In the case of HSBC, and various other banks which continue to be caught engaged in large-scale money laundering, these jaw-dropping events are particularly baffling, since large-scale money laundering is, by its very nature, always part of a pattern of major racketeering activity (as defined by the US federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 1970), in that large-scale money-laundering is the process of using labyrinths of legally-registered corporate structures, generally pursuing lawful enterprises, to disguise the proceeds of ongoing major organized crime so that this money cannot be linked to unlawful enterprises. Indeed, US RICO legislation provides severe penalties ($250 000 fines and 20 years prison, per racketeering count) for all persons (including attorneys and bankers) proved to have been engaged in a pattern of ongoing major racketeering activity. Yet, predictably, RICO has not yet been invoked by US prosecutors, and the latest bosses of HSBC and their attorneys, have simply been allowed to pretend that the bank's was only guilty of having 'poor money laundering controls' which they are now in the process of reforming. Oh, and they have offered their 'apologies.'
|We accept responsibility for our past mistakes... We have said we are profoundly sorry for them.' Current HSBC group CEO, Stuart Gulliver.|
This latest HBSC news followed the announcement of a similar settlement with UK-based Standard Chartered bank. Its bosses have so far agreed to pay $300m in fines for violating US sanctions.
Ironically, the regular sale to banksters of what are effectively 'Get of Jail' cards, has been described as being part of a 'crackdown on money laundering and sanctions violations being led by federal government agencies and New York state authorities,' following the release of a report by the US Senate which concluded that:
- 'HSBC in the USA had not treated its Mexican affiliate as high risk, despite the country's money laundering and drug trafficking challenges'
- 'The Mexican affiliate had transported $7billions in US bank notes to HSBC in the USA, more than any other Mexican bank, but had not considered that to be suspicious'
- 'HSBC had circumvented US safeguards designed to block transactions involving terrorists drug lords and rogue states, including allowing 25,000 transactions over 7 years without disclosing their links to Iran'
- 'HSBC had provided US dollars and banking services to some banks in Saudi Arabia despite their links to terrorist financing'
- 'In less than 4 years HSBC had cleared $290m in obviously suspicious US travellers' cheques for a Japanese bank, benefiting Russians who claimed to be in the used car business'
David Brear (copyright 2012)