The Justice Department’s memo to its prosecutors suggests they make more effort to hold individuals at corporations accountable. That move may be a response to, as reported on Monday in The Wall Street Journal, a federal appeals court’s consideration whether judges can quash the agency’s corporate prosecution agreements if the judges think the deals are too lenient. David Dayen, in an OpEd in the Guardian last November, said the Justice Department has been using non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements more than ever to extract big fines and the promise of change without having to single out any particular executive for the wrongdoing. Of the DoJ’s 283 deferred prosecution agreements since 2000, half have come since 2010, according to a working paper quoted. Dayen quotes Lanny Breuer, former head of the DoJ’s criminal division under former Attorney General Eric Holder, admitting that deferred prosecution agreements have become a “mainstay of white-collar criminal law enforcement.” The agreements put the company on probation, with the promise of never committing a crime again, under threat of renewed prosecutions. That rarely happens even for the most chronic repeat offenders.
An added footnote: Remember, during Eric Holder’s 2013 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee when he said:
“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
Which is why there were so many deferred prosecution agreements and record fines (which is tax writeoffs for the banks) with the banksters and DOJ and not criminal charges against the bank execs.