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Why No Financial Crisis Prosecutions? Ex-Justice Official Says It’s Just too Hard

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Ian

Dec. 7, 2011, 7:08 p.m.

Search -The Michael Journal - Articles - Social Credit - Colin Barclay Smith
for futher excerpts and many other articles on social credit and money.
This is Catholic website, but the topic of Social Credit has no bearing on religion.
The term Social Credit will turn Americans blue, but get past that and THINK!

Now for the authorities

Now for the unassailable authorities on this matter of the creation of credit by the banks.

Governor Eccles, a one-time head of the Federal Reserve Bank Board of the United States, said: “The banks can create and destroy money. Bank credit is money. It’s the money we do most of our business with, not with that currency which we usually think of as money.” (Given in evidence before a Congressional Committee)

Mr. R.G. Hawtrey, previously Assistant Under-Secretary to the British Treasury, in his Trade Depression and the Way Out, says: “When a bank lends, it create money out of nothing.”

In his book, The Art of Central Banking, Hawtrey also wrote: “When a bank lends, it creates credit. Against the advance which it enters amongst its assets, there is a deposit entered in its liabilities. But other lenders have not this mystical power of creating the means of payment out of nothing. What they lend must be money that they have acquired through their economic activities.”

Lord Keynes, the economist and one-time Board Member of the Bank of England, states: “There can be no doubt that all deposits are created by the banks.”

Professor Frederick Soddy, the eminent physicist of Oxford University, wrote: “Is it possible in these days of disbelief in physical miracles really to caricature institutions which pretend to lend money, and do not lend it but create it? And when it is repaid them, de-create it? And who have achieved the physically impossible miracle thereby, not only of getting something for nothing, but also of getting perennial interest from it?”

Gabor

Dec. 7, 2011, 7:30 p.m.

As long as we have lobbyists the Wall Street fat cats can get away with any crime. Jack Abramoff made it clear. Most of the politicians are bought and paid for by lobbyists.

Ross Perot was right when he made the statement. We need to get rid of all lobbyists. They make our system corrupted.

The sad thing is the majority of American people allowing all these corruption to go on and doing nothing.

Blankfein CEO of Goldman Sachs received $ 67.5 million dollar compensation when the American people bailed out Wall Street.
IMHO Nobody deserve this much money on Wall Street. Especially when they asking the US taxpayers to bail them out.

david

Dec. 7, 2011, 8:51 p.m.

ibsteve2u——TOTAL NONSENSE

you obviously have a reason for your propaganda -

lets just do the obvious based upon a public presentation recently that everyone can relate to: Eileen Foster, a former executive vice president in charge of fraud investigations at mortgage lender Countrywide Financial

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/countrywide-whistleblower-mortgage-fraud-systemic_n_1129637.html?ref=business

she WITNESSED cut and paste by CW - - - further the second 60 min segment was compliance executive at CtiBank with the same general story about portfolios 70% out of compliance and standards -  the citi objective being short derivative position on the sale of the CDO

the story about CW has been available on the internet for over 5 months !!!!! both parties have never heard from the Justice Department and so confirmed by Justice official live on 60 min

so the cut and paste even for YOUR HIDEBOUND STANDARD is obviously FRAUD - in the extreme when done in the 100’s of thousands at multiple offices coast to coast - thats called RICO case - systemic is HER WORD

so whether you want to do criminal or civil violations for Sarbanes Oxley / Simple Fraud in the inducement / constructive fraud / accounting fraud - its all there in multiple organizations - with BIG FAT Payoffs

and Obama is NOWHERE - why??????

he has given up - for nickels and dimes - and his own personal ego to get re-elected a promise to get beyond statute of limitaitons for criminal and trying simultaneously to stop Coakley and Schneiderman

so you are an obvious troll -  the laws are there to prosecute -

millions of employees over ten years are out there - and NO ONE WANTS TO SPEAK TO THEM - about fraud end to end

pleeeeese give me a break - Obama is a con artist - bush was bad but this guy is worse and i dislike republicans a lot

GLWhelan

Dec. 7, 2011, 9:20 p.m.

Why do we need Att Gen, stste or fed, if they won’t do the tough work. There is nobody to represent the injured partys in this whole scam.  That has to change

david

Dec. 7, 2011, 10:33 p.m.

Obama has joined the criminal class of bankers and must protect them beyond the statute of limitaitons - there are adequate rules regulations and laws on the books for the FBI and Khuzami to prosecute - what is lacking is the will which is all about obama taking thirty pieces of silver to throw the game

ibsteve2u - you are a propagandist and a troll

Randall Roth

Dec. 7, 2011, 10:55 p.m.

The Savings and Loan fiasco produced cumulative financial losses of less that 1/70th of the current financial crisis.  And yet, after the Savings and Loan crisis, the DOJ successfully prosecuted over 1000 senior banking executives.  Sure, it took hard work.  Likewise, hard work would produce successful prosecutions in the current situation. 

Get to it!

Gary McDonald

Dec. 7, 2011, 11:22 p.m.

Kinda puts the lie to the Citizens United principle that corporations are people, too, eh?  Seems to me that if corporations can be convicted of civil offenses, the management of those corporations, the ultimate decision-makers, should be held personally liable.  That’s why they get the big bucks!  It seems to me that in cases of this nature, the distinction between civil and criminal law becomes a meaningless contrivance to protect the wrong-doers.  Please, somebody—- help me understand.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 8, 2011, 1:05 a.m.

