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FIRREA | U.S. tests rare legal path in financial crisis cases

FIRREA | U.S. tests rare legal path in financial crisis cases


REUTERS-

An Obama administration task force established to investigate misconduct that fueled the financial crisis is turning to a little-used statute that may make such cases easier to bring, according to people familiar with the matter.

The federal statute, FIRREA, was passed in the wake of the savings-and-loan scandals in the 1980s. It requires a lower burden of proof than criminal charges, has a longer statute of limitations than other financial laws and potentially could bring big fines.

But it has appeared in only a few dozen cases since it was enacted in 1989.

The task force, which is in the Justice Department, used FIRREA earlier this year when it issued more than a dozen civil subpoenas to top financial institutions, including Citigroup, the people familiar with the matter said.

[REUTERS]

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CREDO: Tell President Obama: 55 investigators aren’t enough to investigate Wall Street criminals.

CREDO: Tell President Obama: 55 investigators aren’t enough to investigate Wall Street criminals.


Via CREDO

Back in January, President Obama announced during the State of the Union speech the creation of a new financial crimes task force to investigate the crimes and misdeeds that led to the economic collapse and “hold accountable those who broke the law.”

Yet, despite the enormity of the issue, its direct impact on millions of Americans and the widespread nature of crimes and wrongdoing, the new financial crime unit has been allocated a paltry 55 staff members to undertake this enormous task.1

And now we’re hearing from insiders in Washington DC, that the full complement of 55 promised investigators — which is already not nearly enough — haven’t even been deployed to the task force.

Election year promises aren’t nearly enough. President Obama needs to prove his commitment to the financial crimes task force is real and provide the task force with the resources it needs to investigate Wall Street criminals.

Tell President Obama: 55 investigators are not enough. We need 20 times more staffing to launch a real investigation into Wall Street’s crimes.

After the much smaller savings and loan scandal of the ’80s approximately 1,000 FBI agents and dozens of federal prosecutors were assigned to prosecute related cases2. And 100 FBI agents were tasked with investigating the Enron scandal3, which involved just one company and caused none of the economy-wide damage we’ve seen since the collapse of the housing bubble.

The 55 investigators promised to the financial crimes task force is not nearly enough. And to find out that President Obama hasn’t delivered on those investigators, let alone resourced the effort at the levels appropriate to the biggest financial fraud in U.S. history, is shocking.

President Obama’s record on Wall Street accountability is abysmal. But because of enormous grassroots pressure from activists like you and polling that suggests he needs to take on Wall Street as a part of his election campaign, we have a real opportunity to move President Obama to meaningful action on Wall Street accountability. Time, however, is running out.

President Obama’s first task force at the Department of Justice did little if anything to prosecute Wall Street for crimes that led to the financial crisis. But because of your activism, he announced a new task force and named progressive champion and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman one of its five co-chairs.

Now we need to pressure the White House to give that task force the resources it needs to pursue justice. Without sufficient staff to conduct thorough investigations, it’s hard to see how this task force could bring indictments quickly or even beforesStatutes of limitations run out.

Tell President Obama: 55 investigators are not enough. We need 20 times more staffing to launch a real investigation into Wall Street’s crimes.

The economic crisis we’re in demands a response commensurate with the damage done by Wall Street crooks. But the 55 promised investigators don’t even come close to being adequate. If the White House hasn’t even followed through on its promise of a paltry 55 investigators, it’s clear that massive pushback is needed to get the level of staffing we truly need to bring Wall Street criminals to justice.

Aside from the appointment of Attorney General Schneiderman, none of the other co-chairs of the new task force has done literally anything that achieves our goal of holding banks accountable or prosecuting bankers for criminal activity.

In fact, three of his co-chairs served on the earlier failed Department of Justice task force that the new investigation was created to supersede.

In an election year when we know the Obama reelection campaign wants to frame his race as opposing the candidate of the one percent, President Obama will be particularly sensitive to public perception of whether his efforts to hold Wall Street accountable are meaningful and represent the full force of his office.

Tell President Obama: 55 investigators are not enough. We need 20 times more staffing to launch a real investigation into Wall Street’s crimes.

