As U.S. Justice Department prosecutors angle to bring the first criminal charges against global banks since the financial crisis, they’ll have to stare down warnings of uncontainable collateral damage.
The Justice Department appears to have learned a lesson in the 10 years since it indicted Arthur Andersen LLP for alleged improprieties in the firm’s Enron bookkeeping. By 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously vacated a conviction in the case, the accounting firm had collapsed, and all but a handful of the 85,000 employees worldwide lost their jobs.
The Justice Department didn’t blink in its pursuit of a guilty plea from Credit Suisse AG for helping thousands of Americans evade taxes. What prosecutors accomplished with the criminal conviction -- the first of a major bank in a decade -- isn’t as clear.