THE capitalist media has been forced, in recent days, to reveal some of the misdoings of the great banks that stand astride the planet, looting and plundering it by any and every means.
We heard about the Libor rate fixing scandal, and then the revelations about how the big banks have been rigging oil prices to plunder the ordinary people of billions. Now HSBC has entered the scene to make an abject apology to a US Senate investigation for money laundering. Finance capital has been going hand in hand with another branch of the bourgeois criminal fraternity, the bosses of the drug cartels.
HSBC is to apologise to the US Senate after an investigation claimed that the bank was being used to launder drug money around the world.
On Monday, a Senate report said that suspicious funds from countries including Mexico and Syria had passed through the bank.
The Senate report said large sums of drug money from Mexico had almost certainly been laundered through the bank, as well as questionable funds from the Cayman Islands, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the subcommittee that released the report, spoke of a ‘polluted’ system and said: ‘In an age of international terrorism, drug violence in our streets and on our borders, and organised crime, stopping illicit money flows that support those atrocities is a national security imperative.’
The Senate report also concluded that the US bank regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, failed to properly monitor HSBC.
According to the Senate committee, HSBC accepted more than $15 billion in cash from subsidiaries in Mexico, Russia and other countries at high risk of money laundering but failed to conduct any monitoring of these bulk cash transactions between mid-2006 and mid-2009.
Further, the report found that HSBC knew of lax anti-money laundering practices at its Mexican subsidiary HBMX which had dated back to its purchase in 2002.
HBMX was warned, on at least two occasions, by Mexican authorities that drug money was probably being laundered through HBMX accounts.
HSBC’s US subsidiary HBUS had opened more than 2,550 accounts for bearer share corporations in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands. Most of these bearer share accounts – some 1,670 – were opened at the Miami office of HBUS. At their peak, these Miami accounts held $2.6bn of assets and generated annual revenues of $26m.
The Senate report also looked at the Miami Beach hotel developers, Mauricio Cohen Assor and Leon Cohen Levy. The duo used HBUS accounts to help hide $150m in assets and $49m of income and were jailed for 10 years for criminal tax fraud and filing false tax returns in 2010.
Giving evidence in yesterday’s hearing was HSBC’s chief legal officer Stuart Levey, who joined the bank in January and was previously one of the top officials on terrorism and finance at the US Treasury Department. No doubt he will try to claim that he knew nothing about what was going on.
Yesterday the governor of the Bank of England said he knew nothing about Barclays’ rigging of the Libor rate, but conceded that the board of Barclays had appeared to be in a ‘state of denial’, and had been sailing ‘close to the wind’ for a long time.
King was also in a state of denial about the apparent warnings in 2008 from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that the Libor rate-setting mechanism might have been the subject of attempted manipulation. Lots of bankers are now in a state of denial!
However, what cannot be denied is that capitalism is a criminal system that begins with the theft of surplus value from the working class before moving onto common theft and swindling on a massive scale, bringing the entire system crashing down.
Such a system belongs in a museum of pre-history. It must be overthrown by the world socialist revolution and replaced worldwide by a planned socialist economy.