Meese Defends Record on White Collar Crime: Announces Legislative Initiatives as Congressional Oversight Hearings Are Set to Begin Anew
Naylor, Bartlett, American Banker
WASHINGTON -- Defending the Reagan administration's treatment of corporate fraud, Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d said Monday he welcomed a series of congressional hearings on white collar crime because it would publicize the Justice Department's vigorous prosecution policies.
Mr. Meese spoke at a news conference called to announce a legislative initiative aimed at curtailing government contract abuse. He will be sending a package of eight bills to Capitol Hill, which are meant to clarify existing law, according to Mr. Meese. "We expect they will be relatively noncontroversial," he said.
As for congressional oversight on prosecution of corporate criminals, Mr. Meese said he looked forward to setting the record straight on Justice Department policy.
A decision by the attorney general not to prosecute individuals at E.F. Hutton & Co. prompted an ongoing series of hearings by the House Judiciary subcommittee on crime. Hutton pleaded guility on May 2 to 2,000 counts of fraud involving check kiting and overdrafting.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which nearly killed Mr. Meese's nomination as attorney general earlier in the year, also plans hearings on white collar crime prosecution.
"We vigorously prosecute all economic crime," Mr. Meese said.
Mr. Meese confirmed that the Justice Department is probing the possibility that Hutton concealed evidence during a three-year grand jury investigation. Incriminating documents were publicized this summer by congressional and private investigators that had not been made available to the Justice Department.
Former Attorney General Griffin Bell said Sept. 5, following his Hutton-commissioned investigation, that Hutton general counsel Thomas Rae was responsible for the company's failure to comply with subpoenaes. Mr. Rae is leaving Hutton.
Mr. Meese did not say if he plans to indict Mr. Rae or other Hutton executives regarding subpoena compliance. …