BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 25 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a court ruling that the Federal Reserve must reveal the names of banks that have received more than $2.2 trillion in secret loans.
Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska yesterday rejected the Fed’s argument that loan records are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has refused requests from Sanders and others to make public the names or loan recipients.
“This court decision is a victory for the American taxpayer. The American people have a right to know exactly who has received trillions of dollars from the Federal Reserve and what they are doing with this money. The Federal Reserve has kept this information secret for far too long. This money does not belong to the Fed. It belongs to the American people,” Sanders said.
“No one should have the power to print an unlimited supply of money and lend it to any bank or corporation it wants without accountability or oversight. This court ruling is an important step forward in increasing transparency at the Federal Reserve,” he added. “I hope it will not be appealed.”
The Senate voted 59 to 39 last April 29 for an amendment by Sanders calling on the Fed to disclose the names of all of the institutions that received more than $2.2 trillion in taxpayer assistance, how much each received and what they are doing with the money. The amendment was included in the final version of the Budget Resolution.
Sanders also is the chief sponsor of legislation to require the Fed to name the financial institutions that have received what could total more than $7 trillion in loans and loan guarantees. A separate Sanders bill would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct an independent audit of the Fed.
Sanders also voiced his concern in a July 15 letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. “As long as the Federal Reserve is allowed to keep the information on their loans secret, we will never know the true financial condition of the banking system,” the senator wrote.
At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on March 3, Sanders asked Bernanke to name the hundreds of banks that took money since the financial crisis began. Bernanke refused to name any of the financial institutions. He also would not say what the banks are doing with the money. Sanders noted that the separate $700 billion financial bailout passed by Congress last October requires the Treasury Department to identify recipients of bailout funds.
To watch Sanders and Bernanke at the budget committee hearing, click here.
To watch Sanders floor statement on the amendment, click here.
To read the Federal Reserve provision in the budget resolution conference committee report, click here.