When you break laws, defraud taxpayers, and openly gloat about it in emails to colleagues, you should be criminally prosecuted. And when you lie about it before a Congressional committee, you should definitely be prosecuted.
To date, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has successfully prosecuted just one lender for the mortgage fraud that led to the 2008 global economic collapse.
The St. Louis Dispatch noted in a recent editorial, "There have been civil charges, settled with tepid non-admissions and fines levied against institutions, not individuals. Even "Fabulous" Fab Tourre, the Goldman Sachs trader who boasted in e-mails about his role unloading securities he knew to be dogs, has escaped prosecution." For that, Goldman paid a $550 million fine.
Sen. Carl Levin's 650-page subcommittee report "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse" is a staggering indictment of the people on Wall Street. Levin's report - which has been submitted to the Justice Department - also suggests quite plainly that Goldman Sachs executives brazenly lied to Congress while under oath. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said:
"Much has been said about the supposedly massive short Goldman Sachs had on the U.S. housing market. The fact is, we were not consistently or significantly net-short the market in residential mortgage-related products in 2007 and 2008. We didn't have a massive short against the housing market, and we certainly did not bet against our clients."
But according to reports, Goldman's own internal memoranda says the exact opposite. (Read Matt Taibi's investigative report in Rolling Stone.)
Sen. Levin told the Justice Department last month, "In my judgement, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress." At a bare minimum, the Justice Department can press criminal charges for perjury while under oath. What are we waiting for? It's time to bring Goldman Sachs to justice.
Levying fines does not go far enough. These people broke laws. They defrauded taxpayers of billions of dollars. And then had the nerve to gloat about it in emails to their colleagues.
At a bare minimum, the Justice Department has cause to prosecute Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein for his testimony before Congress. Sen. Carl Levin has called Blankfein's testimony "misleading," and his Subcommittee report "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse" suggests it was a brazen lie. If Blankfein did, indeed, perjure himself while under oath, the American people deserve to know about it.
It's time for the Justice Department to take swift action against the banks for what amounts to a sophisticated economic crime against the American people. We must set an example for the world, and show that even the wealthiest, most powerful Americans are not above the law.