WASHINGTON -- Bank regulators got a sense Thursday of how their lives
will be slightly different now that Elizabeth Warren sits on a Senate
committee overseeing their agencies.
At her first Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, Warren questioned top regulators from the alphabet soup that is the nation's financial regulatory structure: the FDIC, SEC, OCC, CFPB, CFTC, Fed and Treasury.
The Democratic senator from Massachusetts had a straightforward
question for them: When was the last time you took a Wall Street bank to
trial? It was a harder question than it seemed.
"We do not have to bring people to trial," Thomas Curry, head of the
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, assured Warren, declaring
that his agency had secured a large number of "consent orders," or
"I appreciate that you say you don't have to bring them to trial. My
question is, when did you bring them to trial?" she responded.
"We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals," Curry offered.
Warner turned to Elisse Walter, chair of the Securities and Exchange
Commission, who said that the agency weighs how much it can extract from
a bank without taking it to court against the cost of going to trial.
appreciate that. That's what everybody does," said Warren, a former
Harvard law professor. "Can you identify the last time when you took the
Wall Street banks to trial?"
"I will have to get back to you with specific information," Walter said as the audience tittered.
"There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there
every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and
taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I'm
really concerned that 'too big to fail' has become 'too big for trial,'"
A Warren constituent, open-Internet activist Aaron Swartz, recently
committed suicide after being hounded by federal prosecutors who
reportedly said they wanted to "make an example" of him. Warren had met
and said she admired Swartz and, after he died, expressed her concern by
attending his memorial in Washington.
The financial regulators can blame, at least in part, Wall Street
lobbyists (along with outgoing Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and
Senate Republicans) for their embarrassing turn at the hearing. Warren
would have been on the panel herself representing the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, instead of a sitting senator, if her nomination to
head the agency hadn't been thwarted in 2011.
Tags: Elizabeth Warren, Video, Financial Regulation, Senate Banking Committee, Elizabeth Warren Bank Regulators, Elizabeth Warren Banking Committee, Elizabeth Warren Occ, Elizabeth Warren Sec, Elizabeth Warren Wall Street, Politics News
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