New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, co-chair of the new financial fraud task force that plans to investigate the malfeasance that led to the financial meltdown, appeared on Up w/ Chris Hayes yesterday to talk about the new effort. While many important details are yet to be known—Schneiderman hedged, for example, on the number of people who would be assigned to the task force—he expressed in very strong terms that Wall Street will be held accountable.
The looming mortgage settlement may end the prosecution of banks for robo-signing and foreclosure fraud abuses—things that happened after the crash. (And for which the banks will pay about $25 billion). But Scheiderman’s group plans to go after what happened before the crash—the securitization of bad mortgages, the insurance of those financial packages, and the various and sundry other ways Wall Street poisoned the financial system with toxic products.
Schneiderman said the settlement won’t impede that effort at all, and that it will focus state and federal authorities in an unprecedented manner.
“The president has been absolutely clear: we’re going after the stuff that blew up the economy in our working group,” Schneiderman said. “We’re going after the possibilities of tax fraud, insurance fraud, securities fraud. We’re going to look at this stuff very closely. We have the jurisdiction, we have the resources, and we have the will.”
While there’s been no federal prosecutions of high-ranking Wall Street executives for their role in the financial crisis, Schneiderman said boldly that his group plans to end that. “The clarity the president provided this past week really was that we are going to step up on the principle of one set of rules for everyone, equal justice under the law,” Schneiderman said. “You can’t have some institutions that are protected by the law, not allowed to fail, and not held to account, and all the other companies in America are allowed to fail. You can’t have equal justice under law and too big to fail.”
Towards the end of the interview, he said he expects some serious movement and action within six to eight months—or else he’d be “very disappointed.”