[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder said [video, mp4] on Monday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] is in the process of investigating several financial institutions and criminal charges may follow. In the video released by the DOJ, Holder said that no institution is “too big to jail” and that his department would prosecute any institution or individual who engages in criminal activity that harms the economy. In his statement, Holder sought to clarify that the DOJ would not avoid prosecution of major financial institutions, saying:
To be clear no individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law. When the [DOJ] conducts investigations, we will always follow the law and the facts wherever they lead. … [W]hen laws indeed appear to have been broken and the evidence supports the allegations, a company’s size will never be a shield from prosecution or penalty.
Holder did not specify which institutions were being investigated by the DOJ, but he stated that several investigations would be ongoing in the coming weeks and months, and that he intends to follow through on the investigations.
Major banks have faced numerous allegations of misconduct in criminal and civil court in recent years, but most have been settled out of court. In January a New York state judge approved an $8.5 billion settlement [JURIST report] between Bank of America (BOA) and almost two dozen mortgage securities investors, holding that the 2011 agreement was reached in good faith. Last October BOA was found liable [JURIST report] by a federal court jury for fraudulently making bad loans and for removing quality checks for those loans. JPMorgan Chase & Co. settled [JURIST report] a case with the DOJ days beforehand in the amount of $13 billion. The effort against BOA itself is also ongoing [JURIST report]. The DOJ filed another suit in August in the US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina for similar fraud amounting to more than $850 million. In January of last year BOA settled a separate claim [JURIST report] brought by Fannie Mae over its lending practices for $10 billion.