The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the government may prosecute bankers even if a regulator already has meted out punishment.

In rejecting a double-jeopardy claim, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that regulatory sanctions are civil punishments which do not trigger the Fifth Amendment's bar against multiple criminal prosecutions.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 1989 accused John Hudson, Larry Baresel, and Jack Butler Rackley of making fraudulent loans at two Oklahoma banks. The agency fined the three men and banned them from banking. The Justice Department indicted the three in 1992 for the same offense.

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