Washington, DC — In remarks yesterday to the Portland City Club, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was asked why there aren’t more criminal prosecutions moving to hold executives accountable for the financial and mortgage crisis. Geithner, in revealing comments, said that “You cannot legislate away stupidity and recklessness and greed,” adding, according to Reuters and The Oregonian, that holding people accountable for the wreckage caused by the recent housing collapse and the ensuing financial meltdown was not that simple since most crises were not caused by criminal activity.
This goes against extensive and growing public evidence of criminal wrongdoing, from the Countrywide scandal to the Missouri AG case – and contradicts the President’s own insistence on criminal accountability for the foreclosure crisis.
“At a moment where not one single executive has been held accountable for the foreclosure crisis, with legal investigations moving forward and compelling public evidence of what the FBI called `an epidemic of fraud’ it is stunning for the President’s top-ranking economic official to dismiss the idea of criminal wrongdoing” said Robert L. Borosage, of Campaign for America’s Future. “America’s 11 million underwater homeowners, as well as the small business owners struggling on Main Street are waiting to see who will be held accountable and when.”
“The President promised that his administration would aggressively prosecute financial crimes related to the housing crisis,” said Brian Kettenring, of the Campaign for a Fair Settlement. “Geither needs to explain, on the record, the Obama administration’s commitment to prosecutions given these comments. If the Secretary of the Treasury is willing to ignore and excuse illegal behavior, how committed is this administration to accountability for the foreclosure crisis?”
Audio from Geithner’s talk should be posted here shortly: