The Criminal conspiracy known as the banking industry: War on Drugs edition

Look, it’s pretty much been self-evident that the war on drugs is a sham.

We’ve been spending more and more money every year fighting to keep drugs out of our country. We’ve compromised on our civil liberties to the point where the 4th amendment is largely moot, the authorities can send SWAT teams to the wrong house with a rubber stamped warrant, set fire to the kids’ beds with flashbangs or shoot up Fido and get praised for following procedures, and we overcrowd our jails with non-violent drug offenders mostly of the poor or minority communities.

But this sort of tears away the last threads of legitimacy as we let a bank that laundered Mexican cartel money off with a fine with no criminal penalties for anyone involved.

The drug cartels’ boxes of cash fit precisely into tellers’ windows at their bank in Mexico.

When Iran needed to transfer $55 million in gold bullion, the country, like others on the United States’ rogues list, found the same bank willing to assist: HSBC, the British financial giant.

Although the U.S. Justice Department portrayed HSBC as an effective accomplice to violent drug lords and hostile regimes, authorities chose not to prosecute the bank. HSBC instead will pay $1.9 billion, a financial penalty worth about 11% of the bank’s profit last year.

To keep score, possess or grow a small amount of marijuana, and you might be raided by a SWAT team with flashbangs and live ammo who might kill you with an accidental weapons discharge or for being disoriented and thinking they’re home invaders. Launder millions of dollars for drug lords and pay a fine of 11% of your yearly profits.

But don’t think that the good folks who committed felonies won’t be suffering:

Breuer defended the settlement, saying HSBC did not get a pass and will pay a heavy price. The bank has clawed back bonuses awarded to its compliance officials and agreed to partially defer senior executives’ bonuses, Breuer noted.

They’ll have to wait until next year for some of their bonuses. Ouchie-ouchie.


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