British banking giant HSBC will pay $1.9billion to settle a money-laundering probe by federal and state authorities in the United States, a law enforcement official said on Monday. The probe of the bank – Europe’s largest by market value – has focused on the transfer of billions of dollars on behalf of nations like Iran and North Korea, which are under international sanctions, and the transfer of money through the U.S. financial system from Mexican drug cartels. According to the official, HSBC will pay $1.25billion in forfeiture and pay $655million in civil penalties.
Under what is known as a deferred prosecution agreement, the financial institution will be accused of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and the Trading With The Enemy Act. The London-based bank said it is cooperating with investigations but that those discussions are confidential.
US regulators also order Standard Chartered to pay more than $250m in fines for money laundering. The deal could be announced as early as today, the Wall Street Journal reports. It follows the announcement of a similar but much smaller settlement with UK-based Standard Chartered bank, which will pay $300million in fines for violating US sanction rules. The HSBC settlement had been widely expected following a report by the U.S. Senate, published earlier this year, which was heavily critical of HSBC’s money laundering controls. In regard to HSBC and Mexico, a U.S. Senate investigative committee reported that in 2007 and 2008 HSBC Mexico sent to the United States about $7 billion in cash.
Senator Carl Levin, committee chairman, said HSBC had promised to fix deficiencies but failed to do so. The committee report said that amount of cash indicated illegal drug proceeds. The deferred prosecution agreement means the bank will not be prosecuted further if it meets certain conditions, such as strengthening its internal controls to prevent money laundering.
The U.S. Justice Department has used such arrangements often in cases involving large corporations, notably in settlements of foreign bribery charges. Money laundering by banks has become a priority target for U.S. law enforcement. Since 2009, Credit Suisse, Barclays and Lloyds have all paid settlements related to allegations that they moved money for people or companies on the U.S. sanctions list.
So here are my questions.
1). As near as I can figure, the US has collected nearly $3 billion in fines over the last two years for various banksters for fraud, money laundering, and providing false testimony to authorities and the CONgress. So where does all of this money go? Given our current economic situation and that very same CONgress looking at whacking away at Medicare and Social Security, I believe there should be some accountability for where this large amount of money is going to be applied. Am I wrong in my thinking here?
2). Given the enormity of these crimes, and yes these are felonies without question, why still is NO ONE going to jail? Are you kidding me? What do you think would happen to you or I if we got caught laundering $100 for the drug lords or terrorists?
3). Why are these banksters still allowed to do business in the US, or any where else for that matter?
4). Do you think these banksters are afraid of fines or are they just the cost of doing business with terrorists and drug gangs? Yeah we know the answer to that question. Further, does anyone believe these fines will result in these very same banksters refraining from doing the same thing in the future? I think they will be “more careful”, but that is about it.
C’mon folks, these guys need to do some serious time and it is time we start to demand just that. The CEOS of these institutions should be immediately indicted and arrested without bail. THAT is the only thing that will really stop this craziness being conducted right in front of us. Isn’t justice supposed to be blind. Where is our outrage?