We want, and our country needs, indictments. The collapse of the housing bubble led directly to the economic crisis we’re in. But not one of the Wall Street crooks who drove our economy off a cliff has gone to jail. And without aggressive investigations and prosecution for misconduct, none of them will.

President Obama needs to give the Department of Justice task force the resources required to launch a serious investigation that will bring about real accountability before the statutes of limitations run out for Wall Street’s crimes.

It’s been months already. We can’t waste any more time. We must act now before we lose our opportunity to do anything significant at all.

1. “Details Emerge of New Financial Fraud Unit ,” Huffington Post, 01-26-12.
2. FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole’s statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 02-11-09
3. “In Past Financial Crises, Fewer Pursued In Courts,” NPR, 08-14-11.

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/fraud_task_force/?rc=tw1

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William D. Cohan: How Wall Street Turned a Crisis Into a Cartel

William D. Cohan: How Wall Street Turned a Crisis Into a Cartel


Reuters-

Almost 65 years ago, in 1947, the U.S. government sued 17 leading Wall Street investment banks, charging them with effectively colluding in violation of antitrust laws.

In its complaint — which was front-page news at the time – — the Justice Department alleged that these firms had created “an integrated, overall conspiracy and combination” starting in 1915 “and in continuous operation thereafter, by which” they developed a system “to eliminate competition and monopolize ‘the cream of the business’ of investment banking.”

The U.S. argued that the top Wall Street investment banks – – including Morgan Stanley (MS) (the lead defendant) and Goldman Sachs — had created a cartel by which, among other things, it set the prices charged for underwriting securities and for providing mergers-and-acquisitions advice, while boxing out weaker competitors from breaking into the top tier of the business and getting their fair share of the fees.

[REUTERS]

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SEC official: Feds conclude that many allegations of financial wrongdoing can’t succeed as criminal prosecutions

SEC official: Feds conclude that many allegations of financial wrongdoing can’t succeed as criminal prosecutions


WSJ-

A former top U.S. official in charge of investigating the financial crisis said the government has concluded that many inquiries of wrongdoing by financial executives can’t succeed as criminal prosecutions.

“There’s been a realization and a more deliberate targeting by the Department of Justice before we launch criminally on some of these cases” said David Cardona, who was a deputy assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation until he left last month for a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Justice Department has decided it is “better left to regulators” to take civil-enforcement action on those cases, …

[WALL STREET JOURNAL] subscription needed

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Senator Tester wants Justice Department to investigate big banks for fraud, illegal fees on veterans’ mortgages

Senator Tester wants Justice Department to investigate big banks for fraud, illegal fees on veterans’ mortgages


“If true, this type of behavior is illegal and it’s un-American. There is no question about that.”

-Sen. Tester

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is pushing the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the nation’s biggest banks for allegedly adding illegal fees to the home loans of veterans and their families.

A recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and J.P. Morgan Chase disguised fees that are specifically forbidden under VA rules on veterans’ home refinancing loans. 

Because these loans are guaranteed by the federal government, they are low-risk, leading to additional profits for the banks. But the Justice Department has so far declined to pursue the case.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Tester called for the Justice Department to take up the case, saying defrauding veterans would be “illegal and Un-American.”

“I request that you investigate the full extent of these illegal activities, and provide my office with detailed information about the subsequent damages as well as the actions the Justice Department will undertake to prevent them from happening in the future,” Tester wrote Holder. “Despite what some of our nation’s largest banks may believe, the men and women who have honorably served our country deserve better than this. They have earned as much.”

Under VA rules, lenders may not charge veterans for attorneys’ fees or settlement closing fees when handling home loans. The lawsuit alleges that lenders instructed mortgage brokers to disguise these fees by combining them with other, permitted charges.

“Taking advantage of veterans who put their lives on the line—that’s something no Montanan and no American should stand for,” Tester said. “The Justice Department needs to protect not only the men and women who defend this country, but also the American taxpayers who guaranteed these loans. The actions of these banks deserve a close and thorough look from this Administration.” 

