By Danny Fenster
In the wake of the financial sector’s meltdown, many were on the hunt for the blood of bankers. But convictions for wrongdoing on Wall Street have been remarkably scarce in the aftermath of the industry’s collapse–no small part of why Occupy Wall Street protestors have gathered in lower Manhattan.
A Wall Street Journal blog explains why prosecutions in the financial sector have been so slow to surface. Federal agent’s “hopes slowly gave way to frustration over how to prove criminal intent,” the blog post notes, citing former deputy assistant director of the FBI David Cardona.
Much of the Justice Department’s criminal investigations “hinge on disclosure” Cardona told the Journal. “What does adequate disclosure mean? And those are really technical arguments that sometimes get lost with a jury.”
Many of the FBI’s criminal probes into financial wrongdoing have gone nowhere, according to the Journal, including probes into top financial firms like AIG, Goldman Sachs and Washington Mutual. After a jury acquitted Bear Stearns in 2009, US officials have been wary of trying crimes in which a jury may decide losses were due to bad judgement or the market rather than actual criminality.
“Thus, cases that turn on technical issues such as disclosure are being left for civil-enforcement actions.”
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