Days before the Iowa caucuses, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tossed another grenade into the debate over whether Wall Street and U.S. corporations have too much influence in Washington.
In a report released Friday and an op-ed in the New York Times NYT +3.04%, the Massachusetts Democrat bluntly argues that U.S. corporations get away with crimes that regular people don’t because of weak enforcement.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, she says, is “particularly feeble.” Accountability for corporate crimes is “shockingly weak.” Twenty recent examples, she says, show “prosecutorial timidity” in dealing with “well-financed corporate defendants.”
She points to recent cases in which no individuals were prosecuted. Among them:
- Standard & Poor’s agreement last year to pay $1.4 billion to the Justice Department and several states to resolve claims that it issued inflated ratings on mortgage bonds that contributed to the financial crisis
- Billion-dollar criminal settlements that five top banks entered into last year to resolve charges that their traders worked to manipulate foreign exchange or other benchmark rates
- General Motors’ $900 million agreement in September to resolve criminal charges in connection with faulty ignition switches linked to 124 deaths.