According to the lawsuit, more than 1.2 million VA home loans have been issued to veterans over the past 10 years, and as much as 90 percent may involve some degree of fraud. 

Tester is Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Earlier this year, he introduced a bill that increases the penalties for banks that violate the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which protects active duty troops from certain financial and legal hardships.

Tester’s letter to Attorney General Holder appears below.

###

October 11, 2011

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 5111
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I write regarding the lawsuit recently unsealed in federal court which reveals that as many as 13 banks and mortgage firms imposed excessive, hidden and illegal fees on a number of our nation’s veterans and their families. Because these home loans were backed by the federal government, they were low-risk and led to additional profits for the banks. I am bothered by the fact that the Justice Department reportedly will not be taking on the case at this time. I request that you provide justification for this decision, and urge you to reconsider. I also request that you investigate the full extent of these illegal activities, and provide my office with detailed information about the subsequent damages as well as the actions the Justice Department will undertake to prevent them from happening in the future.

According to the lawsuit, these veterans were fraudulently charged millions in illegal fees through a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan program through which they sought to lower their interest rates or shorten the terms of their mortgages. More than 1.2 million of these loans have been issued over the past 10 years, and as much as 90 percent may involve some degree of fraud.

In defrauding these veterans and their families with excess fees, the banks allegedly also benefitted by receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in loan guarantees from the VA. That resulted in better prices from the loans that banks and mortgage brokers sold to investors. And as more of these loans went into default or foreclosure, it was ultimately American taxpayers who were on the line.

If true, this type of behavior is illegal and it’s un-American. There is no question about that. Despite what some of our nation’s largest banks may believe, the men and women who have honorably served our country deserve better than this. They have earned as much. Nevertheless, this lawsuit comes on the heels of multiple settlements that have been reached in legal actions against banks that have illegally seized homes, overcharged and defrauded members of the U.S. military. This is an alarming trend that cannot stand. And it must not continue.

The men and women who are serving or have served in uniform should never have to struggle to receive the protections due to them and their families under law. At the same time, we owe it to hard-working taxpayers in Montana and across the country to recover any federal funds that have been lost through the illegal actions of unscrupulous actors. 

As the Department of Justice begins taking more aggressive steps to address this matter, I urge you to work with Congress in a close and productive manner.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
(s)
Jon Tester

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Oversight Committee Subpoenas Attorney General Holder for ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ Communications and Documents

Oversight Committee Subpoenas Attorney General Holder for ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ Communications and Documents


WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced the issuance of a subpoena to Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. for Justice Department documents related to the “Operation Fast and Furious” gun walking scandal.

 “Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” said Chairman Issa. “The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It’s time we know the whole truth.”

 The subpoena seeks the following:

 In accordance with the attached schedule instructions, you, Eric H. Holder Jr., are required to produce all records in unredacted form described below:

  1. All communications referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious, the Jacob Chambers case, or any Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) firearms trafficking case based in Phoenix, Arizona, to or from the following individuals:

 a. Eric Holder Jr., Attorney General;

 b. David Ogden, Former Deputy Attorney General;

 c. Gary Grindler, Office of the Attorney General and former Acting Deputy Attorney General;

 d. James Cole, Deputy Attorney General;

 e. Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General;

 f. Ronald Weich, Assistant Attorney General;

 g. Kenneth Blanco, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

 h. Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

 i. John Keeney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

 j. Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General;

 k. Matt Axelrod, Associate Deputy Attorney General;

 l. Ed Siskel, former Associate Deputy Attorney General;

 m. Brad Smith, Office of the Deputy Attorney General;

 n. Kevin Carwile, Section Chief, Capital Case Unit, Criminal Division;

 o. Joseph Cooley, Criminal Fraud Section, Criminal Division; and,

 p. James Trusty, Acting Chief, Organized Crime and Gang Section.

 2. All communications between and among Department of Justice (DOJ) employees and Executive Office of the President employees, including but not limited to Associate Communications Director Eric Schultz, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious or any other firearms trafficking cases.

 3. All communications between DOJ employees and Executive Office of the President employees referring or relating to the President’s March 22, 2011 interview with Jorge Ramos of Univision.

