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THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL MELTDOWN
WALL STREET LOOTING : WILL JPMORGAN CHASE BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR MONEY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR MONEY LAUNDERING “LAPSES”?

Tom Burghardt
Global Research, January 13, 2013
http://www.globalresearch.ca/wall-street...es/5318781


As a sop to outraged public opinion over Wall Street’s looting of the real economy, criminal banksters are coming under increased scrutiny by federal regulators.

Scrutiny however, is not the same thing as enforcement of laws such as the Bank Secrecy Act and other regulatory measures meant to stop the flow of dirty money from organized crime into the financial system.

And never mind that President Obama and his hand-picked coterie of insiders from Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo (all of whom figured prominently in recent narcotics scandals) are moving to impose Eurozone-style austerity measures that threaten to ravage the social safety net, the American people are spoon-fed a pack of lies that this cabal will protect their interests and enforce the law when it comes to drug money laundering.

Late last week, Reuters reported that “U.S. regulators are expected to order JPMorgan Chase & Co to correct lapses in how it polices suspect money flows … in the latest move by officials to force banks to tighten their anti money-laundering systems.”

In December, the Department of Justice cobbled together a widely criticized deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, over charges that the institution, founded in 1865 by British drug lords when the British Crown seized Hong Kong from China in the wake of the First Opium War, knowingly laundered billions of dollars in drug and terrorist money for some of the most violent gangsters on earth.

Despite the fact that DOJ imposed a $1.9 billion (£1.2bn) fine which included $655 million (£408m) in civil penalties, not a single senior officer at HSBC was criminally charged with enabling Mexican drug cartels and Al Qaeda terrorists to illegally move money through its American subsidiaries.

More outrageously, even when stiff fines are levied against criminal banks and corporations, as likely as not “some or all of these payments will probably be tax-deductible. The banks can claim them as business expenses. Taxpayers, therefore, will likely lighten the banks’ loads,” The New York Times disclosed.

“The action against JPMorgan,” Reuters reported,


“would be in the form of a cease-and-desist order, which regulators use to force banks to improve compliance weaknesses, the sources said. JPMorgan will probably not have to pay a monetary penalty, one of the sources said.”

Read that sentence again. America’s largest bank, responsible for some of the worst depredations of the housing crisis which tossed millions of citizens out of their homes and fined $7.3 billion (£4.53bn) for doing so, will not be fined nor will their officers be criminally charged for presumably washing black money for organized crime.

Despite the recklessness of senior officials at JPMorgan, including CEO Jamie Dimon, former CFO Doug Braunstein and former CIO Ina Drew over the bank’s massive losses in the credit derivatives market last year, Bloomberg News reported that the board will only “consider” whether to release a report on the fiasco which wiped out close to $51 billion in shareholder value at this “too big to fail” bank.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), severely criticized by the US Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in their 335-page report into HSBC, along with the Federal Reserve are expected to issue the cease-and-desist order as early as this week.

Last April however, when OCC issued a cease-and-desist order against Citigroup for alleged “gaps” in their oversight of cash transactions similar to those of drug-tainted HSBC and Wells-owned Wachovia, which laundered hundreds of billions of dollars for narcotics traffickers through dodgy cash exchange houses in Mexico, no monetary penalties were attached.

A “person close” to Citigroup “attributed part of the problem to an accident when a computer was unplugged from anti-money-laundering systems,” according to The New York Times.

While such bald-faced misrepresentations may pass muster with America’s “newspaper of record,” Citigroup’s sorry history when it comes to facilitating criminal money flows is not so easily swept under the rug.

Late last year investigative journalist Bill Conroy reported in Narco News: “In the 1990s, Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas, tapped US-based Citibank to help transfer up to $100 million out of Mexico and into Swiss bank accounts. Although US authorities investigated the suspicious money movements, ultimately no charges were brought against Raul Salinas or Citibank–a Citigroup Inc. subsidiary.”

“Again,” Conroy reported,


“in January 2010, Citigroup popped up on banking regulators’ radar, this time in Mexico, when a Mexican judge accused a half dozen casa de cambios (money transmitters) of laundering drug funds through various banks, including Citigroup’s Mexican subsidiary. In that case, Citigroup again was not accused of violating any laws.”

However, despite that fact that the OCC’s cease-and-desist order against Citigroup accused the bank of systemic “internal control weaknesses” that opened the institution up to shady transactions by “high-risk customers,” presumably including flush-with-cash narcotics traffickers, the bank was not indicted for criminal violations under the Bank Secrecy Act and did not admit wrongdoing, instead promising to “institute reforms.”

As with Wachovia and HSBC, OCC charged that Citigroup’s “lapses” included “the incomplete identification of high risk customers in multiple areas of the bank, inability to assess and monitor client relationships on a bank-wide basis, inadequate scope of periodic reviews of customers, weaknesses in the scope and documentation of the validation and optimization process applied to the automated transaction monitoring system, and inadequate customer due diligence.”

Additionally, Citigroup “failed to adequately conduct customer due diligence and enhanced due diligence on its foreign correspondent customers, its retail banking customers, and its international personal banking customers and did not properly obtain and analyze information to ascertain the risk and expected activity of particular customers.”

According to OCC auditors, Citigroup “self-reported” that “from 2006 through 2010, the Bank failed to adequately monitor its remote deposit capture/international cash letter instrument processing in connection with foreign correspondent banking.” As I have pointed out, correspondent and private banking are gateways for laundering drug and other criminal money flows.

In other words, replicating patterns employed for decades by the world’s leading financial institutions, organized criminals and terrorist financiers were enabled, with a wink-and-a-nod by the US government, above all by US secret state agencies which siphoned off part of the loot for covert operations, to wash black cash through the system as a whole.

Already stung by billions of dollars in losses due to risky trades in credit derivatives as noted above, MoneyWatch reported “CEO Jamie Dimon can’t blame this on a ‘flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored’ strategy, like he did when the bank lost $6.2 billion on the so-called ‘London Whale’ trade.”

“In many ways,” reporter Jill Schlesinger wrote, “the current potential regulatory action is worse than any trading loss, because it indicates a systemic lapse in controls.”

According to MoneyWatch, regulators “appear to have found a company-wide lapse in procedures and oversight connected to anti-money-laundering (AML) surveillance and risk management. AML controls are intended to deter and detect the misuse of legitimate financial channels for the funding of money laundering, terrorist financing and other criminal acts.”

But there’s the rub; federal regulators are loathe to police, let alone hold to account those responsible for such illicit transactions precisely because the infusion of dirty money into the system is a splendid means to keep failed capitalist financial institutions afloat, a process which Global Research political analyst Michel Chossudovsky has termed “the criminalization of the state.”

In fact, as former London Metropolitan Police financial crimes specialist Rowan Bosworth-Davies recently wrote on his website: “These institutions exist … to handle and facilitate the through-put of the staggering volume of criminal and dirty money which daily flows through the financial sector, because the profits there from are just so incredibly valuable.”

“The biggest problem for these banks,” Bosworth-Davies observed,


“is that by far the greatest amount of this money is illegal to handle under international money laundering laws. All banking institutions are now effectively subject to international laws which prohibit the handling or the facilitation of criminally-acquired money from whatever source, and that money includes the proceeds of drug trafficking, all other criminal activities (including tax evasion), and the proceeds of terrorism.”

Indeed, “The money they were moving was so huge … that it became very easy to persuade Governments to turn a blind eye, while regulators were encouraged to look the other way, when the banks began engaging in a series of wholesale criminal activities.”

Until OCC reveals the content of its cease-and-desist order pending against JPMorgan Chase we do not know the extent of the bank’s potential criminal “lapses” under the Bank Secrecy Act.

However, as Reuters reported although “no immediate action is expected from US prosecutors,” it is a near certainty that the federal government and complicit media will disappear whatever dirty secrets eventually emerge down the proverbial memory hole.


FRAUD, MONEY LAUNDERING AND NARCOTICS. IMPUNITY OF THE BANKING GIANTS.
NO PROSECUTION OF HSBC

Tom Burghardt
Global Research, December 31, 2012
http://www.globalresearch.ca/fraud-money...bc/5317406

In another shameful decision by the US Department of Justice, earlier this month federal prosecutors reached a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with UK banking giant HSBC, Europe’s largest bank.

Shameful perhaps, but entirely predictable. After all, in an era characterized by economic collapse owing to gross criminality by leading financial actors, policy decisions and the legal environment framing those decisions have been shaped by oligarchs who quite literally have “captured” the state.

Founded in 1865 by flush-with-cash opium merchants after the British Crown seized Hong Kong from China in the aftermath of the First Opium War, HSBC has been a permanent fixture on the radar of US law enforcement and regulatory agencies for more than a decade.



Not that anything so trifling as terrorist financing or global narcotrafficking mattered much to the Obama administration.

As I previously reported, (here, here, here and here), when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued their mammoth 335-page report, “U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History,” we learned that amongst the “services” offered by HSBC subsidiaries and correspondent banks were sweet deals, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, with financial entities with ties to international terrorism and the grisly drug trade.

Charged with multiple violations of the Bank Secrecy Act for their role in laundering blood money for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, as a sideline HSBC’s Canary Wharf masters conducted a highly profitable business with the alleged financiers of the 9/11 attacks who washed funds through Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank.

While the media breathlessly reported that the DPA will levy fines totaling some $1.92 billion (£1.2bn) which includes $655 million (£408m) in civil penalties, the largest penalty of its kind ever levied against a bank, under terms of the agreement not a single senior officer will be criminally charged. In fact, those fines will be paid by shareholders which include municipal investors, pension funds and the public at large.

With some 7,200 offices in more than 80 countries and 2011 profits topping $22 billion (£13.6bn), Senate investigators found that HSBC’s web of 1,200 correspondent banks provided drug traffickers, other organized crime groups and terrorists with “U.S. dollar services, including services to move funds, exchange currencies, cash monetary instruments, and carry out other financial transactions. Correspondent banking can become a major conduit for illicit money flows unless U.S. laws to prevent money laundering are followed.” They weren’t and as a result the bank’s balance sheets were inflated with illicit proceeds from terrorists and drug gangsters.

Revelations of widespread institutional criminality are hardly a recent phenomenon. More than a decade ago journalist Stephen Bender published a Z Magazine piece which found that “99.9 percent of the laundered criminal money that is presented for deposit in the United States gets comfortably into secure accounts.”

According to Bender: “The key institution in the enabling of money laundering is the ‘private bank,’ a subdivision of every major US financial institution. Private banks exclusively seek out a wealthy clientele, the threshold often being an annual income in excess of $1 million. With the prerogatives of wealth comes a certain regulatory deference.”

Such “regulatory deference” in the era of “too big to fail” and its corollary, “too big to prosecute,” is a signal characteristic as noted above, of state capture by criminal financial elites.

Indeed, HSBC’s private banking arm, HSBC Private Bank is the principal private banking business of the HSBC Group. A holding company wholly owned by HSBC Bank Plc, its subsidiaries include HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA, HSBC Private Bank (UK) Limited, HSBC Private Bank (CI) Limited, HSBC Private Bank (Luxembourg) SA, HSBC Private Bank (Monaco) SA and HSBC Financial Services (Cayman) Limited. All of these entities featured prominently in money laundering and tax evasion schemes uncovered by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee in their report. Combined client assets have been estimated by regulators to top $352 billion (£217.68).

According to Senate investigators, HSBC Financial Services (Cayman) was the principle conduit through which drug money laundered through HSBC Mexico (HBMX) flowed. “This branch,” Senate staff averred, “is a shell operation with no physical presence in the Caymans, and is managed by HBMX personnel in Mexico City who allow Cayman accounts to be opened by any HBMX branch across Mexico.”

“Total assets in the Cayman accounts peaked at $2.1 billion in 2008. Internal documents show that the Cayman accounts had operated for years with deficient AML [anti-money laundering] and KYC [know your client] controls and information. An estimated 15% of the accounts had no KYC information at all, which meant that HBMX had no idea who was behind them, while other accounts were, in the words of one HBMX compliance officer, misused by ‘organized crime’.”

In fact, the “normal” business model employed by HSBC and other entities bailed out by Western governments fully conform to the “control fraud” model first described by financial crime expert William K. Black.

