Elizabeth Warren Asks If Federal Departments Even Know the Costs/Benefits of Prosecuting Wall Street

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This morning Senator Warren sent a letter
 to the Fed, the Department of Justice, and the SEC in which she asked them the same question she asked the OCC in February: Have they done any formal analysis to understand the costs and benefits to the public of prosecuting Wall Street?

It’s a smart question, considering that Federal departments have already decided against prosecution. That is, Elizabeth Warren is trying to figure out whether the Feds have any data—solid evidence—that prosecuting Wall Street would be bad for the public.

Since the OCC said no, they didn’t have any analysis along those lines, Warren is now asking her question more widely.

Criminals on Wall Street shouldn’t be immune to the law, especially for unsubstantiated reasons. After all, as Elizabeth Warren explains in her letter, ”if large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate millions in profits and, if they get caught, settle by paying out of those profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.”

To put it most simply: We want equal justice for all.

Read Senator Warren’s letter here. Here’s an excerpt:

There is no question that settlements, fines, consent orders, and cease and desist orders are important enforcement tools, and that trials are expensive…But I believe strongly that if a regulator reveals itself to be unwilling to take large financial institutions all the way to trial…the regulator has a lot less leverage in settlement negotiations and will be forced to settle on terms that are much more favorable to the wrongdoer…If large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate million in profits, and if they get caught, settle by paying out of those profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.

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