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Holder calls financial fraud a top DOJ priority

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] on Thursday testified [hearing materials] before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) that combating financial fraud is a priority for the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites]. When asked whether the reallocation of DOJ staff from financial fraud to terrorism investigations over the past decade had thwarted efforts to fight white collar crime, Holder responded that terrorism investigations were not preventing the DOJ from making financial fraud a "real priority." In prepared remarks [text], Holder said:

[T]he Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal - including new resources, advanced technologies and communications capabilities, and the very best talent we have - to prevent, prosecute and punish these crimes. And by taking dramatic action, our goal is not just to hold accountable those whose conduct may have contributed to the last meltdown, but to deter such future conduct as well.

The FCIC was established late last year by the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 [text, PDF] to "examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States."

US President Barack Obama signed [JURIST report] an executive order [text] in November that created a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to be headed by the DOJ. The task force, which continues the work of and replaces the federal government's Corporate Fraud Task Force, is charged with building on "efforts already underway to combat mortgage, securities and corporate fraud by increasing coordination and fully utilizing the resources and expertise of the government's law enforcement and regulatory apparatus." This effort to battle corporate fraud [JURIST news archive] is part of a wide-ranging plan for financial reform that includes new legislation and executive proposals [JURIST reports] intended to strengthen legislation and limit loopholes. Members of the Obama administration have proposed strengthening regulations and increasing restrictions on financial institutions [JURIST report] in response to the current financial crisis.

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