DOJ’s Latest Wall Street Settlement is Better, but Still Too Little Transparency, No Accountability, No Meaningful Punishment and No Judicial Review
Washington, D.C., August 21, 2014 – Dennis Kelleher, the President and CEO of Better Markets, issued the following statement in response to the settlement reached between the U.S. Department of Justice and Bank of America regarding the bank’s illegal conduct inflating the subprime lending bubble and contributing to the financial crash in 2008:
“DOJ’s latest Wall Street bank settlement is slightly better than the last two. It provides additional information in the so-called ‘Statement of Facts,’ – which have not been admitted -- but still conceals the key facts from the American people. For example, how many tens of billions of dollars did Bank of America’s customers, clients, investors and others lose due to years of knowing, systemic fraud? How much did Bank of America make from its illegal actions? How many Bank of America employees, supervisors and executives were involved in or aware of the fraudulent conduct? How many still work at the bank? How much of the tens of billions in bonuses paid to those individuals was the result of the illegal conduct? Without this key information it is impossible for anyone to intelligently scrutinize or evaluate the settlement or determine if Bank of America is being punished for its crimes,” Mr. Kelleher said.
“As important, banks do not commit crimes; bankers do. Until those individuals, including executives, are held personally and meaningfully accountable, everyone should expect more crime from Wall Street. DOJ allowing banks to use shareholders’ money that is tax deductible while concealing illegal conduct and individual involvement is not punishing or deterring crime. In fact, it rewards past crime and incentivizes future crimes. Trying to trick the American people into thinking they are tough on crime while Wall Street laughs all the way to the bank is not justice. It creates an indefensible double standard of justice: one for Wall Street and one for everyone else,” Mr. Kelleher continued.
“Tens of millions of American families have suffered through unemployment, lost health care, plummeting retirement accounts, vanished savings, foreclosures, underwater homes and, too often, the loss of faith in the American justice system and the American dream. Many are still suffering today from the economic wreckage inflicted on this country by Wall Street. They deserve better from their Department of Justice. That is why Better Markets is suing the Department of Justice to require an independent court review of such settlements. The American people deserve transparency, accountability and oversight,” Mr. Kelleher concluded.
Better Markets is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes the public interest in financial reform in the domestic and global capital and commodity markets. Better Markets advocates for transparency, oversight and accountability with the goal of a stronger, safer financial system that is less prone to crisis and failure thereby eliminating or minimizing the need for more taxpayer funded bailouts. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.