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Prosecuting Financial Titans

Three years and counting since Wall Street collapsed. The case for prosecution of financial titans is still with us.

Occupy Wall Street protestors march towards Wall Street after being heartened by the postponement of a scheduled cleanup of their camp at Zucotti Park that many protestors saw as a de facto eviction, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, in New York. Some arrests have occurred after a few hundred protesters left Zucotti Park and marched to the area around the New York Stock Exchange. There are barricades and mounted police around the exchange.  (AP)

Occupy Wall Street protestors march towards Wall Street after being heartened by the postponement of a scheduled cleanup of their camp at Zucotti Park that many protestors saw as a de facto eviction, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, in New York. Some arrests have occurred after a few hundred protesters left Zucotti Park and marched to the area around the New York Stock Exchange. There are barricades and mounted police around the exchange. (AP)

They’re arresting Occupy Wall Streeters for trampling grass in public squares. But the finance titans who trampled the U.S. economy in the collapse of Wall Street, says my guest today, have gone scot free.

William Black is a warrior on finance ethics and legality. He was in the thick of the slew of prosecutions after the 1980s S&L scandal. It’s not too late, he says, to prosecute over the 2008 collapse and its run-up. And we should.

For justice and the future of the country. All the way to the top.

This hour On Point: the unfinished call to prosecute Wall Street.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

William Black, University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law. He was a senior federal financial regulator during the Savings and Loan crisis.

Lynn Stout, Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles. She’s the author of Cultivating Conscience: How Good Laws Make Good People.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Late last week, word leaked out that Mr. Mozilo, who had co-founded Countrywide Financial in 1969 — and, for nearly 40 years, presided over its astonishing rise and its equally astonishing fall — would not be prosecuted by the Justice Department. Not for insider trading. Not for failing to disclose to investors his private worries about subprime loans. Not for helping to create a culture at Countrywide in which mortgage originators were rewarded for pushing fraudulent loans on borrowers.”

International Herald Tribune “It is a question asked repeatedly across America: Why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?”

Huffington Post
“What exactly is the function of the financial sector in our society? Simply this: Its sole function is supplying capital efficiently to aid the real economy. The financial sector is a tool to help those that make real tools, not an end in itself. But five fatal flaws in the financial sector’s current structure have created a monster that drains the real economy, promotes fraud and corruption, threatens democracy, and causes recurrent, intensifying crises.”

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