Department of Justice Investigating White Collar Crimes, Could File Criminal Charges Against Wall Street Execs
Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Wednesday, September 17th, that the Department of Justice would launch criminal fraud investigations against several Wall Street firms for white collar crimes and mortgage fraud that led to the economic collapse in 2007.
“We are making good progress in these cases, which involve conduct that has undermined the integrity of our markets,” Holder said at New York University Law School.
“When it comes to financial fraud, the department recognizes the inherent value of bringing enforcement actions against individuals, as opposed to simply the companies that employ them,” Holder said. “Despite the growing jurisprudence that seeks to equate corporations with people, corporate misconduct must necessarily be committed by flesh-and-blood human beings.
“A corporation may enter a guilty plea and still see its stock price rise the next day,” Holder says in his prepared remarks. “But an individual who is found guilty of a serious fraud crime is most likely going to prison.”
The attorney general has faced years of criticism for failing to bring criminal charges for misconduct and financial fraud against Wall Street firms and banks. However, several banks recently, including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and CitiBank, have paid settlements to the Department of Justice for civil charges involving white collar fraud related to the housing crash, which was linked to the stock market crash.
“In an age when corporations are structured to blur lines of authority and prevent responsibility for individual business decisions from residing with a single person, we ought to consider whether the law provides an adequate means to hold the decision-makers at these firms properly accountable,” Holder said.
In his statements on Wednesday, Holder called for Congress to increase financial rewards to whistleblowers who file complaints and charges against large financial institutions using the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, a 1980’s law commonly referred to as FIRREA. Currently, whistleblower rewards under the law are capped at $1.6 million, which Holder said was “a paltry sum in an industry in which, last year, the collective bonus pool rose above $26 billion, and median executive pay was $15 million and rising.”
Holder requested that Congress bring FIRREA rewards closer in line with False Claims Act rewards, which allows whistleblowers to earn up to 1/3 of the settlement money in cases involving claims of companies or individuals defrauding the government and its programs.
He further requested authority to add more FBI agents to the white collar crimes unit to help with the DOJ’s investigations, without diverting resources away from counterterrorism investigations.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Protect Whistleblowers with the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistleblower Act or a qui tam lawsuit, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
Common whistleblower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
If you are personally aware of a fraud that has been committed by your current or former employer, a competitor or otherwise, contact the Qui Tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case and whether filing a whistleblower lawsuit may be appropriate. We understand the complexity of the False Claims Act, and can help you with your case. We offer free, confidential consultations so contact us for help today. 803.252.4800.