The sweetheart deals just keep coming. Lawbreakers at one bank after another are let off the hook as their shareholders write a check. And then they go out and repeat the illegal behavior they promised not to do in the last settlement.
It shouldn't be surprising that this keeps happening over at the SEC - especially as long as Robert Khuzami continues to serve as Director of the Commission's Division of Enforcement.
But while each of these deals has been shameful, destructive, and outrageous, the $22 million agreement with Goldman Sachs which the SEC announced today - another one in which the guilty party "neither confirms nor denies wrongdoing" - looks like the worst one yet.
The SEC has the power to shut Goldman Sachs down for what it did, and the offenses it describes are felonies. But they just gave out another slap on the wrist - no, make that a pat on the wrist - with today's announcement.
The Worst Thing
It's not just the fact that the SEC continues to ignore the public's outrage by letting bankers off scott-free. And it's not just that this kind of irresponsible behavior ensures that the law breaking will continue. Its not just that crooked bank executives are allowed to "neither admit nor deny wrongdoing."
It's not even the fact that this time around the SEC has worded its announcement in a clumsy attempt to obscure the criminal behavior of Goldman's employees - although that's one of this agreement's worst features.
No, what makes this deal the worst we've seen in a long while is the timing. Most of the other recent sweetheart deals dealt with crimes that led up to - and created - the 2008 financial crisis. But this time Goldman Sachs is walking away from crimes its bankers committed as recently as last year.
That's been the SEC's pattern under both the last ...