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Federal financial fraud prosecutions tumble to lowest level in 20 years

November 16, 2011 |  9:26 am

Financial criminals are facing the lowest number of federal prosecutions in at least 20 years, according to a new report.

The government has filed 1,251 new prosecutions against financial institution fraud so far this fiscal year, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. If the same pace holds, federal attorneys will file 1,365 such cases by the end of the year –- the lowest number since at least 1991.

The report, compiled from Justice Department data gleaned through the Freedom of Information Act, considers crimes involving crooked mortgage brokers, bank executives with something to hide and accounts hiding illegal activity.

The expected volume of prosecutions by the end of 2011 would be 2.4% smaller than that of last year, 28.6% thinner than that of five years ago and less than half the amount from a decade ago. The number of federal bank fraud cases has slipped every year since 1999.

While U.S. Attorneys kept busy in districts such as Miami, Manhattan and Seattle, six of the country’s 90 districts, including Indianapolis and Baton Rouge, filed no financial fraud cases at all.

But that doesn’t mean the government isn’t keeping busy with other types of criminal prosecutions, which have nearly doubled in two decades.


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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: Jorge Silva / Reuters