PATERSON, N.J. -- U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of Paterson called on the FBI to release unclassified case files from the agency's investigation into the banking institutions at the center of the 2008 financial crisis.
In a letter to FBI Director James Comey, Pascrell (D-NJ) asked: "Why weren't there any executives prosecuted following the massive fraud foisted upon the American people in the run-up to 2008?"
The bureau's response to what happened in the country's worst economic disaster since the Great Depression "can teach us how to approach such disasters as lawmakers," Pascrell said Tuesday, "but it can also shine light on a situation that citizens are still feeling the negative effects of.
"If we're reviewing FBI files, let's review something that could be useful in avoiding another Wall Street meltdown."
In his Monday letter to Comey, the veteran lawmaker wrote: "The FBI, as early as 2004, expressed concerns about mortgage industry practices.
"It has been reported that the agency identified suspected mortgage fraud more widely by 2008," wrote Pascrell a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. "It was at this point that the agency opened criminal inquiries into at least 14 companies as part of its investigation into the subprime-mortgage crisis.
"Reports indicate that the agency focused on accounting fraud, securitization of loans, and insider trading," the letter says. "However, several years later, no senior executives have been charged.
"Due to the public interest in this issue and the role of Congress to provide oversight, I write to request the FBI’s investigative files for these cases. This should include witness interview transcripts, notes, reports, and memoranda produced throughout the investigations.
"The FBI has responded to the Republican leadership's fishing expedition, so let's start asking the questions that matter," Pascrell added.
Pascrell said he forwarded a copy of the FBI letter to U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asking the committees support his request for information.
"As you have clearly demonstrated over the past couple of months, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform may at “any time” investigate “any matter” pursuant to House Rule X," Pascrell told them. "Further, the House Judiciary Committee provides oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
"With this in mind, I write to ask you to support my request to the FBI pertaining to the 2008 financial crisis that severely strained our economy and the lives of millions of Americans."
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