The lead stories in the two newspapers that Washingtonians find pair nicely with Sunday-morning latte and brioche feature tales of the likely criminal actions of corporate big-wigs. One is a story that suggests justice may be on its way; the other is a tale of criminal negligence without prosecution.
The New York Times leads with news that the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal case against banking executives involved in the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal. The investigation, the Times reports, has been going on for years. From the article by Ben Protess and Mark Scott:
The department’s criminal division is building cases against several financial institutions and their employees, including traders at Barclays, the British bank, according to government officials close to the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. The authorities expect to file charges against at least one bank later this year, one of the officials said.
The multiyear investigation has ensnared more than 10 big banks in the United States and abroad. With the prospects of criminal action, several firms, including at least two European institutions, are scrambling to arrange deals, according to lawyers close to the case. In part, they are trying to avoid the public outcry that stemmed from the Barclays case, which prompted the resignation of top executives.
The criminal investigations come at a time when the public is still simmering over the dearth of prosecutions of prominent executives involved in the mortgage crisis. The continued trouble in the financial sector, including the multibillion-dollar trading losses at JPMorgan Chase, have only further fueled the anger of consumers and investors.
At the Washington Post, Stephanie McCrummin looks at the fallout from the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 miners on April 5, 2010, in the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years, and one that could have been avoided had owner Massey Energy obeyed safety regulations.
From the Post‘s long-form report:
More than two years after an explosion that an independent panel appointed by former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin blamed on a corporate culture that put “the drive to produce coal above worker safety,” no former high-ranking Massey executives have been criminally charged. No new federal mine safety legislation has passed, a matter Gary Quarles and other families pressed in Washington recently, carrying posters of their lost sons, brothers and husbands into the red-carpeted offices of senators and representatives.
McCrummin’s report leaves one with the impression that Massey executives were able to simply buy their way out of any real repercussions.