Federal prosecutors' failure to bolster a criminal probe against AIG executives last week highlights the difficulty of making criminal charges against finance workers stick, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against Joseph Cassano, who, among others, was suspected to have covered up AIG's exposure to the mortgage crisis by fudging his unit's accounting numbers.
But making the case for criminal prosecution in these cases is pretty tough. It has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that there was criminal intent behind executive decisions.
Others who walked away scot-free because of the same high bar included two former Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers, both of whom were acquitted by the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office in November last year.
The SEC, which is investigating a similar charge against Cassano, has to meet a lower standard of proof -- a civil charge, at least, may still be in the offing.