A NYTimes analysis of how the SEC is not working. The SEC asks large financial institutions to "promise" not to defraud consumers and shareholders again and again. Does that work?

According to a New York Times analysis, nearly all of the biggest financial companies — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America among them — have settled fraud cases by promising that they would never again violate an antifraud law, only to have the S.E.C. conclude they did it again a few years later.

A Times analysis of enforcement actions during the past 15 years found at least 51 cases in which the S.E.C. concluded that Wall Street firms had broken anti-fraud laws they had agreed never to breach. The 51 cases spanned 19 different firms.

Extracting promises to "never do it again," because prosecution is too costly against deep-pocketed banks, isn't working.

It's time for a new approach, when just 19 financial institutions have committed 51 violations in 15 years, it's time we hold big banks accountable when they commit fraud!

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