Leahy Authored Anti-Fraud Amendment Included In Wall Street Reform Conference

WASHINGTON – A conference committee of the Senate and House of Representatives has included an amendment authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to increase the tools available to law enforcement to root out and prosecute financial and securities fraud in the final legislative package that will bring the first major reforms to Wall Street in years.  The amendment will also strengthen protections for whistleblowers who help expose financial fraud.  Leahy was a member of the Conference Committee.

“In recent years, a massive wave of fraud on Wall Street and beyond has contributed greatly to the current economic crisis, which has eviscerated the life savings of hardworking Americans,” said Leahy.  “We must act to protect taxpayers from ongoing fraud that could slow our economic recovery.  Criminals who jeopardize our financial institutions and break the law must be investigated, prosecuted, and held accountable for their actions.  I am glad there is support in both the Senate and House for these bipartisan provisions.”

Leahy first introduced the amendment with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) during the Senate’s consideration of the Wall Street reform legislation in May.  The amendment will increase sentences for securities fraud and bank fraud, and promote criminal prosecutions by ensuring that regulators, investigators, and prosecutors coordinate to root out and investigate financial fraud.  The amendment also extends the statute of limitations for securities fraud, which is often difficult to identify and complicated to prosecute.  Finally, the amendment strengthens whistleblower protections by ensuring that the proper incentives are in place to reward whistleblowers who step forward to report fraud and abuse, often at great risk to their careers.

“Often the best way to deter the kind of reckless and outrageous conduct that can bring down financial institutions and harm so many Americans is to ensure that those who commit these crimes actually go to jail,” said Leahy.  “The provisions included in the Wall Street reform legislation will lead to increased sentences for those who commit securities fraud and bank fraud, and strengthen protections for whistleblowers, who often serve as an early warning system to stop fraud before it damages financial institutions and the economy.”

The amendment will: 

  • Close the sentencing gap between securities fraud offenders and other white collar offenders
  • Direct the Sentencing Commission to review and amend the sentencing guidelines for securities and bank fraud
  • Protect criminal investigations by ensuring that regulators, investigators and prosecutors work together to stop financial fraud
  • Require regulators to consult with prosecutors to ensure that important regulatory steps do not inadvertently undermine criminal investigations and prosecutions
  • Ensure that proper incentives are in place to reward whistleblowers who step forward to report fraud and abuse
  • Extend the current statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of federal securities fraud offenses from five to six years, the current statute of limitations for tax evasion

Congressman  Howard Berman (D-Calif.) was a lead supporter of the amendment during the Senate-House conference proceedings.

Leahy was the lead author of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, the most significant anti-fraud legislation in more than a decade.  It was signed into law in May 2009.  Leahy also worked to include anti-fraud measures in the health reform legislation passed earlier this year. 

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