Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. defended the U.S. Department of Justice’s track record holding large companies and financial institutions accountable for wrongdoing, telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the agency’s record “will stand the test of time.”
“We have gotten pleas both from institutions and from individuals,” Holder testified today at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. “We’ve also done creative and, I think, appropriate things, appropriately aggressive things, with regard to our use of the civil law as well.”
Holder on Thursday touted the Justice Department’s $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the $1.2 billion agreement with Toyota. “We’re making good on our determination to protect consumers and address fraud in all its forms,” the attorney general said.
At the hearing, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., listed a number of big issues—such as offshore tax evasion, manipulation of LIBOR and structured mortgage-backed securities. “Have we reached a different point now?” Merkley asked Holder. “Have we successfully tackled the issue of too big to fail, and its close cousin, which is more in your realm, of too big to jail?”
Holder said in response that “no institution is too big, no person is too important to be held accountable in a criminal sense if that’s appropriate.” Then he crafted a list of his own—in rapid-fire style—of guilty pleas that federal prosecutors have obtained.
Among the companies, Holder listed guilty pleas from financial institutions UBS A.G., The Royal Bank of Scotland, SAC Capital Management Cos. and Wegelin & Co. He also listed guilty pleas from individuals at JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group A.G., UBS, SAC Capital and Stanford Financial Group Co.
“This department’s record under my leadership will I think stand the test of time, I’ll compare it to any other justice department, any other attorney general, at any other time,” Holder testified.
Holder made the comments before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on commerce, justice, science and related agencies while testifying about the Justice Department’s budget request for the 2015 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
The White House budget requests $27.4 billion in discretionary funds, a less than 1 percent increase from the current year budget.