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Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Economy, Guest Contributor | 5 comments

HSBC: Too Big To Jail?

Neil Barofsky has a must-read piece in The New Republic: Too Big to Jail?

Some perspective: HSBC sent more than $800 million in bulk cash from Mexico to the United States, a good chunk of which apparently represented proceeds from some of the most notorious Colombian drug cartels. As someone who tried the first narcotics money laundering case involving extradition from Colombia, let me assure you that this is a lot of money, the discovery of which usually generates vigorous prosecutions and lengthy prison sentences. And it wasn’t HSBC’s only dirty business: There were also hundreds of millions of more dollars of illegally disguised transactions with rogue nations such as Iran and Sudan.

Why no criminal charges?

But read the whole thing.


Anyone who thinks both the Democratic and Republican parties in America are not in the pockets of the banking industry and Wall Street is fooling themselves.

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  • Steve Sv

    For the other side of this argument one can read Juan Cole’s 12/13 article at, which links to a more in depth piece by Felix Salmon supporting the decision not to prosecute HSBC.

  • sheknows

    Other side of the argument??
    The bank was guilty of money laundering and knowingly doing business with drug cartels. Had this been a group of citizens, they would be in jail. Wrong is wrong.
    This insane leniency for criminal acts performed by the wealthy and powerful is not new. Pharmaceutical companies and other huge healthcare suppliers have been found guilty of billions in fraud and received only a fine and a hand slap…only to go out and do it again in some instances!
    It’s not just the banks, it’s ANY huge profit making corporation that US govt. officials refuse to prosecute.
    The people tried public outcry over Wall St, and got nowhere. Citizens Against Fraud have been fighting for prosecution for over a decade. It falls on deaf ears!
    Money is power and that controls not only our government but all governments everywhere that have a vested interest in keeping these slime molds operating.


    Another quote that should probably be included in the text here (coming from the source) is…

    “Given the potential profits of criminal behavior and the unlikelihood of personal consequences for the executives directing it, the message is clear: Crime pays. This will inevitably lead to more reckless risk-taking that will further undermine systemic stability and lead to an even greater financial meltdown down the road.”

    Barofsky was one of the people overseeing the TARP implementation. When he tells you that 2008 is going to happen again, it is time to listen.


    According to the source at Steve’s link, the U.S. did not seek criminal charges because the bank’s dealings were mostly legal in other countries. That has got to be the lamest excuse for criminal misbehavior that I have ever read. That author suggested that if we simply had legalized several agricultural products and not been in bed with Israel concerning Iran that HSBC’s actions would not have even hit the stinkometer!

    I am not entirely sure who that author is (credentials and such), but I would not recommend basing one’s philosophy off of his articles.

    Just sayin’

  • sheknows

    My take on the link was that it sounded as though he was saying the US had no one to blame but themselves. Apparently our “strong arm” foreign policy is at fault and fosters this type of corruption.

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