Eric Holder’s statements about the mortgage crisis
Near the end of the day last Friday, the Justice Department acknowledged that statements made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the Mortgage Fraud Working Group were wildly overstated. This task force was elite and designed to finally punish the perpetrators of the widespread fraud, be they entry level clerks or big bank CEOs, threatening financial penalties and even jail time.
- Last year, Holder stated that 530 people were criminally charged as a result of the year-long investigation, but the Justice Department clarified that only 107 people were charged.
- Holder had also stated that over 73,000 homeowners had been found victimized by mortgage fraud but the Justice Department states the number from the investigation never exceeded 17,185.
- Holder stated that losses resulting from the fraud cost American homeowners $1 billion, which has now been revised to only $95 million.
So why are these revised numbers now public? Bloomberg investigated Holder’s claims and noticed the numbers were off, even discovering that they were counting cases in their tally that took place before Obama was even in office. Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil requested a list of all 530 people allegedly charged and was told it was forthcoming but the list never materialized. Weil is now calling for Holder to apologize publicly.
Weil wrote, “What a charade. No wonder the government found it so difficult to bring a meaningful number of accounting-fraud cases against bank executives after the financial crisis. Its own books were cooked.”
A broken record
Does this all sound familiar to you? It should. Weil reports that Holder’s Justice Department did this dance in 2010 when results of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (“Operation Broken Trust” which included mortgage-fraud investigations), offering up impressive numbers of how many people would be punished, but when Weil investigated the names of those charged, they were, as Weil calls them, “small-fry, penny-ante fraud cases that had nothing to do with one another.”
Again, Weil found proof that the Department was using cases that pre-dated the task force, some cases that had nothing to do with the task force, and even one person who had no record of any charges filed. Weil notes these numbers have yet to be restated or revised.
So why the song and dance? This administration has been under fire for not going after the big wigs in charge of the financial crisis, so trumping up task force results make it appear that there is a tough attitude, a zero-tolerance policy in the White House toward financial crimes.
Weil stated, “Holder needs to come forward and explain exactly how this happened and why. He used a press conference with the cameras rolling to give out numbers that proved to be false — and they appear to have been willfully false. He should be just as eager to hold another press conference to set the record straight, answer any questions about his apparent sleight of hand when it comes to financial-fraud metrics and apologize to the American people.”