@Randall Roth - re:  “The Savings and Loan fiasco produced cumulative financial losses of less that 1/70th of the current financial crisis.  And yet, after the Savings and Loan crisis, the DOJ successfully prosecuted over 1000 senior banking executives.”

The S&L crisis - which took place in the 1980s and 1990s - did indeed result in the prosecution of wheels in American “high finance”.  And that goes a long way towards explaining why American “high finance” spent the money to buy deregulation from the Republicans and Clinton in 1999, does it not? 

“High finance” discovered that they really didn’t like being held accountable for the damage they inflicted upon America in their greed - so they took steps to ensure that couldn’t happen.

@david - re:  “ibsteve2u - you are a propagandist and a troll”

You made me laugh.  I point out that you - the American voter - are responsible for putting all of those Republicans and neoliberal Democrats in office and if you want to fix America, then you have to stop voting for Republicans and neoliberal Democrats - and you launch an ad hominem attack?

lolll…you do understand what that does, don’t you?  It merely emphasizes the fact that your goal has nothing to do with getting rid of the crooks in “high finance” and Congress; rather, you are only trying to link events that happened before Obama became President and now tie Obama’s hands to Obama.

I think I will ruin your day:  Everybody check out President Bush launching the mortgage-backed securities pyramid scam at this url:

archives.hud.gov/remarks/martinez/speeches/presremarks.cfm

You see, it is primarily the Republicans who seek to sell America out (whether that be to the 1%, to the commies in China, or to the 1% for later resale to the commies in China, I am unsure of.  It probably depends upon who pays the Republicans the best).

Seth Knoepler

Dec. 8, 2011, 1:17 a.m.

There have been exceptions, but elected officials and political appointees are more likely to try to cover themselves by going after soft targets - small fry who cannot stand up to the power of the government - than by prosecuting powerful individuals and companies who can give the government a run for its money. Perhaps the Sandlers and the employees of ProPublica will bear this in mind when making decisions about which investigations to pursue.

david

Dec. 8, 2011, 8:15 a.m.

ACE - ibsteve2u - and Robert Khuzami, Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division - you, Khuzami and the rest of you are creating the largest coverup of a scam in history

Ms Eileen Foster, a former executive vice president in charge of fraud investigations at mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, told CBS 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft that mortgage fraud was a “common” occurrence at the firm. Foster goes on to say that she faced illegal retaliation for filing reports investigating the fraud, alleging Countrywide fired her when she refused to lie to federal regulators on Countrywide’s behalf.

the following article and 60 min report   is just the simplest to see and follow -  but countless others that RE litigators in court on mortgage relief are aware of - phony docs / phony signatures / stuffing CDO’s to go short / robo signers / phony mortgage apps / phony cut and paste associated docs / portfolio AAA ratings that didnt match the conntent of the CDO - no prosecutor in history has ever had easier cornacopia of opportunities to shake the tree and cooperate at:  state level / FBI / DoJ / to get his man than Khuzami et al.

this review below was about CW and Mozillo for the Citibank compliance officer - go to 60 min site for the rest of the story

cut and paste is FRAUD - so is stuffing the box at citibank with the primary money made, going short - there are no laws that limit prosecution on FRAUD - you are lying - name the regs / laws! - this has been out publicly for 6 months on various sites yet the DoJ official on 60 min   said (admitted) they never spoke to either of them - didnt know anything and each confirmed same !!! how do you know the law doesnt apply if you dont INVESTIGATE!!!

as “reported” on other sites (see Zero Hedge & Naked Capitalism)  Khuzami is sending out his minions on sites all over - like you -  to defend himself against Judge Rakoff - who knows the truth better than i and has censored Khuzami for giving away the store - his long career at Deutche - a den of thieves - under his watch - with minor prosecution given his old buddies at caldwalder at other public offices covering is behind and now he serves the same way

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/countrywide-whistleblower-mortgage-fraud-systemic_n_1129637.html?ref=business

what does “systemic” mean to you in context of RICO claim? / what about Sarbanes Oxley claim? / countless different fraud statutes on state books? (which Obama is trying to stop)  /

the fact is OBAMA said to his contributors: ” i am the only one separating you from the people with the pitchforks” - what does that mean to you?

i despise republicans but this guy in many ways is - worse - because he is a trojan horse !

david

Dec. 8, 2011, 8:28 a.m.

ibsteve2u

DoJ and Robert Khuzami, Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division -you, Khuzami and the rest of you are covering for the largest scam in history - the following article and 60 min report is just the simplest to see and follow -  but countless others that RE litigators in court on mortgage relief are aware of - phony docs / phony signatures / stuffing CDO’s to go short / robo signers / phony mortgage apps / phony cut and paste associated docs / portfolio AAA ratings that didn’t match the content of the CDO - this review was about CW and Mozillo and Citibank compliance officer - go to 60 min site –

end to end FRAUD - not one individual in jail – why? because the tree would shake to the very top!

cut and paste is FRAUD - so is stuffing the box at citibank with the primary money made going short - there are no laws that limit prosecution on FRAUD - this has been out for 6 months on various sites yet the DoJ official on 60 min said (admitted) they never spoke to either of them and each confirmed same !!!  - as “reported” on other sites (ZH & NC) - Khuzami is sending out his minions on sites all over - like you -  to defend himself against Judge Rakoff - who knows the truth better than i and has censored Khuzami

