Why Wasn’t the Death Penalty Warranted?

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Once again Sen. Elizabeth Warren demonstrated why the voters of Massachusetts sent her to the Senate when in a Senate Banking Committee hearing about money laundering, she questioned why British bank HSBC is still doing business in the U.S., with no criminal charges filed against it, despite confessing to what one regulator called “egregious” money laundering violations

Her comments came just a day after the attorney general of the United States confessed that some banks are so big and important that they are essentially above the law. His Justice Department’s failure to bring any criminal charges against HSBC or its employees is Exhibit A of that problem.

(..} Warren grilled officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about why HSBC, which recently paid $1.9 billion to settle money laundering charges, wasn’t criminally prosecuted and shut down in the U.S. Nor were any individuals from HSBC charged with any crimes, despite the bank confessing to laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels and rogue regimes like Iran and Libya over several years.

Defenders of the Justice Department say that a criminal conviction could have been a death penalty for the bank, causing widespread damage to the economy. Warren wanted to know why the death penalty wasn’t warranted in this case.

“They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it,”

“How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”

“You sit in Treasury and you try to enforce these laws, and I’ve read all of your testimony and you tell me how vigorously you want to enforce these laws, but you have no opinion on when it is that a bank should be shut down for money laundering?”

“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re gonna go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life,” Warren said. “But evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your bed at night — every single individual associated with this. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

As staunch an opponent of the death penalty as I am, I would have voted for it and watched the “execution” of HSBC with glee.


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  1. TMC
  2. banger

    We have to understand that there is a system in place that deals with over-aggressive regulators. If you actually criminally indict very rich criminals your life will be made very difficult. You won’t get that plum job in the financial industry–many of these people work under political appointees who must leave after a few years–after that they get jobs in the oligarch firms–finance, big-pharma, mic and so on. They’ll have no future is they mess with the big boys. It is in the system that these firms are above the law because there is no way, the way the system works for them to be brought to account.

    If, for some reason a career employee attempts to blow the whistle or becomes too enthusiastic he or she will not necessarily lose their jobs but will be subject to harassment in the bureaucracy known only to us who have worked in the bureaucracy–at any rate life will be difficult for those employees and if they leave their jobs no one will hire them–that’s the reality of Washington.

  3. tahoebasha3

    which is why we’re in this mire of destruction to justice, in the first place.  Oh, we can’t have impeachment of Bush and Cheney because it would be too devisive and it’s too close to election time, etc. . . . .!  And all the like excuses right down the line to avoid any and all efforts of doing the right thing and calling a spade a spade, until you see and we are at this juncture where laws are virtually meaningless in this country . . . rather, the perverse of our laws seem to reign instead.  

    I’m sure Eliz. Warren is well aware she is NOT making friends . . . but, maybe, she is willing to forebear such consequences as Banger suggests and, bravo for her if she does.  Maybe a few other wimps will do the same thing — maybe, it will even become catching . . . . .!  As for such people obtaining gainful employment after their tenure with the government, in whatever capacity, I would disagree with your conclusions, Banger, at this point.  I would think that such an individual or individuals would have an open door for someone, anyone with enough courage to call the shots as he/she/them see(s) them.

  4. TMC

    in other countries. Jailing bankers for breaking the law won’t in and of itself destroy either the bank or the economy, as is, Holder’s premise. The HSB case was truly egregious, giving them a pass with a light fine and no criminal charges, sends a message to continue as usual.

  5. TMC

    Poos Holder, if he did his job under DOJ guidelines, he’d never get his old job back.  

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