It seems that the criminal bankers on Wall Street who pretty much single-handedly drove the U.S. economy off a cliff in 2008 will finally get their comeuppance. The United States Department of Justice has announced, via a memo issued last month, that individual people– not just the big companies, but the people directly responsible– will face prosecution for their roles in the worst financial crisis that our world has seen since the Great Depression.
This move is long overdue, as the public has spent the last two years being outraged at the billions of dollars in taxpayer money spent on bailing out Wall Street, only to see their profits grow even bigger than before and they slip back into their old, crooked ways. All of those financial crimes will now be dealt with, though, at long last. The memo was directed to all Attorneys General in the United States. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates is quoted as writing in part of the document:
“One of the most effective ways to combat corporate misconduct is by seeking accountability from the individuals who perpetuated the wrongdoing. Such accountability is important for several reasons: it deters future illegal activity, it incentivizes changes in corporate behavior, it ensures that the proper parties are held responsible for their actions, and it promotes the public’s confidence in our justice system.”
Of course, the last part is, perhaps one of the most important (though, of course all of these elements and so many more are important here). The average American needs to know that being a rich CEO does not equal the ability to buy one’s way out of everything. That is how things have operated for far too long in a country that ironically claims to be all about “liberty and justice for all.”
Yates has put together a list of six key areas in which all Attorneys Generals will be compelled to cooperate when it comes to investigating and prosecuting these grievous financial crimes. Here are those points, courtesy of DS News:
- Corporations must provide the DOJ with relevant facts relating to the individuals responsible for the misconduct in order to qualify for any cooperation credit;
- From the inception of the investigation, criminal and civil investigations should focus on individuals;
- Criminal and civil attorneys who are handling these investigations should be in routine contact with each other;
- The DOJ will not release culpable individuals from civil or criminal liability when resolving a matter with a corporation, barring extraordinary circumstances;
- DOJ attorneys should have a clear plan to resolve related individual cases before the statute of limitations expires when resolving matters with a corporation, and declinations as to individuals in these cases should be memorialized; and
- Civil attorneys should consistently focus on individuals as well as corporations in their investigations and should consider more than just that individual’s ability to pay when evaluating whether to bring suit against an individual.
Thank you, Department of Justice for doing the right thing, despite the fact that you undoubtedly are facing pressure to look the other way the GOP and the corporate masters they serve.
The document’s full text can be seen here.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.