Ms Eileen Foster, a former executive vice president in charge of fraud investigations at mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, told CBS 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft that mortgage fraud was a “common” occurrence at the firm. Foster goes on to say that she faced illegal retaliation for filing reports investigating the fraud, alleging Countrywide fired her when she refused to lie to federal regulators on Countrywide’s behalf.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/05/countrywide-whistleblower-mortgage-fraud-systemic_n_1129637.html?ref=business

what does “systemic” mean to you in context of RICO claim? / what about Sarbanes Oxley claim? / countless different fraud statutes on state books? (which Obama is trying to stop) 

Obama is a Trojan horse for the banks - he said famously –“I am the only one protecting you from the people with the pitchforks” – what does that mean to you?

Wick R. Chambers

Dec. 8, 2011, 9:06 a.m.

The emphasis needs to be on prevention of which prosecution is an important component. The solution, in part as always, is money. If there were organizations -  public and private - that paid lawyers, financial analysts, investigators, writers, forensic accountants and other professionals at a rate comprable to that of the big firm laws and that had the commitment, attitude, quality of training and ethic of special forces then maybe the minimum level of effective regulation would be enough.

carolyn

Dec. 8, 2011, 10:51 a.m.

Have we run out of time? In cases where facts have been discovered, yet nothing’s been done about them? What constitutes “facts”? Do press accounts/investigative reporting count?  I need a lawyer to explain this.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 - Section 804—Statute of Limitations for Securities Fraud

“(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), a private right of action that involves a claim of fraud, deceit, manipulation, or contrivance in contravention of a regulatory requirement concerning the securities laws, as defined in section 3(a)(47) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(47)), may be brought not later than the earlier of—
“(1) 2 years after the discovery of the facts constituting the violation; or
“(2) 5 years after such violation.”.

TxRancher

Dec. 8, 2011, 11:50 a.m.

Maybe it’s time for the “street” to enforce “justice”. Publish the names & addresses of these men/women that risk our financial future to satisfy their lust for wealth. If the laws & courts won’t provide justice, the people will take the law into their own hands. Our legislators & prosecutors better start doing their jobs or angry mobs will.

Charles

Dec. 8, 2011, 1:26 p.m.

If a Person(Civilain) robbs a Bank,they are easily put in Jail before their Trial,But Bankers & Corporations are allowed to continue their Fraudulent Practices that were PROVEN in Courts and Documents.If that doesn’t show onesided Justice,then someone is incompuntent of doing their Dutys.

MicheleMoore-Happy1

Dec. 8, 2011, 1:57 p.m.

In 2004, Assistant FBI Director Chris Swecker publicly stated that fraud in the mortgage industry was EPIDEMIC, but he was denied the funds to investigate or prosecute it. 

Schwecker left the FBI in 2006 to work for Bank of America where he signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Sunday’s Sixty-Minute shows the FBI did NOT speak to people who could actually verify fraudulent criminal activity. 

The media and the public needs to pressure the DOJ and FBI to honestly investigate and prosecute this wholesale wrongdoing.

Darryl Phillips

Dec. 8, 2011, 5:39 p.m.

Federal prosecutors (all prosecutors, for that matter) have budgets. They can hire lawyers but not the best ones. They can hire investigators but not the best ones. They can hire expert witnesses, but not the best ones.

The legal system is akin to judo wrestling, pick the heaviest contestant. And this is exactly what David Cardona meant. The government cannot win against the uber-rich.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 8, 2011, 6:18 p.m.

Easy to come up with fraudulent documents.  Hard to come up with prosecutable evidence linking “the big wheels” to fraudulent practices.

It isn’t like they give out written orders to break the law, and when it is a verbal order it becomes he said/she said…and when it is so easy to bring in a temp and have them go through 10,000 mortgages cut-and-pasting or whatever and then get rid of the temp, instantly destroying the chain of evidence…

The fact is “high finance” in America has become a separate and distinct society from middle America…in their society, whatever you do is acceptable as long as you’re doing it for money and you take the rudimentary steps required to protect yourself, your boss, and your corporation from prosecution.  Between deregulation, tons of expensive lawyers, and a group morality that not only condones but encourages profitable corruption, you’ll never get “revenge” on the big banks.

You ain’t going to fix or get retribution from “high finance”...best to replace it. 

Look into the State Bank of North Dakota - to include the mistakes it made which left it vulnerable to the weapons of the commercial banking system early in its history - and consider starting up such an operation in your own state to replace the “big banks” when it comes to “big financing” in your state.  Your community banks and credit unions are existing alternatives, particularly for the consumer and small business.  Use them. 

The power of “big banking” and their ability to launch financial attack after financial attack upon the American people - and get away with it - is derived from the money they control…so make that money go away by transferring your money, mortgages, and credit cards to alternatives - creating those alternatives where they do not exist.

That act will defund the members of Congress “big banking” owns, and a corrupt member of Congress who isn’t getting his/her payoff won’t remain loyal to “big banking”, opening up more possibilities on the legislative front.

