Posted by Allison Crawford on Wealth Wire – Monday, March 11th, 2013
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren wasn’t pulling any punches during Thursday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing regarding fines imposed against HSBC for laundering close to $1 billion for foreign drug cartels. Warren grilled officials from the Treasury Department on just what a big bank has to do before anyone faces criminal charges or a company gets shut down:
“The U.S. government takes money laundering very seriously,” the senator began. “It’s possible to shut down a bank that’s been involved in money laundering, individuals can be banned from ever participating in financial services again, and people can be sent to prison. Now, in December HSBC admitted to… laundering $881 million, that we know of, for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, and also admitted to violating our sanctions… And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it, and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it. HSBC paid a fine, but no one individual went to trial, no individual was banned from banking, and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the U.S.”
Warren then asked the experts after what amount of money laundering and violating sanctions a financial institution like this would be shut down, or other legal action would be taken. David Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence evaded her question and responded that although the activity committed by HSBC was “egregious” his department had done all they could by “[imposing] on HSBC the largest penalties that [they] had ever imposed on any financial institution.”
Annoyed, Warren reiterated her initial question, as Cohen continued to deflect responsibility from the Treasury department.
After several more attempts by Warren to glean an opinion on exactly what it would take to shut down a company like HSBC, a flustered Cohen eventually got aggravated and responded, “I’m not going to get into some hypothetical line drawing exercise,” leaving Warren to draw her own conclusion that it is “somewhere beyond $881 million of drug money.”
The senator then took on Jerome H. Powell, Federal Reserve board member and asked the same question. Powell also deflected by saying that the Justice Department is in charge of any prosecutions or criminal suits. “We don’t do trials or anything like that,” Powell stated. “We do civil enforcement, and in the case of HSBC we gave essentially the statutory maximum.”
Warren was clearly far from satisfied with any of these answers and concluded by drawing comparisons between the effect of the law on everyday criminals versus big bankers:
“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail,” she said. “If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. 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 own bed at night, every single individual associated with this. I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
Warren’s assertion comes just one day after Attorney General Eric Holder admitted that the biggest banks are often difficult to penalize for breaking the law:
“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute – if we do bring a criminal charge – it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” he told the Senate Judiciary panel Wednesday.
I had the pleasure to infiltrate the 44th ANZ (Australia New Zealand Bank) AGM held in Perth Western Australia on 19th December 2012. What I witnessed was beyond believe. CEO, Michael Smith, is said to be on a pay pack $10.1 million in 2012, including $5.2 million in cash and $4.95 million worth of shares. Although 95 % of the share holders approved Michael’s ridiculous pay pack on the grounds that he made “5.7 BILLION DOLLARS PROFIT” for the bank last financial year, one share holder had the nerve to come forward to protest against such obscene wage earnings. The chairman of the board, John Morschel responded by telling the shareholder that if he did not want to agree with the pay rise for Michael Smith, he should cash in his shares and proceed to leave the premises… Such is the conduct of the super rich ANZ board. These protected powerful criminals are truly without conscious. They manipulate everything from refusing to adjust the interest rate to match the reserve bank to ripping you of with charges and fees that have no meaning. I ones took fifteen dollars in coins to the ANZ bank in Surry Hills NSW and requested they deposit it into my account. The result was that the mongrels charged me $25 to count it. With the little respect they appear to have for their own shareholders one would have to wonder what respect they have for their customers that made them rich. If you are an ANZ customer I would advise you to take your money out of the bank and stop feeding these criminals billions. ANZ are not the only bank to commit such unconstitutional crimes. The other banks are National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation. Keep well away from them all and look at the more friendly community owned banks such as Bendigo Bank, Adelaide Bank, Suncorp-Metway, Bank of Queensland and ME Bank. Other banks including Bankwest are owned subsidiaries of the big four. There are plenty of other banking institutions where your money is far safer and more care is taken servicing the customer. Today I am a happy Bendigo Bank customer a community bank that pays part of it’s profits back into the community… Much fewer hidden fees and less charges for account keeping not to mention personal counter service with a smile…I am no longer a ticket number and subject to talking with one of the 5600 workers ANZ employ at $2 per week in Bangalore India to deal with your queries, which get you absolutely nowhere…..even if you could understand them.
How can a woman that has no children represent a country full of families…How can this childless career politician ever understand the needs for mothers, fathers and children for that matter. She has no concept how most people in this country live or what their true needs are. She is totally out of touch with the people of this nation who did not even vote for her. She is a back stabber that is bringing this country to it’s knees lying her way into lining her pocket. She is an embarrassment in our Parliament. She is an embarrassment in front of other International leaders. Her carbon tax does not solve the problem of global warming, crime, poverty, an ageing population etc. These are all issues that need to be addressed very urgently…however, what would this childless excuse for a female know about life? Can you imagine? Trained as a lawyer,(problem number one), then went into politics(problem number two), was never married or had any relationship(as a leader of a nation that is problem number three) She eventually shared a unit with Tim Mathieson, a 56 year old beer guzzling divorcee hairdresser from Victoria who dumped three kids from a previous marriage to Dianna Stark. He and Julia where partnered since 2007 as Julia came under serious scrutiny from the people of Australia. They recently married in secret in order to justify their hopelessness. Having said all that, Australia has no trustworthy politicians at present. They all have a selfish greed driven agenda that only ever suits them…..So folks, Megagetoverit or do something about it.