed would shower favors on a big financial institution may not surprise. It has long shielded large banks from assertive regulation and increased capital requirements.
Still, last week’s details of the undisclosed settlement between the New York Fed and Bank of America are remarkable. Not only do the filings show the New York Fed helping to thwart another institution’s fraud case against the bank, they also reveal that the New York Fed agreed to give away what may be billions of dollars in potential legal claims.
Here’s the skinny: Late last Wednesday, the New York Fed said in a court filing that in July it had released Bank of America from all legal claims arising from losses in some mortgage-backed securities the Fed received when the government bailed out the American International Group in 2008. One surprise in the filing, which was part of a case brought by A.I.G., was that the New York Fed let Bank of America off the hook even as A.I.G. was seeking to recover $7 billion in losses on those very mortgage securities.
It gets better.
What did the New York Fed get from Bank of America in this settlement? Some $43 million, it seems, from a small dispute the New York Fed had with the bank on two of the mortgage securities. At the same time, and for no compensation, it released Bank of America from all other legal claims.
[…] To anyone interested in holding banks accountable for mortgage improprieties, the Fed’s actions are bewildering. If the Fed intended that Maiden Lane II own the right to sue Bank of America for fraud, why didn’t it pursue such a potentially rich claim on behalf of taxpayers? The Fed made $2.8 billion on the Maiden Lane II deal, but the recovery from Bank of America could have been much greater. Why did it instead release Bank of America from these liabilities and supply declarations that seem to support the bank in its case against A.I.G.?
The New York Fed would not discuss this matter, citing the litigation. But taxpayers, who might have benefited had the New York Fed brought fraud claims, deserve answers to these questions.
[…] A New York Fed spokesman said it supported the settlement because it would generate significant value without potentially high litigation costs.
Let’s recap: For zero compensation, the New York Fed released Bank of America from what may be sizable legal claims, knowing that A.I.G. was trying to recover on those claims.
If they’re too big to fail, to big to jail then these banks should be too big to exist.
Feb 13 2013
The former special inspector-general of the troubled asset relief program (TARP), Neil Barofsky says that it is time for a “post mortem” analysis former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s doctrine, the preservation of large banks, the largesse of Wall St. and the perversion of of the US criminal justice system. In this article posted at naked capitalism, Mr. Barofsky looks at the effect of the “Geithner Doctrine” and the weak response to the LIBOR scandal:
The recent parade of banking scandals, such as the manipulation of Libor rates by Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and other major banks, can be traced back to the lax system of regulation before the financial crisis – and the weak response once disaster struck.
Take the response of the New York Federal Reserve to Barclays’ admission in 2008 that it was submitting false Libor rates and was not alone in doing so. Mr Geithner’s response was to in effect bury the tip. He sent a memo to the Bank of England suggesting some changes to the rate-setting process and then convened a meeting of regulators where he reportedly described only the risk but not the actual manipulation of the rate. He then put the government imprimatur on the rate via bailout programmes. His inaction helped permit a global crime to continue for another year.
When it was UBS’s turn to settle its Libor charges, even though a significant amount of the illegal activity took place at the parent company level, only a Japanese subsidiary was required to take a plea. Eric Holder, US attorney-general, demonstrated his embrace of the Geithner doctrine (a phrase coined by blogger Yves Smith) in explaining the UBS decision. He said that a more aggressive stance against the parent company could have a negative “impact on the stability of the financial markets around the world”.
This week we saw the latest instalment of the saga. In fining RBS £390m, the DoJ only indicted one of the bank’s Asian subsidiaries, avoiding the more damaging result that would have stemmed from charging the parent company.
Instead of seeking deterrence and justice, the US government increasingly appears to have fully absorbed the Geithner doctrine into its charging decisions by seeking a result that has a minimal impact on the target bank but will generate the best-looking press release. Some banks today are still too big to fail – and they are still too big to jail.
There are no meaningful consequences for this criminality. The fines with a promise not to do this again are just a game to allow the banks to continue the fraudulent conduct and find better ways to cover it up. Mr. Barofsky concludes that we must ditch the “Geithner Doctrine” to end “the game of incentives gone wild, and the lack of accountability in the aftermath of the crisis has only reinforced those bad incentives.”
o reclaim our system of justice, the global threat posed by the failure of any of our largest financial institutions must be neutralised once and for all. They must be reduced in size, their safety nets must be dramatically constricted and their capital requirements enhanced far beyond the current standards. Then, and only then, can the same set of rules apply to all.
In an extended interview with “The Daily Show“ host Jon Stewart, Mr. Barofsky discussed the double standards of the TARP program and the alien culture of Washington DC and explains why the banks will never face true justice..
Jan 25 2013
“Too big to fail” now according to the Justice Department, “too big to jail.” The PBS news series, Frontline “investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages” in its presentation of “The Untouchables.”
Transcript can be read here
Phil Angelides was chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was created by Congress in 2009 to investigate the causes of the crisis. In its report, submitted in January 2011, the commission concluded that the crisis was avoidable, a result of excessive risk taking, failures of regulation and poorly prepared government leaders. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Oct. 11, 2012.
Lanny Breuer serves as assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. He told FRONTLINE that when fraud from the financial crisis has been detected, the Department of Justice has pursued charges. “But when we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was criminal intent, then we have a constitutional duty not to bring those cases,” Breuer said. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Nov. 30, 2012.
by Jason M. Breslow
The Justice Department’s initial response to the financial crisis did not take long to materialize. In June 2008, three months before the Lehman Brothers collapse, the department brought its first criminal case, charging two former Bear Stearns executives with securities fraud for their alleged roles inflating the housing bubble.
A little more than a year later, a jury found the executives not guilty, dealing the DOJ an early setback. Since then, government investigations into the crisis have almost exclusively centered on civil charges, which requires prosecutors establish guilt beyond a preponderance of the evidence. The bar is higher in criminal cases, requiring they prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Here are 10 of the most prominent of those cases to date. In nearly all, the government won multi-million dollar settlements, but the companies and officials involved were not required to admit wrongdoing.
by Matt Taibbi
The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come
It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you’d think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we’ve been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?
It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.
Up Date: After his appearance on “Frontline”, Yves Smith at naked capitalism delightedly announced the news that Lanny Breuer, former Covington & Burling partner and more recently head of the criminal division at the Department of Justice, had his resignation leaked today.
Never mind resign, why hasn’t Obama fired him?