On Friday, March 8, two House Republicans, Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, and Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who chairs a key subcommittee, wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Lew and to Attorney General Holder asking the administration to to turn over all documents tied to officials assessing the potential economic impact of bringing criminal or civil proceedings against a bank no late than March 22. The letter follows testimony by Holder and by the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department, David Cohen, arguing that some banks may be too big to prosecute.
Last week Holder had testified as follows:
"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them. Prosecutors must confront the problem that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."
Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen, appearing before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, came under fire from lawmakers upset about Mr. Holder's remarks.
"What does it take? How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?" Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked.
The letter asked for all records related to the economic impact on the financial system of the United States of any actual or potential criminal prosecution, civil lawsuit, or administrative enforcement action, in which a financial institution has been or may be a party;
All records related to a request by any division, department, agency, instrumentality, or other authority of the federal government or a state government, or by any individual, for the Department of Justice to consider the economic impact on the financial system of the United States, when determining whether to commence a criminal prosecution, civil lawsuit, or administrative enforcement action, in a matter in which a financial institution has been or may be a party; and
All records generated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or in the possession of the Financial Stability Oversight Council related to the question.