Thursday, December 13, 2012

US Senate caught doing something productive

The Monument of Independence (celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain) in downtown Mexico City is surrounded by skyscrapers housing multinational corporations. It’s a most regrettable irony. The most conspicuous & ritzy skyscraper is that of HSBC, a UK-based bank. In an uncustomary display of activity, a US Senate investigation recently charged HSBC & its US affiliate with laundering drug money by transporting $7 billion in US bank notes from Mexico to the US. HSBC has to fork over $1.9bn (£1.2bn) in penalties to the US government. A smaller settlement for drug laundering was extracted from Standard Chartered, another UK-based bank ($300 million in fines).

This is swell news since an estimated $1.5 trillion in drug money is laundered annually through legal financial institutions. So when they clean that situation up in England do you think they’ll start in over here? Or is that another thing to file under “Fat Chance?” They could begin with Wells Fargo since it’s well known they don’t only launder drug money but actually deliver it to Mexico on their own planes.

Does anyone seriously think the estimated $400 billion to $600 billion in international drug profits is accruing to street peddlers & cartels? The international drug business includes establishment figures at the highest levels of government, business, & finance, integrating a section of organized crime into modern capitalism. Or is that a false distinction? Money laundering is a foxy business since it also includes private banks with no accountability. It might also be remembered that laundering drug money was implicated in the savings & loan scandal of the 1980s. So good to see the US Senate is on top of things & finally catching up with this crime but only the credulous expect them to stop it.

(Photo of HSBC Tower in Mexico City from Flickr:


  1. The fine is small change in the whole scheme of things. The cost of the fine will be borne by the shareholders. The scumbags at the bank who allowed the money-laundering will probably suffer no consequences and still get their bonuses.

    "DOJ officials touted the $1.9 billion fine HSBC would pay, the largest ever for such a case. As the Guardian's Nils Pratley noted, "the sum represents about four weeks' earnings given the bank's pre-tax profits of $21.9bn last year." Unsurprisingly, "the steady upward progress of HSBC's share price since the scandal exploded in July was unaffected on Tuesday morning."

    1. Indeed, vsa! That's what makes a mockery of the whole damn charade!