The size of the largest financial institutions has made it difficult for the Justice Department to bring criminal charges, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Criminal charges against a bank — something that could threaten its existence — may also endanger the national or global economies in the case of the largest ones, because of their size and interconnectedness. That has "made it difficult for us to prosecute" some of those institutions, Holder said today at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"That is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large," Holder told lawmakers. "It has an inhibiting impact on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate."

U.S. lawmakers, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have raised concerns that the largest institutions haven't been held accountable for their actions that played a role in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

While Holder didn't single out any specific institutions, he said bank size was something Congress would "need to consider."

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