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Old 03-13-2013, 07:19 AM   #1
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Elizabeth Warren Wants HSBC Bankers Jailed for Money Laundering

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics...ey-laundering/

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Elizabeth Warren has a question: How much money does a bank have to launder before people go to jail?

Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts and financial-regulatory maven, posed that question numerous times to financial regulators at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday on banks and money laundering.

In December, U.S. Justice Department officials announced that HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, would pay a $1.92 billion fine after laundering $881 million for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia. At the time, the Justice Department disputed accusations that it views some banks as too big to prosecute.
The two regulators, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen and Federal Reserve Governor Jerome H. Powell, deflected Warren’s questions, saying that criminal prosecutions are for the Justice Department to decide.

“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life,” an exasperated Warren said, as she wrapped up her questioning. “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 — and I just think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
To big to jail?
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:23 AM   #2
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I agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren. (D-MA).
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:45 AM   #3
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:10 PM   #4
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As well they should go to jail.

They should have their scalps handed to them, so to speak, and should not be insulated for their own actions and culpability by dint of being behind a however large a corporate wall. They should be treated with the same deference as would be a street level dealer if not more severely given the scale of impact of their actions.

If "corporations are people too," to borrow that dubious phrase, then these individual people involved should be just as liable to suffer the legal repurcussions of their actions as any other individual.

Last edited by Rhumb; 03-14-2013 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 03-14-2013, 03:16 PM   #5
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I find her rhetoric refreshing.
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Old 03-14-2013, 05:06 PM   #6
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Old 03-14-2013, 07:52 PM   #7
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How can you pin the crime to a person though...can't jail the "bank"....I was also under the impression that HSBC was HongKong-Shanghai Bank of China...I don't think a single f*** was given, but I'm not sure. Also, laundering money is based on laws that may not exist in some countries (ie legal drugs). For example (not sure if true, but just an example)...is HSBC not allowed to process money from North Korea or the Iranian government?
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Old 03-14-2013, 09:42 PM   #8
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How can you pin the crime to a person though...can't jail the "bank"....I was also under the impression that HSBC was HongKong-Shanghai Bank of China...I don't think a single f*** was given, but I'm not sure. Also, laundering money is based on laws that may not exist in some countries (ie legal drugs). For example (not sure if true, but just an example)...is HSBC not allowed to process money from North Korea or the Iranian government?
You would pin this crime on person just as you would any crime, uncover those individuals who signed off on or committed them.

No, you can't jail a bank but neither should individuals within that bank be shielded by their employment from accountability for their actions. Working for HSBC should provide no more cover for money laundering than should working for some pawn shop down the street.

If HSBC wishes to conduct business in the U.S., then they must comport themselves to U.S. law and regulations, just as you and I. If they find this somehow overly burdensome, then they are free not to.

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Old 03-14-2013, 10:45 PM   #9
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Let's cuff our politicians first and then worry about the banks/free enterprise.
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Old 03-14-2013, 11:29 PM   #10
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You would pin this crime on person just as you would any crime, uncover those individuals who signed off on or committed them.

No, you can't jail a bank but neither should individuals within that bank be shielded by their employment from accountability for their actions. Working for HSBC should provide no more cover for money laundering than should working for some pawn shop down the street.

If HSBC wishes to conduct business in the U.S., then they must comport themselves to U.S. law and regulations, just as you and I. If they find this somehow overly burdensome, then they are free not to.
This I can understand...they did something that may not jive with US law, so they can't conduct business in the US, but as far as laundering money for those that THIS country deems an enemy doesn't seem "wrong" since doing business in North Korea or with Iran might be deemed "wrong" as well. I obviously don't know much about internation bank compliance law, but to me the "drug" money seems arbitrary.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:19 AM   #11
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How can you pin the crime to a person though...can't jail the "bank"....
The "bank" was the vehicle to commit the crime. It doesn't protect the individual(s) responsible for driving that crime.


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I was also under the impression that HSBC was HongKong-Shanghai Bank of China...I don't think a single f*** was given, but I'm not sure.

Also, laundering money is based on laws that may not exist in some countries (ie legal drugs). For example (not sure if true, but just an example)...is HSBC not allowed to process money from North Korea or the Iranian government?
HSBC has offices in the United States. Their company and employees are subject to US Laws and Regulations.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:27 AM   #12
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I wish more on the right would treat corporate crime with the same strict accountability as street crime. Rather, far too many seem to give corporations a generous grant of deference and latitude whereas they would be howling to throw a purse snatcher immediately into jail and weld the doors shut for 10 years. If some international bank defrauds some thousands investors out of billions, or launders the money of some blood-soaked drug lords, well, the poor suits are probably just misunderstood or just the victim of some left wing political agenda, certainly not of actual malfeasance on their part.

