Since taking office at the height of the financial crisis, President Obama has promised to hold Wall Street accountable for the meltdown, says the Washington Post. “We will be relentless in our investigation of corporate and financial wrongdoing, and we will not hesitate to bring charges,” said attorney General Eric Holder said as he launched a financial fraud task force. Nearly 1 1/2 years into Obama’s tenure, despite cases against mortgage companies whose lending practices contributed to the crisis, the administration has not brought any charges against the big Wall Street banks that took those loans, converted them into toxic securities, and pumped them into the world’s financial markets. Sources say no such charges are imminent.
The blunt words of administration officials have triggered debate over whether they have gone too far in appearing to promise difficult cases that critics say might never be filed, in part because they would essentially criminalize an entire business model in the financial industry. “The attorney general got out ahead of the facts and the evidence in saying, ‘We’re going to go down to Wall Street with a pitchfork and roust those fat cats out of their offices and put them in jail,’ ” said Tim Coleman, who prosecuted major fraud cases before leaving the Justice Department five years ago. “This was a case, in general, of people making business judgments and taking risks and having them go badly. That’s not criminal misconduct.”