Attorney General Eric Holder has given U.S. attorneys across the country 90 days to judge whether or not they want to bring cases against specific individuals for their alleged roles in 2008's mortgage crisis, according to reports.
Speaking at a National Press Club event on Tuesday, Holder said federal prosecutors who have previously brought charges against firms for selling toxic mortgage-backed securities will be given an opportunity to investigate individual employees for potential charges, Reuters reported.
Holder reportedly told the assembled press that prosecutors will have 90 days to report back on "whether they think they are going to successfully bring criminal or civil cases against those individuals."
The announcement marks a policy shift for Holder, whose department has taken criticism from consumers and politicians frustrated with its failure to go after bank executives and some institutions following the crash. In early 2013, he famously remarked at a Senate committee hearing that the size of some institutions makes it difficult to prosecute them without impacting the economy.
He walked those comments back later, saying, "If we find a bank or financial institution that has done something wrong, if we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, those cases will be brought."
The timing of the attorney general's announcement is also bound to raise questions: With Holder on his way out, the ultimate decision to prosecute would be made by his replacement, who right now is slated to be Loretta Lynch.
A message left with the department's Office of Public Affairs was not immediately returned.