Holder promises no Wall Street 'witch hunts'

Chris Rizo Feb. 4, 2009, 5:49am

Eric Holder

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Newly sworn in U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday said he was not planning to zealously pursue corporate America amid public outrage over perceived excess.

Holder said he would investigate to what extent the nation's economic woes were brought on by fraud and other corporate malfeasance. He vowed to prosecute Wall Street crooks and corporate scofflaws.

"We're not going to go out on any witch hunts," said Holder, a former federal judge and the nation's first African American attorney general.

As the nation's top law enforcement officer, Holder said his first priority has to be to "keep the American people safe," whether from international terrorists or from crime at home.

He also vowed to aggressively enforce environmental and antitrust laws.

The U.S. Justice Department has been probing a bevy of companies, including banks, for possible wrongdoing in the wake of the lending markets' collapse last year.

Holder was confirmed Monday by the Senate by a vote of 75-21.

"The need for new leadership at the Department of Justice is as critical today as it's ever been," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "This confirmation is going to do a great deal to restore the morale and the purpose throughout the department."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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