In a piece earlier this year titled, "Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?," Rolling Stone fire-breather Matt Taibbi began with a quote from a former Senate investigator:
"Everything's [bleeped] up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that." [Censoring via The Motley Fool.]
The teddy-bear regulators
Many Americans resent the profound dearth of Wall Streeters sent to jail after the horrific financial crisis. It seems to be a particularly sore spot for Taibbi, particularly when it comes to Goldman Sachs
Last month, my fellow Fool Morgan Housel reviewed a few of the reasons that he believes we haven't seen more high-profile executives end up in jail. In his second point, Morgan noted that banking regulators have referred very few fraud cases to the Justice Department since 2000:
There could be many reasons for this. The two regulators, though, have a long history of coddling the banks they oversee. They have every incentive to do so: Regulators' existence depend on banks -- or "clients," as the OCC refers to them as -- since fees paid by banks fund their operations. In some cases, banks can shop around for the regulator with the lightest touch.
There's a new sheriff in town
Perhaps Sen. Carl Levin and Congress now have the opportunity to flip banking regulators the bird and get done what needs to get done -- at least as it pertains to Goldman. In his typical no-holds-barred style, Taibbi's latest missive reviews some of the damning evidence against Goldman found in the 650-page tome from the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse.
In short (no pun intended), the report suggests that not only was Goldman shamelessly dumping what it had realized were toxic products on clients -- including other Wall Street firms like Morgan Stanley
Not surprisingly, Taibbi thinks it's high time for Zeus from on high (or at least as high as Capitol Hill) to zap Goldman with a thunderbolt of justice. Of course, it falls to the Justice Department to pick up what Sen. Levin and his crew have put down. And if they don't? At least according to Taibbi:
If the Justice Department fails to give the American people a chance to judge this case — if Goldman skates without so much as a trial — it will confirm once and for all the embarrassing truth: that the law in America is subjective, and crime is defined not by what you did, but by who you are.
It sure sounds to me like there's a case here, but what do you think? Should Goldman executives be brought to trial? Head down to the comments section and weigh in.
Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not have a financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.