HSBC Too Big To Indict

From the front page of today’s New York Times:

“State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.

Instead, HSBC announced on Tuesday that it had agreed to a record $1.92 billion settlement with authorities. The bank, which is based in Britain, faces accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move money illegally through its American subsidiaries.

While the settlement with HSBC is a major victory for the government, the case raises questions about whether certain financial institutions, having grown so large and interconnected, are too big to indict. Four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly toppled the financial system, regulators are still wary that a single institution could undermine the recovery of the industry and the economy.

But the threat of criminal prosecution acts as a powerful deterrent. If authorities signal such actions are remote for big banks, the threat could lose its sting.”

You think? First these criminal institutions were too big to fail. Now they’re too big to indict. Sounds like the government is granting effective immunity to banks and corporations to break the law with little effective punishment. If it’s just a fine – well, that’s now the price of doing business. A price that’s passed on to the consumer, which would be us.

Folks, these banks are accused and are guilty of money laundering to terrorist outfits, rogue states and the drug cartels. Aren’t we “at war” with those players? Not to mention tax evasion, criminal fraud, collusion, cover-ups and a pervasive culture of greed and venality. Apparently ANYTHING is OK when there is profit to be made.

Where is the outrage from America’s universities, law schools and business schools? Where is the revulsion and alarm from the columnists, pundits and politicians who have defended the market so unhesitantly?


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