The on again, off again tenure of “showman” prosecutor Preet Bharara is over, for now. The man who said he wants to be a prosecutor forever now feels the pain of many U.S. Attorney’s at the changing of the guard of administrations – including Attorney General Jeff Sessions who was fired by Bill Clinton when elected in 1992.
The coastal media elite is throwing fits over Bharara, who prosecuted high profile cases:
His office racked up nearly $500 million in settlements, including against Deutsche Bank and CitiMortgage for faulty lending practices. He targeted cyber hacking groups LulzSec and Anonymous, according to his profile on the Southern District’s website.Bharara’s team of hard-driving prosecutors also went after international narcotics traffickers, corruption in local and state government, including in Albany, and took down gang kingpins and mobsters in the Bronx, Yonkers and other areas. His office extradited and sent to jail arms trafficker Viktor Bout and put Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, behind bars for life.
Since 2009, 49 financial institutions have paid various government entities and private plaintiffs nearly $190 billion in fines and settlements, according to an analysis by the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. That may seem like a big number, but the money has come from shareholders, not individual bankers. (Settlements were levied on corporations, not specific employees, and paid out as corporate expenses—in some cases, tax-deductible ones.) In early 2014, just weeks after Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, settled out of court with the Justice Department, the bank’s board of directors gave him a 74 percent raise, bringing his salary to $20 million.
The more meaningful number is how many Wall Street executives have gone to jail for playing a part in the crisis. That number is one. (Kareem Serageldin, a senior trader at Credit Suisse, is serving a 30-month sentence for inflating the value of mortgage bonds in his trading portfolio, allowing them to appear more valuable than they really were.) By way of contrast, following the savings-and-loan crisis of the 1980s, more than 1,000 bankers of all stripes were jailed for their transgressions.
Maybe Preet Bharara’s sandwich could be named the “Get Out Of Jail Club.” The prosecutor dubbed “The Showman” by The New Yorker had something closer to a sybmiotic relationship, at best, with the bankers we all figured he was supposed to throw the book at. He functioned more to wet the beak of the U.S. Treasury than to lock them up and throw away the key. He was all about red carpets, a Vanity Fair interview, and the inspiration for the Showtime series “Billions.” Charlie Rose compared his prosecutorial streak to Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak. Wall Street Bankers are too politically connected to Democrats to fail, or to go to jail.
Give it a rest. Bharara is now just a statistic. Bill Clinton fired U.S. Attorneys. Obama fired them. Now Trump is firing them.