Senator Warren calls DOJ’s financial crisis response an “abysmal failure”

Originally published by Housing Wire

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 marked the eight-year anniversary of Lehman Brothers declaring bankruptcy, sending shockwaves through the economy and sending the U.S. into a recession.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., used the anniversary of the “failure of the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank” to loudly question again why individuals were not held responsible for the conduct that led to the financial crisis, and this time she did it armed with some disconcerting new information.

The government’s failure to hold individuals responsible for their conduct during the crisis is a familiar talking point for Warren, who rose to prominence during the financial crisis and helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before being elected to the Senate in 2012.

In May 2014, Warren spoke at length about the government’s post-crisis actions, telling NPR’s Diane Rehm that the government should have done more to target Wall Street executives.

“I just kept expecting any day that there would be indictments, that people will go out in handcuffs, and it never happened,” Warren told Rehm in 2014. “This was always about saving the biggest financial institutions. They treated the crisis like a hurricane, not anything that anyone did wrong.”

And Thursday, Warren reiterated her views on the matter and went a step further, calling for a government investigation into the Department of Justice’s “abysmal failure” to prosecute individuals for the financial crisis.

In a lengthy letter sent Thursday to the Department of Justice Officer of the Inspector General, Warren called on the OIG to conduct an investigation into the “inability” of the DOJ to prosecute executives for the financial crisis.

Specifically, Warren references recently released documents from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which show that the FCIC referred nine individuals and 14 corporations to the DOJ in 2010 based on “serious indications of violations” of federal securities or other laws.

According to Warren, none of these individuals or corporations were criminally prosecuted.

“The outcome of the referrals by the FCIC to the DOJ represents an abysmal failure,” Warren wrote in her letter. “It means that key companies and individuals that were responsible for the financial crisis and were the cause of substantial hardship for millions of Americans faced no criminal charges. This failure is outrageous and baffling, and it requires an explanation.”

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