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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Western Regional Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force Summit
San Francisco, California ~ Friday, December 10, 2010

Thank you, Melinda [Haag], for your kind words and for helping to organize – and offering to host – this critical summit.  It is, as always, a pleasure to be here in San Francisco.

 

And, today, I am especially grateful for the opportunity to thank you for the commitment that you are bringing – and the contributions that you and your team are providing – in our nation's fight against financial fraud.

 

It is clear – from the record of achievement that you just shared – that great progress is being made here in Northern California.  And I believe that the discussions we're beginning today provide a unique and important opportunity to build on all that is being achieved.

 

I also want to recognize Robb Adkins – who helps to lead work of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force – for his efforts in bringing us all together today.

 

And, above all, I want to thank each of you for your participation in this summit – and for your engagement in taking our nationwide fight against financial fraud to a new level.  I am encouraged by the diversity of perspectives represented here, and I look forward to hearing from you – and from the outstanding group of speakers and panelists who have joined us.

 

To combat and prevent financial fraud crimes effectively, we need your help.  And we are relying on your unique insights.

 

You all know what we're up against. You know that - here in San Francisco and beyond - financial fraud crimes have reached crisis proportions.  You have seen – and some of you have directly experienced – the devastating consequences of financial fraud.  You know that financial fraud comes in a variety of forms – from securities fraud to investment schemes, foreclosure rescue scams to insider trading.   And, as you know, financial fraud schemes are not victimless.

 

They can decimate savings and retirement funds.  They can devastate families and communities – and destabilize markets.  They can threaten our nation's economic strength – and the promise of the American Dream.

 

But we are fighting back.

 

I say “we,” but, as you know, it is really the work of each of you that makes the difference.  Through our U.S. Attorneys' Offices – along with law enforcement and community partners, with the assistance of an informed and vigilant public, and with the historic efforts of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force that President Obama created last year – we are making remarkable progress.

 

The task force is the biggest and broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory, and regulatory agencies ever established to combat fraud – a truth reflected in this very room.  Our mission is simple: to bring financial fraud schemes to light and those who operate them to justice.  And as chair of the Task Force, I'm proud to report that our aggressive, coordinated approach is working.

 

For example, just this week, I announced the results of “Operation Broken Trust” – a three-and-a-half month effort focusing on investment fraud schemes throughout the country. This operation involved hundreds of criminal and civil defendants whose conduct harmed more than 120,000 victims with losses of more than $8 billion in the criminal cases alone.  This operation shed light on one type of fraud, which as the staggering numbers show, is a real concern that the public should protect themselves from and that is worthy of our ongoing efforts.  And this work can hardly be described as going after “small fish.”

 

But these numbers do not even come close to capturing the full measure of loss to individuals and families whose hard-earned savings have evaporated and whose long-held dreams have been shattered.

 

I believe that the root of our success, in this effort and in all of the initiatives of the Task Force, can be summed up in a single word: collaboration.  Collaboration is the key to effectively harnessing the expertise, experience, and resources that we need to make the progress the American people deserve.

 

This applies to securities fraud and mortgage fraud, to investment and lending schemes, and tax fraud and procurement fraud – and the list goes on.

 

I know that, here in the Northern District, your focus on collaboration has been at the heart of many of your recent achievements – and was a driving force in the cases that Melinda just highlighted.  However, Melinda – in her modesty – neglected to mention one groundbreaking conviction in which her contributions – and the spirit of collaboration – proved essential.

 

Just two weeks ago, a defendant was charged with obstructing the SEC's investigation of a possible insider-trading scheme that allegedly occurred in both San Francisco and London.  This marked the first time that the Justice Department coordinated a criminal investigation into insider trading with both the SEC and the Financial Services Authority in London.

 

For all of us, this case serves as a reminder that even seemingly local cases must be approached with a wide lens.  Often, those who operate financial-fraud schemes know no borders.  And, increasingly, identifying and shutting down fraud operations requires international cooperation – and the type of outreach and relationship-building efforts that Melinda and her team are executing so well.

 

Over the next few hours, we will explore how we can all make use of the full range of parallel criminal and civil enforcement resources to combat financial fraud, wherever and however it occurs.  We look forward to learning from the experiences of those in the Northern District and elsewhere in California, and to sharing approaches from other parts of the country. But I believe that, ultimately, today is about forging new partnerships – and strengthening the relationships that will help to turn our best intentions into real results.

 

So, once again, I want to thank you all for your engagement – and for your ongoing commitment to meeting the goals and responsibilities that we share.  I look forward to a most productive morning - and to our continued progress in the days ahead.

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