America’s most effective extortion racket, the Department of Justice, just bullied another big bank into surrendering billions of dollars in fines. Citigroup has agreed to pay an astounding $7 billion settlement to the DOJ for apparent wrongdoing leading up to the financial crisis. Why am I suddenly reminded of Al Capone’s observation about government coercion?
"A crook is a crook, and there's something healthy about his frankness in the matter. But any guy who pretends he is enforcing the law and steals on his authority is a swell snake. The worst type of these punks is the big politician.” – Al Capone.
Citi will be paying $4.5 billion as a cash settlement, and another $2.5 billion in the form of financing for affordable housing and mortgage modifications. Holder even ran to the microphones to brag about the fact that the cash portion is the largest settlement ever reached from an American bank for actions that supposedly led to the “great recession”. (Wow… Too bad we can’t get a settlement from politicians for leading us into this so-called “recovery”.)
But, here’s where the extortion racket really comes into view: no criminal charges have been filed against any individuals. In fact, no handcuffs have been slapped on anyone tied to the “egregious” corporate actions. And while Holder has threatened criminal charges against various banks (because JP Morgan can clearly spend “hard time” in a Federal pen, right?), there likely will be no charges filed against any individuals moving forward. Heck, even if Holder decided he wanted to throw a banker in jail, the statute of limitations would likely make it impossible in the next year or two.
Even a junior prosecutor could probably scrape together a criminal case against individuals who were responsible for the bank’s “egregious” actions if they were so inclined – especially given the fact that the banks have shelled out multi-billion dollar settlements and admissions of wrong-doing. But, the dirty little secret is that Holder-Obama & Co don’t actually want to file any charges against any wealthy executives.
And why not? Well, it’s easier to get a hefty settlement from a corporation facing a PR nightmare than a couple of executives who are facing jail time. While a criminal trial for some executives might make for good press among the Occupy Wall Street demographic of the Democrat Party, it would be unlikely that billions of dollars would be handed over for the DOJ to redistribute in a “progressive” liberal fashion. Putting some obscure loan officer in jail for falsifying loan documents (so they meet the regulator’s quota of subprime loans) certainly wouldn’t get $2.5 billion redirected at helping poor people buy homes they can’t afford.
No, no, no… It’s much easier for the greatest prosecutorial body in America to simply threaten a bank with some obscure, and often non-existent,
political argument civil case than actually put together a criminal complaint against people who made the decisions and supposedly skirted the rules.
Of course, this isn’t exactly Holder’s only venture into the realm of extortion. Aside from strong arming billions of dollars from banks for their (often government mandated) roll in the financial crises, he has also managed to extract millions from other institutions for “race based” lending practices. Ally Bank, to name just one, paid roughly $100 million to the DOJ’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in an effort to avoid a public trial.
Even the DOJ admitted that they had no actual evidence of wrong-doing in the Ally case. (Heck, they didn’t even have access to the bank’s credit reports, loan decisions, borrower information, or racial quotas.) They based their whole premise of “racial discrimination” off of Ally’s geographical lending area. But why let little things like evidence get in the way of skimming the profits from financial institutions? And, much like Citi’s settlement, no one is going to jail over Ally’s alleged misbehavior. Heck, no one has even been named as the focus of a criminal complaint. Apparently, dollars speak more to the DOJ than Lady Justice
Eric Holder has already proven that he is willing to wield the power of the DOJ to force his political will on opponents. Between tapping the phones of reporters, running guns to Mexico, and investigating an anti-Obama parade float, Holder’s DOJ has managed to intimidate, regulate, and prosecute many of the administration’s ideological opponents into some state of submission. With that unrelenting willingness to use his department as a tool of ideological enforcement, it’s pretty obvious that bankers would be sharing a cell with Rod Blagojevich by now; if Holder had any inclination to pursue individual charges. But, let’s face it, this isn’t really about “justice”.
To this administration, raising some revenue for Federal coffers and forcing those rich banks to redistribute their profits to the “needy”, is apparently far more important than holding people accountable. (Besides, it would be awkward if they started targeting the community organizers and Democrat politicians who forced banks to start dabbling in sub-prime lending in the first place.) Actually holding people accountable isn’t nearly as high of a priority to Holder as getting a little bit of good PR… And some “redistributive justice” is apparently an added bonus.
For not being elected, he pretty much has this “politician” thing down pat.