The mere volume of high level financial fraud, in various forms, coming out at us so fast is hard to keep up with. We can go back to Enron and the various corporate scandals of the early part of this century but ground zero really is the credit crisis that exploded in 2008. Since we have had Bernie Madoff, MF Global, the recent Libor scandal involving Barclays Bank and banks to be named later and the HSBC and Standard Chartered money laundering scandals. So it is easy to lose track.
Perhaps there is a link to the high volume of scandals and the regulators tendency to not prosecute wrongdoers. Easier to do an investigatory dance and assign a fine that can be paid at the door without admitting or denying guilt.
The Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi has a theory in a recent blog. Taibbi takes on Attorney General Eric Holder’s lack of er gumption in failing to prosecute Goldman Sachs and its CEO Lloyd Blankfein for potential perjury despite the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations finding that Goldman "designed, marketed, and sold CDOs in ways that created conflicts of interest with the firm's clients and at times led to the bank's profiting from the same products that caused substantial losses for its clients."
The report was referred to the DOJ two years ago by Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla) with a recommendation that executives at Goldman Sachs, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, be investigated for perjury, based on their testimony in a hearing before the subcommittee.
The Securities and Exchange Commission did fine Goldman a record $550 million in the Abacus CDO case, which was at the heart of the investigation. But that they escaped criminal prosecution is perhaps the crux of the matter for Taibbi.
Taibbi concludes, “Holder’s non-decision on Goldman is more than unsurprising. It amounts to an official announcement that the government is no longer in the business or prosecuting smart criminals. It’s pathetic.”