Anyway, it’s hard to not notice the fact that crude Ponzi schemers like Madoff (150 years) and Allen Stanford (110 years) drew enormous penalties – essentially life terms for both – while no one from any major firm has drawn any penalty at all for abetting those frauds.
That’s an enormous discrepancy, life versus nothing. But it makes an awful kind of sense. Madoff and Stanford were safe prosecutorial targets. There was no political fallout to worry about for sending up two guys who mostly bilked other rich people out of money. Also, there were no “collateral consequences” in the form of major job losses that had to be considered, just a couple of obnoxious families that would lose their jets and their ski vacations.
But most importantly, Madoff and Stanford were simple scam artists who could have come from any generation. There was nothing systemic about their crimes. It was possible to throw them in jail without exposing widespread corruption in our financial system.
That’s what’s so disturbing about this latest Justice Department cave. It underscores the increasingly obvious fact that the federal government is not interested in getting to the bottom of our financial corruption problem. They seem more to be treating bank malfeasance as a PR issue for the American financial markets that has to be managed away, instead of a corruption problem to be thoroughly investigated and fixed.