U.S. Goverment Says Drug Cartel-Linked Banking Giant HSBC Is Too Big To Jail

HSBC was fined of $1.9 billion this week for laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. It’s worth noting that for the world’s second largest bank, with trillions in assets, this is equivalent to a littering ticket. The New York Times writes:

It is a dark day for the rule of law. Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system. They also have not charged any top HSBC banker in the case, though it boggles the mind that a bank could launder money as HSBC did without anyone in a position of authority making culpable decisions.

When prosecutors choose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as this, the law itself is diminished. Once criminal sanctions are considered off limits, penalties and forfeitures become just another cost of doing business, a risk factor to consider on the road to profits.

There is no doubt that the wrongdoing at HSBC was serious and pervasive. Several foreign banks have been fined in recent years for flouting United States sanctions against transferring money through American subsidiaries on behalf of clients in countries like Iran, Sudan and Cuba. HSBC’s actions were even more egregious. According to several law enforcement officials with knowledge of the inquiry, prosecutors found that, for years, HSBC had also moved tainted money from Mexican drug cartels and Saudi banks with ties to terrorist groups.

21 Comments on "U.S. Goverment Says Drug Cartel-Linked Banking Giant HSBC Is Too Big To Jail"

  1. Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | Dec 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

    1.9 Billion Dollars. The cost of doing the business of large scale money laundering. The oil extraction industry is jealous of their profit to input ratio, to be sure.

  2. Is this even a fucking surprise anymore?… HSBC has so much pull like it’s such an integral part of the economy they would need to restructure the entire system and alot of poor people but that goes without saying, alot of RICH PEOPLE would have been fucked. The economy (circulation of money) would have severely dwindled. Rather than deal with these issues the US got lazy and basically said “fuck it”.

    Welcome to Capitalism. “THE GREATEST SYSTEM IN THE WORLD” (sarcasm)

  3. Business as usual. get busted with a half a joint in your pocket…go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect 200$. get busted spending 10 years helping “Pedro “the Skullfucker” Alvarez” hide his hundreds of million on coke profits…get a polite apology and a fine from Uncle Sam. I think the only lesson here is go big or go home…not crime doesn’t pay.

    • Simiantongue | Dec 15, 2012 at 12:26 am |

      Billions actually. Spot on otherwise.

    • I’ll bet the corporate executives behind it all get to keep every cent of their bonuses.

      • charlieprimero | Dec 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |

        Oh no. They are being punished severely! The U.S. Attorney announced:

        HSBC executives agreed to “partially defer” bonus compensation during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.


  4. Here is a good link for anyone who wants to do some really in depth research about how Big banks launder money and how they’ve been doing it for years


  5. BuzzCoastin | Dec 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

    after the mortgage scandals & the wall street shenanigans
    I’m surprised this even caused an eye to blink

  6. I’m so disgusted. The amount I am makes me think I was a bit more innocent than I previously thought. Fuck this

  7. We’re all junkies now.

  8. InfvoCuernos | Dec 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm |

    but watch these fuckers pull out all the stops to hunt down someone that owes $300 on their 2008 taxes. What the fuck. Criminal doesn’t even begin to describe how crooked these fuckers are. We need a new word for that. Maybe pancriminal, or criminal-rex? ubercrook?

    • psychiashit | Dec 15, 2012 at 11:58 am |

      Or you could go with the good ol’ accurate FASCIST but no that is too harsh

  9. DeepCough | Dec 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm |

    Even if the War on Drugs was changed to the “War on Drug Money,” the result would be the same.

  10. Simiantongue | Dec 15, 2012 at 12:41 am |

    I understand it’s comforting to imagine that there are these two worlds of legal and illegal finance. It’s an illusion however.

    Hey my name is blue. I’m a somebody!

  11. management material | Dec 15, 2012 at 6:25 am |

    its all just 1’s and 0’s …………..money as we know ceased having any real value under electric conditions with the Android Meme in place………….predicted by Marshall Mcluhan and demonstrated by ION and Bob Dobbs/Bob Neveritt/Bob Marshall…………word

  12. Tchoutoye | Dec 15, 2012 at 7:12 am |

    This should come as no surprise, as handling drug money was the main reason why the HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) was established 147 years ago, just after the 2nd Opium War.

    It was the East Coast establishment that profited most from the opium trade back then, which is more or less the same establishment that shows its loyalty to the opium bank by keeping it out of jail now.

  13. Anarchy Pony | Dec 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm |

    But are they too big to hang from streetlights?

    • My guess is “no”.

      But I hope that we’re able to confirm the hypothesis through empirical testing.

      • I appreciate your sound and scientific approach to this. I hope more people can see this the same way.

  14. Empedecles Norton | Dec 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

    Ok people, bank corruption is why we need to develop strong crypto-currency such as Bitcoin. The future is in non-third party banking, such as exists now. HSBC is a dinosaur but will fight to survive. Bitcoin as it stands now has a few flaws, but it will evolve into an economic singularity if it can survive a ponzi scheme test—and it seems like it will, so far. Currencies such as Bitcoin are here to stay. They’ve already eliminated Western Union—the shockwave has not fully hit but will soon enough.

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