The new Trump administration is not expected to take it easy on banks and other financial institutions that commit financial crime.
Senator Jeff Sessions who has been nominated to be the next attorney-general and is expected to be approved by the Senate, has taken a tough line on white-collar crime. While serving on the Senate judiciary committee, he supported stiff sentences for offences such as fraud and embezzlement. He spent 20 years as a federal prosecutor in Alabama, where he tried cases involving federal land banks caught up in the 1980s savings and loan crisis. He is considered a tough and fearless law and order prosecutor. Mr Sessions, who was one of just 25 senators to vote against the 2008 US bank bailout, may bring a populist sensibility to the DoJ. In a 2007 hearing, he said “that the crooks in the corporation [should] be sent to jail”. At another hearing in 2002, he said sentences for white-collar crooks “should not be a lot different than somebody who robs a bank”.
In 2010, Mr Sessions objected when a DoJ nominee said prosecutors should be cautious about indicting corporations for fear of hurting innocent employees and shareholders. The comments followed the 2002 collapse of Arthur Andersen, the auditor that had been charged with obstruction of justice for its role in the Enron scandal.
“This is a dangerous philosophy,” Mr Sessions said. “Normally, I was taught if they violated the law you charge them. If they didn’t violate the law, you don’t charge them.”
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers