One step forward two steps back? Though one Wall Street megabank, Credit Suisse, finally faced a bit of justice for criminal activity it seems there still has not been much of a change in some of the bankster community’s more unsavory practices – such as money laundering for drug cartels.

First HSBC famously got off with a fine for laundering massive amounts of money for Latin American drug cartels and now Reuters is reporting that both Charles Scwhab and Bank of America owned Merril Lynch are looking the other way as drug cartels in Mexico use their services to finance their opulent lifestyles and move money around the world.

The SEC is reportedly investigating the firms for failing to follow anti-money laundering rules that mandate the company find out who they are doing business with before helping customers move money.

The SEC’s investigation so far has found Charles Schwab and Merrill did not pay close enough attention to their clients’ true identities, and accepted shell companies and individuals with fake addresses as clients, two sources said.

In both cases, some of the accounts, whose ownership the brokerages did not adequately investigate, were eventually linked to drug cartels, they said.

A lack of due diligence or an HSBC style assist? In either case, the financial service professionals were totally disinterested that accounts setup near the Mexican border “contained hundreds of thousands of dollars while others held millions.”

It’s good to know in our ever increasingly panopticon society that there are one group of people left who bend over backwards to ensure they don’t collect any valid personal information. They would rather not know who you are or where the money came from.

Photo by Alex Proimos under Creative Commons license.