According to Black, a control fraud occurs when a CEO and other senior managers remove checks and balances that prevent criminal behaviors, thus subverting regulatory requirements that prevent things like money laundering, shortfalls due to bad investments or the sale of toxic financial instruments.

In The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, Black informed us: “A control fraud is a company run by a criminal who uses it as a weapon and shield to defraud others and makes it difficult to detect and punish the fraud.”

“Control frauds,” Black reported, “are financial superpredators that cause vastly larger losses than blue-collar thieves. They cause catastrophic business failures. Control frauds can occur in waves that imperil the general economy. The savings and loan (S&L) debacle was one such wave.”

Indeed, “control frauds” like HSBC “create a ‘fraud friendly’ corporate culture by hiring yes-men. They combine excessive pay, ego strokes (e.g., calling the employees ‘geniuses’) and terror to get employees who will not cross the CEO.” In such a “criminogenic” environment, the CEO (paging Lord Green!) “optimizes the firm as a fraud vehicle and can optimize the regulatory environment.”

In their press release, the Department of Justice announced that HSBC Group “have agreed to forfeit $1.256 billion and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for HSBC’s violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA).”

“According to court documents,” the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs informed us, “HSBC Bank USA violated the BSA by failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and to conduct appropriate due diligence on its foreign correspondent account holders.”

The DOJ goes on to state, “A four-count felony criminal information was filed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging HSBC with willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program, willfully failing to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent affiliates, violating IEEPA and violating TWEA.”

However, “HSBC has waived federal indictment, agreed to the filing of the information, and has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees.”

In other words, because they accepted “responsibility” for acts that would land the average citizen in the slammer for decades, those guilty of “palling around with terrorists” or smoothing the way as billionaire drug traffickers hid their loot in the so-called “legitimate economy,” got a free pass. In fact, under terms of the agreement DOJ’s “deferred prosecution” will be “deferred” alright, like forever!

Why might that be the case?

The New York Times informed us that state and federal officials, eager beavers when it comes to protecting the integrity of a system lacking all integrity, “decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.”

Keep in mind this is a “system” which former United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime director Antonio Maria Costa told The Observer thrives on illicit money flows. In 2009, Costa told the London broadsheet that “in many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.” Costa said that “a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.”

Glossing over these facts, Times’ stenographers Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, cautioned that “four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly toppled the financial system,” federal regulators “are still wary that a single institution could undermine the recovery of the industry and the economy.”

“Given the extent of the evidence against HSBC, some prosecutors saw the charge as a healthy compromise between a settlement and a harsher money-laundering indictment. While the charge would most likely tarnish the bank’s reputation, some officials argued that it would not set off a series of devastating consequences.”

Devastating to whom one might ask? The 100,000 Mexicans brutally murdered by drug gangsters, corrupt police and Mexican Army soldiers whose scorched-earth campaign kills off the competition on behalf of Mexico’s largest narcotics organization, the Sinaloa Cartel run by fugitive billionaire drug lord Chapo Guzmán?

“A money-laundering indictment, or a guilty plea over such charges,” the Times averred, “would essentially be a death sentence for the bank. Such actions could cut off the bank from certain investors like pension funds and ultimately cost it its charter to operate in the United States, officials said.”

Many of the same lame excuses for prosecutorial inaction were also prominent features in the British press.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the “largest banks have become too big to prosecute because of the impact criminal charges would have on confidence in them, Britain’s most senior bank regulator has admitted.”

“In a variant of the ‘too big to fail’ problem, Andrew Bailey, chief executive designate of the Prudential Regulation Authority, said bringing a legal action against a major financial institution raised ‘very difficult questions’.”

“‘Because of the confidence issue with banks, a major criminal indictment, which we haven’t seen and I’m not saying we are going to see… this is not an ordinary criminal indictment’,” Bailey told the Telegraph.

Echoing Bailey, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the decision not to prosecute HSBC was made because “in this day and age we have to evaluate that innocent people will face very big consequences if you make a decision.”

This from an administration that continues to prosecute–and jail–low-level drug offenders at record rates!

