From time to time, you still hear people argue that what the banksters did (in the run-up to the great unpleasantness of 2008) was legal. No, it wasn't. In this fine piece
on the secret $7.7 trillion loan to Wall Street, writer Cynthia Kouril lays down the law:
And then there is this excerpt from NY GBS §352-c:
6. Any person, partnership, corporation, company, trust or association, or any agent or employee thereof who intentionally engages in fraud, deception, concealment, suppression, false pretense or fictitious or pretended purchase or sale, or who makes any material false representation or statement with intent to deceive or defraud, while engaged in inducing or promoting the issuance, distribution, exchange, sale, negotiation or purchase within or from this state of any securities or commodities, as defined in this article, and thereby wrongfully obtains property of a value in excess of two hundred fifty dollars, shall be guilty of a class E felony.
Seems to me that this wording applies to anyone who sells shady, snakey financial instruments that have been mis-rated AAA even though they were based on crap mortgages. The wording applies to Moodys and the other rating agencies, and to the Wall Street firms that told the rating agencies what to do.