Does Wall Street Call the Shots at the FBI?

It is clear to most Americans that Wall Street’s financing of presidential and congressional campaigns is creating too many pals wearing blindfolds about epic corruption on Wall Street. The President, subject to Senate confirmation, selects the U.S. Treasury Secretary, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, the Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission — all of whom regulate Wall Street, for better or worse. Given that Wall Street collapsed the U.S. financial system in 2008 and has been perpetually charged with new crimes ever since, there is the strong suggestion that regulation isn’t strong enough.

The President also selects the U.S. Attorney General at the Justice Department, the office that can bring criminal charges against Wall Street. But according to a January 2013 report by the PBS program, Frontline, in the years following the 2008 collapse there was no serious effort at the Justice Department to indict the miscreants. The exchange went as follows between Frontline producer and investigator, Martin Smith, and Lanny Breuer, then head of the Criminal Division at the Justice Department:

MARTIN SMITH: “We spoke to a couple of sources from within the Criminal Division, and they reported that when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.”

LANNY BREUER: “Well, I don’t know who you spoke with because we have looked hard at the very types of matters that you’re talking about.”

MARTIN SMITH: “These sources said that at the weekly indictment approval meetings that there was no case ever mentioned that was even close to indicting Wall Street for financial crimes.”

Now, concerns are growing that the corrupting tentacles of Wall Street may reach into the FBI. The two cases raising alarms are the recent arrest of Navinder Singh Sarao in the U.K. on charges that he was a key contributor to the Flash Crash in the U.S. stock market on May 6, 2010 — a case brought five years after the fact and an earlier government report that placed the blame on a mutual fund company; and the manner in which the FBI appears to have done the bidding of Goldman Sachs in the relentless prosecution of Sergey Aleynikov, a former computer programmer at Goldman, who was alleged to have violated Federal law by downloading a small amount of computer code before he left for another job.

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