Holding Bankers Who Behave Badly Personally Accountable

Five years after the world’s financial system began melting down, consumers, homeowners and taxpayers — that is, pretty much anyone who isn’t a bank executive — remain frustrated that no banking bigwigs went to jail. The reasons are many: Specific misdeeds couldn’t be pinned on higher-ups; prosecutors got cold feet after early fraud cases resulted in acquittals; what the person on the street considered “fraud,” such as giving triple-A ratings to bonds full of shoddy mortgages, was often legal. The popular desire to put those in charge behind bars is understandable and unlikely to abate, given last week’s arrest of a former Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG trader accused of manipulating interest-rate benchmarks. At the same time, prosecutors are required to prove willful intent, beyond a reasonable doubt, to violate specific laws. Almost wrecking the world economy is a very bad thing. But it is not in and of itself illegal. More on Bloomberg here.

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