This seems far too true of the many immense trans-national banks that seem to float above the laws and strictures mere mortals are obligated to comply with -- not only too big to fail, but too big to jail. Should some bold regulator have the impertinence to try to hold some corporate titans accountable for their misdeeds, they are either excoriated for their impudence or politically pressured not to rustle the jimmies of these economic demi-gods lest they risk bringing down their wrath upon us mere mortals.

Good for Warren for having the brass and character in standing up to these corporations as a good prosecutor would to some common street gang. A thousand dollar suit and silk tie should not be to provide either excuse or cover for crime and more than a hoodie and bandana.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhumb View Post
I wish more on the right would treat corporate crime with the same strict accountability as street crime. Rather, far too many seem to give corporations a generous grant of deference and latitude whereas they would be howling to throw a purse snatcher immediately into jail and weld the doors shut for 10 years. If some international bank defrauds some thousands investors out of billions, or launders the money of some blood-soaked drug lords, well, the poor suits are probably just misunderstood or just the victim of some left wing political agenda, certainly not of actual malfeasance on their part.

This seems far too true of the many immense trans-national banks that seem to float above the laws and strictures mere mortals are obligated to comply with -- not only too big to fail, but too big to jail. Should some bold regulator have the impertinence to try to hold some corporate titans accountable for their misdeeds, they are either excoriated for their impudence or politically pressured not to rustle the jimmies of these economic demi-gods lest they risk bringing down their wrath upon us mere mortals.

Good for Warren for having the brass and character in standing up to these corporations as a good prosecutor would to some common street gang. A thousand dollar suit and silk tie should not be to provide either excuse or cover for crime and more than a hoodie and bandana.
You are correct, crime is crime. Unfortunately, it is not just the right that does this. Trans-national banks have politicians from all viewpoints in their back pocket and legislators paid to protect them. I can only imagine the amount of crime commited by GS every year, but they're cool with our government so no big whoop.

How about Diane Feinstein steering 2 billion+ to her husband's company during Iraq? Anyone care? Nope.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:51 AM   #14
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This was actually one of the concerns floated by a Justice memo after the Federal bailout of the banks during the financial crisis. Given the extraordinary consolidation of assets under a dwindling number of banks (the 10 largest financial institutions hold about 75% of all assets under management), Federal prosecutors are concerned that it will be impossible to bring criminal charges against one of these banks without destabilizing the entire financial sector.

Probably won't stop the New York AG from grandstanding and extorting Wall Street, but it's still a significant development.
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:05 AM   #15
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True, certainly it isn't only those on the right who turn blind eyes from where they should direct an unwavering gaze of scrutiny, but I do find many on the right far too ideological deferential to business and corporations, too quick to reflexively ignore or excuse real and extant crime and malfeasance.

I am not aware of any great or extant crimes committed by GSA even though that seems to be a common presumption on the part of many on the right. Federal agencies are actually under a great deal of scrutiny, certainly by conservative/right legislators who are quick and eager to uncover any malfeasance, as they ought to.

Some on the right try to portray that a belief in a larger rather than smaller role for government automatically implies a tolerance for waste, fraud and inefficiency where the opposite is generally true, those who believe in a significant role for government demand that those institutions operate with the highest levels of efficiency and rectitude and are the first to feel betrayed and angered when and where they fall short.

Of course, that could be said of many on the right when it comes to business/corporate rectitude and ethical/legal integrity and will not continence excuses or deflection from even the highest and mightiest of corporate titans.

I guess its only natural, if lamentable, to look only to the other side for sin and vice rather than to look inside one's own ideological house.
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:23 PM   #16
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As well they should go to jail.

They should have their scalps handed to them, so to speak, and should not be insulated for their own actions and culpability by dint of being behind a however large a corporate wall. They should be treated with the same deference as would be a street level dealer if not more severely given the scale of impact of their actions.

If "corporations are people too," to borrow that dubious phrase, then these individual people involved should be just as liable to suffer the legal repurcussions of their actions as any other individual.
Who is "they"?

It may be that AML/BSA regs were violated. Those regs have serious teeth. But in order to bring criminal charges, the govt needs proof of violations by individuals.

A politician grandstanding for media attention doesn't constitute proof. A politician questioning regulators that don't do criminal investigations doesn't help.

You want to blame the right, but a leftist has been in charge of the executive branch for 4 years. The executive branch is in charge of all these regulatory bodies, so if they're avoiding investigating and prosecuting all these criminals at the banks, it's clearly a liberal agenda at this point, not a conservative one.

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:30 PM   #17
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Who is "they"?

It may be that AML/BSA regs were violated. Those regs have serious teeth. But in order to bring criminal charges, the govt needs proof of violations by individuals.

A politician grandstanding for media attention doesn't constitute proof. A politician questioning regulators that don't do criminal investigations doesn't help.

You want to blame the right, but a leftist has been in charge of the executive branch for 4 years. The executive branch is in charge of all these regulatory bodies, so if they're avoiding investigating and prosecuting all these criminals at the banks, it's clearly a liberal agenda at this point, not a conservative one.

