Appearing at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled officials from the Treasury Department over why criminal charges were not filed against officials at HSBC who helped launder hundreds of millions of dollars for drug cartels.
The HSBC scandal resulted in the Department of Justice and Treasury announcing a record $1.92 billion fine after finding that the international bank repeatedly helped the world’s most violent drug gangs move at least $881 million in ill-gotten gains through numerous countries the U.S. has economic sanctions against.
“HSBC paid a fine, but no one individual went to trial, no individual was banned from banking, and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the United States,” Warren said. “So, what I’d like is, you’re the experts on money laundering. I’d like an opinion: What does it take — how many billions do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate — before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”
Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen, though admitting HSBC’s actions were “egregious,” did not answer Warren’s question. “For our part, we imposed on HSBC the largest penalties that we’ve ever imposed on any financial institution ever. We looked at the facts and determined that the most appropriate response there was a very, very significant penalty against the institution.”
Warren reiterated her question and still got nowhere. “We at the Treasury Department… don’t have the authority to shut down a financial institution,” Cohen said.
– Read the entire article at Raw Story.