“Breuer’s argument is facially absurd,” according to William K. Black. In a piece published by New Economic Perspectives, Black argues:


Prosecuting HSBC’s fraudulent controlling managers would not harm anyone innocent other than their families–and virtually all prosecutions hurt some family members. Breuer claims that virtually all of HSBC’s senior officers have been removed, so his argument is doubly absurd. Mostly, however, Breuer ignores all of the innocents harmed by the control frauds. SDIs [systemically dangerous institutions] that are control frauds are weapons of mass economic destruction that drive global crises and are the greatest enemy of ‘free’ markets. They are also the greatest threat to democracy, for they create crony capitalism. We are all innocent victims of these control frauds–and the Obama and Cameron governments are allowing them to commit their frauds with impunity from criminal prosecutions. The controlling officers get wealthy without fear of prosecution. The SDIs controlled by fraudulent officers have to purchase an indulgence, but the price of the indulgence is capped by the ‘too big to prosecute’ doctrine at a level that will not cause it any real distress. Breuer’s and Bailey’s embrace of too big to prosecute should have led to their immediate dismissals. Obama and Cameron should either fire them or announce that they stand with the criminal enterprises and their fraudulent controlling officers against their citizens.

As Rowan Bosworth-Davies, a former financial crimes specialist with London’s Metropolitan Police observed on his web site, “When you get a bank which admits, like HSBC has just done, that it is nothing more than a low-life money launderer for Mexican drug kingpins, and when it serves powerful vested interests to get round internationally-ratified sanctions against rogue nations, what possible benefit is achieved by trying to pretend that they cannot be prosecuted and charged with criminal offences?”

“Oh, excuse me,” Bosworth-Davies wrote, “it might impact the confidence they enjoy? Whose confidence, their Mexican drug traffickers, their international sanctions breakers, their global tax evaders, or the ordinary, law-abiding clients who are entitled to assume that their bank will obey the laws imposed on them and will provide a safe place of deposit?”

“Confidence,” the former Met detective averred, “what bloody confidence can anyone have when they know their bank is an admitted criminal? When their money is deposited with a bank that breaks the criminal law at every possible opportunity, which cheats them at every turn, sells them fraudulent products, launders drug money, evades international sanctions, moves foreign oligarchs’ tax evasion, safeguards the deposit accounts of Third World dictators and their families, then what is that confidence worth?”

Instead, as with the 2010 deal with Wachovia Bank, federal prosecutors cobbled together a DPA that levied a “fine” of $160 million (£99.2m) on laundered drug profits that topped $378 billion (£234.5bn).

Although top Justice Department officials charged that HSBC laundered upwards of $881 million (£546.5m) on behalf of the Sinaloa and Colombia’s Norte del Valle drug cartels, federal prosecutors investigating the bank told Reuters in September that this was merely the “tip of the iceberg.”

In fact, as Senate investigators discovered during their probe, the bank failed to monitor more than $670 billion (£415.6bn) in wire transfers from HSBC Mexico (HBMX) between 2006 and 2009, and failed to adequately monitor over $9.4 billion (£5.83bn) in purchases of physical U.S. dollars from HBMX during the same period.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, said in prepared remarks announcing the DPA that “traffickers didn’t have to try very hard” when it came to laundering drug cash. “They would sometimes deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account,” Breuer said, “using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows in HSBC Mexico’s branches.”

While Breuer’s dramatic account of the money laundering process may have offered a gullible financial press corps a breathless moment or two, a closer look at Breuer’s CV offer hints as to why he chose not to criminally charge the bank.

A corporatist insider, after representing President Bill Clinton during ginned-up impeachment hearings, Breuer became a partner in the white shoe Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling. From his perch, he represented Moody’s Investor Service in the wake of Enron’s ignominious collapse and Dick Cheney’s old firm Halliburton/KBR during Bush regime scandals. Talk about “safe hands”!

Appointed as the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division by Obama in 2009, Breuer presided over the prosecution/persecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas A. Drake on charges that he violated the Espionage Act of 1917 for disclosing massive contractor fraud at NSA to The Baltimore Sun.

More recently, along with 14 other officials Breuer was recommended for potential “disciplinary action” by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General over the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal which put some 2,000 firearms into the hands of cartel killers in Mexico.

