Too Big To Go To Jail? Only In America, It Seems

UK-based banking giant HSBC has been given a $1.9 billion slap on the wrist from US banking regulators for laundering billions of dollars of sanctions-busting and cartel drug money. Not a single person will see an indictment because the bank was judged too big to prosecute and because of fear of “collateral consequences” – i.e. the possibility that the banking industry as a whole might punish politicians for allowing justice to be done by withholding campaign contributions.

The fine levied on HSBC is equivalent to just four weeks’ earnings for the bank.

Standard Chartered, also based in London, was likewise forced to pay out a total of £415m for breaching sanctions with Iran. Again, nobody will be arrested.

If money laundering on this scale doesn’t provoke a prosecution, what would?

Meanwhile, in London – home of these criminally corrupt banks:

A former UBS and Citigroup banker and two others had their homes raided early on Tuesday morning and were taken in for questioning as part of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the manipulation of Libor interest rates.

The intervention came amid mounting speculation that the Financial Services Authority is preparing to take action against a number of banks in relation to Libor setting.

The SFO and City of London police arrested three men aged 33, 41 and 47 after searching  a house in Surrey and two properties in Essex. The three were taken to a London police station to be interviewed “in connection with the investigation into the manipulation of Libor”.

The three are understood to be Tom Hayes, who has worked for a number of banks including UBS and Citigroup, and two men who worked for City-based inter-dealer broker RP Martin – Terry Farr and Jim Gilmour. They are either on leave or have left the company. Citi and UBS declined to comment. RP Martin stressed it was co-operating with the authorities but not under investigation.

The UK investigation is ongoing and covers several major financial institutions. Voluntary settlements and fines are in the offing, but so too are more arrests.

Apparently the aristocratic privilege (lit. “private law”) provided by wealth and station in the US, what in Britain is known as the “old boys network”, may have finally surpassed that of the mother country.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

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  • According to CBS Evening News, the reason that no one is being prosecuted is that they could find no one person or any group of persons who actually made the desision to do this. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. Banks are functioning under policies that “just came into being all by themselves,” with no one actually making the decision to do them. That is possibly the most hilarious excuse I have heard yet why the rich get away with crimes; “They did not actually make the decision to do it.”

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