Eric Holder Pledges to Prosecute Banks – Believe Him?

Watch out, banks that engage in criminal activity (aka just about every large bank): Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are coming for you!

I’ll give you a moment to stop chuckling. Seriously, though, Attorney General Holder said it himself. In a video released Monday morning, Holder vowed that prosecutions of banks that operate outside of the law are forthcoming, claiming, “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail.’”

“Some have used that phrase [“too big to jail”] to describe the theory that certain financial institutions – even if they engage in criminal misconduct – should be considered immune from prosecution due to their sheer size and their influence on the economy,” Holder elaborated. “That view is mistaken.”

Hmmm, where would they get the idea? Maybe from Holder himself, who just last year said, “I am concerned that the size of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute, if we do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy.”

Add that to the fact that, in the past several years, banks have been implicated in all sorts of fraudulent, unconscionable activities, yet the Department of Justice hasn’t brought a single major bank to trial. The worst that’s happened to the banks is that they pay out-of-court settlements where they admit to nothing and pay fines that are a fraction of the profits they made from their criminal behaviors. In other words, these punishments are slaps on the wrist that still prove profitable to the banks. If the government is not outright colluding with these financial institutions, it is at least willfully standing by and allowing it to happen.

Although Holder’s recent vow raises justifiable skepticism, there is some reason to be optimistic. His comments were not off-the-cuff remarks to a reporter, but part of a carefully planned video release. Holder also said, “I am personally [emphasis his own] monitoring the status of these investigations; I am resolved to seeing them through.” By staking his own reputation on future prosecutions, he indicates that trials are in the pipeline.

Although Holder did not mention any specific banks by name in his video release, many speculate that the statement is a reference to banks like BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse AG. BNP Paribas is in hot water – to the tune of more than $1 billion – for violating U.S. sanctions with Iraq. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse is being investigated for helping Americans to hide money to avoid paying taxes in the United States – you know, typical Swiss bank account stuff.

While I wish the singled out banks would have more significant domestic ties (like the mortgage fraud at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, for example), I’ll take precedent wherever we can get it.

For the trials to actually be effective and serve as a deterrent to Wall Street CEOs, they will have to ultimately put employees in jail. Fortunately, Holder is now saying that prison is on the table. Seeing a few cronies behind bars might prompt other executives to start seeing their misconduct as a legitimate crime rather than merely a “business risk.”

Overall, I’m still wary that Holder’s pledge is yet another case of “saying the right thing while doing the opposite” that the Obama administration is known for. Will criminal banks finally be prosecuted? I’ll believe it when I see it… but, in this case, I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

What? Trust Eric Holder? You have to be kidding!!!!!

Would you have a wolf guard your sheep?

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

Window dressing. Say what they want to hear but he will keep to his original agenda.

Mary B.
Mary B3 years ago

There's a whole lot more stuff going on that none of us will ever see, and it will likely change the outer appearence so that most wouldn't even recognize it when it does happen.

Karen H.
Karen H3 years ago

Do I believe him? Nope.

Darryll Green
Darryll Green3 years ago

to finish my post, siana. Justice had sued Louisiana last August seeking an injunction to stop it from distributing school vouchers to kids seeking to escape failing schools using the pretext of decades-old desegregation orders. Justice’s action is pure politics, driven by the fact that Democrats are beholden to teachers unions.

Justice’s ideological zealotry is on display across a host of other issues.

Darryll Green
Darryll Green3 years ago

this is from the N Y Post, A veteran Justice Department lawyer says that Attorney General Eric Holder has politicized the department in a way he hadn’t seen before. In short, “Holder is the worst person to hold the position of attorney general since the disgraced John Mitchell.”

Now in his sixth year as attorney general, Holder has increasingly tilted the department in an ideological direction. It’s one thing to emphasize President Obama’s legal priorities. It’s quite another to decide not to enforce certain federal laws — such as the ban on marijuana — or urge state attorney generals to refuse to defend local laws on same-sex marriage. Legal changes are achieved through legislation, not through a sudden whim not to enforce them. No other attorney general has acted in this manner.

Holder clearly believes he has the inherent power to politicize his department. When House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte asked him last week whether he believed there were any limits to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion. “There is a vast amount of discretion that a president has — and more specifically that an attorney general has,” Holder responded.

But courts have frequently disagreed with Holder’s interpretations of the law. Just last week, a US District Court judge issued an order denying Justice’s request for veto power over school-choice scholarships awarded to students by the state of Loui

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

I will believe it when I see it. I do hope to see it.

Catrin K.
Catrin Schuetz3 years ago

Believe it when i see it , too many promises have been made with zero action.