 4. All documents and communications referring or relating to any instances prior to February 4, 2011 where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) failed to interdict weapons that had been illegally purchased or transferred.

 5. All documents and communications referring or relating to any instances prior to February 4, 2011 where ATF broke off surveillance of weapons and subsequently became aware that those weapons entered Mexico.

 6. All documents and communications referring or relating to the murder of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, including but not limited to documents and communications regarding Zapata’s mission when he was murdered, Form for Reporting Information That May Become Testimony (FD-302), photographs of the crime scene, and investigative reports prepared by the FBI.

 7. All communications to or from William Newell, former Special Agent-in-Charge for ATF’s Phoenix Field Division, between:

 a. December 14, 2010 to January 25, 2011; and,

 b. March 16, 2009 to March 19, 2009.

 8. All Reports of Investigation (ROIs) related to Operation Fast and Furious or ATF Case Number 785115-10-0004.

 9. All communications between and among Matt Axelrod, Kenneth Melson, and William Hoover referring or relating to ROIs identified pursuant to Paragraph 7.

 10. All documents and communications between and among former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., former Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious or any OCDETF case originating in Arizona.

 11. All communications sent or received between:

 a. December 16, 2009 and December 18, 2009, and;

 b. March 9, 2011 and March 14, 2011, to or from the following individuals:

 

      • Emory Hurley, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona;
      • Michael Morrissey, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona;
      • Patrick Cunningham, Chief, Criminal Division, Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona;
      • David Voth, Group Supervisor, ATF; and,
      • Hope MacAllister, Special Agent, ATF.

 12. All communications sent or received between December 15, 2010 and December 17, 2010 to or from the following individuals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona:

 a. Dennis Burke, former United States Attorney;

 b. Emory Hurley, Assistant United States Attorney;

 c. Michael Morrissey, Assistant United States Attorney; and,

 d. Patrick Cunningham, Chief of the Criminal Division.

 13. All communications sent or received between August 7, 2009 and March 19, 2011 between and among former Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual; Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer; and, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz.

 14. All communications sent or received between August 7, 2009 and March 19, 2011 between and among former Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual and any Department of Justice employee based in Mexico City referring or relating to firearms trafficking initiatives, Operation Fast and Furious or any firearms trafficking case based in Arizona, or any visits by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer to Mexico.

 15. Any FD-302 relating to targets, suspects, defendants, or their associates, bosses, or financiers in the Fast and Furious investigation, including but not limited to any FD-302s ATF Special Agent Hope MacAllister provided to ATF leadership during the calendar year 2011.

 16. Any investigative reports prepared by the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) referring or relating to targets, suspects, or defendants in the Fast and Furious case.

 17. Any investigative reports prepared by the FBI or DEA relating to the individuals described to Committee staff at the October 5, 2011 briefing at Justice Department headquarters as Target Number 1 and Target Number 2.

 18. All documents and communications in the possession, custody or control of the DEA referring or relating to Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta.

 19. All documents and communications between and among FBI employees in Arizona and the FBI Laboratory, including but not limited to employees in the Firearms/Toolmark Unit, referring or relating to the firearms recovered during the course of the investigation of Brian Terry’s death.

 20. All agendas, meeting notes, meeting minutes, and follow-up reports for the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys between March 1, 2009 and July 31, 2011, referring or relating to Operation Fast and Furious.

 21. All weekly reports and memoranda for the Attorney General, either directly or through the Deputy Attorney General, from any employee in the Criminal Division, ATF, DEA, FBI, or the National Drug Intelligence Center created between November 1, 2009 and September 30, 2011.

 22. All surveillance tapes recorded by pole cameras inside the Lone Wolf Trading Co. store between 12:00 a.m. on October 3, 2010 and 12:00 a.m. on October 7, 2010.

 ###

source: oversight.gov

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Banks Took $6B in Reinsurance Kickbacks, Investigators Say

Banks Took $6B in Reinsurance Kickbacks, Investigators Say


This is a must read. There is no end to this mess. ENJOY!

