HSBC: The Preferred Bank Of Drug Cartels & Money Launderers
Why No Criminal Charges?
Humboldt’s drug dealers and pot growers stand to lose everything they have and go to prison under the Department of Justice’s US Attorney Melinda Haag– while the big players like HSBC bank go free.
As bank slogans go, they don’t come worse than this: “HSBC: The preferred financial institution of drug cartels and money launderers.”
That’s a quote in a U.S. Department of Justice report about HSBC Holdings, one of the largest banks in the world. To avoid criminal prosecution, HSBC admitted in December that it laundered more than $800 million for Mexican drug cartels, and covered up much more in illegal transactions for Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Burma, Iran, Sudan, Cuba, and Libya over the course of 10 years.
The British bank will pay $1.9 billion to the US government. While it’s the largest such fine in history, it’s about 4 weeks of the banking behemoth’s earnings. It’s barely a slap on the wrist handed out by
the DOJ and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a back room
It’s a case that has everything — everything except an arrest. Nobody at HSBC will face criminal charges.
That struck some as odd, because in 80 pages of court documents, the bank admits to almost going out of its way to act as a financial clearing house for international pariahs and drug dealers.
Notre Dame Professor Jimmy Gurgle, who investigated money-laundering cases for the Treasury Department, said: “We’re not talking about mere negligence. We’re talking about a criminal scheme that was adopted as a policy of HSBC that involved looking the other way in regard to suspicious transactions involving money laundering.”
Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi wrote “even people on Wall Street were blown away by the result,” the lack of prosecution and disposition being the equivalent of a parking ticket handed out
by the Department of Justice:
“The decision to not prosecute in this instance belies everything that the government has ever done with regard to drug prosecutions everywhere.
I mean, when you think about the way they behave toward ordinary people who get caught up in drug cases, where they seize all your property and they use absolutely the maximum sentences they can possibly avail themselves of, and in this case they catch a bank that launders billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels for years on end, and they can’t find something to charge these people with?”
“If the law doesn’t apply equally to everybody, then you don’t really have a system of law. And so you have a built-in defense for everybody in every drug case forever. I mean, if you get caught with a stem of marijuana, how do you not stand up and say, ‘You’re going to send me to jail for this where a guy who laundered a billion dollars for a bunch of murderers gets nothing?’“
Too big to fail? Some folks are above the law– and simply too big to jail.