March 8 - Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, released this statement following testimony from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the size of too-big-to-fail financial firms inhibits Justice Department prosecutions on Wall Street. Holder was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The remarks from Attorney General Eric Holder confirm that too-big-to-fail financial institutions operate above the law. Holder’s statement that federal law-enforcement officials have hesitated to prosecute Wall Street firms because of their size and interconnectedness shows that these institutions receive favorable treatment, not only economically but in our justice system as well.
“Not only have these institutions received billions of dollars in taxpayer support because of the systemic risks they pose, they are also apparently immune from criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, community banks have been left to pick up the pieces under the weight of crushing laws and regulations enacted to halt Wall Street’s unscrupulous behavior.
“Attorney General Holder’s statement is a clarion call to policymakers to redouble their efforts to examine the impact of the too-big-to-fail problem on both our economy and our justice system. In fact, these too-big-to-fail financial giants should be downsized and split up to help restore sanity and accountability in our financial system. Only after ensuring that all financial institutions operate on a level playing field can we begin to restore our financial system to proper health.”
Fine has been a strong voice in the too-big-to-fail debate since the onset of the financial crisis. In a Jan. 24 blog post, Fine wrote that a recent episode of “Frontline” shows that the too-big-to-fail problem is alive and well. In that episode, the previous assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, who has since left the department, said he has lost sleep worrying about the result of prosecuting Wall Street executives on the financial system. “If this isn’t a textbook definition of the problem of too-big-to-fail, I don’t know what is,” Fine wrote.
ICBA as an association has also long advocated for the restructuring of too-big-to-fail firms because of the risks they pose to our nation’s community banks, financial system and economy as a whole. For more information about ICBA, visit www.icba.org.