Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Justice Department proves drug war is a joke

I'm coming late to this story, probably because it's from Matt Taibbi and I've not heard of it in any major news outlet, including liberal (except of course Taibb's Rolling Stone). HSBC is a British banking giant that laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels and terrorists, yet the US Justice Department accepted a monetary settlement and chose no criminal prosecutions. Yes, it was a record financial settlement of $1.9 billion, but that translates to about five weeks of their income. Not to mention the billions of dollars bank officials likely received as bribes to do the deed.

The Justice Dept's excuse?

It might destabilise the entire financial industry? Seriously? What exactly does slapping them on the wrist with petty change (in their world) and basically giving the message it's just fine to launder money for criminals and terrorists? That stabilises the industry? Or legitimizes criminal activity on the largest of scales if you're too big not only to fail but to prosecute? Plus the bank fired all the senior executives responsible, so it's not like they were individually critical to financial stability.

So what are appropriate penalties in such a case. Just the same penalties in any other Justice Dept. drug case where less than mega-banks are involved: Seizing all of the ill-gotten gains involved in illegal activity, including property bought with it. And throw them in jail. This is exactly what they do in most all smaller drug cases. But not for big bankers because this might destabilise the financial system when that's exactly what this behavior does? Seems it's more about how much of those ill-gotten gains can be funneled into political campaigns to maintain such a corrupt system where the rich basically are above the law and write the laws for everyone else to be held accountable. Despicable.

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