FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages:
Voltron says, here's the money quote from Lanny Breuer, assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division.
Frontline: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. You talked about your use of nonprosecution and deferred prosecution agreements. And in that speech, you made a reference to “losing sleep at night over worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.” Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?
Breuer: I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the whole 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, it affects the economy so that employees who had nothing to do with the wrongdoing of the company –
Frontline: Or shareholders.
Breuer: Well, first let’s talk about the employees. Employees may lose their jobs. Shareholders may or may not lose, and shareholders invested. But the employees perhaps did something different.
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.
We have, as a government and as an administration, dug out of one of the great financial crises in the world. And at the Department of Justice, we’re being aggressive, but we should in fact take into consideration what the experts tell us.
That doesn’t mean we won’t go forward, but it has to be a factor. And if you look at deferred prosecution agreements and nonprosecution agreements, they are a tool that we use in appropriate cases. And we have to continue to use those.