12:19 pm Nov. 1, 20113
Former New York City mayor Ed Koch said he wanted to see criminal charges filed against the Wall Street executives whose actions harmed the economy, saying it was unfair for them to pay fines and avoid jail.
Speaking at an ABNY breakfast in midtown featuring Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former mayor David Dinkins, Koch responded to Bloomberg's assertion that Congress, not big banks, was to blame for the mortgage crisis and ensuing collapse of the financial industry.
"I would differ with respect to blame here," said Koch, who prefaced his remarks by saying how much he liked the private sector. ("I'm not an enemy of Wall Street. I'm reasonably wealthy and it came as a result of me staying in the stock market. I love the stock market.")
"Let's take Goldman Sachs," said Koch. "It's fined by the S.E.C. $550 million. What the hell do they care. That's the cost of doing business. Citigroup, fined $285 million. What do you think they got fined for? Schmutz on the sidewalk?
"They got fined because they abused their relationship with their clientele," said Koch. "And I want to see somebody, and I haven't seen it happen yet, some C.E.O., some F.O. C.F.O., I want to see one of them from a major corporation punished, criminally. They beggared the people in this country. More than $2 trillion was lost in the great recession.
"There's something wrong with a kid who steals a bike going to jail and someone who steals millions paying a fine."
Koch's remarks in front of the crowd of mostly business people and private-sector advocates, was greeted with applause. Bloomberg, who sat on the opposite side of the stage from Koch, with Dinkins between them, didn't have any visible reaction to Koch's comments. The moderator was Charlie Rose.