In the fourth installment of PBS's award winning documentary on the credit and financial crisis that rocked the global economic system in 2008, interviews with officials on Wall Street and the Justice Department on why no banker or banking institution has been indicted because of fraud led an Assistant Attorney General to say that prosecutors must take into consideration economic impacts before they can bring charges against individuals or institutions for criminal actions.
On the Jan. 22 airing of Frontline's documentary, The Untouchables, an Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice said that prosecutors must take into consideration economic impacts before they can bring charges against individuals or institutions for criminal actions, even as no single entity has ever been brought to trial for the financial fraud that nearly collapsed the economic and monetary system.
Martin Smith: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. And in that speech, you made a reference to losing sleep at night, worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.
Lanny Breuer: Right.
M.S.: Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?
L.B.: Well, I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand. - PBS.org
Lanny Breuer was appointed to the position of Assistant Attorney General in 2009, and is responsible for nearly 600 attorneys dedicated to prosecuting criminal activities at the Federal level. His resume was built on the prosecution of white collar crime in the state of New York, and in particular, Manhattan (Wall Street), so his understanding and connections to the financial system are formidable.
However, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer's opinions on the lawful segregation the financial system is not an anomaly, as the historical precedent of the Justice Department under the Obama administration has been primarily to fine banks and institutions, and not bring criminal charges against fraudulent actions and behavior. In a recent case against HSBC, the Department of Justice chose to accept a plea deal fine for decades of money laundering and cooperation with cartels and terror organizations, and has brought few charges against the bankers who knowingly broke the law in their financial dealings.
With a resume of plea deals and fines against individuals and major banking institutions in the mortgage fraud, Libor fraud, credit crisis, and money laundering scandals that encompassed trillions of dollars, and were catalysts in potentially bringing the entire financial system of the West to the brink of collapse, the words of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, that prosecution of crimes must be weighed against any potential economic repercussions in the banking system, is valid proof that the rich, elite, and holders of power receive a much different justice than every other American under the Constitution, and in the Obama administration.