American Banker-

Many of the country’s largest banks received $6 billion in kickbacks from mortgage insurers over the course of a decade, according to a previously undisclosed investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The allegations, since referred to the Department of Justice, stem from lenders’ demand that insurers cut them in on the lucrative business of insuring the mortgages they produced during the housing boom.

In exchange for the their business, companies such as Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo & Co, SunTrust Banks Inc. and Countrywide allegedly required reinsurance partnerships on generous terms that violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, a 1974 law prohibiting abusive home sales practices.

[AMERICAN BANKER]

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Deutsche Bank knew mortgage co it bought lied: Justice Dept

Deutsche Bank knew mortgage co it bought lied: Justice Dept


(Reuters) –

Deutsche Bank AG knew in 2006 that a mortgage company it was preparing to buy lied to the U.S. government about its mortgages, yet went ahead with the purchase and should be held financially responsible, the Justice Department said on Monday.

According to the department’s amended $1 billion complaint filed Monday evening with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Deutsche Bank was “on notice of and expressly assumed responsibility” for wrongdoing at MortgageIT Inc, which it bought in 2007.

[REUTERS]

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In Shift, Prosecuters Are Lenient as Companies BREAK the LAW

In Shift, Prosecuters Are Lenient as Companies BREAK the LAW


“Traditionally, a bank would tell the Department of Justice when an employee engaged in crimes, but what do you do when the bank itself is run by a criminal enterprise?” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, former chief of a Justice Department financial institutions fraud unit.

NYT-

As the financial storm brewed in the summer of 2008 and institutions feared for their survival, a bit of good news bubbled through large banks and the law firms that defend them.

Federal prosecutors officially adopted new guidelines about charging corporations with crimes — a softer approach that, longtime white-collar lawyers and former federal prosecutors say, helps explain the dearth of criminal cases despite a raft of inquiries into the financial crisis.

Continue reading [THE NEW YORK TIMES]

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Ally Financial Faces Charge for Mortgage Losses, Receives Subpoens from DOJ & SEC

Ally Financial Faces Charge for Mortgage Losses, Receives Subpoens from DOJ & SEC


WSJ-

Ally Financial Inc. said it expects to incur a $100 million second-quarter charge to cover mortgage losses posted by securitization trusts, and that it received subpoenas from regulators related to “certain mortgage activities,” according to a regulatory filing early Wednesday.

In an updated prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ally said it made payments to such trusts of $152 million in the second quarter to cover losses related to …

Continue reading [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]

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LETTER | Senators Urge OCC to Work with State AG’s, DOJ, and HUD to Hold Mortgage Servicers Accountable and Prevent Future Abuse

LETTER | Senators Urge OCC to Work with State AG’s, DOJ, and HUD to Hold Mortgage Servicers Accountable and Prevent Future Abuse


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, a dozen U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) urging the agency to work with State Attorneys General, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to hold mortgage servicers accountable for deficient servicing procedures and improperly foreclosing on homeowners and to develop a comprehensive solution to fix the broken foreclosure process.

Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD), Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are calling for the OCC to use the full extent of its significant authority to ensure that the banks and mortgage servicers which created the foreclosure mess help clean it up.

The Senators wrote to John Walsh, the acting head of the OCC: “we urge you to take every opportunity to ensure that servicers not only account for past harms, but also take steps to prevent future servicing deficiencies so that homeowners going forward are treated fairly.”

After several federal agencies and State Attorneys General opened investigations into unscrupulous mortgage practices by major banks, including the use of improperly prepared legal documents and “robo-signers” to sign hundreds of unread foreclosure documents a day, the OCC entered into consent orders with several large banks outlining the widespread problems in mortgage servicing and requiring the servicers to take steps to address those problems.

Yesterday, the OCC announced that at the request of DOJ and to allow coordination of actions with other agencies at the state and federal level, it was giving banks an additional 30 days to file “Action Plans” for how they will comply with the new foreclosure requirements laid out in the OCC’s consent orders.

Because the consent orders announced by the OCC on April 13th did not preclude State Attorneys General from aggressively pursuing a comprehensive solution against banks and mortgage servicers that wrongly foreclosed upon homeowners, the Senators are urging the OCC to work with the State Attorneys General and other regulators to arrive at a comprehensive and robust solution.

