The major financial crisis of 2008, which has led to the current recession, has another bitter moment stemming from news that Wall Street executives, accountable for major fraud and other financial crimes, will not be facing criminal charges. Federal law enforcement has been unable to piece together a major criminal case against large investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns, in New York City.
Thus prosecutors, and the task force formed by President Obama to uncover fraud and mismanagement, have settled to bring civil cases to the court. This means Wall Street executives, partly responsible for the bursting of the real estate bubble, may be slapped with monetary fines instead of jail time. For government prosecutors, determining how responsible these banks are in the financial crisis is the main priority. The focus has been on whether the economic downturn can be blamed on the “megabanks” conducting poor business practices or committing intentional fraud.
A spokeswoman, Adora Andy, for the Department of Justice, stated, “If working group members uncover evidence of fraud or other illegal conduct, we will pursue such conduct aggressively.” Bringing criminal charges against these banks has proven difficult, which can be seen in the not guilty verdict in one of the cases brought against global investment bank, Bear Stearns.
The trouble has been found in presenting enough evidence that can prove criminal intent, especially since tracking financial transactions is a complicated task. This news is even more chilling in light of the frustration that has prompted nationwide protests against governmental and financial injustice, led by the Occupy Wall Street movement.