In a nation that has imprisoned millions (mostly poor, mostly minorities) of people for minor drug offenses a bank that laundered billions of dollars in drug money, HSBC, has walked away with a small fine. No jail time, no charter removal, just a few weeks profit and on the game goes.
Senator Elizabeth Warren is irritated by this clear double standard for the rich and decided to let the regulators know of her displeasure in a Senate hearing.
On Thursday, the Senate held a hearing to ask federal regulators why they are not stopping banks from allowing money laundering. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the highlight of the show, slamming a Treasury official who refused to weigh in on whether the banks should face more severe penalties…
In December, the giant international bank HSBC was fined $1.9 billion for illegally allowing millions in Mexican drug trafficking money to be laundered through its accounts. But it’s not just HSBC—this is a systemic problem. Ten banks have been penalized in recent years for failure to comply with anti-money laundering rules.
Absent from the hearing was a representative from the Justice Department run by Eric Holder who recently claimed banks like HSBC were Too Big To Jail. The regulators’ excuse for not taking more severe action against HSBC was that Holder’s Justice Department failed to move a criminal case and therefore their hands were tied. Only after a criminal conviction was secured could Treasury move to take away HSBC’s charter.
The reality is, of course, that Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen has a few covert reason to be soft on HSBC having worked for the same law firm that HSBC’s current Chief Legal Officer Stuart Levey worked for – Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin LLP. One big happy family. What’s a little drug money laundering among colleagues? I am sure Mr. Cohen was dying to really punish HSBC regardless of the consequences to future career prospects.
So as the incestuous circle goes round and round and HSBC escapes justice the drug war continues. Ensnaring more of the poor and frequently non-white into the prison-industrial complex from which they will likely never escape. Destroying themselves and their families and perpetuating generations of trauma and dysfunction. What incentive do the elite have to end such a rotten the system if they have no fear of ever facing it?
Two justice system, one for the rich and one for the rest – separate and unequal. Well done Eric Holder, well done.