For those of you that did not see it yet, please take the time to watch the PBS Frontline show entitled The Untouchables that addresses the lack of prosecutions of the key players in the mortgage and financial meltdown. Watch it here.
One of the “stars” of the show is Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Criminal Division. A recent blog post from former Senator Ted Kaufman, who also appears in the show, discusses Breuer with the following:
“In a speech he gave last fall, the retiring head of the Criminal Division in the Department of Justice, Lanny Breuer, explained that position:
‘To be clear, the decision of whether to indict a corporation, defer prosecution, or decline altogether is not one that I, or anyone in the Criminal Division, take lightly. We are frequently on the receiving end of presentations from defense counsel, CEOs and economists who argue that the collateral consequences of an indictment would be devastating for their client. In my conference room, over the years, I have heard sober predictions that a company or bank might fail if we indict, that innocent employees could lose their jobs, that entire industries may be affected, and even that global markets will feel the effects.’
‘Sometimes – though, let me stress, not always – these presentations are compelling. In reaching every charging decision, we must take into account the effect of an indictment on innocent employees and shareholders, just as we must take into account the nature of the crimes committed and the pervasiveness of the misconduct. I personally feel that it’s my duty to consider whether individual employees with no responsibility for, or knowledge of, misconduct committed by others in the same company are going to lose their livelihood if we indict the corporation. In large multi-national companies, the jobs of tens of thousands of employees can be at stake. And, in some cases, the health of an industry or the markets are a real factor. Those are the kinds of considerations in white collar crime cases that literally keep me up at night, and which must play a role in responsible enforcement.’
From my point of view, this is certainly a novel approach to prosecutorial decision-making.”
We need more Ted Kaufman’s in the U.S. Senate.
Breuer’s evasive answers in the PBS interviews are hard to stomach. In response, the folk at maxkeiser.com produced this video about what Lanny Breuer really meant to say:
UPDATE: Lanny Breuer has gone back to work for a law firm that represents the very people he was supposed to be prosecuting while at the DOJ. The press release announcing his hiring by the law firm he now works for is here.