Originally published at La Opini??n. Republished by permission.
The Obama administration's efforts to prosecute those responsible for the financial fraud of the housing bubble have not been very effective. But the worst part is that the Department of Justice (DOJ), while the election campaign was in full swing, considerably exaggerated the numbers of prosecutions, victims and money lost.
Last October, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calling the efforts of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force a "model of success," said that charges had been filed against 530 defendants for supposedly victimizing more than 73,000 homeowners, causing losses of over $1 billion.
The persistency of the media, which questioned these numbers from the beginning, led to the FBI making a correction a few days ago. Instead of 530 defendants, there were 107; the 73,000 homeowners turned into more than 17,185; and the billion dollars became $95 million.
This does not help Holder. He is already in the sights of GOP lawmakers because of political matters like Operation Fast and Furious. In the case of false numbers, there is no excuse.
Because of the election campaign timing of the initial announcement, we can't help but think that it was intended to satisfy a progressive sector that was frustrated by the little progress of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which President Obama had announced with great fanfare during his State of the Union speech in 2012.
The operation of the Task Force faced challenges from the start because of lack of funding, bureaucratic interagency disputes and the personal agendas of its members. The group currently has well-known cases against several large banks as well as against ratings agency Standard & Poor's.
The Task Force is working within a complex legal framework and the various financial cases are not simple. But that does not justify the dishonesty of the Justice Department in lying about its numbers in the middle of the campaign. It is tough to confuse $1 billion with $95 million.
This is a strike against the credibility of Holder and the Justice Department. It also trivializes the administration's efforts to punish those responsible for the real estate fraud that led to the Great Recession.