Wall Street bankers have long been blamed for reckless behavior and excesses that led to the financial crisis of 2008. In the run-up to the financial meltdown, big bank executives packaged risky mortgage loans into securities and sold them off to investors, eventually costing those investors and homeowners, hundreds of billions of dollars in loses.
As President Obama begins his second term in office, no senior Wall Street executives have been held criminally liable for alleged fraud that led to the mortgage crisis.
Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, says in a new documentary from Frontline called "The Untouchables": "I am personally offended by much of what I have seen. I think there was a level of greed, a level of excessive risk taking in this situation that I find abominable and I find very upsetting. But that is not what makes a criminal case. What makes a criminal case is that I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element of a crime."
Government critics, including former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, disagree. In the documentary, Spitzer says: "The Justice Department failed." "They have not done what needed to be done. They did not ever try to bring together one coherent narrative, laying out the entirety of the story against one of the major players and demand sanctions that are meaningful."
Martin Smith is the producer and correspondent for Frontline's "The Untouchables," which investigates the Justice Department's reluctance to indict Wall Street bankers. "The Untouchables" was produced by our partner, WGBH, and will be broadcast on PBS tonight.