In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis caused by the Wall Street criminal racketeering cartel, average American people lost over a quarter of their net worth. According to WikiPedia, "[t]otal home equity in the United States, which was valued at $13 trillion at its peak in 2006, had dropped to $8.8 trillion by mid-2008 and was still falling in late 2008. Total retirement assets, Americans' second-largest household asset, dropped by 22 percent, from $10.3 trillion in 2006 to $8 trillion in mid-2008."
Aside from the ruination of millions of people's lives when it comes to their economic security, the result of what could be argued represents one of the biggest systematic looting and pillaging in world history, included a sharp rise in suicide rates.
According to a BMJ study, in 2009 there were approximately 5,000 excess suicides as a result of the 2008 financial crisis (in 54 countries studied).
The 2008 economic crisis has had a far reaching impact on countries around the world. Turmoil in the banking sector led to downturns in stock markets, bankruptcies, housing repossessions, and rises in unemployment. The International Labour Organization estimated that the number of jobless worldwide reached about 212 million in 2009, an increase of 34 million compared with 2007.1 The World Health Organization has raised concern over the crisis’ impact on global health and called for integrated multisectoral actions to closely monitor and protect health, in particular among poor and vulnerable people.2The devastation caused by this massive crime spree perpetrated by the ruling elite has reached historic proportions (a situation that continues), and yet not one single top banking executive has been charged with a crime, much less prosecuted.
[The emphasis is mine]
Here's how Judge Rakoff, who sits on the Federal District Court in Manhattan, characterized the situation in a recent The New York Review of Books article titled "The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted?"
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.I think it is fair to say that at this point nobody questions the fact that in addition to "breaches in accountability and ethics," actual crimes were also committed. Here's what the government's own Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded:
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. Indeed, it would stand in striking contrast to the increased success that federal prosecutors have had over the past fifty years or so in bringing to justice even the highest-level figures who orchestrated mammoth frauds. Thus, in the 1970s, in the aftermath of the “junk bond” bubble that, in many ways, was a precursor of the more recent bubble in mortgage-backed securities, the progenitors of the fraud were all successfully prosecuted, right up to Michael Milken.
Again, in the 1980s, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis, which again had some eerie parallels to more recent events, resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than eight hundred individuals, right up to Charles Keating. And again, the widespread accounting frauds of the 1990s, most vividly represented by Enron and WorldCom, led directly to the successful prosecution of such previously respected CEOs as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Ebbers.
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.
[The emphasis is mine]
The Commission concluded that this crisis was avoidable. It found widespread failures in financial regulation; dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance; excessive borrowing and risk-taking by households and Wall Street; policy makers who were ill prepared for the crisis; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels...Why is the Justice Department refusing to criminally prosecute the perpetrators of the biggest financial fraud in history? Here's how Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout sees it, as he discusses a recent Newsweek article by "Pulitzer Prize winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston":
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Providing additional evidence that the Obama Administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) is protecting "banks too big to fail," Pulitzer Prize winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston has revealed that the DOJ has refused to force JPMorgan Chase to comply with an ongoing investigation into the bank's possible knowledge of Bernard Madoff's fraud scheme of a few years ago.All of this begs the question(s): What is going on here? What are the reasons behind this unprecedented level of failure to prosecute those who seem to have been involved in massive financial crimes?
The information obtained might reveal that the bank chose to financially benefit from criminal activity:Bernard Madoff’s principal bank, JPMorgan Chase, has for years obstructed federal bank examiners trying to ascertain what it knew about his gigantic Ponzi scheme, an official document obtained by Newsweek shows.[The emphasis is mine]
The Justice Department refused in September to back up Treasury inspector general staff who wanted a court order to enforce a subpoena, in effect shielding JPMorgan from law enforcement, the October 8 document shows.
The Justice Department told the Treasury Inspector General “that they were denying the request for enforcement of the subpoena,” which means officials “could not undertake further actions regarding this matter,” wrote Jason J. Metrick, the inspector general special-agent-in-charge.
In a January 22, 2013 FRONTLINE interview former attorney general for the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, had this to say when asked why he would be worried about "anything other than simply pursuing justice":
I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the whole entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case there’s some huge economic effect, it affects the economy so that employees who had nothing to do with the wrongdoing of the company –Obviously by now everybody knows that that answer, in addition to being total bullshit (when it comes to the role of an AG), it also signifies the existence of a two-tiered legal system.
Well, first let’s talk about the employees. Employees may lose their jobs. Shareholders may or may not lose, and shareholders invested. But the employees perhaps did something different.
If it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly, it’s a factor we need to know and understand...
Lanny Breuer, one of the longest-serving heads of the Justice Department’s criminal division, is returning to Covington & Burling, the law firm plans to announce today.About Attorney General Eric Holder? What are his stated reasons for not prosecuting top-level Wall Street executives? Here's his statement before Congress:
The firm’s partners voted Monday to approve Breuer’s return. He will step into the newly created position of vice chair, working with the firm’s senior leaders on long-term strategy and international growth, and will also practice in white collar defense and investigations.
Covington has represented corporations that were investigated by the criminal division during Breuer’s time as division chief. Breuer said he will not be representing any companies on any matters that went before the Justice Department during his tenure. Ethics rules bar him from appearing before the DOJ on a client’s behalf for two years. He can, however, counsel a client on a new matter before the department from behind the scenes.
"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."Where has current Attorney General Eric Holder worked before assuming his current position? Law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.
As a concerned citizen who cares about justice and the rule of law, and in the damaging effects of "moral hazard," the situation(s) I described above lead me to believe that a reasonable person may conclude that the reason this unprecedented failure to prosecute banksters may be due to conflict of interests of top Justice Department officials.
As an alert citizen, I'm also aware that I'm not the only person who harbors that suspicion, and that in fact millions and million of people around the country do so as well.
I therefore propose this course of action: I'd like to propose that a crowd-sourcing panel of concerned citizens come together to gather information, evidence, and testimony so as to determined whether top Justice Department officials have violated their oath of office by failing to prosecute businesses due to conflict of interests.
Namely, this citizens' panel could be tasked with determining whether the fact that these officials have gone through the revolving door of law firms, like Covington & Burling, had in any way influenced their actions, or lack thereof, when it comes to decisions to prosecute wrongdoing by executives at those firms--given the fact that this law firm is in the business of providing legal services to those same firms.
I call on legal experts (lawyers, judges, university professors), writers, researchers, students, and average citizens to form this crowd-sourced citizens' "Grand Jury" panel tasked with producing a "People's Indictment" if it is indeed found that these government functionaries violated both, the law, and their oath of office.
And, if it is so found, I call on all citizens to demand a proper investigation, indictment, prosecution and lengthy prison sentences to those officials having been found guilty of wrongdoing, of abuses of power.
Once the preliminary investigation is concluded, a public indictment should be produced and made available to the general public...
Furthermore, I call on activists to start a 100-week protest campaign starting on Monday, January 27th in front of the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C., and other Justice Department offices around the country, from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Nobody is above the law!
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