Eight years after the financial crisis, Elizabeth Warren is pushing for an investigation.
The Massachusetts senator wants to know why none of the people and corporations who were referred the the Justice Department in 2011 for possible criminal prosecution were not prosecuted. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission made over two dozen referrals at that time. According to Bloomberg, Warren says that the FCIC clearly believed there was enough evidence to prosecute them, so she wants to open up investigations to better understand why that never happened.
Jeff Hauser, an attorney who runs the Revolving Door Project at the liberal Center for Economic & Policy Research, explained to Bloomberg: “[Warren] understands that CEOs don’t pay fines, shareholders do, and if they know prison is not an option, they’ll have a strong incentive to gamble by breaking the rules.” If the people responsible aren’t penalized, they may not try to prevent another financial crisis.
The names of the DOJ referrals were made public earlier this year. They include former CitiGroup (C) CEO Charles Prince, and Robert E. Rubin, a former Treasury Secretary who also held a top job at CitiGroup.
The statute of limitations on most financial crimes is 10 years, so there are just two years left before the opportunity to prosecute Wall Street is off the table. Warren wrote a letter to FBI director James Comey insisting that he release all material related to the agency’s investigations into big banks, so that we can better understand why none of them warranted prosecution.
She argues that his decision to release information related to Hillary Clinton’s investigation provides “a clear precedent” to do the same with regards to the financial crisis. Comey said that he released additional information in Clinton’s case because there was “intense public interest.” “Those same standards ought to apply to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Warren wrote. “There’s a clear public interest in finding out why none of these individuals or corporations were held responsible.”
Considering the timing of this request, with less than 60 days until the election, Warren is likely attempting to put pressure on the next administration to be more aggressive when it comes to prosecuting financial crimes—”This is about reminding our government officials who they work for.”