Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eric Holder didn't send a single banker to jail for the mortgage crisis. Is that justice?

US attorney general’s tenure has proven unhelpful to the five million victims of mortgage abuses in the US


Holder has a mixed legacy: excellent on civil and voting rights, bad on press freedom and transparency. Photograph: JONATHAN ERNST/Reuters

David Dayen /

The telling sentence in NPR’s report that US attorney general Eric Holder plans to step down once a successor is confirmed came near the end of the story.

“Friends and former colleagues say Holder has made no decisions about his next professional perch,” NPR writes, “but they say it would be no surprise if he returned to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he spent years representing corporate clients.”

A large chunk of Covington & Burling’s corporate clients are mega-banks like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America. Lanny Breuer, who ran the criminal division for Holder’s Justice Department, already returned to work there.

In March, Covington highlighted in marketing materials their award from the trade publication American Lawyer as “Litigation Department of the Year,” touting the law firm’s work in getting clients accused of financial fraud off with slap-on-the-wrist fines.

Covington, American Lawyer says, helps clients “get the best deal they can.”

Holder has a mixed legacy: excellent on civil and voting rights, bad on press freedom and transparency.

But if you want to understand what he did for the perpetrators of a cascade of financial fraud that blew up the nation’s economy in 2008, you only have to read that line from his former employer: he helped them “get the best deal they can.”

As for homeowners, they received a raw deal, in the form of little or no compensation for some of the greatest consumer abuses in American history.

Before Holder became Attorney General, banks fueled the housing bubble with predatory and at times, allegedly fraudulent practices.

As far back as 2004, the FBI warned of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud, which they said would have “as much impact as the Savings & Loan crisis.”

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