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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/21/10

Will the SEC Charging Fraud by Financial Institutions Actuall Bring Them to Trial?

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On Tuesday, Mary L. Shapiro, the chairwoman of the S.E.C. told reporters there are "a number of cases coming out of the financial crisis related to C.D.O.'s and other products"[1] involving Wall Street firms, banks and other financial institutions.

The CDO's she referred to are collateralized debt obligations, the financial products the SEC accused Goldman Sachs of "misleading investors" in the just concluded civil suit of fraud brought against Goldman to which the company settled out of court for $550,000,000 dollars and allowed to admit no wrongdoing as part of that settlement.

Last week this writer opined, "This was a case that screamed to be heard in open court", "The Travesty of Goldman Sachs Settlement with the SEC', OpEd News, July 16, 2010.

The question begs: Are these other cases being brought against other firms by the SEC going to trial or is the SEC looking to settle out of court (like it did with Goldman) whereby these companies are permitted to deny fraud as part of their settlement agreement?

If legitimate fraud charges are brought against these companies, it becomes a giant subterfuge for them to be let off the hook with slap on the wrist fines instead of letting all the evidence brought against them be heard in open court, in the full light of day so everyone becomes aware of the illegalities these companies perpetrated on the public, their investors, other entities (pension funds and the like) that were bilked by these firms.

And out of these civil fraud cases, depending on the specifics of the evidence, criminal charges should be brought against specific individuals (CEO's, CFO's, brokers, bankers) who committed the actual fraud. They need to be tried and held accountable and face real jail time.

Considering what has already been unearthed and factually reported on these past two years regarding the financial meltdown, massive fraud was undoubtedly committed by the likes of "Countrywide Mortgage, WAMU (Washington Mutual), Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch" (just to name a few of other culpable firms, that were either taken over by larger firms (Merrill, Countrywide, WAMU) or allowed to fail (Lehman). The executives of these firms have just been allowed to move on, while never being held accountable for their disreputable (criminal?) behavior.

It is not that a pound of flesh is required as much as the idea of the rule of law for all be followed. When the law applies to the majority but not for the well heeled few, then that law is cause for disrespect. Cynicism breeds contempt for a system that allows for the well heeled getting off unscathed while those less fortunate are held to full account.

Not only is it unfair, it is unjust. For when such injustice is allowed to prevail in such a society, the foundation of that culture is undermined, hollow and corrupted.

[1] "SEC Pursuing More Cases Tied to Financial Crisis", by Edward Wyatt, "The New York Times", July 20, 2010

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