The problem, again, is that “high finance” used their money to buy legislation - deregulation, in particular - that hog-tied law enforcement.  We are a nation of laws - but nobody way back in 1787 thought to incorporate common sense like “Corporations are not and can never be people.” into our Constitution, leaving an opening that corrupt politicians and judges could use against the American people.

lolll..that is probably the best argument there is for religious belief on the part of our Founding Fathers:  They were simply incapable of projecting a future where politicians and judges would usurp the power of God and breath life in pieces of paper - articles of incorporation - and create new Adams and Eves from them…Adams and Eves that have more rights and power than the real deal.  So they never defined what a human being is in the Constitution.

So now we pay…and pay…and pay…because wealth apparently counts the ability to eradicate morality and ethics among its powers.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 8, 2011, 7:07 p.m.

If you think about it, the right - Big Oil, Big Banking, Big Insurance;  Corporate America’s owner/operators, in short - laid out a pretty intelligent strategy:  Curse and condemn unions for 30 years, leverage the unions’ failure to support McGovern in 1972 into a means of corrupting Democrats into becoming “neoliberal” Democrats, and then stand on the back of that 30 years-worth of union vilification and say “We need something to offset union spending to save America!”....

And Voila! “Corporations are people”, and democracy’s slide into totalitarianism - into a rule of the 1% with the power to enslave the many with unbreakable chains of economic dependency - is accelerated exponentially.

People can’t see the forest for the trees…the attacks on Obama for failing to wave a magic wand and fix what Bush and Clinton signed off on absolutely ignores the fact that it is Congress that enacted the legislation that transferred power in America from the majority to the 1% - and only Congress can undo what they have done.

You want to fix America, you vote all of the Republicans and neoliberal Democrats out of Congress.  If you don’t do that, quit your bitchin’, whining, and blaming - for the party responsible for your oppression is you.

John Mack

Dec. 8, 2011, 7:21 p.m.

There are no prosecutions because Obama wanted “to just move on.” The idea that prosecution is too hard is just a cover-up for the decision NOT to prosecute in order to keep secret all the Wall St misdeeds and government favors and subsidies.

S. Lynn

Dec. 8, 2011, 9:20 p.m.

It’s gotten to the “just shoot ‘em” point.

david

Dec. 8, 2011, 9:57 p.m.

You are not convincing me or anyone else - i give you facts -  you give genralizations and slogans -—ibsteve2u

any criminal action could ovecome budgets with supoena power and an army of students for research - 5,000 say in return for tuition for law school and computer science coupled with top litigation firms on participation with the state

the laws are there to be enforced at various levels - the banks did not cover their tracks that well or with a lawyer by their elbow - there are mistakes galore and emails by the millions that are smoking guns and once you move up the tree these guys squeel like stuck pigs and give up the next guy - prison is not fun they will give it up in a NY minute

tell Obama to turn the system ( Presidency)  over to Elizabeth Warren - the banks are afraid of her - they are not scared of Obama !

Glenn

Dec. 8, 2011, 10:30 p.m.

Among other things, I am a lawyer.  Law is a powerful tool.  It can be used to punish or not.

When government officials (and many are lawyers), perceive a threat, they figure out ways to justify, rationalize, and empower attacks and prosecutions against the threat.  They will either weave all kinds of sophistries to justify their actions or simply proceed extra-legally.

Take terrorism. My former Con Law prof John Yoo helped create a cottage industry justifying monarchical executive power and the use of torture.  The law was twisted to fit the need.

Prosecuting Wall Street is a low priority.  Most government lawyers come from upper class or upper middle class families. They make good money.  Many have friends or family working in the financial sector.

They are bougie and so prosecuting other bougies is a low priority.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 9, 2011, 2:10 a.m.

@david - who emoted: “You are not convincing me or anyone else - i give you facts -  you give genralizations and slogans -—ibsteve2u

any criminal action could ovecome budgets with supoena power and an army of students for research - 5,000 say in return for tuition for law school and computer science coupled with top litigation firms on participation with the state”

End Quote

To which I would respond that a J.D. (law degree) requires an additional three years of college…at an average cost of $20,000.00 per annum (public) to $30,000.00 per annum (private).

I will split the difference, and call it

$25,000.00
x 5,000
x 3
——————-
$375 million

You really think the Republicans in Congress are going to provide that kind of money to prosecute their owners?

And you are talking about having them perform investigations before they even have the knowledge necessary to know what to look for!!!

To which you also add the involvement of the states and “top litigation firms”.  The individual lawyers for the latter bill at rates that exceed $1,000.00 per hour, and I can assure you that “the states” don’t have the money to pay such fees to firms that are experts at transforming the most trivial acts into billable hours.

I would again point out that prosecution prior to deregulation - when the law was effectively “You can do this, and no more!” - was much easier than it is in the post-deregulation environment of “Well, if we didn’t think to write a law specifically forbidding what you did, we can’t prosecute you….”

lollll..and Elizabeth Warren doesn’t have a chance of taking a hand because she would in fact do the job and the Republicans know it.  Obama tapped a “less controversial” figure in former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to be his nomination to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because he knew Warren wouldn’t fly (the Republicans already flat-out said she wouldn’t fly).

And guess what happened?  The Republicans blocked Cordray’s nomination Thursday!  (That would be “yesterday” as of this writing.)

The Republicans don’t want anybody writing regulations and laws that again make it possible to prosecute their owners.  So I again state that if you want “high finance” to stop preying upon the American people, you better work towards throwing the Republicans - the wholly-owned pets of “high finance” (but readily rented by any other industry willing to fork out the requisite cash) - out of office.

