Individual Liability: What’s Behind The Headlines?

It’s been open season on financial institutions since the 2008-2009 financial crisis (“Financial Crisis”). State and federal prosecutors and regulators are competing with each other for press coverage of their latest consent order trophies, which include assessments of unprecedented civil money penalties and restitution orders. This focus on “accountability” has gone beyond the institutions, to the directors, officers, and employees of targeted institutions. The imperative to pursue individuals even became the subject of extrajudicial comments when Judge Jed Rakoff recently asked, “Why have no high-level executives been prosecuted” in the wake of the Financial Crisis?

Over the past year, the perceived failure to prosecute individuals has been the focus of critics from all quarters, including the press, members of Congress, and federal and state agencies. In the current political climate, even astronomically large settlements with major institutions are not enough.

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