WASHINGTON Jan 29 Two U.S. senators on Tuesday
questioned whether the Justice Department has been aggressive
enough in prosecuting misconduct at the largest banks and asked
the department to turn over information on how it determines
Sherrod Brown, a Democrat who chairs a Senate Banking
subcommittee, and Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the
Senate Judiciary Committee, said they were worried certain Wall
Street banks enjoyed "too big to fail" status in enforcement
policy, resulting in penalties that were disproportionately low.
The requests come amid renewed interest in whether U.S.
authorities have held accountable the institutions and
individuals who contributed to the financial crisis.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the senators
asked whether the Justice Department ever failed to prosecute
any institutions due to concern about the stability of the
financial markets or imposed a penalty that reflected such
They also asked Holder to name outside experts that
prosecutors consulted in making decisions about charging
financial institutions with more than $1 billion in assets.
Brown and Grassley also asked for copies of any contracts with
"Our markets will only function efficiently if participants
believe that all laws will be enforced consistently, and that
violators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,"
the pair wrote. "There should not be one set of rules that apply
to Wall Street and another set for the rest of us."
The DOJ has entered into several major settlements related
to financial misconduct in recent months. HSBC agreed
in December to pay $1.9 billion to resolve charges that it
failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.
In exchange for improving its compliance program, DOJ agreed to
defer and eventually drop criminal charges.
Last month UBS agreed to pay some $1.5 billion and
its Japan unit pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in connection
with its role in manipulating benchmark interest rates.
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond
to a request for comment.