Otherwise you can whine and complain and call me (and Obama) all of the names you like and you won’t change squat.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 9, 2011, 2:32 a.m.

As another example of how far gone the Republicans are, yesterday they blocked one of their own from moving a bill that would prohibit insider trading by members of Congress.

lolll…and they blamed it on him…essentially saying that just because he got caught doesn’t mean that they should be prevented from reaping the benefits of their cozy relationship with “high finance” and Wall Street.

thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/08/384995/cantor-bachus-insider-trading/

That is another little trick the Republicans employ:  Abort bills early before they have even a prayer of coming up for a vote and so avoid voting them down on the record - where the American people can see it - and being recognized as the most corrupt human beings in America…if not the world.

max

Dec. 9, 2011, 8:33 a.m.

From Barry Ritholtz:

“I see three big bottlenecks for Fraud prosecutions:

1) Failure to attack the problem as a systemic issue: If it were up to me, I would be using RICO statutes to attack origination fraud and foreclosure fraud.

2) Conflict of interests: Uncle Sam still has huge stakes in banks and insurers. That reduces the incentives to find wrongdoing (thereby hurting your taxpayer funded portfolio)

3) Lobbying/Campaign donations from financials: Congress remains a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street. Despite rules prohibiting it, there has been increased pressure on DOJ to not bring actions by Congress-critters.”

He sees no alternative to action by individual State AGs.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 9, 2011, 10:13 a.m.

@max:  Happen to know if the individual states can just yank the big banks’ ability to operate in their states - a “state’s right” I am quite sure the Republicans would stomp all over if they haven’t already got a federal law on the books to cover that eventuality?  That is the only way you can really get their attention:  Reduce their ability to make money.

Slapping a fine on them is ineffective; the corporate “person” pays it and the bankers laugh just like any other wheel in Corporate America.

If nothing else, the state AGs could argue that the big banks are a threat under emission control laws, ‘cuz when one of the bankers breathes even the air comes out crooked.

Winston

Dec. 9, 2011, 10:36 a.m.

Oh, PLEASE!  Too hard to prosecute?  As William K. Black has said many times, much of the problem is that for an economic crisis that is at least 70 times larger than the Savings and Loan debacle, the FBI has ONE SIXTH the white collar crime division manning, something any president could fix with the stroke of a pen.  THEY SIMPLY DON’T WANT to prosecute.  The Reagan administration didn’t want prosecutions of S&L elites either and tried to obstruct Black’s efforts. But over 10,000 S&L personnel were indicted with over 1,000 FELONY convictions resulting.

NO, they don’t WANT to prosecute because most of the financial system is still on the verge of collapse due to excessive debt, much of it toxic (ex., MBS) carried on their books at 100 cents on the dollar due to legalized accounting fraud (mark-to-model) or simply unpayable (ex., sovereign) and prosecutions would eliminate any reaming UNJUSTIFIED trust in the system.  THAT is why they don’t prosecute.

carolyn

Dec. 9, 2011, 12:34 p.m.

Interesting conversation here. The issue which troubles me the most is the ticking clock - the statute of limitations, which seems to be clearly defined in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Rico’s undefined statutes appear to have been more or less defined by the supreme court, and since I’m not a lawyer, I’m not much wiser after having tried to read through interpretations of the decisions. My gut tells me the fraudsters/congress are just waiting it out.

@ ibsteve2u: I can imagine the howl if state’s AG’s tried to yank big banks’ abilities to operate. I nagged incessantly at my kids (who also hate the big banks and want them prosecuted) before they finally moved their money into non-profit credit union banks. Even well informed people don’t want to break their comfortable routines by dealing with the minor inconvenience involved. Then there’s the mess it would make with the already messed up contracts in mortgage and finance.

@ Winston: I think you nailed it in your second paragraph. Fear of collapse on the part of the administration shares the same bed with our bought off congress/incestuous SEC - thereby insuring the survival of our corrupt system. Unless States’ AG’s take the ball?

Regarding corporate personhood, Bernie Sanders has just today opened up a petition to sign support for a constitutional amendment to undo Citizens United. It’s a strategy and a start. If enough people actually take the trouble to sign on, it’ll get legs, media attention, increased voter awareness, and if enough people sign on - maybe even happen. If people simply shrug and say, “there goes Bernie again”, it’ll die on the shelf as just another good idea.

Currently the bulk of our population still doesn’t seem to care, maybe about 20% of us are well informed, and only a fraction are actively involved.  I’m pre-civil rights era. It took millions of people working together to finally get it done, but many of those in the small groups who originally broke ground decades earlier never lived to see the results.

Roy

Dec. 9, 2011, 1:31 p.m.

@Carolyn-You are sadly correct. Would you be so kind as to post the site of Mr. Sander’s petition, if you have I’d appreciate. Good for you “nagged incessantly”, sometimes a Mother has to do what she knows to be true.

carolyn

Dec. 9, 2011, 2:07 p.m.

@Roy: Here’s the link to Sander’s petition for a constitutional amendment to undo “Citizen’s United” (corporate personhood), though it’ll take awhile to show up since it first has to go to moderation since it contains a link.

At last check it was over 40K and it was sent out just this morning.

http://sanders.senate.gov/petition/?uid=f1c2660f-54b9-4193-86a4-ec2c39342c6c

ibsteve2u

Dec. 9, 2011, 2:55 p.m.