Source: http://reed.senate.gov

[ipaper docId=57892555 access_key=key-1jwsc3hd3zdl55j2p02z height=600 width=600 /]

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Criminal Affirmance: Going Beyond the Deterrence Paradigm to Examine the Social Meaning Expressed by Exercising Discretion to Decline Prosecution of Elite Crime

Criminal Affirmance: Going Beyond the Deterrence Paradigm to Examine the Social Meaning Expressed by Exercising Discretion to Decline Prosecution of Elite Crime


Professor Mary K. Ramirez*, Washburn University School of Law

*Professor Ramirez is a thirteen-year veteran of the Department of Justice, having worked as a Senior Trial Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas, and as a Trial Attorney for the DOJ Antitrust Division.

Abstract

Criminal Affirmance: Going Beyond the Deterrence Paradigm to Examine the Social Meaning Expressed by Exercising Discretion to Decline Prosecution of Elite Crime

Professor Mary Kreiner Ramirez

Article Abstract Recent financial scandals and the relative paucity of criminal prosecutions in response suggest a new reality in the criminal law system: some wrongful actors appear above the law and immune from criminal prosecution. As such, the criminal prosecutorial system affirms much of the wrongdoing giving rise to the crisis. This leaves the same elites undisturbed at the apex of the financial sector, and creates perverse incentives for any successors. Further, this undermines the legitimacy of the rule of law and encourages even more lawlessness among the entire population. These considerations transcend deterrence as well as retribution as a traditional basis for criminal punishment. Affirmance is far more costly and dangerous with respect to the crimes of powerful elites that control large organizations than can be accounted for under traditional nations of deterrence. Few limits are placed on a prosecutor’s discretionary decision about whom to prosecute, and many factors against prosecution are available, especially in resource-intensive white collar crime prosecutions. This article asserts that prosecutors should not exercise that discretion without considering its potential affirmance of crime.

[ipaper docId=57172143 access_key=key-1uhrrfzjkgrqacwy5znf height=600 width=600 /]

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Goldman Sachs Said to Get Subpoena From New York Prosecutor

Goldman Sachs Said to Get Subpoena From New York Prosecutor


BLOOMBERG:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), the fifth- biggest U.S. bank by assets, received a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office seeking information on the firm’s activities leading into the credit crisis, according to two people familiar with the matter.


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Justice Department Settles with Bank of America and Saxon Mortgage for Illegally Foreclosing on Servicemembers

Justice Department Settles with Bank of America and Saxon Mortgage for Illegally Foreclosing on Servicemembers


Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Justice Department Settles with Bank of America and Saxon Mortgage for Illegally Foreclosing on Servicemembers

Settlement Includes a Minimum of $22 Million in Relief for Victims

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced settlements with two lenders under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to resolve allegations that the lenders wrongfully foreclosed upon active duty servicemembers without first obtaining court orders, in violation of the SCRA. Combined, the settlements provide more than $22 million in monetary relief for the victims.

Under the first settlement , BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, formerly known as Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, will pay $20 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Countrywide foreclosed on approximately 160 servicemembers between January 2006 and May 2009 without court orders.   In addition to the $20 million, Countrywide agreed to pay any servicemember wrongfully foreclosed in the period from June 2009 through 2010.  The complaint alleges that Countrywide did not consistently check the military status of borrowers on whom it foreclosed through at least May 31, 2009. The complaint was filed in the Central District of California, where Countrywide is headquartered.

Under the second settlement, Saxon Mortgage Services Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, will pay $2.35 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Saxon foreclosed on approximately 17 servicemembers between January 2006 and June 2009 without court orders. In addition to the $2.35 million, Saxon agreed to pay any servicemember wrongfully foreclosed in the period from July 2009 through 2010.   The complaint alleges that Saxon failed to consistently or accurately check the military status of borrowers on whom it foreclosed through at least June 30, 2009.   The complaint was filed in the Northern District of Texas, where Saxon is headquartered.

