(PoliticalJunkieNewsMedia) Shakespeare’s play, Henry V Part 2, there is a line that says, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”. Now I am not advocating killing anyone. However, there are a lot of guys on Wall St. who deserve to be in jail right now if not for Eric Holder’s refusal to criminally prosecute any of the corrupt financial firms who are responsible for the market collapse in 2008. Now the former attorney general is returning to Covington & Burling, the corporate law firm which he worked for right up until he became attorney general. The firm’s clients are Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo, the very criminals he protected while he was at the Justice Department. The move completes one of the more troubling trips through the revolving door for a cabinet secretary. Holder worked at Covington from 2001 right up to being sworn in as attorney general in Feburary 2009. And Covington literally kept an office empty for him, awaiting his return. Lobbying records show that Wells Fargo is still a client of Covington. Covington recently represented Citigroup over a civil lawsuit relating to the bank’s role in Libor manipulation. Covington was also deeply involved with a company known as MERS, which was later responsible for falsifying mortgage documents on an industrial scale. “Court records show that Covington, in the late 1990s, provided legal opinion letters needed to create MERS on behalf of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and several other large banks,” according to an investigation by Reuters. The Department of Justice under Holder not only failed to pursue criminal prosecutions of the banks responsible for the mortage meltdown, but in fact de-prioritized investigations of mortgage fraud, making it the “lowest-ranked criminal threat,” according to an inspector general report. In 2006, Holder become the attorney of record for Chiquita Brands International, Inc., the banana company, which is headquartered in Cincinnati. A large percentage of the company’s production came from Colombia, and the company had been paying millions in protection money to numerous terrorist groups there between 1989 and 2004. The approval for the payments came straight from the top–it included the CEO and seven members of the board. Starting in 1997, the payments focused on the paramilitary group known as the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia).Their group was particularly vicious–they would systematically kill 4000 Colombians during the time of the seven years of Chiquita payments.
In 2001, the State Department designated the AUC a foreign terrorist group–and at that point any payments to them would be illegal. The company claimed they knew nothing of the designation until 2003, but even after that point, they had continued to make payments for another year. The company’s lawyers kept warning that the payments should stop, so by late 2006, the members of their legal team were now potential witnesses. And that’s when Holder was retained. By March 2007, he’d cut a deal with the government that would require that the company plead guilty and pay a 25 million dollar fine–to be spread out over five years. The eight executives in Cincinnati (as well as two in Colombia) would not be prosecuted. Chiquita was the first major American company to be convicted of financing terrorists, but because of Eric Holder’s efforts, ten people who had aided and abetted a vicious and deadly terrorist group would escape punishment. And in an outrageous twist, when civil suits arose against Chiquita, Mr. Holder argued for a dismissal saying that, “there is no clearly defined rule of international law prohibiting material support of terrorism.” As Covington prepared for Holder’s return, the firm continued to represent clients before the Department of Justice. For instance, Covington negotiated with the department on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline for a plea agreement in 2010. Holder basically made a career out of institutionalizing “Too Big to Prosecute” rules within the department. In 1999, as a deputy attorney general, Holder authored a memo arguing that officials should consider the “collateral consequences” when prosecuting corporate crimes. In 2012, Holder’s enforcement chief, Lanny Breuer, admitted during a speech to the New York City Bar Association that the department may go easy on certain corporate criminals if they believe prosecutions may disrupt financial markets or cause layoffs. “In some cases, the health of an industry or the markets are a real factor,” Breuer said. Rather than face accountability for their failures, the incentive structure of modern Washington is designed to reward both men. Breuer left the department in 2013 to rejoin Covington. Holder squeezed billions of dollars in civil penalties from Wall Street without forcing a single individual to face trial. Contrast that with the Holder DOJ’s aggressive criminal prosecution of insider trading, which is basically a Wall Street-on-Wall Street crime. Holder and Breuer were part of a pattern within the Obama administration of weak Wall Street enforcement — one that leads right back to the president himself. The tally of top officials who were close to Wall Street and have since left for finance or finance-related jobs includes former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, former SEC chairwoman Mary Schapiro, Breuer, former SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami, and, soon, you can Holder who is set to become among the highest-earning partners at the firm, with compensation in the seven or eight figures. The problem definitely comes from the top. And Obama wouldn’t have been president but for the financial contribution of bankers. While large banks have been penalized for their role in the housing meltdown, the costs of those fines are largely borne by shareholders and taxpayers as the banks write off the fines as the cost of doing business. And by and large these top executives got to keep their massive bonuses and compensation, despite the fallout. This is the revolving door of crony capitalism in Washington, where scumbag lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians are involved in a rigged game where you are rewarded if you play ball. I often hear people talk about a ruthless, shadowy cabal of men who secretly run the world from behind the scenes but when Wall St. is slapping you in the face with open transparency through obvious quid-pro-quo exchange of cabinet positions for financial finagling, one would expect someone to be prosecuted at the very least. In a just society these bastards would be tarred and feathered then tried for treason.
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