Archive for the ‘HSBC’ tag
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation—HSBC—Admitts to Laundering Billions for Colombian and Mexican Drug Cartels—NO Criminal Charges Will Be Pursued
If you’ve ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you’ve ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or “drug paraphernalia” in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.
Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.
The banks’ laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space.
Drug dealers would sometimes deposit “hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.” ~Lanny Breuer
Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system. ~The New York Times
When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC’s Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn’t protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most “reputable” banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can’t be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department’s response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble—they took money to look the other way.
And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap.
So you might ask, what’s the appropriate financial penalty for a bank in HSBC’s position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we’re talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you’re the prosecutor, you’ve got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?
How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they’ve ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby’s auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don’t think twice. And then throw them in jail.
Sound harsh? It does, doesn’t it? The only problem is, that’s exactly what the government does just about every day to ordinary people involved in ordinary drug cases.
If you are an important person, and you work for a big international bank, you won’t be prosecuted even if you launder nine billion dollars. Even if you actively collude with the people at the very top of the international narcotics trade, your punishment will be far smaller than that of the person at the very bottom of the world drug pyramid.
This is the disgrace to end all disgraces. It doesn’t even make any sense. There is no reason why the Justice Department couldn’t have snatched up everybody at HSBC involved with the trafficking, prosecuted them criminally, and worked with banking regulators to make sure that the bank survived the transition to new management. As it is, HSBC has had to replace virtually all of its senior management. The guilty parties were apparently not so important to the stability of the world economy that they all had to be left at their desks.
So there is absolutely no reason they couldn’t all face criminal penalties. That they are not being prosecuted is cowardice and pure corruption, nothing else. And by approving this settlement, Breuer removed the government’s moral authority to prosecute anyone for any other drug offense. Not that most people didn’t already know that the drug war is a joke, but this makes it official.
It would be a very destabilising issue. Its another version of too important to fail. Because of the confidence issue with banks, a major criminal indictment, which we havent seen and I’m not saying we are going to see this is not an ordinary criminal indictment.
Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a congressional watchdog panel, observed that the culture at HSBC was pervasively polluted for a long time. Now we can be certain it will remain so. Criminal activity has been legitimized. In the world of banking, crime pays, big-time.
Rumours and conspiracy theories are flying all over the blogosphere tonight as it is becoming increasingly evident that there is a mass exodus amongst the ranks of the world’s leading bankers.
1) Feb. 6, 2012 / Bank of India CEO
Chaturvedi resigns2) Feb. 10, 2012 / Tamilnad Mercantile Bank
CEO resigns3) Feb. 13, 2012 / Kuwait Central Bank
CEO resigns4) Feb. 15, 2012 / World Bank CEO
Zoellick resigns5) Feb. 15, 2012 / Anz Bank CFO
Australia resigns6) Feb. 15, 2012 / Nicaraqua Central Bank Pres
Rosales resigns7) Feb. 15, 2012 / Royal Bank of Scotland Australian CEO
Stephen Williams resigns8) Feb. 15, 2012 / Nova Kreditna Banka Maribo
CEO resigns9) Feb. 15, 2012 / Nova Ljubljanska Banka
CEO resigns10) Feb. 17, 2012 / Credit Suisse Chief
All of it comes as a stunning speech is made by
Sir James of Blackheath in the British House of Lords with allegations involving the stunning amount of $15 Trillion. Sir James described a set of mysterious transactions where over $15 trillion dollars was transferred via HSBC to RBS a few years back by one individual, who then proceeded to lose that money when RBS was taken over. There are also rumours Goldman Sachs CEO Blankenfein was asked to resign but refused. Is it all connected? It’s worth keeping tabs on.
February 19, 2011
SGTbull07’s interview with Bix Weir, author of the ‘Road To Roota’ Theory (in three parts)
My question is simple. What are bankers like J.P. Morgan and HSBC doing playing in such size in this market? What is the economic and productive benefit? Perhaps there is a good answer. The taxpaying public certainly deserves to know. The CFTC says they have looked into this, but the detailed results of their findings remain less than forthcoming.