“A Justice official said Breuer has been ‘admonished’” by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, “but will not be disciplined,” The Washington Post reported.

Breuer had the temerity to claim that deferred prosecution agreements “have the same punitive, deterrent, and rehabilitative effect as a guilty plea.”

“When a company enters into a deferred prosecution agreement with the government, or an non prosecution agreement for that matter,” Breuer asserted, “it almost always must acknowledge wrongdoing, agree to cooperate with the government’s investigation, pay a fine, agree to improve its compliance program, and agree to face prosecution if it fails to satisfy the terms of the agreement.”

As is evident from this brief synopsis, when it came to holding HSBC to account, the fix was already in even before a single signature was affixed to the DPA.

Without batting an eyelash, Breuer informed us that HSBC has “committed” to undertake “enhanced AML and other compliance obligations and structural changes within its entire global operations to prevent a repeat of the conduct that led to this prosecution.”

“HSBC has replaced almost all of its senior management, ‘clawed back’ deferred compensation bonuses given to its most senior AML and compliance officers, and has agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior executives–its group general managers and group managing directors–during the period of the five-year DPA.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Despite charges that would land the average citizen in a federal gulag for decades, senior managers have “agreed” to “partially defer bonus compensation” for the length of the DPA!

As Rolling Stone financial journalist Matt Taibbi commented:

“Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s the punishment? The government’s negotiators couldn’t hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them ‘partially’ wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department’s opening offer–asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?”

“So you might ask,” Taibbi writes,

“what’s the appropriate penalty for a bank in HSBC’s position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we’re talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you’re the prosecutor, you’ve got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?”

“How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? 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.”

But there’s the rub and the proverbial fly in the ointment. The government can’t and won’t take such measures. Far from being impartial arbiters sworn to defend us from financial predators, speculators, drug lords, terrorists, warmongers and out-of-control corporate vultures hiding trillions of taxable dollars offshore, officials of this criminalized state are hand picked servants of a thoroughly debauched ruling class.

Writing for the World Socialist Web Site, Barry Grey observed: HSBC “was allowed to pay a token fine–less than 10 percent of its profits for 2011 and a fraction of the money it made laundering the drug bosses’ blood money. Meanwhile, small-time drug dealers and users, often among the most impoverished and oppressed sections of the population, are routinely arrested and locked up for years in the American prison gulag.”

“The financial parasites who keep the global drug trade churning and make the lion’s share of money from the social devastation it wreaks are above the law,” Grey noted.

“Here, in a nutshell,” Grey wrote, “is the modern-day aristocratic principle that prevails behind the threadbare trappings of ‘democracy.’ The financial robber barons of today are a law unto themselves. They can steal, plunder, even murder at will, without fear of being called to account. They devote a portion of their fabulous wealth to bribing politicians, regulators, judges and police–from the heights of power in Washington down to the local police precinct–to make sure their wealth is protected and they remain immune from criminal prosecution.”

Regarding America’s fraudulent “War on Drugs,” researcher Oliver Villar, who with Drew Cottle coauthored the essential book, Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: US Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia, told Asia Times Online, it is a “war” that the state and leading banks and financial institutions in the capitalist West have no interest whatsoever in “winning.”

When queried why he argued that the “war on drugs is no failure at all, but a success,” Villar noted: “I come to that conclusion because what do we know so far about the war on drugs? Well, the US has spent about US$1 trillion throughout the globe. Can we simply say it has failed? Has it failed the drug money-laundering banks? No. Has it failed the key Western financial centers? No. Has it failed the narco-bourgeoisie in Colombia–or in Afghanistan, where we can see similar patterns emerging? No. Is it a success in maintaining that political economy? Absolutely.”

Equally important, what does the impunity shamelessly enjoyed by such loathsome parasites say about us?

Have we become so indifferent to officially sanctioned crime and corruption, the myriad petty tyrannies and tyrants, from the boardroom to the security checkpoint to the job, not to mention murderous state policies that have transformed so-called “advanced” democracies into hated and loathed pariah states, who we really are?

