Holder, who is stepping down
as soon as his successor, Loretta Lynch, is confirmed, has asked U.S. attorneys involved in residential mortgage-backed securities cases against financial institutions to report on whether they can develop cases against individuals, according to .
However, the final decision on whether to prosecute the individuals will be up to Lynch.
Although he was criticized earlier in his career for not doing enough, Holder has spent the last year making up for lost time in an effort to hold banks accountable for their role in the financial crisis.
Since late 2013, Holder has pursued a series of multibillion-dollar penalties against big financial institutions, including the nearly $17 billion settlement in August 2014 with Bank of America. The Justice Department also announced in July a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup, and in 2013, JPMorgan agreed to a $13 billion settlement.
The recent move to prosecute individuals could prove to be difficult for U.S. attorneys.
In a November 2014 BBC radio broadcast on why more dishonest bankers aren't in jail
, Brandon Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia, said, “It’s incredibly complicated to figure out who knew what and who did what.”
He added that although someone has signed a document that approved a fraudulent deal, there may have been hundreds of employees that helped plan the transaction.
"It is hard to place the blame, but it is even harder to prove intent to deceive. However, it can be done if recordings of what people were thinking at the time are available," said Garrett.
Ted Kaufman, former U.S. senator, wrote in a column for that the statute of limitations on fraud committed before the financial crisis is running out. “It is safe to assume that no one who committed mortgage fraud will be prosecuted.”
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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has set a 90-day deadline for U.S. attorneys to identify individuals to prosecute for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis.