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The recent revelations about the goings-on at Washington Mutual bring back an old question about our friends the banksters. When is somebody going to jail? How about just charged and indicted? Something.

“Officials at the failed banking operations of Washington Mutual Inc. securitized substantial volumes of risky, fraudulent loans in the run-up to the financial meltdown despite repeated internal warning signs, according to a Senate probe.

The subcommittee has obtained documents showing that “at a critical point Washington Mutual included loans in its securities because they were likely to suffer a high rate of default, and they failed to disclose that to the buyers,” Sen. Levin said. “They also allowed loans that had been identified as fraudulent to be sold to buyers, again without alerting buyers when the fraud was discovered.”

Isn’t fraud a crime? Why are these executives testifying before Congress and not in a court of law? But then again, where else but the Wall Street bizarro world is this possible ?:

“March 26 (Bloomberg) — JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG were among more than a dozen Wall Street firms involved in a conspiracy to pay below-market interest rates to U.S. state and local governments on investments, according to documents filed in a U.S. Justice Department criminal antitrust case.

A government list of previously unidentified “co- conspirators” contains more than two dozen bankers at firms also including Bank of America Corp., Bear Stearns Cos., Societe Generale, two of General Electric Co.’s financial businesses and Salomon Smith Barney, the former unit of Citigroup Inc., according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24.

…None of the firms or individuals named on the list has been charged with wrongdoing.”

Or what about this at Lehman Brothers?

“In the years before its collapse, Lehman used a small company — its “alter ego,” in the words of a former Lehman trader — to shift investments off its books.

The firm, called Hudson Castle, played a crucial, behind-the-scenes role at Lehman, according to an internal Lehman document and interviews with former employees. The relationship raises new questions about the extent to which Lehman obscured its financial condition before it plunged into bankruptcy.”

Isn’t that pretty much what Lay, Skilling, and Fastow were doing at Enron? So why no perp walks yet for the former execs at Lehman?

In the JPMorgan–Jefferson County scam, the crooked politicians went to jail, the banksters took the money and ran. Somebody say double standard?

Karl Denninger at Market Ticker nails it:

“The only deterrent available is to start throwing the scammers in prison.  All of them.  We can start with the people at WaMu and Lehman, then go down the list and for each and every firm that cooked its balance sheet, nailing them under SarBox  [Sarbanes-Oxley] as well.  While we’re at it jail every bank executive involved in crooked derivatives deals with municipal and state governments, starting with Jefferson County in Alabama.”

Amen.

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