As the late author J. G. Ballard pointed out in his masterful novel Kingdom Come, “Consumer fascism provides its own ideology, no one needs to sit down and dictate Mein Kampf. Evil and psychopathy have been reconfigured into lifestyle statements.”

Paranoid fantasy? Wake up and smell the corporatized police state.


HSBC CAUGHT IN NEW DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING SCANDAL
Tom Burghardt
Global Research, November 02, 2012
http://www.globalresearch.ca/hsbc-caught...al/5310397


While HSBC’s Canary Wharf masters are back-peddling furiously over charges that they gave a leg up to terrorist financiers and drug traffickers as a recent U.S. Senate report charged, new evidence emerged that its business as usual for the multinational banking giant founded by Hong Kong-based British opium merchants.

Earlier this month, The Independent reported that French police had “intercepted one of the dozens of ‘go-fast’ cars which transport cannabis at high speed from Spain to Paris. The seizure–banal in itself–unravelled an extraordinary network of drug-trafficking, money-laundering, fraud and tax evasion which sprawled over the invisible barrier which separates Paris from the city’s poor, multiracial suburbs.”

The bank embroiled in this latest scandal? Why HSBC, of course!

According to reporter John Lichfield, “bank notes handed by clients to street drug dealers in the suburbs were ending up, French and Swiss investigators discovered, in the safes of seemingly law-abiding, well-heeled citizens in the French capital.”

But that’s not the only place where crisp bundles of cash were turning up.

“A trio of Moroccan brothers, including a prominent fund manager in Geneva, are alleged to have concocted an elaborate scheme to launder money by balancing two illegal flows of cash,” The Independent averred.

At the center of this multimillion euro money laundering spider’s web were: Meyer El-Maleh, the managing director of the fund management firm GPF SA, and brothers Mardoché El-Maleh, the alleged bagman of the cannabis-for-cash scheme and Nessim El-Maleh, a fund management specialist with the Swiss private banking arm of HSBC, HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) S.A.

The Independent reported that the trio “are suspected of handling up to €12m (£9.6m) in cash in the past seven months (and far more over the past four years). Assets seized by the police include €2m in cash, gold ingots, art treasures and guns.”

“The HSBC bank has confirmed that its employee was involved in the affair,” Swiss Info disclosed, “but says that it has been ‘cooperating actively with the authorities about this over the past few months’. The Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports that GPF SA is about to dismiss the other brother.”

Talk about closing the barn door after the horses have escaped!

Among the well-heeled perps arrested by authorities on charges of “conspiracy to launder money and association with criminals” was Florence Lamblin, a prominent Green Party politician and deputy mayor of the 13th arrondissement in Paris.

Her arrest was all the more ironic considering that fake “left” Greens are currently in coalition with François Hollande’s pro-austerity “Socialist” government. Lamblin and her coalition partners had run on a platform demanding tougher action against (wait for it) international money laundering!

When Lamblin’s home was raided “police discovered €400,000 (SFr484,000) in low-value notes” in safes belonging to the “progressive” politician, Swiss Info averred.

In the wake of her arrest, Lamblin was forced to resign although she denied “any involvement” in the drug smuggling scheme.

Her lawyer, Jérôme Boursican told AFP “she had held 350,000 euros from a family legacy in a Swiss account.”

“If anything, my client may be guilty of tax fraud, over the transfer back to France of a sum of €350,000 from a family inheritance which was placed in a Swiss bank account in 1920,” Boursican explained.

The attorney told France 24 that he would ask a judge “to dismiss the case against his client ‘as soon as possible’ and blamed her involvement on a ‘judicial error’.”

The “error” of getting caught perhaps?

Despite Lamblin’s professed innocence, Swiss Info reported that “the sums involved are huge.” French police have charged that “the sum involved in the money laundering is about €40 million, while French Interior Minister Manuel Valls says that the drug smuggling must have brought in about €100 million.”

As preliminary reports suggest it appears that Lamblin was keen on keeping more than the environment “green.”

A typical money laundering “placement” scheme, “cannabis profits leaving France were ‘swapped’ for assets hidden in Switzerland which tax cheats or business fraudsters wished to repatriate,” The Independent reported.