Then that's exactly what needs to be done, investigate precisely who did initiate, sign-off on or condone these money laundering crimes. Simply trying to hide behind corporate anonymity should be no shield for personal liability, accountability or prosecution when it comes to the commission of a crime, whether it be HSBC or the Mafia.

Of course, a full and proper investigation should be done and every legal right observed, but if an individual was complicit in this crime, then they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law just as any other criminal -- no more, but absolutely no less.

I would agree that the executive branch has been far too lax, even timorous, including the past four years, in vigorously pursuing corporate crime and malfeasance. While the GOP is by far the most egregious in the fawning deference with which they treat business and large corporations, the Dems too have certainly lacked sufficient courage, conviction and moral fortitude to pursue this with the aggressiveness necessary to assure justice.

AG Holder recently spoke with surprising frankness to the immense political pressures he faces to treat these megabanks with kid gloves lest he incurs their ire and wrath and, like some angry gods (as they apparently see themselves as), rain down some economic plague upon all of us as punishment for the impertinence of treating their actions as mere crimes and themselves as the common mortal criminals they are. As has been said, too big to fail also seems to mean too big to jail.

Regardless of reasons why, corporate level crime, which can have a deep and broad impact across a vast number of lives and individuals, must be treated with the highest levels of attention and seriousness.
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Old 03-16-2013, 08:54 PM   #18
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Then that's exactly what needs to be done, investigate precisely who did initiate, sign-off on or condone these money laundering crimes. Simply trying to hide behind corporate anonymity should be no shield for personal liability, accountability or prosecution when it comes to the commission of a crime, whether it be HSBC or the Mafia.

Of course, a full and proper investigation should be done and every legal right observed, but if an individual was complicit in this crime, then they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law just as any other criminal -- no more, but absolutely no less.

I would agree that the executive branch has been far too lax, even timorous, including the past four years, in vigorously pursuing corporate crime and malfeasance. While the GOP is by far the most egregious in the fawning deference with which they treat business and large corporations, the Dems too have certainly lacked sufficient courage, conviction and moral fortitude to pursue this with the aggressiveness necessary to assure justice.

AG Holder recently spoke with surprising frankness to the immense political pressures he faces to treat these megabanks with kid gloves lest he incurs their ire and wrath and, like some angry gods (as they apparently see themselves as), rain down some economic plague upon all of us as punishment for the impertinence of treating their actions as mere crimes and themselves as the common mortal criminals they are. As has been said, too big to fail also seems to mean too big to jail.

Regardless of reasons why, corporate level crime, which can have a deep and broad impact across a vast number of lives and individuals, must be treated with the highest levels of attention and seriousness.
It's hard to really discuss things with you when you're so melodramatic. I don't know if you're just trying for a literary effect (angry gods, economic plague, etc) or if that's what you truly believe.

You want to indict the GOP for fawning deference to the banks. Why hasn't the Senate blasted Obama's administration for their failure to bring charges against these criminals you and Ms Warren are so sure are out there? Political fawning deference?

As an aside, it's hard to imagine any bank threatening to "rain down some economic plague". Banks want a thriving, healthy economy. Their customers have more money (increases the bank's revenue-generating liabilities), more customers' tax returns look terrific so the bank can book more loans (increases the bank's revenue-generating assets), and more money-moving activities are happening (increases the banks fee income). I'm no high-ranking political operative, but it seems to me if some big shot at a bank tried to threaten me by implying his bank would rain down an economic plague on the country, I'd laugh him out of my office and wish him good luck with his plan.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:28 PM   #19
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Just indulging a little fun and hyperbole in writing, don't want to be too dry and mundane. It is a car forum after all, not some doctoral dissertation. Rhetorical flourishes aside, I do stand by my underlying thoughts.

I think both parties are guilty of a bit too much deference to large, well monied and powerful institutions, even if the GOP is significantly worse in this particular regard. Obama and his administration HAVE gotten a LOT of flak from his own side for not pursuing potential wrong doing by the large banks more aggressively. The sentiment seems to be that too big to fail, for fear of upsetting the overall economy, is also too big to jail, for much the same reason and that perhaps for both reasons these large banks need to be pared down to size so as not to represent such a risk to our economic system.

While banks certainly do want a thriving, healthy economy, secondarily; primarily, they want a thriving, healthy profit, particularly for funding the immense pay packages of those running these institutions. Where these interests align, as they generally do, fine. Where they do not, please do notice the order of priority of interests. While no bank executive worth his salt would ever state such an explicit correlation -- treat us nice, forgive us our sins, don't even think about bringing us personally to legal account for our actions or we'll bring you to ruin -- I am sure they are more than able to alude that perhaps said bank may be forced to modify business operations in such a way -- oh, and generou political donations too -- that might, just might, negatively impact the economy in districts that, errr, resemble theirs.
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