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Friday, March 8, 2013

Elizabeth Warren’s Banking Committee methodology — ask questions of the wrong witnesses

Legal Insurrection 
Posted by William A. Jacobson    Friday, March 8, 2013 

Warren questioned senior Treasury Department officials Thursday about why there was no criminal prosecution for alleged money laundering by British bank HSBC and no effort to shut it down. HSBC agreed last December to pay a forfeiture and penalties totaling $1.9 billion to settle charges it helped Mexican drug traffickers, Iran and Libya move money around the world.
“What does it take, how many billions of dollars do you have to launder from drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution?” Warren asked at a Banking Committee hearing on money laundering.
The Treasury officials punted, saying criminal prosecutions are up to the Justice Department, not them.
The HSBC settlement was the largest penalty ever imposed on a bank. But the U.S. stopped short of charging executives, citing the bank’s immediate, full cooperation and the damage that an assault on the giant company might cause on economies and people, including thousands who would lose jobs if the bank collapsed.