Frank Calls for Criminal Prosecution of Banking Crimes

By Finkle, Victoria | American Banker, December 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

Frank Calls for Criminal Prosecution of Banking Crimes


Finkle, Victoria, American Banker


Byline: Victoria Finkle

WASHINGTON a Rep. Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, is urging the Department of Justice and federal regulators to start prosecuting more financial industry workers who break the law.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who is retiring at the end of the term, wrote letters Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and a number of regulators, just days after DOJ settled a money laundering suit with HSBC for $1.92 billion.

Many observers have expressed outrage in the wake of the settlement, saying the bank and its employees should face criminal charges for allegedly turning a blind eye as drug traffickers and others moved billions of dollars through the bank's U.S. affiliate.

"I note several instances recently in which administration officials have proceeded civilly against blatant violators of our important financial laws, in part because of the difficulty of proving cases beyond a reasonable doubt, especially where the law may have been somewhat uncertain, but also because of a concern that the criminal conviction a and even indictment a of a major financial institution could have a destabilizing effect," Franks said in the letter to Holder. "This latter consideration does not apply, similarly, to individuals."

He added: "It is, of course, the case that no corporation can have engaged in wrongdoing without the active decision of individual officers of that entity. …

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