Accountability on Wall Street

Download Audio
American International Group office building is shown in New York.(AP)
American International Group office building in New York, Sept. 2008. (AP)

There's full-on rage in Washington now over the AIG bonuses. In the press, screams of “bloodsucking monsters.”

But behind the cries of outrage and calls for clawback, there’s another tune, too. Calls for criminal prosecution — not just in the AIG case, but across the waterfront of Wall Street destruction.

Investigators are in gear. Subpeonas are out. Are there grounds here for handcuffs and jail cells? Is that too much? Or just right?

This hour, On Point: In the ruins of the money years, we’ll hear the case for and against criminal prosecution.

You can join the conversation. Do you see grounds for criminal prosecution in our great financial meltdown? Where? For what? Do handcuffs have a place here? Or not?Guests:

Joining us from New York is Roger Parloff, senior editor at Fortune magazine. He wrote the cover story "Wall Street: It's Payback Time" and has been covering the AIG bonuses story.

From Columbia, Missouri, we're joined by Frank Bowman, professor of law at the University of Missouri. He's a former prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for southern Florida specializing in complex white-collar crimes, and former deputy district attorney of Denver, Colorado.

And from Washington, we're joined by Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican from Iowa. He and Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana have introduced a bill that would impose a 70 percent tax hike on what they call “excessive executive compensation.” As reported by Politico yesterday, the bill would apply to bonuses given out by any company that has accepted government funds.

More links:

Edward Liddy, the chairman and CEO of AIG, is testifying on Capitol Hill this morning. Time's Mark Halperin posts Liddy's prepared remarks here (pdf). Liddy calls some of the bonuses "distasteful" but necessary, given the "cold realities of competition."

Liddy also has an op-ed piece in today's Washington Post, in which he writes that "Mistakes were made at AIG, and on a scale that few could have imagined possible."

This program aired on March 18, 2009.


More from On Point

Listen Live