Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the Residential Mortgage-backed Securities Working Group Press Conference
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 2, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for being here. My name is Tony West, and I’m the Acting Associate Attorney General of the United States, the third-ranking official here at the Department of Justice. I am proud to be here this morning with my colleagues and partners in the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, or RMBS, Working Group, one of eight working groups within the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force chaired by United States Attorney General Eric Holder. With me today is the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan; the five Co-Chairs of the RMBS Working Group: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Director of Enforcement, Robert Khuzami; the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer; the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Stuart Delery; and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, John Walsh. Also joining us on stage is the Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Steve Linick. And I want to acknowledge the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force’s Executive Director, Michael Bresnick, and the RMBS Working Group’s Coordinator, Matt Stegman. Thank you all for your leadership and dedication to the Working Group’s important work.
When President Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in November 2009, he formed the largest coalition ever assembled to investigate and prosecute financial fraud. While the Task Force’s goals are ambitious, its foundation is simple: Those in all levels of the government charged with protecting the public from fraud and abuse cannot work in compartmentalized silos. Instead, we must be cohesive, coordinated, and committed to a common purpose, because working together, we can achieve more than we can separately.
In his State of the Union address earlier this year, the President called specifically for the formation of the RMBS Working Group – a group he charged with “hold[ing] accountable those who broke the law, speed[ing] assistance to homeowners, and help[ing] turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”
Yesterday’s lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase represents an important step toward fulfilling that mandate. It also demonstrates that the foundational idea underlying the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force works. As the New York Attorney General can attest, the Department of Justice and the FHFA Inspector General committed substantial resources to help make this action possible. In addition, the SEC’s assistance has been particularly critical in assuring the success of the RMBS Working Group. The SEC gave all Working Group members access to the substantial evidence gathered in their investigations and held important early training sessions where they shared their expertise and learning. This permitted each Working Group member to prioritize and focus its investigations and avoid waste and duplication. Yesterday’s filing is, quite simply, a testament to the unity of purpose brought by the Task Force and a powerful example of what is possible when we work together to achieve justice for all Americans.
Let there be no doubt – preventing and prosecuting financial fraud in all its forms is a top priority of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, its RMBS Working Group, and the Department of Justice. We follow the facts and the law wherever they lead, and if we uncover evidence of fraud or other illegal conduct, we pursue that conduct aggressively. Through the collective and coordinated efforts of the President’s Task Force, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the people of our nation are not victimized by fraud and, if they are, that we bring the perpetrators to justice.
And now, I am honored now to introduce to you a valuable partner in these efforts, the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.