At a time when the U.S. government is criticized for not holding senior bank executives liable for crisis-era crimes, one federal agency is compiling a growing list of criminal convictions, says the Washington Post. A bank executive in the Virginia was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Another from Orlando got eight years. In Stockbridge, Ga., a top bank officer is serving 12 years. Since 2008, the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has pursued criminal charges against 107 senior bank officers, most of whom were sentenced to prison.
Created to oversee the federal bailout of the auto and financial industries, the agency has found dozens bank executives who misused bailout funds. SIGTARP has a staff of 170, a budget of $41 million and an enforcement track record that rivals agencies twice its size. The agency's work has resulted in $4.7 billion in restitution paid to the government and victims. Lawmakers are holding SIGTARP up as a model and questioning why other agencies are not producing similar results. Cases pursued by SIGTARP tend to fall into several categories, including bankers using accounting tricks to hide losses on loans, enriching themselves at the expense of the institution and making false statements about the condition of the bank, said Christy Romero, who heads the agency.