Crossposted from Common Dreams
Four people who have been at the center of some of the nation’s biggest Wall Street scandals have come together to send a message to the 2016 presidential candidates: Pledge to stand against Wall Street fraud and corruption – not just with words, but with the kind of actions that Americans have long expected but have yet to see.
The four veterans of battles with banksters – Gary J. Aguirre, William K. Black, Richard M. Bowen III and Michael Winston – on Thursday called on the candidates to not take contributions from financial companies or officers that have been charged with fraud, particularly related to the 2008 financial meltdown. They have also outlined a set of actions that they say will “restore the rule of law” on Wall Street. They have formed a new organization, Bank Whistleblowers United, to move that agenda forward.
“We use the f-word a lot,” said Black, who came into national prominence for his role in exposing the “Keating Five” savings-and-loan senatorial scandal in 1989, “the five-letter word, ‘fraud,’ that you are supposed to be able to say in polite company.”
That word, he said, is central to the issue these whistleblowers are concerned about: the fact that regulators and prosecutors have too often in the wake of the financial crash given a pass to banks and other financial institutions that profited from deception and dissembling.
Black recalled that during the era of the savings-and-loan scandal, when the federal government brought an action involving a financial institution “we actually spelled out in the English language what had happened.” The news media echoed that language, and in the glare of that disclosure “the politicians who took political contributions from those institutions rushed to return the contributions or to donate them to charity.”
In today’s era of no-blame settlements and obfuscatory language, “that never happens now,” Black said.
Nonetheless, people running for office have no excuse. It is clear that the financial meltdown was a consequence of actions that done by individuals rather than Wall Street institutions would likely have landed those persons behind bars. The biographies of the founding members of the Bank Whistleblowers United make that clear.