Too Big to Fail Now Too Big to Stand Trial

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at a Senate hearing last week ripped into bank and securities regulators for their failure to prosecute Wall Street honchos for their rampant crookedness in the years before the credit crisis.

Her message was simple: when malfeasance surfaces, regulators reflexively rush to settle with banks instead of forcing them to trial. That does not sit well with the newly elected Senator, and readers of this blog well know this does not sit well with us, either.

Warren’s message continues to resonate with the public. Her performance during that Senate banking hearing has been posted on Youtube, where its various versions have been viewed more than a million times. That’s a staggering number of people to watch a new Senator aggressively question bureaucrats including the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Warren understands what the American public also comprehends. The lack of criminal prosecutions against Wall Street fat cats who created toxic, mortgage-backed securities and sold them to investors such as pension funds simply defies common sense.

Main Street mom-and-pop investors recognize that, and so does Senator Warren. If Wall Street banks “can break the law and drag in billions in profits, and then turn around and settle, paying out of those profits, they don’t have much incentive to follow the law,” Warren said. “The question I really want to ask is about how tough you are.”

She asked the regulators to recount the last time any one of them had taken a major bank to trial. Each stuttered in response. They looked as sheepish as the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“I’m really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial,” Warren said. “That just seems wrong to me.”

In a terrific blog post about Warren’s grilling of the regulators, New York Magazine writer Kevin Roose notes: “Even though Wall Street bankers weren’t the target of Warren’s interrogation – the regulators who oversee them were – the financial industry is apparently freaking out about the hearing, on the theory that it augurs a tough road for them ahead in dealing with Warren as a senator.”

The financial industry apparently fears that it might actually be subjected to rigorous oversight and enforcement, if Senator Warren gets her way. They’re probably right. Warren was elected to the Senate because of her hard line approach to Wall Street, Roose writes.

This is why the people of Massachusetts voted for her.

And this is why every American should keep an eye on her future dealings with Wall Street.

Disclosure: Zamansky & Associates (www.zamansky.com) are securities attorneys representing investors in federal and state litigation and arbitration against financial institutions.
About Jacob H. Zamansky 57 Articles

Jacob (”Jake”) H. Zamansky is one of the country’s foremost authorities on securities arbitration law, the legal recourse for investors claiming broker wrongdoing, or for brokers claiming wrongful termination or other misconduct by their employer. Zamansky & Associates, the New York-based law firm he founded, represents both individuals and institutions in complex securities, hedge fund, and employment arbitrations.

Mr. Zamansky was at the forefront of recent efforts to “clean up” Wall Street. In 2001, he successfully sued former Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget on behalf of a New York pediatrician misled by Blodget’s stock research. The case’s successful resolution was the catalyst for New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to investigate the conflicts of interest on Wall Street and resulted in the well-reported $1.4 billion Global Settlement, which included many of the biggest names on Wall Street.

More recently, Mr. Zamansky is one of the leading litigators and opinion leaders of the subprime mortgage crisis and the related hedge fund collapses, representing both investors and mortgage borrowers who were defrauded by Wall Street firms and mortgage lenders. Among Mr. Zamansky’s early actions is filing the first arbitration case on behalf of institutional and high net worth investors against Bear Stearns Asset Management with regard to the two hedge funds which collapsed as a result of exposure to subprime mortgage backed securities. He also has filed claims on behalf of individual investors victimized by brokers that steered their portfolios into unsuitable subprime stocks and mortgage borrowers who were fraudulently coerced into inappropriate mortgage and investment transactions.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Zamansky worked for more than 30 years as a litigator, including positions at Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP. His tenure also included serving as a federal prosecutor with the Federal Trade Commission.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Zamansky has been a frequent expert commentator on CNBC, CNN, and FOX News and has published opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and USA Today. He is regularly quoted and his cases have been chronicled in major financial and news publications including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Fortune and Forbes. He is a frequent lecturer for industry and legal groups around the country. He also writes a blog that can be viewed here.

Visit: Zamansky & Associates

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