The link to Senator Sanders’ signature drive to overturn the abomination that is Citizens United:

sanders.senate.gov/petition/?uid=f1c2660f-54b9-4193-86a4-ec2c39342c6c

Roy

Dec. 10, 2011, 9:04 a.m.

@Carolyn and ibsteve2u-Thanks! It’s a start. Totals were over 52k when I signed yesterday.

George W. Drance

Dec. 10, 2011, 11:57 a.m.

@Carolyn and steve: Thanks for your info. I just signed Sen. Sanders’s
petition and the number is 79,857 (12/10/11 noontime). That’s almost 28k increase in 26 hours. And you just STARTED this ball rolling.Pass it on, everybody!

carolyn

Dec. 10, 2011, 1:04 p.m.

@George, Steve, and Roy:
To generate the greatest support and response possible,  my greatest hope is that ALL reform-minded political action groups will eventually get together under one umbrella for the purpose of sharing information on petition drives and courses of action for common issues. ProPublica doesn’t fall into this category since it’s investigative and maintains a neutral position. (The GOP, of course, regard FACTS as having a liberal bias)

Only those of us who subscribe to Bernie Sander’s newsletter knew about his petition initially. Other blogs should be all over this, lending support, and sending out alerts/links - yet they aren’t!

Success requires huge numbers and a sense of common purpose. We’re all related, but unless we join together, we’ll remain in less effective splinter groups. ....along with the inevitable in-fighting, clashing egos (Hey! That was MY idea!) distractions which kill progress and momentum.

david

Dec. 10, 2011, 1:38 p.m.

ibsteve2u - analyze this! - or in your case rationalize this!—> NYT today

“its TOO hard” - same subject - different day - same result - politicians and the DoJ - repay their sponsors

its not about the laxity of the laws on the books - as you so tediously keep saying -  but the ENFORCEMENT - of whats there already - as i have been saying -  in this case TWO SETS of books -

On Tuesday, the Labor Department issued a 972-page report on the calamity — the nation’s worst mining disaster in 40 years. It concluded that Massey’s “unlawful policies and practices” were the “root cause of this tragedy.” It identified over 300 violations of the Mine Safety and Health Act, including nine flagrant violations that contributed to the explosion.

The scathing findings probably came as no surprise in West Virginia, where Massey had a well-earned reputation for putting miners at risk, breaking unions and polluting the environment.

However, what jumped off the pages for me, as a former federal prosecutor, was the revelation that Massey had kept ” two sets of books” at the mine: one for internal use, which recorded hazards, and a second for Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors, which did not. In addition, Massey routinely gave its facilities advance notice of inspections, which is a crime under federal law, and intimidated its workers so that they would not report safety and health violations.

Based on the Labor Department’s investigation, the Justice Department could have criminally prosecuted Massey under the Mine Safety and Health Act for the violations that caused the explosion. Prosecutors also could have charged the company with conspiracy and obstruction of justice for the ways it thwarted regulation.

Instead, on the same day the devastating report was released, the Justice Department announced that it would not criminally prosecute Massey

carolyn

Dec. 10, 2011, 3:17 p.m.

@ David: If the DoJ won’t prosecute, is there recourse? Can a state’s attorney general (eg: McGraw, West Virginia) file charges on a case that has been declined for prosecution by the US DOJ?

I suspect since coal mining is one of the state’s primary industries, it wouldn’t likely be pursued, but I’d like to know if it’s possible - or if there are other avenues of recourse.

david

Dec. 10, 2011, 3:49 p.m.

Carolyn - sure the state has options but in a place like WV - the system is controlled by the mining cos - i was in Charleston in federal court many years ago and it is very small place

the points you have raised on Statute of Limitations is where the rubber hits the road on the banks currently -

the states of NY / Mass / CA / Nev / Del - have more possibilities for action given the politics if they act fast - the banks are afraid of the tree being shaken from the bottom - the Federal Government at this point in time isnt going to happen -

RICO / Martin Act (NY) and other approaches to fraud and false affadavits filed under oath many of which have fines based on number of violations are all fodder for prosecution - the stakes are $500 billion + damages treble - which could solve the various state’s budget problem long term - so there is no cost / budget limitation - multiple parties would front the cost for participations especially given the quality of the fraud in the case of CW et al - all they need to know is that there is a will and time line to win

the issue today everywhere is the control / bribery / payoffs -  of the regulators / politicians / judges - all of which get post - partnerships with law firms / lobbyist positions /  hedge funds -  with deferred compensation for favorable treatment today

the methodology as you can see is the same no matter what the subject - banks / mining firms / pharma (in the case of doctors and drugs as reported by ProPublica)

so…...we watch and wait for the inevitable system wide catastrophe - and then - every one will say they are sorry and change occurs

carolyn

Dec. 10, 2011, 4:57 p.m.

Thanks so much David!!

You’ve filled in all of the holes for me as well as answered my statutes question which has apparently been the elephant in the room. I love your last statement, “.....wait for the inevitable system wide catastrophe - and then - every one will say they are sorry and change occurs”, since long experience tells me that it’s not cynicism, but an accurate prediction based on historical observation. I would also add that the “change” that occurs is fleeting at best. 

Many of us, of course, hope we can fix some of this mess BEFORE it collapses, so we’re either Sancho Panza shouting at windmills or a force which slows down what history tells repeatedly us is the inevitable process of greed, corruption, decay, and collapse from within.

