Holder: No company ‘too big to jail’

by Ryan Smith05 May 2014
The Justice Department may be pursuing criminal charges against various big banks in the coming weeks, Attorney General Eric Holder said today in a video message.

“There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail,’” Holder said in the message, posted today on the Justice Department website. “Some have used that phrase to describe the theory that financial institutions – even if they engage in criminal misconduct – should be considered immune from prosecution due to their sheer size and their influence on the economy. That view is mistaken, and it is a view that has been rejected by the Department of Justice.”

Holder said that the Justice Department “continues to pursue several important investigations,” although he declined to specify which institutions were under investigation.

He did, however, insist that “when laws indeed appear to have been broken and evidence supports the allegations, a company’s size will never be a shield from prosecution or penalty.”

“To be clear, no individual or company – no matter how large or how profitable – is above the law,” Holder said. “When the Department of Justice conducts investigations, we will always follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead.”

While Holder declined to name specific targets, he did acknowledge that criminal prosecution could potentially “trigger serious follow-on actions by that company’s financial regulators. In some cases, it may even trigger the loss of the institution’s charter.” However, Holder said those consequences could be minimized if federal prosecutors worked closely with financial regulators.

“So long as this coordination occurs, it is fully possible to criminally sanction companies that have broken the law, no matter their size,” he said.


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