28 December 2012

"Too big to prosecute"

Remember "too big to fail."  Here's what comes next...
Over the last year, federal investigators found that one of the world's largest banks, HSBC, spent years committing serious crimes, involving money laundering for terrorists; "facilitat[ing] money laundering by Mexican drug cartels"; and "mov[ing] tainted money for Saudi banks tied to terrorist groups". Those investigations uncovered substantial evidence "that senior bank officials were complicit in the illegal activity." As but one example, "an HSBC executive at one point argued that the bank should continue working with the Saudi Al Rajhi bank, which has supported Al Qaeda."

Needless to say, these are the kinds of crimes for which ordinary and powerless people are prosecuted and imprisoned with the greatest aggression possible. If you're Muslim and your conduct gets anywhere near helping a terrorist group, even by accident, you're going to prison for a long, long time. In fact, powerless, obscure, low-level employees are routinely sentenced to long prison terms for engaging in relatively petty money laundering schemes, unrelated to terrorism, and on a scale that is a tiny fraction of what HSBC and its senior officials are alleged to have done.

But not HSBC. On Tuesday, not only did the US Justice Department announce that HSBC would not be criminally prosecuted, but outright claimed that the reason is that they are too important, too instrumental to subject them to such disruptions. In other words, shielding them from the system of criminal sanction to which the rest of us are subject is not for their good, but for our common good. We should not be angry, but grateful, for the extraordinary gift bestowed on the global banking giant:
"US authorities defended their decision not to prosecute HSBC for accepting the tainted money of rogue states and drug lords on Tuesday, insisting that a $1.9bn fine for a litany of offences was preferable to the 'collateral consequences' of taking the bank to court. . . .

"Announcing the record fine at a press conference in New York, assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer said that despite HSBC"s 'blatant failure' to implement anti-money laundering controls and its wilful flouting of US sanctions, the consequences of a criminal prosecution would have been dire.

"Had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking licence in the US, the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilised...
There's more at The Guardian, where it is noted that the financial penalty "represents about four weeks' earnings given the bank's pre-tax profits of $21.9bn last year."

Would anyone care to offer a defense of the Obama administration's Justice Department action here?

Via Reddit.


  1. I was going to rant in response to your rant, but I just can't. I'm tired, and now very disappointed in our government.

  2. Never forget The Gold Rule: He who has the gold get's to make the rules.

  3. If 'We, the people' truly are in control this country then 'We' are all criminals.

    1. Its Stockholm syndrome, we've all been captives of two gangs of liars,murderers, and thieves for some time now.

  4. Hey, the administration gig is only for what, eight years - tops. These folks have to think of their future careers, too. So far, it looks like they will have very comfortable jobs waiting for them within HSBC.

  5. The all too predictable consequence of unregulated, predatory, vulture capitalism where financial institutions take precedence over all else.

    As is this:


  6. "To big to fail" strikes again. So much for breaking up these mega-banks. The major problem is that, when it comes to the big banks, political party doesn't really matter. You can look at the major ranks behind either party and the people behind every president since Nixon and you'll see an army of people from Goldman Sachs, HSBC and all the other financial institutions. The sad fact is, that to be a major player in american politics, you have to play ball with these people. I don't know how to end it but, it needs to end.

  7. If they're too big to punish, then they're too big to exist. Duke Tobacco was split up, Standard Oil was split up, AT&T was split. If there's a single politician in DC who isn't a coward, a bill demanding the end of this company would have been written and presented.

  8. "Elected" office holders are employed by the banks. The government is in bed with corporate entities. How does more government solve the problem? Someone claims we need more regulation. There is no regulation against money laundering and conducting business with entities under sanction. Wake up, you fools.

  9. You talk about breaking up the banks. Sure. Into a million pieces. I'd say a couple of 787s on a collision course with their headquarters would do the trick.

    What about breaking up the two-party duopoly that abuses its power and continues to relinquish the rights of the people; rights it deigns are granted its peons by the very artifice.they created to serve them. A real social campaign to flip the government on its head, if voters would leave their pocketbook at home when the headed off to the polls.

    We are controlled by fear, namely the fear of losing our flatscreens and second cars. Only when the illusion of our wealth is realized may we find the collective will to assert our God given rights in the face of our rulers. So sit back, lock n load, and wait for the calamity.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...