Senator Warren asks why no one is in jail for the Lehman Brothers meltdown

JIM LO SCALZO

Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren (C) listens to Janet Yellen, President Obama's nominee to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman, testify at Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, USA 14 November 2013. Yellen is expected to be confirmed; Bernanke's term ends in January.

Eight years later, no one is in jail


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Senator Elisabeth Warren commemorated the eighth anniversary since the Lehman Brothers meltdown with a demand for  an investigation – and, in time, imprisonment – of those responsible for thousands of people losing their jobs and houses.

Who are the banksters?

Potential suspects have names. T

hese include former Treasury Secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration, Robert E. Rubin, who went on to hold a top job at Citigroup. Another is Citigroup’s former CEO, Charles Prince.  In 2011, the US Justice Department created the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that investigated the roots of the 2008 crisis. The Commission made a list of people that could be criminally prosecuted. Six year down the line, none of them was.

These are what many people referred to at the time, “the banksters.”

Why no one is prosecuted

Warren finds the fact that no one was prosecuted “baffling.” To restart the process, she wrote a letter to the US Justice Department’s (DOJ) inspector general, Michael Horowitz. In that letter she notes the DOJ has done “abysmal” job in prosecuting these cases.

She also wrote a letter to the Director of the FBI, James Comey, calling for the release of the material related to the investigation and “prosecutorial decisions.” In July, Comey released a statement that included previously undisclosed information on Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server investigation. He said that doing so was in the “intense public interest.”

In sum, there is a precedent to her demand set by the FBI Director himself. “Your recent actions…,” she notes, “provide a clear precedent for releasing additional information about the investigation of the parties responsible for the financial crisis.” Speaking to Bloomberg, Warren argues that “there’s a clear public interest in finding out why none of these individuals or corporations were held responsible.”

What else can a Senator do?

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was once thought as a likely Vice President and indeed a bridge with liberal Democrats best represented by Bernie Sanders. She is a fierce Wall Street critic, but going against the flow.

Two months before elections, she is shifting the political agenda in a terrain that is uncomfortable for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Clinton has a reputation of close, if not too close a relation with the financial industry. And Warren likes to recall Trump’s vocal support for house evictions in 2008, calling him a “small insecure money-grubber who does not care who gets hurt.” Trump calls her Pocahontas, referring to her Native American ancestry.

But, taking on the Wall Street is not a strong hand for the incumbent either.  Barack Obama’s administration has little to show in terms of holding responsible those involved in the Lehman Brothers scandal.

The clock is ticking, as the state of limitation on most financial crimes is ten years.

With a Republican-dominated House, Warren cannot promote legislation that will ensure transparency. However, the power of the Senate to demand and enforce oversight is considerable. “

“The oversight and investigations process is an extremely useful tool for encouraging public officials to work in the interests of the public, not the interests of the industry they regulate,” Warren warns.

(AP, Bloomberg, Reuters, AFP)

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