They’re like stealth bombers.
A growing number of federal judges have had about as much as they can take with Wall Street firms paying hefty fines to settle probes into serious wrongdoing — without admitting any guilt or any executive taking the fall.
So at least four judges, in New York and Washington, are not going to take it any more.
The mostly quiet attack by these judges on a long-standing business practice could mushroom into one of the most serious threats to bad corporate culture in many years.
The pushback against the “neither admit nor deny guilt” settlements comes as many Americans grow frustrated that few executives have been held personally accountable for toxic mortgages, betting against the client and insider-trading practices.
The latest example of judicial frustration came this week when Manhattan federal judge Sidney Stein raised concerns about a $590 million settlement agreed to by Citigroup to settle charges it deceived shareholders about its toxic mortgage holdings.
The shareholder suit named former CEO Chuck Prince and senior adviser Robert Rubin — but only the bank and not the executives paid out to settle the case.