More than a year into the gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression, millions of Americans have seen their home values and retirement savings plunge and their jobs evaporate, but no Wall Street tycoons have been sent to prison, says McClatchy Newspapers. Those who have been prosecuted, like Ponzi scheme king Bernard Madoff and Stanford Financial Group chairman Robert Stanford, weren’t among the causes of the meltdown, just poster boys for an era of lax enforcement, weak regulation and devout faith in free markets.
The FBI has more than 580 large-scale corporate fraud investigations under way. At least 40 of them are scrutinizing players in subprime mortgage lending, which was the first domino to fall and triggered a global financial crisis. “The investigations are very complex; it’s not something that’s going to turn overnight,” said FBI spokesman Bill Carter. “They are labor intensive. They involve a review of records.” The closest thing to a prosecution of a major actor in the meltdown so far is a civil fraud case that the Securities and Exchange Commission brought on June 4 against Angelo Mozilo, CEO of mortgage-lending giant Countrywide.