For many of us it’s in our DNA to put on our blinders and keep fighting back, so that’s what we do. And in that vein, I hope the states’ AGs get rolling quickly, given the timeline. Thanks again!

Tim Barlow

Dec. 10, 2011, 10:30 p.m.

Let the justice lawyers keep a significant percentage of the fines collected when they successfully prosecute a corporate crook.  Then they could recruit some of the top lawyers currently only working at banks..

Ross Massey

Dec. 10, 2011, 11:27 p.m.

The fix is in at the top level, i.e., President Obama has told Eric Holder and his crew to do nothing.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 11, 2011, 12:35 a.m.

@david - I won’t attempt to “rationalize” anything.  I will merely - to borrow a well-known phrase - provide the rest of the story which you did not see fit to include as it does not support your desire to blame all that is wrong in America on Obama.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/opinion/for-29-dead-miners-no-justice.html?_r=1

Quote:  “So why did the Justice Department respond so timidly?

Perhaps it felt hamstrung by the weakness of the criminal provisions of the Mine Safety and Health Act, which are misdemeanors and cover only willful violations of health and safety standards. It is long past time for Congress to update our mine safety laws so that violations can be prosecuted as felonies, particularly in cases where miners are killed.

Maybe the Justice Department wanted to reward the new owners, who appear to have made a greater commitment to safety. It may also have felt it would be enough to criminally prosecute Massey officials, which it can and should do if there is sufficient evidence.

We should not underestimate, however, the difficulty of prosecuting high-ranking officials in large corporations. This case may be an exception, but senior corporate officers rarely have sufficient personal involvement to be charged with crimes. To reach the boardroom, where policies are formed that can lead to tragedy, we must be willing to hold corporations criminally responsible.”

End quote.  I reckon those who intentionally leave out the parts of the story that might not bring their the results they want are why you are required to swear “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” in a court of law.

And I would leave one further thought with the reader:  When we prosecute a corporation, what happens?  The corporation as “person” pays, and the executives who committed the crimes - who even killed - in the name of profit walk away laughing with no harm to their compensation or their golden parachutes.

I pray to God that the DOJ does indeed criminally prosecute Massey officials.  That is the only way this country will be able to stop the use of corporations as both shields and weapons by the wealthy few who own and operate them.

Of course, those lawyers who want the cut the lawyers always get when defending a corporation or participating in class action lawsuits against a corporation are - no doubt - displeased.

ibsteve2u

Dec. 11, 2011, 12:52 a.m.

To again quote one very pertinent paragraph from the aforementioned New York Times story that was excluded from “david’s” half-tale: “...hamstrung by the weakness of the criminal provisions of the Mine Safety and Health Act, which are misdemeanors and cover only willful violations of health and safety standards. It is long past time for Congress to update our mine safety laws so that violations can be prosecuted as felonies, particularly in cases where miners are killed.”

That ain’t happening as long as those purulent Republicans contaminate Congress in the numbers they do today.  Our government simply cannot get healthy with an infection of that size.

david

Dec. 11, 2011, 1:10 a.m.

Yhoo !- ibesteve2u: listen up and listen well !

Blankenship - former CEO of Massey - was notorious for micro managing and pushing safety rules to the limits - there is a lot of background on this guy - read up on him - - so he could have been prosecuted “alone” for the double set of book and the inspection before a federal appointment as the article said - its there if the tree was shaken effectively -  the board let him run wild - so obviously they had exposure as well - so i suspect the board reached an accomodation with justice to give them a bye if they got rid of blankenship -  he was king in WV so how did they get him out so easy ????

he also has a record of bribery investigations as well - 

compare him to Mozillo at CW -  a lot of the same MO - they look like bookends - both these guys walk for bupkis ! 

you consistently take what you want from the information and spin it side ways for Obama’s benefit - the former prosecutor in the NYT article - gave them the benefit of the doubt with some gratuitous comments and still made pointed reference - questioning their (DoJ) logic and actions and integrity

why not say - gee - i wonder where is the case where obama went overboard and was too aggressive with a case of major corp and officers - it doesn’t exist that’s why ! - Madoff was small beer

but ANY unbiased person would see the thread that runs thru all of these cases and then compare to testimony like Ms Foster at CW and it all makes sense - with no followup - zero!

but hey - we all have to eat -  i get it - but dont tell me these guys are clean - no one is going the nine yards like Spitzer did - none !

ibsteve2u

Dec. 11, 2011, 9:35 a.m.

@david:  You’re entitled to your opinion, of course - but I believe that it is inappropriate to pin the fact that prosecutions of the size and scale that you want indicate Obama’s intervention.

There are two factors I would point to that you are not accounting for:  First, prosecutions cost money.  The Republicans in Congress are forever reducing the flow of funding to entities that they don’t like - and foremost on their list of entities that they don’t like are any departments that attempt to prevent Corporate America from preying upon the American people.  Unless a case is virtually ironclad with little or no chance of failure, then limited resources have to be applied where they can be most effective.

Secondly, there is the question of the quality of the DOJ.  I believe everybody recalls the Alberto Gonzales/Monica Goodling scandal wherein DOJ was intentionally stuffed with those who adhered to Republican ideology.  Much as with the minerals management side of government, it is an open question as to how many Republican holdovers remain - and consequently it is also an open question as to whether the work being done places the priority on the interests of the America people or the interests of Corporate America. 

