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Prosecutors may be more likely to go after small banks

Apr 19, 2013 | White Collar Offenses

In 2007 and 2008, the financial crisis rocked the American economy, setting off a tidal wave with effects that are still being felt today. Despite widespread acknowledgment that the leaders of America’s large banks acted inappropriately – and illegally – before the crisis, none have been prosecuted.

Earlier this year Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying that he feared prosecuting or shutting down large financial institutions could be damaging to the United States economy. However, small bankers continue to face criminal charges for similar behavior.

While the misdoings of small banks may have a narrower reach and do less harm, they are more likely to face punishment for that conduct. One community bank president is currently serving a six-month prison sentence for just the kind of conduct for which larger bankers have faced no punishment.

Another banker, the president of a small bank in a Midwestern community of about 1,000 people, tried to help local businesses by providing loans. However, he did so by falsifying documents and taking other actions that led the bank to fail, and he and one of his clients ended up in prison.

Under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, all Americans are entitled to “equal protection under the law.” This is supposed to mean that laws are applied in the same way to all people. But as evidenced by the disparate treatment of small and large banks, that doesn’t always happen.

For this reason it is particularly important to work with a qualified defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges. He or she can help you fight any charges brought against you while fighting for your rights and helping to ensure that you are treated fairly in the criminal justice system.

Source: Forbes, “‘Just Right To Jail’ – Small Bankers Do Go To Prison,” Walter Pavlo, April 15, 2013

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