Government's Moral Authority is Over
HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War Is a Joke
The US is in the business, officially, of jailing the victims and enabling the criminals. That they are not being prosecuted is cowardice and pure corruption, nothing else. This 2012 excerpt is from Rolling Stone, Dec 15.
by Matt TaibbiAssistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.
Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."
When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department's response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble –- they took money to look the other way.
As a result of the government's investigation, HSBC has . . . "clawed back" deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.
How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they've ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby's auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don't think twice. And then throw them in jail.
Just the other day, while Breuer was announcing his slap on the wrist for the world's most prolific drug-launderers, I was in arraignment court in Brooklyn watching how they deal with actual people. A public defender explained the absurdity of drug arrests in this city. New York actually has fairly liberal laws about pot -- police aren't supposed to bust you if you possess the drug in private. So how do police work around that to make 50,377 pot-related arrests in a single year, just in this city? That was 2010; the 2009 number was 46,492.)
By eschewing criminal prosecutions of major drug launderers on the grounds (the patently absurd grounds, incidentally) that their prosecution might imperil the world financial system, the government has now formalized the double standard.
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JJS: Good thing for those bankers they were not in Iceland where the government jailed their own financiers for fraud, never mind something as criminal as blood money laundering. If we’re ever to end the double standard in America, we have to topple the hierarchy and have much broader and deeper equality. That means we’d all earn what we get, get what we earn, and get included in the common wealth, receiving a fair share as much as anyone else gets. In revenue policy, that means abolishing taxes on our efforts, abolishing subsidies for insiders, paying land dues to our communities, and getting back dividend from surplus public revenue. It might seem radical but big problems -- such as criminal bankers -- require fundamental solutions. Geonomics fits that bill perfectly.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .
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