News & Politics

Eric Holder's Failure to Prosecute Wall Street in One Graph

Is there any reason to think his successor do any better?

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would be stepping down, which set off speculation about who President Obama would appoint to replace him.

Holder's legacy is being appraised in many areas, from drug policy reform to civil rights to accountability for war crimes by the previous administration.

But one of the Holder's most glaring failures was little-discussed: his Department of Justice's  failure to prosecute financial fraud by Wall Street. From the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, here's a graph showing prosecutions for financial fraud from October 2003 to April 2014 – notice the downward trend that continued under Holder despite the financial crisis and the fraud that accompanied it:

Under Holder, a long line of Justice Department officials (and those at the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission) have left their jobs in the government to join the finance industry or law firms that specialize in defending it. This poses a pair of questions for the Obama administration: Who will replace Eric Holder, and will Holder soon leverage his weak oversight of Wall Street for a much more lucrative job?

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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