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senate Bill S. 1005

Should Finance Executives Face Criminal Charges for Wrongdoing at Their Companies?

Argument in favor

Financial executives aren’t above the law and should be held accountable for crimes they and their firm commit. Creating real consequences for corporate executives who oversee financial misdeeds and requiring them to do proactive oversight would deter these crimes.

jimK's Opinion
···
09/14/2019
Capitalism that relies on bribes, payoffs, buying influence or bending the rules is simply, not Capitalism; this is Crony Capitalism. Capitalism is about competing to develop better products or services. We will see better products or services if competitors all play by the same set of rules. When Crony Capitalists win by buying political favor, bending the rules of what is legal, and not actually competing- real capitalists lose. Our country’s products become inferior to foreign products that just work better and we loose domestic capability and jobs. Executives agree to corporate fines but are not held personally legally accountable. Financial services companies for example, often work at the edges of the law with institutionalized practices to maximize their profits and sometime intentionally cross that legal line if they feel they won’t get caught. For example, many have been cited for packaging investments that they know will be massively harmful and in gross violation of client fiduciary responsibilities. Look at the taxpayer-required bailout of AGI’s collapse after they massively purchased bundled junk mortgage derivatives. The financial services industries that sold what were junk packaged derivative investments made as much money as AGI lost and suffered no consequences except for revisions to the future laws. These kind of ‘legal border-line’ and obviously unethical practices are often institutionalized and commonly practiced with less obvious impact at lower levels. Penalties that seem like huge fines are minuscule compared to returns- and in fact, are so trivial that they actually incentivize these practices. No corporate executives are personally or legally held accountable. Similar rule-bending practices are commonplace in most large corporations. I think that the highest level company officers need to be held legally accountable for any illicit practice that they are responsible for. If they did not know of illegal practices that they should have known about, they are still legally accountable since it was their job to. I haven’t even got to the practices of giving our esteemed congressional Republican dinosaurs large gifts, soft funds and insider information.
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burrkitty's Opinion
···
09/13/2019
In general I don’t think non-violent crimes should get jail time, but all are equal under the law. If anyone in a lower position would get time, CEOS should get time. But I’m of the opinion that financial crimes deserve financial penalties. The worst thing you can do to greedy people is take all their money.
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···
09/14/2019
If you’re going to do the crime you have to do the time no matter how much fucking money you have. The laws are for everybody including President Trump
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Argument opposed

Corporate executives aren’t always fully aware of everything their employees are doing on a company’s behalf (for example, the Wells Fargo CEOs weren’t aware of the bank’s employees’ fake account creation scheme). In such cases, it’d be unfair to punish executives for the actions of a company’s employees.

operaman's Opinion
···
09/14/2019
If Wrongdoing is against the law, then it's criminal. But, if the wrongdoing is not criminal, it's up to the stockholders and the Board of Directors.
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Bryan's Opinion
···
09/14/2019
According to the text of the bill “to certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and found no criminal conduct” sounds frighteningly close to “prove your innocence” or “guilty until proven innocent” and violates the judicial statutes of our constitution. This should frighten all Americans that Congress is expanding its congressional oversight to private institutions. Congress is accountable to “we the people” not the other way around.
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Leslie's Opinion
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09/14/2019
If Liz rewrites this law to include members of congress then we can have a discussion. Senator Warren's constant attacks on corporations is frightening and naive. A quick history lesson here. Most of our ancestors came to this country for better opportunities to earn a living and get ahead in life. Yes, big corporations can have problems with bad actors, but I'm of the camp that big government is worse.
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What is Senate Bill S. 1005?

This bill — the Ending Too Big to Jail Act — would create a permanent law enforcement unit to investigate crimes at financial institutions; require senior executives (such as CEOs) at banks with $10 billion or more in assets to certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and found no criminal conduct or civil fraud within the financial institution; and mandate judicial oversight of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs). Further specifics of this bill’s provisions are below: 


Permanent investigative unit for financial crimes

The bill would create an investigative unit within the Treasury Department focused exclusively on investigating crime within financial institutions and conducting material loss reviews after institutions fail. It’d also reconstitute the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) as the Special Inspector General for Financial Institution Crime (SIGFIC) and expand its jurisdiction so that it can use its specialized skills and expertise, relationships with financial regulators and law enforcement agencies, and cross-jurisdictional view of the whole financial industry to investigate and help prosecute financial crimes.


Big bank executive certifications

The bill would require top executives of financial institutions larger than $10 billion to certify annually that they have conducted due diligence and found no criminal conduct or civil fraud within their institution. Bank executives often pled ignorance to wrongdoing during the financial crisis, and requiring executives to perform due diligence under penalty of perjury would deter them from insulating themselves from accountability by forcing them to keep track of the conduct at their banks.


