Report: Asst. Atty. General Who Shied Away From Wall Street Prosecutions To Step Down

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has been accused by some of being overly fearful of prosecuting big banks.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has been accused by some of being overly fearful of prosecuting big banks.

Less than 24 hours after his appearance on PBS’ Frontline, where he struggled to explain why his office had brought not one single indictment against a high-level Wall Street executive related to the 2008 financial crisis, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has reportedly decided to step down.

The Washington Post reports that no specific time-frame for Breuer’s departure has been given, so it’s possible he’ll continue to not prosecute bank executives for some time.

In spite of the fact, under his direction, the U.S. Attorney General’s Criminal Division has prosecuted a huge number of financial frauds and other crimes, Breuer has been unable to shake the reputation — and did himself no favors on Frontline — that he is either unwilling or unprepared to go after high-ranking executives at large financial institutions.

“[We] don’t let these institutions go,” he tried to explain about the lack of criminal prosecutions. “We’ve brought civil cases. We’ve brought regulatory cases and the entire approach here is to have a multi-pronged, comprehensive approach to what gave to the financial crisis.”

Breuer and his office have been criticized for not having confidence in the mountain of evidence — turned up by regulators, lawmakers, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and dozens of private lawsuits against banks — that shows bank executives were complicit in fraud related to toxic mortgages and the mortgage-backed securities created from them.

The Asst. A.G. has also received scorn — and calls for his resignation — from critics for his office’s part in “Operation Fast and Furious,” and other “gun walking” operations wherein government agents knowingly allowed buyers for Mexican drug cartels to purchase weapons at U.S. dealers. It was intended that these weapons would then be tracked to locate higher-level criminals in the organization. However, a number of the guns ended up on the streets, including one that was believed to be used in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.