How HSBC Bank Got Away With Money Laundering for Drug Cartels
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The illicit drug trade relies heavily on money laundering because it is almost exclusively a cash business. Drug interdiction, while an essential component of attacking the illicit drug trade cannot, standing alone, reverse the tide of illicit drugs. Combating money laundering, combined with strong interdiction efforts, offers a more effective law enforcement response.
- Money Laundering in Florida: Report of the Legislative Task Force, 1999
Stuart Gulliver, the Chief Executive of the London-based international banking giant HSBC said: “We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them and we do so again… What happened in Mexico and the US is shameful, it’s embarrassing, it’s very painful for all of us in the firm…The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organization from the one that made those mistakes.”
What was Mr. Gulliver apologizing for and was he sincere? His bank got caught laundering tons of cash for drug cartels and alleged terrorists. That is a crime.
Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice (DOJ) explained at a press conference, “HSBC is being held accountable for stunning failures of oversight – and worse – that led the bank to permit narcotics traffickers and others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries… The record of dysfunction that prevailed at HSBC for many years was astonishing.”
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch added, “HSBC’s blatant failure to implement proper anti-money laundering controls facilitated the laundering of at least $881 million in drug proceeds through the U.S. financial system…”
As punishment, HSBC was assessed a fine of 1.9 billion — about four weeks’ worth of its pre-tax profits. No bank officials who were caught red-handed will be prosecuted or imprisoned.
Take responsibility, apologize, pay a fine for your drug crimes and then call it a day. Go home to family who will forgive you for doing business with so-called “narco-terrorists.” Prison time? Felony record? Asset forfeiture? No. Not for drug trafficking executives of laundromat/banks that are “too big to fail” or jail.
It is not so for those individuals and organizations that provide other, equally vital services to the $400 billion illicit drug trade. From the heads of Afghan drug cartels, to drug couriers like the Panamanian woman who had cocaine implanted in her breasts, to injection drug users in America’s needle parks, they will be demonized as purveyors of poison and death then punished severely. They won’t go home for a very long time, if ever.
The U.S. justice system will mete out life sentences without the possibility of parole or mandatory minimum sentences of decades to drug kingpins, mules and the drug addicted. Drug law offender’s lives behind bars will become a dystopia that the profits of the privatized correctional industries depend on.
The convicted will be disappeared in to twenty-first century concentration camps in remote, rural towns. Some prisoners will end up in solitary confinement and be driven mad. Their children will be orphaned and their families destroyed by shame, lack of visitation and communication.
Everything will be legally stolen from drug law violators. Cars, jewelry, family heirlooms, clothes, cash, homes and property will be seized and put up for sale to benefit various branches of law enforcement.
Check out the Asset Forfeiture Program at the DOJ website. You can bid on Rita A. Crundwell’s farmland in Dixon, Illinois. If you prefer a warmer climate, there is beachfront property for sale in the Dominican Republic.
Admitting guilt, apologizing, promising “fundamental” change and paying a financial penalty will not suffice for the poor, low hanging fruit convicted of drug crimes. They have to be taught a “tough love” lesson in zero tolerance, and this: “You do the crime, you do the time.”