Judicial oversight of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs)

This bill would give courts authority to approve and oversee compliance with DPAs. After the financial crisis, the Justice Department (DOJ) often entered into unreviewable DPAs with financial institutions instead of going after individual executives. This bill would mandate judicial oversight of these agreements, requiring courts to determine that an agreement is in the "public interest" before it can take effect and allowing courts to supervise implementation, request status reports, approve termination, and order that documents be filed on the public docket.  The DOJ would also be required to establish a public searchable database of DPAs. 

Impact

Financial institutions; courts; financial crimes; financial institutions’ executives; DPAs; DOJ; Treasury Dept.; SIGTARP; and SIGFIC.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1005

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to send CEOs of companies that behave badly to jail. Last Congress, when she introduced this bill on the financial crisis’ tenth anniversary (marked as the day when the Federal Reserve announced action to try to save Bear Stearns from failing) on March 14, 2018, Sen. Warren said

“When Wall Street CEOs break the law, they should go to jail like anyone else. The fraud on Wall Street won't stop until executives know they will be hauled out in handcuffs for cheating their customers and clients… Congress should be marking the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis by strengthening rules on banks and bankers so Wall Street can never again get away with cheating Americans and crashing the economy."

In an April 2019 Washington Post op-ed laying out the case for this bill and her Corporate Executive Accountability Act (which would increase corporate leaders’ accountability for their firms’ misdeeds regardless of whether or not they personally approved of the illegal actions), Sen. Warren wrote: 

“If top executives knew they would be hauled out in handcuffs for failing to reasonably oversee the companies they run, they would have a real incentive to better monitor their operations and snuff out any wrongdoing before it got out of hand.”

Public Citizen is among a number of groups endorsing this bill. Bart Naylor, a financial policy advocate at the organization, says this bill “presumably will make it easier for prosecutors to hold bankers and other corporate executives who are guilty of misconduct to account in the courts.”

In a February 2019 op-ed in The Hill, David P. Weber, a former assistant inspector general for Investigations at the SEC, expressed support for this bill: 

“It has been generally recognized that there are five purposes of [corporate] punishment. Three of those purposes — deterrence, incapacitation and retribution — support [consideration of the Ending Too Big to Jail Act]. In certain cases, we should act just as we do with a recidivist human convict: If these corporations and their leadership are not capable of staying out of trouble, this may be indicative that the corporation has a risk profile and operational tempo that simply cannot be managed under any form of intensive supervision. A corporation cannot be incarcerated. But it can be broken up or closed. Perhaps it is finally time for tough love.”

CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk observes that this bill “has little shot of getting through the GOP-held Senate and could face resistance in the business world.”

This bill doesn’t have any cosponsors in the current Congress, nor did it have any last Congress. It also didn’t receive a committee vote in the 115th Congress. 

Last Congress, this bill was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, Americans for Financial Reform, and Professor Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia Law School, author of Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations.


Of NoteWhen she introduced this bill last Congress, Sen. Warren’s office noted that the 2008 financial crisis “cost millions of people their homes, their jobs, and their savings” and started a recession that took as much as $14 trillion out of the U.S. economy — and yet, only one big bank executive went to jail (Credit Suisse’s Kareem Serageldin) after the 2008 financial crisis. 

In subsequent financial services industry scandals, the CEO of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf, and his successor walked away with multimillion-dollar pay packages after it was discovered that bank employees had created millions of fake accounts. Similarly, the Equifax CEO also received an $18 million payout when he stepped down in the wake of that company’s massive data breach.

With these recent events in mind, Sen. Warren — a longtime advocate of ex-Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan’s firing — tweeted, “About damn time.” in response to his resignation in March 2019. She added

“By the way, getting fired shouldn’t be the end of the story for Tim Sloan. He shouldn’t get a golden parachute. He should be investigated by the SEC and the DOJ for his role in all the Wells Fargo scams. And if he’s guilty of any crimes, he should be put in jail like anyone else.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Image Source)

