By William Black. This article was first published on The New York Times.
Erika Brown is not well known, which helps explain why we have seen our most elite banks’ leaders produce the greatest financial crime spree in history without a single conviction of the Wall Street elites who drove the crisis. Erika Brown is a whistle-blower. She revealed Bank of America’s orders that its employees lie to homeowners to encourage foreclosures rather than loan modifications that could help the borrowers keep their homes.
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Erika Brown revealed Bank of America’s orders that its employees lie to homeowners to encourage foreclosures.
The sick irony is that this occurred in the context of the Home Affordable Modification Program, which was designed to help save homes and gave the banks a financial incentive to do so. Brown and her colleagues revealed that their orders were to squeeze as much cash as possible out of financially troubled homeowners and then default.
If President Obama invited Erika Brown to be his guest at the State of the Union, he would signal an end to the administration’s hostility toward whistle-blowers. The president should use his address to praise her courage and to encourage others to follow her lead — and he should create a new website and phone bank so that whistle-blowers can come forward with evidence of fraud. He should announce that he has directed the attorney general to make prosecutions of elite frauds a much higher priority, and that he will submit an emergency supplemental budget bill to fully fund the financial regulatory agencies and hire 1,000 new white-collar-crime specialists at the F.B.I.