No company too big to jail: US attorney general Eric Holder

US attorney general Eric HolderThe US justice department, pursuing criminal investigations of financial institutions, could see action over the coming weeks and months, US attorney general Eric Holder said in a video. He added that no company was "too big to jail."

The comments, came in a video posted on the website of the justice department yesterday, even as federal prosecutors pushed two lenders, BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse AG , to plead guilty to criminal charges to resolve investigations into sanctions and tax violations, respectively, people familiar with the probes said, The Washington Post reported.

Holder said without naming the banks that he was personally monitoring the ongoing investigations into financial institutions and had "resolved to seeing them through."

"I intend to reaffirm the principle that no individual or entity that does harm to our economy is ever above the law," Holder said in the video. "There is no such thing as 'too big to jail.'"

French bank BNP Paribas warned last week that it faced fines from US authorities amounting to more than $1.1 billion over allegations of  violating US sanctions against Iran and other countries.

Heavy criticism had been directed at the justice department over federal prosecutors failing to bring criminal charges against Wall Street banks out of fear of destabilising the financial system.

Holder had told lawmakers last year that some companies had become so large that it was difficult to prosecute them considering the potential impact on the economy.

Holder yesterday, continued without backtracking on earlier comments, and said it  would be ''irresponsible'' not to consider the fact that criminal charges lead to a bank losing its charter, effectively crippling its business. He added, however that the potential  for such an outcome meant prosecutors needed to work with regulators to hold banks accountable without wrecking their entire business.

He added, so long as this coordination occured, it was fully possible to criminally sanction companies that had broken the law, no matter their size. He added the cooperation would prove key in the coming weeks and months as the justice department continued to pursue several important investigations.