Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the acquittal of two former Bear Sterns hedge-fund mangers last month would not deter the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute wrongdoing that contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown.
Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin were accused of lying to investors about the health of their funds in the first major criminal trial stemming from the financial crisis. At one time, hopes were high at the Justice Department that the case would become a blueprint for prosecuting Wall Street executives.
The fact that the defendants were acquitted is “not a deterrence at all” to further prosecutions, Breuer told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “We’re marching forward.”
Breuer’s remarks came during a hearing on the federal law enforcement and regulatory response to mortgage and corporate fraud.
Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), who chaired the hearing, has been outspoken about his frustration over the lack of high-profile prosecutions linked to last year’s meltdown. ”I, like many Americans, remain frustrated that the responsible agencies have not been able to bring more high-level crooks to account,” he said.
When asked directly about the department’s work, Breuer said, ”Senator, these are complicated cases. Don’t for a moment think they aren’t being pursued and investigated.”
“They will be brought,” he promised.
For Breuer’s statement, click here.