Too Big to Jail: Big Banks Can Finance Terrorists and Walk Away Scot-Free
Asia-focused bank HSBC said on Tuesday it would pay US authorities a record $1.92 billion to settle allegations of money laundering that were said to have helped Mexican drug cartels, terrorists and Iran.
The New York Times reports this weekthat megabank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. TheTimesquotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges because doing so would be a "death sentence" for the bank. So they let it off the hook.
That’s right, HSBC is officially above the law. Too-big-to-fail has become too-big-to-prosecute.
A year-long investigation found that the British banking giant had blown right past federal laws by laundering billions of dollars from Mexican drug trafficking and processing banned transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. A Wednesday Times article serves up vivid passages about the shady goings-on, including HSBC officials working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations. According to the report, "the four-count criminal information filed in the court charged HSBC with failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, to conduct due diligence on its foreign correpsondent affiliates and for violating sanctions and the Trading With the Enemy Act."