New Government Task Force Will Combat Financial Fraud
Multiagency effort announced in November
Senior-level officials from more than two dozen government departments, agencies, and offices have joined to form the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in an effort to strengthen the fight against financial crime.
“Mortgage, securities, and corporate fraud schemes have eroded the public’s confidence in the nation’s financial markets and have led to a growing sentiment that Wall Street does not play by the same rules as Main Street,” said Attorney General Eric Holder at a press conference on November 17, 2009. “Unscrupulous executives, Ponzi scheme operators, and common criminals alike have targeted the pocketbooks and retirement accounts of middle-class Americans, and in many cases, devastated entire families’ futures. We will not allow these actions to go unpunished.”
Representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, and inspectors general will work with state and local officials to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, address discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims.
“This task force’s mission is not just to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial meltdown, but to prevent another meltdown from happening,” Holder said. “By punishing criminals for their actions, we will send a strong message to anyone looking to profit from the misfortune of others: We will investigate you, we will prosecute you, and we will incarcerate you. We will be relentless in our investigation of corporate and financial wrongdoing, and will not hesitate to bring charges, where appropriate, for criminal misconduct on the part of businesses and business executives.”
The multiagency task force replaces the Corporate Fraud Task Force established in 2002. It will build on efforts already underway to combat fraud and will take advantage of recent legislation called the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, which provides stronger tools for investigating and prosecuting financial fraud.
“Many financial frauds are complicated puzzles that require painstaking efforts to piece together,” said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro at the press conference. “By formally coordinating our efforts, we will be better able to identify the pieces, assemble the puzzle and put an end to the fraud.”
Published November 19, 2009