“The men and women who serve our nation in the armed forces deserve, at the very least, to know that they will not have their homes taken from them wrongfully while they are bravely putting their lives on the line on behalf of their country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to aggressively enforcing those laws that protect the rights of servicemembers. All lenders have an obligation to do their part to work with servicemembers while these brave men and women focus on keeping us safe.   The Justice Department also thanks the Department of Defense for its critical assistance in identifying servicemembers whose rights were violated”

“Countrywide Home Loans failed to protect and respect the rights of our servicemembers, failed to comply with clearly mandated procedures and foreclosed against homeowners who are valiantly serving our nation,” said André Birotte Jr, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.   “Military families lost their homes when Countrywide violated the law, causing undue stress to wartime personnel who have been protected from such actions since the Civil War.”

“With the numerous sacrifices our servicemembers make while they are serving our country, the last thing they need to worry about is whether or not their families will be forced from their homes,” said James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “These lenders’ callous disregard for the SCRA, a law which was designed to insulate these patriots from unlawful foreclosures and other civil and financial obligations while they are on active duty, is deplorable and I applaud the Department’s Civil Rights Division’s efforts in identifying and seeking remedies for these wronged service members.”

Of the approximately 160 servicemembers upon whom Countrywide foreclosed without obtaining court orders, Countrywide allegedly foreclosed in many instances where it knew, or should have known, about their military status.   The victims include individuals who have served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan.   The Department of Justice initiated its SCRA investigation of Countrywide in response to a referral by the U.S. Marine Corps regarding an active duty servicemember who was facing foreclosure by Countrywide.

Under the consent decree, Countrywide will establish a settlement fund of $20 million to compensate the servicemembers upon whom Countrywide foreclosed between January 1, 2006, and May 31, 2009.   In addition to this settlement fund, Countrywide has agreed to compensate any additional SCRA-eligible individuals on whom Countrywide foreclosed without court orders between June 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.   The consent decree also requires numerous corrective measures, including SCRA training for Countrywide employees and agents, developing modified SCRA policies and procedures and referring future SCRA complaints to the Justice Department.   Countrywide will also repair any negative credit report entries related to the allegedly wrongful foreclosures and will not pursue any remaining amounts owed under the mortgages. Countrywide now will check the Defense Manpower Data Center’s website and its own files prior to conducting any foreclosure, and will not foreclose in violation of the SCRA if the borrower is in military service or is otherwise protected by the SCRA.

Of the approximately 18 servicemembers upon whom Saxon foreclosed without obtaining court orders, Saxon allegedly foreclosed on at least 10 servicemembers when Saxon knew or should have known about their military status.   The servicemembers Saxon foreclosed on include men and women who have served honorably in Iraq, some of whom were severely injured in the line of duty or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.   The Department of Justice initiated its SCRA investigation in response to an inquiry from Sergeant James Hurley, who resolved his claims against Saxon earlier this year in a confidential settlement.

Under the consent decree, Saxon will establish a settlement fund of $2.35 million to compensate the servicemembers upon whom Saxon allegedly wrongfully foreclosed between 2006 and 2009.   In addition to this settlement fund, Saxon also has agreed to compensate any additional SCRA-eligible servicemembers on whom Saxon foreclosed without court orders between July 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.   The consent decree also requires numerous corrective measures, including SCRA training for Saxon employees and agents, developing modified SCRA policies and procedures, and referring future SCRA complaints to the Justice Department.   Saxon will also repair any negative credit report entries related to the wrongful foreclosures and will not pursue any remaining amounts owing under the mortgages. Saxon now will check the Defense Manpower Data Center’s website and its own files prior to conducting any foreclosure, and will not foreclose in violation of the SCRA if the borrower is in military service or is otherwise protected by the SCRA.

The division’s SCRA investigations have resulted in litigation or settlements enforcing SCRA’s provisions for termination of residential lease agreements, protection against enforcement of storage liens on towed vehicles without court orders, reduction of interest rates to six percent on credit obligations, and a prohibition against paying pre-payment penalties on mortgage loans when a servicemember must move for military service.

President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.   The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources.   The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.   For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov .

