White-collar crime cases can take years to develop, so today’s headlines often reflect what happened well in the past. And as we approach the end of 2014, there is a sense, to steal a line from Yogi Berra, that it’s like déjà vu all over again.
We will, of course, see continued fallout from the practices that helped fuel the financial crisis. This past year, the Justice Department reached multibillion-dollar settlements with Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase for selling shoddy mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis hit in 2008. Most of the loans packaged for investors were made by companies acquired by the banks as the real estate market spiraled downward in 2008, so they paid for the sins of others.
The settlements with big banks hardly close out cases from the financial crisis as names from the past keep popping to the surface. DealBook reported that the Justice Department was considering a civil fraud case against Angelo R. Mozilo, former chief executive of Countrywide Financial, which was at the center of the subprime mortgage market. Prosecutors in Los Angeles closed a criminal investigation a few months after Mr. Mozilo reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 over securities fraud charges. But he may be back in the news again if a new round of civil fraud charges is filed.
The S.E.C. sued the former chief executives of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with other officers of the companies, for securities fraud in 2011 for not adequately disclosing the companies’ exposure to the subprime mortgages that led to a government bailout. Those cases are just winding up the discovery phase, so it is unlikely there will be a trial in 2015 as the two sides continue to fight over whether the case should proceed.