Prosecuting Wall Street
Prosecuting Wall Street - People & Power - Al Jazeera English
Why has Wall Street not been held accountable for crimes connected to the deepest recession since the Great Depression?
Four years ago on September 15, the New York investment bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and the financial collapse of 2008 began.
The economic meltdown wiped out more than $11bn of personal wealth in the US, threw millions out of work, and has already resulted in the foreclosure of more than 10 million homes.
Americans across the political spectrum believe that financial executives should have gone to jail for the practices that led to the collapse, but there have been no significant prosecutions. People & Power investigates why Wall Street has not been held accountable for crimes connected to the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
Two government bodies looked into the causes of the meltdown, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Both made criminal referrals to the Department of Justice.
But the Department did not prosecute executives from mortgage lenders and banks like Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs for mortgage origination and securitisation practices that were a focus of the panels’ work.
Byron Georgiou, who served on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, says it is “a demonstration of a lack of accountability that is really quite unique in American history”.
Chris Swecker, a former assistant FBI director in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division, thinks that the Justice Department has been “timid in approaching prosecutions,” and finds it “puzzling”.
In order to hold Wall Street accountable, he says: “You have to resource the agencies appropriately, and that really and truly has not been done.”