Senator Warren Gets Tough With Regulators, Says Banks Should Not Be Seen as "Too Big for Trial"

by Brian Wolfman

This article by the Consumerist's Chris Morran explains that, in her first Senate Banking Committee hearing, senior Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren "grilled a panel of regulators on their tendency to settle with law-breaking banks rather than go to trial. ... Sen. Warren explained her stance that if banks reap billions of profits while breaking the law, then later settle and pay that settlement money out of those same profits, 'they don’t have much incentive to follow the law.' She also pointed out that when a trial is avoided, so is all the important, possibly revealing testimony that would have come out of that trial." The hearing witnesses included the FDIC chair, the SEC chair, the Comptroller of the Currency, and Richard Cordray, the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Senator Warren's brain child.

To view the entire hearing go here, and then click on the small link about a third of the way down on the left that says "view archive webcast." Senator Warren's questioning begins at about 1 hour and 52 minutes. The senator presiding over the hearing introduced her as "Senator Warden." It's definitely worth watching. She can't get any regulator to say when his or her agency had last taken a Wall Street firm to trial, and she notes that assistant U.S. attorneys around the country are "squeezing" ordinary citizens in court every day.