The Martin Act - Broad authority to prosecute financial fraud
The Martin Act was passed in the 1930's to facilitate the prosecution of financial crimes against the general public. Specifically, "the only elements needed to establish a Martin Act violation are a misrepresentation or omission of material fact when engaged in to induce or promote the issuance, distribution, exchange, sale, negotiation or purchase of securities."
The act is a prosecutors dream. Schneiderman can "subpoena any document he wants from anyone doing business in the state; to keep an investigation totally secret or to make it totally public; and to choose between filing civil or criminal charges whenever he wants." (Nicholas Thompson, Legal Affairs, May/June 2004) Those under investigation "do not have a right to counsel or a right against self-incrimination," Thompson pointed out.
Schneiderman is serious. He has demonstrated his commitment to equity and justice since assuming his current office.
Schneiderman's predecessor as Attorney General, Mario Cuomo, moved up from AG to governor even after indicting Bank of America on similar charges. There is hope for Schneiderman's survival and elevation should he get some convictions. Of greater significance, Schneiderman's actions can be replicated around the country. Mortgage fraud was and is a national problem.
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