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In the past three months, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sought permission to seize more than $1 billion as part of a criminal mortgage fraud investigation. This week, DOJ filed papers in Federal Court to begin their investigation into the same bank (Lloyd Blankfein & Co.) that allegedly facilitated criminal mortgage fraud for years during the late 1980s and 90s. What is perhaps more interesting about the DOJ request for this additional federal investigation is that a “non-jury trial” is planned for May 15 – just 10 days before the federal grand jury convened to investigate potential charges in connection with the foreclosure fraud case against Goldman Sachs.
The news reports, cited by The Wall Street Journal, imply that the prosecution of the Goldman Sachs executives for racketeering, conspiracy, and fraud will likely be tied to a broader probe launched by the Attorney General, Eric Holder, into a wide range of “white collar” crimes. The WSJ quotes a “senior law enforcement official” saying: “This is going to be the first case that can be tied through a racketeering statute to a criminal mortgage fraud case,” and that “this is a very substantial and significant step.”
Yet this new DOJ investigation also involves a major financial institution whose chief executive was at the heart of the mortgage fraud scheme that led to the Great Recession. The Wall Street Journal reports that federal authorities have been closely monitoring the foreclosure fraud scheme for years, since at least 2005. The Wall Street Journal even points out that the government has been investigating the “titling scheme that involved Bank of America and foreclosure loans” — but the latest DOJ request is unprecedented. “It is a huge development,” Greg Miller — former lawyer for the DOJ under Holder — told the Journal. “There just doesn’t seem to be any other reason to go after this institution.”
The WSJ article continues:
Officials said the Justice officials are expected to make formal requests for more interviews and documents, and the Justice Department is expected to begin a full investigation.
The reason the DOJ is now investigating Goldman Sachs is two-fold, the article notes.
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