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Attorney General Draws Criticism for ‘Too Big to Jail’ Remarks

U.S. Attorney General ""Eric Holder"":http://www.justice.gov/ caused a stir Wednesday by voicing the idea that certain financial institutions may be ""too big to jail.""


In a testimony before the ""Senate Judiciary Committee"":http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/ on Justice Department (DoJ) oversight, Holder addressed concerns from Sen. ""Chuck Grassley"":http://www.grassley.senate.gov/ (R-Iowa) regarding the leniency the department has shown certain banks (Grassley specifically cited the treatment of HSBC, which agreed to pay the government $1.9 billion to settle a money laundering investigation).

""I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute and bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,"" Holder said. ""I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.""

He added that their size ""has an inhibiting influence, impact on [the DoJ's] to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate.""

On the subject of banks charged with mortgage fraud leading into the financial crisis, however, Holder asserted that the department has been ""appropriately aggressive"" and noted that ""these are not always easy cases to make.""

""When you look at these cases, you see that things were done 'wrong' then the question is whether or not they were illegal. And I think the people in our criminal division--the people in our U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, for instance--I think have been as aggressive as they could be, brought cases where we think we could have brought them,"" the attorney general remarked. ""I know that in some cases that has not been a satisfying answer to people, but we have been as aggressive as we could have been.""

Holder's remarks have already drawn fire from critics who say the Justice Department and the Obama administration haven't been dogged in pursuing the parties they blame for the economic meltdown. One such critic is Sen. ""Elizabeth Warren"":http://www.warren.senate.gov/ (D-Massachusetts), who ruffled feathers at her first ""Senate Banking Committee"":http://www.banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Home.Home hearing in February, when she took regulators to task over their trial records against Wall Street Banks.

In a statement released to ""_The Huffington Post_"":http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/elizabeth-warren-eric-holder_n_2823618.html?1362616052, Warren said, ""It has been almost five years since the financial crisis, but the big banks are still too big to fail. That means they are subsidized by about $83 billion a year by American taxpayers and are still not being held fully accountable for breaking the law. General Holder's testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail.""


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