To make matters worse, a Federal Reserve official recently told U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, "We were not willing to find those firms guilty before, because we were worried that if we found them guilty, that could somehow potentially destabilize the financial system" ("The Fed Just Acknowledged Its Too Big To Jail Policy"). In other words, because they were members of large and powerful organizations, wealthy executives were not (and I would argue, are still not) answerable to the criminal justice system.
Many Americans, duped by right-wing politicians, pundits, radio show hosts, and think-tank "researchers," blame public school teachers, unemployed workers, and unions for our nation's economic problems, instead of the white collar crooks running the frauds. This blame switcharoo is surely one of the most astounding developments of the 21st century. It seems that no amount of insider trading, money laundering, price fixing, interest rate rigging, mortgage & securities fraud, accounting fraud, illegal foreclosures on soldiers, bribery, pollution, tax evasion, and so on, will dissuade millions of people from blaming public school teachers and the homeless for our nation's economic woes, and also screaming at low-income Americans to "practice personal responsibility!"
Sam Antar, a man who ran a large financial fraud in the 1980s, recently said "We are in the golden era of white-collar crime. My biggest regret is I should've been a criminal today rather than 20 years ago" ("Crazy Eddie CFO: 'We are in the golden-era of white collar crime,'" CNN, November 17, 2014).
Mr. Antar is correct. This is arguably the best time in American history to be a white collar criminal.
1. Too Big To Jail: In addition to the Federal Reserve official's observation of "too-big-to-jail," that I noted above, Eric Holder, head of the Department of Justice, also implied that big financial institutions are immune from criminal prosecution because such prosecution could have a negative effect on the economy ("Eric Holder Admits Some Banks Are Just Too Big To Prosecute," Huffington Post, March 6, 2013).
3. Hush Money: Author and journalist Matt Taibbi, who has followed corporate crime like a hawk for many years now, recently wrote, "Holder's Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges – only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called 'statements of facts,' which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts. And now, with Holder about to leave office and his Justice Department reportedly wrapping up its final settlements, the state is effectively putting the finishing touches on what will amount to a sweeping, industrywide effort to bury the facts of a whole generation of Wall Street corruption" ("The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JP Morgan Chase's Worst Nightmare," Rolling Stone, November 6, 2014).
4. A Devil-May-Care Attitude: In November of 2013, William Dudley, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that the big financial institutions in America had an "apparent lack of respect for law, regulation and the public trust" ("New York Fed Chief Levels Explosive Charge Against Big Banks," Huffington Post, November 7, 2013).
5. Illicit Cash Becomes Campaign Cash: In discussing a PBS Frontline report, on the Obama Administration's failure to prosecute financial crimes, journalist David Sirota writes, "(The report) documents the rampant and calculated mortgage securities fraud perpetrated by the major Wall Street banks, who, not coincidentally, were using some of the profits they made to become among President Obama’s biggest campaign donors" ("Are banks too big to jail? PBS Frontline's stunning report shows how the Obama administration undermined the rule of law," Salon, January 23, 2013).
6. Wall Street's Embrace of Crime: A 2012 survey indicated that "A quarter of Wall Street executives see wrongdoing as a key to success" ("Many Wall Street executives says wrongdoing is necessary: survey," Reuters, July 10, 2012).
7. A Congress That Encourages Crime: When Republican politicians recently fought to protect wealthy tax evaders, Heather Lowe, of the organization Global Financial Integrity, said "It is mind-boggling that a major political party would even consider endorsing a resolution to facilitate tax evasion" ("Republicans bash U.S. law targeting offshore tax dodgers," Reuters, January 24, 2014).
Where's a William Douglas when you need one? Where's a New Deal when you need one?