I certainly don’t know…but I do know that you simply cannot waltz into the Oval Office, ask for a list of all hires during Republican years, and then fire them all (but geeze would that have been a wonderful opportunity).  Employment and worker protection laws meant to protect the good guys shield bad guys, too.  And I do know that Obama doesn’t have the time to personally review the DOJ’s workload on a case-by-case basis but must instead take recommendations from existing staffers.

But keep writing, of course.  I am sure that if you bring hard evidence rather than vague accusations to the table that would definitely indicate corruption on Obama’s part, then the GOP and the Republicans candidates will pounce on it and demand prosecution of the errant members of Corporate America if only to publicly disgrace Obama.

Oh, wait…guess they wouldn’t, or the corruption on Wall Street and in banking would never have gotten as bad as it has.

david

Dec. 11, 2011, 10 a.m.

you said:  I am sure that if you bring hard evidence rather than vague accusations to the table that would definitely indicate corruption on Obama’s part

ibsteve - i have provided you countless FACTS and cases which you repeatedly refuse to address point by point -  go back to the string - Foster / Citi compliance officer / report on 60 min / Mozillo settlement treatment / blankenship free ride /

the focus is crystal clear when you look at Judge Rakoffs comments about citi proposed settlement - he made Khuzumi look ridiculous and essentially censored him - he should resign - when a prominent federal judge turns the decision back in such a forceful and PUBLIC way -  your arguement is specious - the budget is not the issue - ITS A RED HERRING -  the will of the the top guy is only at issue

in the case of microsoft anti trust they brought in David Boies to make the case for DoJ——you have ignored the alternatives to your arguement on the budget -  intentionally

different subjects / different cases - all end the same way and the judge says it smells

but you need to make excuses for this guy accepting blood money in return for justice —————> sick and wrong !

ibsteve2u

Dec. 11, 2011, 10:09 a.m.

Make that lead-in paragraph read “I believe that it is inappropriate to suggest that the lack of prosecutions of the size and scale that you want indicates Obama’s intervention.”

Much as I’d like to see Massey’s “former” executives and board members held accountable for a very Republican crime - murder by proxy - I don’t believe our laws support such prosecutions.  Too much corporate influence on our legislative and judicial branch; if nothing else should be clear, the corruption our SCOTUS unveiled with Citizens United should be shrieking the fact that the American people are losing America to the skies.

And one other significant factor:  The sale of Massey to Alpha Natural Resources in January of 2011 way messed with the chain of culpability.  By design, many believe - but again, it is a legal exploit of existing law.

But look at the bright side:  If there is a God, there are a whole lot of Massey Energy executives and board members who are going to get to experience something like what a miner faces when trapped in a burning coal mine for all of eternity.  And Corporate America/the right/the Republicans claim that there is, in fact, a God - and surely they wouldn’t do that just to get votes.

david

Dec. 11, 2011, 10:32 a.m.

steve - you said :

The sale of Massey to Alpha Natural Resources in January of 2011 way messed with the chain of culpability -

there you go again with obfuscation

the explosion took place and the facts established long before “that” sale event - the people responsible on the line - in production and higher up have nothing to do with the practices after the sale - “all” got direct messages and communications from the top at one time or another - he established what was important - it was production at any cost let the rules be dammed -  he systematically hired former inspectors - to keep the coveups going and have continuity to new hires in mine safety office and the saloons of WV- there is a meal - if they wanted to go after everyone much like Black did with S & L minions - 20 years ago

this is systematic pattern of abuse -  not budgets or limitations of laws as you proffer - bogus arguments

there is huge money on the sidelines - trillions - personal and corporate mostly due to demand perceptions but also tangentially there is a lot of experience out there especially with small business about how the system works - people are not going to take risks without a level playing field - it is suicide financially and more importantly the decision process doesnt take you to a safe position when you try and evaluate the potential downside

ibsteve2u

Dec. 11, 2011, 11:10 a.m.

@david:  Do you have any evidence to support your declaration that “former” Massey officials are not going to face criminal prosecution?  Can you provide documentation of the hard evidence of criminal behavior specifically attributable to identifiable individuals that you insist exists?

I would again refer you to the New York Times article that you have used to insist that your accusations against Obama have substance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/10/opinion/for-29-dead-miners-no-justice.html?_r=1

Quote:  “It may also have felt it would be enough to criminally prosecute Massey officials, which it can and should do if there is sufficient evidence.”

That in no way suggests that there is firm evidence as your last comment insists, and further it in no way rules out the possibility that the DOJ will instigate criminal proceedings.

I again note that is an excerpt from the backbone of your argument.

david

Dec. 11, 2011, 11:40 a.m.

Steve - i called your attention to the mining case because the train of facts are simpler to follow than a financial case yet it appears the end game is the same - as all the other cases we have seen in the last three years

you dont address Judge Raykoff’s admonitions - i understand why

sure i concede i dont have the records of the investigation nor do i know what could potentially happen in the future - but that is a waste of time you can hide behind - on any subject

go to charleston for a week im sure there are all kinds of people who have strong facts and opinions and knowledge of past practice who disagreee with the current decision

you can always hide behind “we dont know the facts” and therefore give obama the benefit of the doubt which is your entire game - i get it

professionals - business and law -  in various disciplines dont buy it - but i’m sure you can get someone to believe you

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