Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says more executives involved in the financial crisis should have faced legal repercussions—including jail time.
“It would have been my preference to have more investigation of individual actions, since obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm,” the Bernanke told USA Today in an interview published on Sunday.
Though the central bank is not involved in law enforcement, Bernanke’s comments are a surprising admission of disagreement with the Justice Department, which is in charge of prosecuting financial crimes.
“While you want to do everything you can to fix corporations that have bad cultures and encourage bad behavior—and the Fed was very much engaged in doing that— obviously illegal acts ultimately are done by individuals, not by legal fictions,” Bernanke said.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, many firms agreed to settlements with the federal government for large sums of cash.