How to Actually Prosecute the Worst Financial Crimes – The Atlantic

We agree with the diagnosis but would recommend a stronger proposal for change than “get smart people and try harder.” Too often, as in the financial meltdown, wealthy people are able to shape the law to make it impossible to prosecute them.

I spent 27 years fighting white-collar crime and corruption at the Department of Justice, first in the Tax Division, then in the Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office, and finally in the Criminal Division. I have witnessed firsthand precisely how unjust the American criminal-justice system can be. Practically everyone knows, on some level, that the rich get better treatment than the poor. But I saw it so clearly: The wealthy live in a different legal reality entirely, one in which blatant financial fraud routinely goes unpunished. For the poor, even the merest transgression can lead to ruined lives. This problem has always existed, but it has gotten worse—far worse—in recent years. I eventually quit the DOJ because I no longer wanted to participate in this system….Pundits, professors, and politicians have claimed that these prosecutorial failures could be the result of either insufficient laws or the fact that the pernicious behavior under scrutiny simply doesn’t constitute a crime. I know such claims are perversions of the truth. It’s about the competence, commitment, and courage of our leaders.

How to Actually Prosecute the Worst Financial Crimes – The Atlantic

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