In the Bank of America Merrill Lynch bonus imbroglio, the SEC has proposed a settlement in which, once again, the defendants neither admit nor deny wrongdoing.
Once again, the corporation would pick up the fine while responsible individuals escape uninjured. And once again, the public would be left wondering what actually happened. This isn't justice, nor will it deter fraud.
These were the frustrations expressed by Judge Jed Rakoff in court yesterday. He refused to approve the settlement because he wants to know the truth: Who was responsible for misleading shareholders, and how did they settle on a fine of $33 million?
He told both sides to return to court with more details in two weeks. For the public's sake, it's a good thing he did.
In this case, it isn't just shareholder's money at stake. It's taxpayers'. Our bail-out cash saved the bank, and we deserve to know what went on.