AKA

Ending Too Big to Jail Act

Official Title

A bill to stop financial institution crime, require certain officers of companies to certify that they have conducted due diligence relating to criminal conduct or civil fraud, create accountability in deferred prosecution agreements, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
    IntroducedApril 3rd, 2019
    Capitalism that relies on bribes, payoffs, buying influence or bending the rules is simply, not Capitalism; this is Crony Capitalism. Capitalism is about competing to develop better products or services. We will see better products or services if competitors all play by the same set of rules. When Crony Capitalists win by buying political favor, bending the rules of what is legal, and not actually competing- real capitalists lose. Our country’s products become inferior to foreign products that just work better and we loose domestic capability and jobs. Executives agree to corporate fines but are not held personally legally accountable. Financial services companies for example, often work at the edges of the law with institutionalized practices to maximize their profits and sometime intentionally cross that legal line if they feel they won’t get caught. For example, many have been cited for packaging investments that they know will be massively harmful and in gross violation of client fiduciary responsibilities. Look at the taxpayer-required bailout of AGI’s collapse after they massively purchased bundled junk mortgage derivatives. The financial services industries that sold what were junk packaged derivative investments made as much money as AGI lost and suffered no consequences except for revisions to the future laws. These kind of ‘legal border-line’ and obviously unethical practices are often institutionalized and commonly practiced with less obvious impact at lower levels. Penalties that seem like huge fines are minuscule compared to returns- and in fact, are so trivial that they actually incentivize these practices. No corporate executives are personally or legally held accountable. Similar rule-bending practices are commonplace in most large corporations. I think that the highest level company officers need to be held legally accountable for any illicit practice that they are responsible for. If they did not know of illegal practices that they should have known about, they are still legally accountable since it was their job to. I haven’t even got to the practices of giving our esteemed congressional Republican dinosaurs large gifts, soft funds and insider information.
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    If Wrongdoing is against the law, then it's criminal. But, if the wrongdoing is not criminal, it's up to the stockholders and the Board of Directors.
    Like (26)
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    In general I don’t think non-violent crimes should get jail time, but all are equal under the law. If anyone in a lower position would get time, CEOS should get time. But I’m of the opinion that financial crimes deserve financial penalties. The worst thing you can do to greedy people is take all their money.
    Like (64)
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    If you’re going to do the crime you have to do the time no matter how much fucking money you have. The laws are for everybody including President Trump
    Like (43)
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    ‘Punishable by fines’ means ‘ok for rich people.’ So yes, it’s about time to categorize crimes as crimes and make people committing wrongs have to have actual punishment.
    Like (26)
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    If proven they were aware and privy to the crimes then absolutely.
    Like (22)
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    Financial executives aren’t above the law and should be held accountable for crimes they and their firm commit. Creating real consequences for corporate executives who oversee financial misdeeds and requiring them to do proactive oversight would deter these crimes.
    Like (22)
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    Lock them up!
    Like (19)
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    YUP! UNLIKE WITH THIS ADMINISTRATION, THE BUCK STOPS AT THE TOP...
    Like (19)
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    Really what a question if you do wrong you should be punished - we the people do not get this luxury - we are fired, laid off or job no longer needed but the upper management seems to always walk away with that large golden parachutes - #EnoughIsEnough We The People should no longer be Taxed until there is a full accounting of exactly where and how our tax dollars are being spent and who is approving $31,000 dining room sets!
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    Yes. I would have to pay in some way, so why not the big shots? I think some punishment is a lot better than the big go-a-way payout they normally get! Why should they be treated any different then any other employee? I don’t see a reason for it!
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    How many bankers went to prison after the crash that brought on the Great Recession? They might think twice about risky ventures if jail time were a reality
    Like (14)
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    you do the crime, you do the time.
    Like (14)
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    If you are complicit in a criminal act, you should be charged.
    Like (10)
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    Yes, financial execs should be held liable, And they should lose the profits their crime gained.
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    Absolutely! Starting with 45!!!
    Like (8)
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    The executives who caused or facilitated the Great Recession all walked away free and unpunished while millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their stability. Companies should not be free from scrutiny and punishment and executives must be held accountable. If it isn't currently against the law to prosecute a corporate leader for malfeasance, corruption, or abuse, then it should be, and Congress should take action where and when appropriate. Starting with the tech and financial services industries.
    Like (8)
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    👍🏻👍🏻 Financial And Congressional Oversights Required 👍🏻👍🏻 Financial executives and Congressional members aren’t above the law and should be held accountable for crimes they and their firm commit. Creating real consequences for corporate executives who oversee financial misdeeds and requiring them to do proactive oversight would deter these crimes. Creating real consequences for Congressional members who perpetrate crimes during the performance of their duties in or out of Congress should also require a proactive oversight to deter these actions occurring. They're in charge, they make the decisions, they pay the price if they do wrong. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻🤔👍🏻🤔👍🏻. 9.13.19.....
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    I hear you, Nancy, and our Pig has only contributed to the ways the banks can continue to rip us off. I, wholeheartedly, agree with you. We parents of these children were lied to by the very people we thought we could trust. I believe the money my daughter, presently, owes is more than she borrowed! This is criminal! Under Obama, Elizabeth Warren wanted to rein the banks in, even more than Obama was willing to do! So he pulled the reins in on her. I believe she is the one who could lead us into the future. I believe it’s time we let a woman have a chance. She is highly educated. She’s been in politics for many years, so knows the ropes. Has a wonderful temperament. Why not give her a chance?
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    Yes! And make the law retroactive! These aren’t just mistakes. This is reckless, rapacious greed that hurts the American people, then the executives get golden parachutes. Give America back to the people!
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