But there is reason to hope today that the pending sweetheart deal between the banks and the Obama administration may not be as sweet as the Big Five Banks had been hoping for. Schneiderman last night announced a relatively limited proposal: in exchange for a $25bn payout to victims of the robo-signing foreclosure fraud, there will be no criminal prosecution from the states which agree to the deal. But the blanket perpetual immunity from punishment for the entire panorama of financial felonies apparently is not to be. The state agreement would not preclude the feds (read: Schneiderman and his posse of IRS and FBI agents) going after mortgage fraudsters.
Some of those skeptical that Barack Obama would ever go after the banking hand that feeds him were expressing mild shock today that there might be a Grand Perp Walk of Bank CEOs after all. Remember, the president has stated time and again that he had no interest in punishing the banks. But then something called Occupy Wall Street came along, and made him an offer he couldn't refuse: investigate and prosecute, or we will hound you wherever you go. Plutocracy or not, the United States still requires that presidents be voted into office. And savvy politician that he is, Obama knows which way the wind is blowing.
Sam Stein of The Huffington Post reports that banks will still be vulnerable in the following categories:
- Criminal liability.
- Tax liability
- Fair lending, fair housing, or any other civil rights claim.
- Federal Housing Finance Agency or the GSEs [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac]
- CFPB claims for the period after they came into existence in July 2011
- SEC claims
- National Credit Union Association Claims
- FDIC claims
- Federal Reserve Board claims
- MERS claims