Servicemembers and their dependents who believe that their SCRA rights have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office.   Please consult the military legal assistance office locator at http://legalassistance.law.af.mil and click on the Legal Services Locator.   Additional information about the Justice Department’s enforcement of the SCRA and the other laws protecting servicemembers is available at www.servicemembers.gov.   Servicemembers who believe they may have been victims, can contact the banks directly at 1-800-896-7743, mailbox 6 for Countrywide or 1-800-896-7743, mailbox 995 for Saxon.

11-683 Civil Rights Division

[Source: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/May/11-crt-683.html]

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Goldman should be worried about subpoenas

Goldman should be worried about subpoenas


“I think we found a white elephant, flying pig and unicorn”

REUTERS-

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) executives have good reason to be worried about the risk of receiving subpoenas from the Justice Department, and investors should be concerned too.

The U.S. government has a real chance of finding inconsistencies between Goldman executives’ testimony to Congress and their internal documents, which means subpoenas could turn into something more serious, lawyers said.

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TAIBBI-ROSNER-SPITZER | re: GOLDMAN Email “UTOPIA” a White Elephant, Flying Pig and Unicorn

TAIBBI-ROSNER-SPITZER | re: GOLDMAN Email “UTOPIA” a White Elephant, Flying Pig and Unicorn


Matt Taibbi, Eliot Spitzer and Joshua Rosner on CNN discuss new fraud probe of three major banks. Big banks could go out of business.

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Matt Taibbi wipes the floor with Megan McArdle re: Goldman Sachs criminality

Matt Taibbi wipes the floor with Megan McArdle re: Goldman Sachs criminality


Crooks and Liars-

Matt Taibbi has a new article on Rolling Stone on the recent hearings in the U.S. Senate and whether or not Goldman Sachs executives should be facing criminal trials or not in the wake of ongoing investigations into their part in the financial meltdown we went through a few years ago. CNN decided to bring in the Atlantic Monthly’s Wall Street apologist Megan McArdle to debate Taibbi on Your Money.



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MATT TAIBBI | The People v. Goldman Sachs

MATT TAIBBI | The People v. Goldman Sachs


A Senate committee has laid out the evidence. Now the Justice Department should bring criminal charges

Rolling Stones-

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.


[image: abcnews]

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If Wall Street is not going to be held more accountable, we need to know why

If Wall Street is not going to be held more accountable, we need to know why


Don’t Let Go of the Anger


NYTimes- By WILLIAM D. COHAN

One of the most frustrating facts of the recently abated financial crisis is that those who might have been partly responsible for it have got off scot-free. The only two people prosecuted criminally — the Bear Stearns hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin — were found not guilty by a jury in Brooklyn. Other potential culprits — Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of Countrywide Financial, Joseph Cassano, chief executive of AIG Financial Products, and Dick Fuld, the chief executive of Lehman Brothers — were either slapped with a small civil penalty, in the case of Mozilo, or the Justice Department made the decision not to prosecute after months of investigation.

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Senate Report on Meltdown Under Justice Department Review

Senate Report on Meltdown Under Justice Department Review


BLOOMBERG-

The Justice Department is reviewing a report by a U.S. Senate panel that said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) misled clients about the firm’s bets on securities tied to the housing market, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder told the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing today that the department is reviewing the April report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat. Holder didn’t say which aspects of the report, which probed the causes of 2008 financial crisis, are under review


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Internal emails indicate Deutsche Bank knew they were bankrolling toxic mortgages by Ameriquest and others

Internal emails indicate Deutsche Bank knew they were bankrolling toxic mortgages by Ameriquest and others


iWatch

In 2007, the report says, Deutsche Bank rushed to sell off mortgage-backed investments amid worries that the market for subprime loans was deteriorating.

“Keep your fingers crossed but I think we will price this just before the market falls off a cliff,” a Deutsche Bank manager wrote in February 2007 about a deal stocked with securities created from raw material produced by Ameriquest and other subprime lenders.

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Merrill Lynch Lawyer Told Eliot Spitzer: “Be Careful, We Have Powerful Friends”

Merrill Lynch Lawyer Told Eliot Spitzer: “Be Careful, We Have Powerful Friends”


Spitzer to Holder: Prosecute Goldman Sachs or Resign

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