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Columns

August 17, 2013

So how's that crackdown on Wall St. going?

(Continued)

In one case, Princeton Review was charged for claiming bogus reimbursements for a federal low-income education program. In another, three Connecticut women in their 50s and 60s were charged in a “gifting tables” pyramid scheme, for which they were ordered to pay $32,000 restitution. Apparently this is what Holder had in mind when he said he’d “hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial meltdown.”

To this day, no executive from any of the major banks responsible for widespread mortgage fraud has been charged by Holder’s Justice Department, even though there’s plenty of proof these banks knowingly misled clients about the quality of mortgage-backed securities. And with a recent Supreme Court ruling (Gabelli v. Securities and Exchange Commission) upholding the five-year statute of limitations in securities fraud cases, Holder’s inaction means most of the crooks responsible for the 2008 meltdown are now in the clear.

But Holder’s lenient attitude toward “too big to fail” banks shouldn’t as a surprise. Reuters in 2012 reported that Holder’s old Washington law firm, Covington & Burling, “represented a Who’s Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud” — including Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Holder isn’t the only Justice Department bigwig with ties to Covington & Burling, according to a report from Peter Schweizer, best known for his best-selling book “Throw Them All Out.” Lanny Breuer was a white-collar defense lawyer at Covington & Burling before President Barack Obama picked him to lead the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in 2009. This year, Breuer left the Justice Department and returned to the firm. Colleagues Steve Fagell and James Garland made the same round trip from Covington & Burling to the Justice Department and back.

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