Warren: Obama administration 'shockingly weak' on corporate crime

Warren: Obama administration 'shockingly weak' on corporate crime

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (D-Mass.) opened up a new broadside against the Obama administration Friday, accusing his Justice Department of going easy on corporate America.

In a new report from her office, Warren argues that powerful corporate executives have effectively received a free pass from the federal government, despite massive settlements where their companies often admit to criminal wrongdoing.


The Obama Administration has made repeated promises to strengthen enforcement and hold corporate criminals accountable,” Warren’s report stated. “Nonetheless, …accountability for corporate crimes is shockingly weak.”

Warren breaks down 20 major corporate settlements from 2015, saying they present clear examples of “prosecutorial timidity” when it comes to bringing the hammer down on corporations.

The cases include settlements struck with big banks, for-profit education companies, General Motors, and mining companies. While they span a range of industries, Warren argues that the common theme is that the government is far too quick to accept a company settlement — sometimes without even requiring an admittance of guilt — instead of taking those companies, and their executives, to court.

“The examples raise the disturbing possibility that some giant corporations — and their executives — have decided that following the law is merely optional,” the report states.

Warren’s latest missive is far from her first on the matter of taking corporate executives to trial. Ever since joining the Senate, Warren has been a harsh critic of the government’s stance towards prosecuting corporate wrongdoers.

Typically, Warren’s complaints focus on the nonexistent prosecution of bank executives in the wake of the financial crisis, and amid a slew of high-profile bank settlements for a host of wrongdoing.

In June, Warren sent a letter singling out the Securities and Exchange Commission for particular scorn, calling the agency’s work under Chair Mary Jo White “extremely disappointing.”

Warren singled out the Wall Street regulator again in Friday’s report. While she said some agencies struggle to enforce laws due to lax funding or missing legal tools, the SEC is “particularly feeble” and doesn’t use all the tools available to it.

The Obama administration has long maintained that it eagerly uses all its legal power to pursue wrongdoing. At the same time, the Justice Department announced a new policy in September, instructing investigators to focus on individual wrongdoing when starting corporate probes.

In her report, Warren argued that new policy didn’t change anything.

“Both before and after this DOJ announcement, accountability for corporate crimes is shockingly weak,” her report stated.