A US Congressional report has revealed that US officials refused to prosecute HSBC for money laundering in 2012 because of grave concerns within the UK’s Department of Justice that prosecution would cause a ‘global financial disaster’.
The report alleges that the UK ‘hampered’ the probe and ‘influenced’ its outcome, with Chancellor Osborne adding to the pressure by issuing a warning to the US that it could lead to market turmoil.
HSBC was accused of giving the go-ahead for Mexican and other drug cartels to use US banks to launder funds. The bank paid a $1.92bn (£1.48bn) settlement but did not face criminal charges. In fact, no top officials at HSBC faced any charges at all.
The report states: ‘George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UK’s chief financial minister, intervened in the HSBC matter by sending a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke… to express the UK’s concerns regarding US enforcement actions against British banks.’
The letter said that prosecuting HSBC could have ‘very serious implications for financial and economic stability, particularly in Europe and Asia’. The report also accuses former US Attorney General Eric Holder of misleading Congress about his decision to ignore the recommendations of more junior staff to prosecute HSBC because of the bank’s ‘systemic importance’ to the financial markets. They were terrified that exposure would touch off a worldwide banking crash.
Internal Treasury documents show: ‘Rather than lacking adequate evidence to prove HSBC’s criminal conduct, the DoJ (Department of Justice) leadership declined to pursue the recommendation to prosecute HSBC because senior DoJ leaders were concerned that prosecuting the bank “could result in a global financial disaster”,’ the report said.
Following this the Department of Justice and HSBC reached a settlement, which politicians criticised for being too lenient. Testifying before Congress in 2013, Holder said: ‘If we find a bank or a financial institution that has done something wrong, if we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, those cases will be brought.’
Congress’s report deemed these comments to be misleading in light of emails from Treasury Department staff that recommended criminal charges. The 2012 settlement with HSBC detailed how the bank violated US sanctions by conducting business for customers in Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba.
The settlement allowed the bank to avoid pleading guilty to any wrongdoing. If HSBC had been proven guilty of criminal action it could have lost its banking charter in the US. HSBC and US regulators have declined to comment on the report. The UK Treasury has not commented either, even though the report alleges that the UK ‘hampered’ the probe and ‘influenced’ the outcome.
The content of the Congressional report makes it very clear that the safety of the planet requires the nationalisation of the big banks, such as HSBC, on a world scale. The current situation is one where working people of the world are fighting for jobs, wages, and basic rights and where a new banking crash that will cost hundreds of millions of jobs is just a matter of time!
The only remedy for the role that the big banks play in ruling the world, and enriching themselves by all possible means at the expense of the working people, is socialist revolutions and the victory of the world socialist revolution. This will replace the rule of the bankers and bosses with a world socialist republic and a worldwide planned economy based on satisfying the needs of every inhabitant of the planet.