This being the first post for FPT I think the latest news from the Department of Justice be a fitting topic to start this site.
It is a dark day for the rule of law. Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system. They also have not charged any top HSBC banker in the case, though it boggles the mind that a bank could launder money as HSBC did without anyone in a position of authority making culpable decisions. source:Too Big to Indict [nytimes.com]
The DOJ has finally confirmed what most of us have known all along – large financial institutions and corporations have immunity from criminal sanction. This was not money laundering for rich people hiding their wealth in tax shelters offshore bank accounts, this was money that was being laundered for drug cartels with connections to terrorist organizations. Though if the average citizen committed these crimes they would be labelled a “terrorist” and would be facing life in prison. The DOJ explanation for deciding against indicting HSBC was that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and destabilize the global financial system.
Clearly, the government has bought into the notion that too big to fail is too big to jail. When prosecutors choose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as this, the law itself is diminished. The deterrence that comes from the threat of criminal prosecution is weakened, if not lost. source:Too Big to Indict [nytimes.com]
I can’t agree more, when you tell a large financial institution they will only receive fines and not imprisonment for crimes they commit you send a message now that they can operate on an entirely different set of laws which leads to a double standards for the rich and poor in these cases.
Matt Taibbi over at rollingstone.com expressed even more outrage at this issue, his latest article Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke had this to say,
The institutional bias in the crack sentencing guidelines was a racist outrage, but this HSBC settlement blows even that away. By eschewing criminal prosecutions of major drug launderers on the grounds (the patently absurd grounds, incidentally) that their prosecution might imperil the world financial system, the government has now formalized the double standard.
How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they’ve ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby’s auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don’t think twice. And then throw them in jail.
Sound harsh? It does, doesn’t it? The only problem is, that’s exactly what the government does just about every day to ordinary people involved in ordinary drug cases.