Sen. Warren (MA) during yesterday’s Banking Committee hearing, once again held little back when grilling those financial and legal bureaucrats with titles starting with “Honorable.”
During yesterday’s hearing, Warren grilled the panel on the recent deal reached between the DOJ and HSBC where they issued a lousy $1.9 billion fine (five weeks worth of earnings according to Matt Taibbi) while letting the executives of the bank who knowingly were laundering drug cartel money off scott free!
Warren summed up this farce by stating –
“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine the chances are good you’re gonna go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night every single individual associated with this and I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
And if you want to know more about this disgustingly laughable folly you’ll want to read “Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail ~ How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it…”
Here’s a snippet –
For at least half a decade, the storied British colonial banking power helped to wash hundreds of millions of dollars for drug mobs, including Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, suspected in tens of thousands of murders just in the past 10 years – people so totally evil, jokes former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, that “they make the guys on Wall Street look good.” The bank also moved money for organizations linked to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and for Russian gangsters; helped countries like Iran, the Sudan and North Korea evade sanctions; and, in between helping murderers and terrorists and rogue states, aided countless common tax cheats in hiding their cash.
“They violated every goddamn law in the book,” says Jack Blum, an attorney and former Senate investigator who headed a major bribery investigation against Lockheed in the 1970s that led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “They took every imaginable form of illegal and illicit business.”
That nobody from the bank went to jail or paid a dollar in individual fines is nothing new in this era of financial crisis. What is different about this settlement is that the Justice Department, for the first time, admitted why it decided to go soft on this particular kind of criminal. It was worried that anything more than a wrist slap for HSBC might undermine the world economy. “Had the U.S. authorities decided to press criminal charges,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at a press conference to announce the settlement, “HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized.”