Preet Bharara On “Too Big to Prosecute”
Posted by Larry Doyle on July 27, 2012 6:48 AM |
How is it that America has not seen more indictments and prosecutions on Wall Street? That question, perhaps more than any other, is the cause of so much underlying rage and anxiety in our country. Why is that?
I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of people in our nation embrace the principle of fair play and understand when that principle has been violated. In the process of that violation, people want justice to be served. Then why is that we have not witnessed more prosecutions on Wall Street?
Are certain institutions — and in my opinion, certain individuals — by definition, “too big to prosecute?” In a nation of laws, no institution or individual should ever be “too big to prosecute.” Then why haven’t we seen the indictments and prosecutions of senior executives at major firms on Wall Street?
Let’s listen to the U.S attorney for the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara, address this topic. You do not need to listen too hard to understand what Bharara is saying on this topic. While Bharara provides the standard party line that no instituition is “too big to prosecute,” he qualifies his answer in such a fashion that we should NEVER expect to see major indictments on Wall Street. I have no doubt that this question was planted by Bharara so he could buy cover from the barrage of criticism that has poured down upon him and his office.
The interview Bharara recently provided CNBC’s Jim Cramer touches upon a host of interesting topics (corrupt corporate culture, the need for more whistleblowers, comparing companies to Penn State, and more), but none more so than this question of firms being “too big to prosecute.”
The full interview runs 30 minutes and if you have the time, I found it interesting and worthwhile. The “must see” portion addressing why I believe we will NEVER see major indictments on Wall Street runs from the 15:00 – 17:00 minute mark.
Bharara’s comments strike me as the ultimate acceptance and realization of the Wall Street-Washington incestuous culture. Bharara would obviously beg to differ with my assessment. He would certainly maintain that my interpretation of his comments is misplaced. I would encourage readers to listen less to exactly what Bharara says and more to how he says it and, beyond that, what he means by his comments. I might change my opinion when we see the first major indictment of an executive on Wall Street.
In laying out qualifying factors for the “too big to prosecute” reality, by default he accepts the fact that fraud and corruption will persist. I see that as a green light for others in these “too big to prosecute” firms to engage in subsequent frauds, as well. That is the stark reality in which we live and that is why the corrupt corporate culture has developed and is growing.
I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.