“The risky job of smuggling drug-trafficking proceeds over the Franco-Swiss border was avoided,” Lichfield wrote. “Instead, the drugs cash was handed over in plastic bags to Parisians who had hidden Swiss accounts.”

“The same sums were debited from their banks in Geneva and sent on a complex route through shell companies in London and offshore tax havens to purchase assets for the drug barons in Morocco, Dubai or Spain. A commission was allegedly paid on both transactions,” The Independent averred.

Referred to as “layering,” the transfer of funds took place through a series of opaque financial transactions that camouflaged their illegal origins. In the case of our well-heeled Parisians, drug profits were swapped through bank-to-bank and bulk cash transfers via private banks in Geneva, one of which was owned by HSBC.

As Senate investigators disclosed, “Bulk cash shipments typically use common carriers … to ship U.S. dollars by air, land, or sea. Shipments have gone via airplanes, armored trucks, ships, and railroads.”

“Shippers,” Senate staff averred, “may be ‘currency originators,’ such as businesses that generate cash from sales of goods or services; or ‘intermediaries’ that gather currency from originators or other intermediaries to form large shipments. Intermediaries are typically central banks, commercial banks, money service businesses, or their agents.”

Eschewing armored cars, airplanes or ships, the “originators” of these illegal cash flows preferred ubiquitous black plastic trash bags and “go-fast” limousines as the method of choice for bulk cash transfers. It would certainly cut down on shipping costs as the loot moved “offshore” and entered the shadow world of private banking!

As financial researcher James S. Henry pointed out in The Price of Offshore Revisited: “The term ‘offshore’ refers not so much to the actual physical location of private assets or liabilities, but to nominal, hyper-portable, multi-jurisdictional, often quite temporary locations of networks of legal and quasi-legal entities and arrangements that manage and control private wealth–always in the interests of those who manage it, supposedly in the interests of its beneficial owners, and often in indifference or outright defiance of the interests and laws of multiple nation states.”

“A painting or a bank account may be located inside Switzerland’s borders,” Henry wrote, “but the all-important legal structure that owns it–typically that asset would be owned by an anonymous offshore company in one jurisdiction, which is in turn owned by a trust in another jurisdiction, whose trustees are in yet another jurisdiction (and that is one of the simplest offshore structures)–is likely to be fragmented in many pieces around the globe.”

Given Switzerland’s strict bank secrecy laws, we do not know, and Senate investigators did not disclose, how many billions of dollars were hidden for HSBC’s private banking clients in Geneva, where it originated or whether or not occult wealth shielded from scrutiny was derived from organized criminal activities.

In July however, when the Senate pointed a finger directly at HSBC over anti-money laundering “lapses,” The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that “British clients of an HSBC-owned private Swiss bank that is the focus of a major HM Revenue & Customs investigation are alleged to have evaded tax by an amount likely to exceed £200m.”

Lord Stephen Green, Baron of Hurstpierpoint and current Minister of Trade and Investment in David Cameron’s Conservative government, was previously HSBC’s chief executive and the chairman and director of HSBC Private Banking Holdings (Suisse) N.A. for ten years.

During Green’s tenure, journalist Nick Mathiason disclosed that “the sums allegedly evaded by Britons using HSBC’s Swiss bank are massive. HMRC told the Bureau ‘the early indications are that the amounts are significant’.”

According to Mathiason, in 2010 the HMRC “received data smuggled out of HSBC by a former bank IT worker, now under arrest in Spain and facing possible extradition to Switzerland, that contained details of 6,000 UK-linked individuals, companies and trusts. Two senior tax investigators who both worked at HMRC told the Bureau the average amount evaded in the 6,000 accounts is likely to range between £33,000 and £50,000.”

While the sums involved in the Parisian money laundering and drugs scandal may be chump change in comparison to the trillions of dollars in illicit drug money that enters the system each year as a result of “normal business relations” between global drug cartels and the international financial system as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed last year, it does demonstrate the utterly corrupt nature of the system as a whole.

Indeed, seeming ideological foes are joined at the hip when it comes to fleecing the working class and imposing austerity and privatization schemes that profit their real constituents–the global class of financial parasites who “win” regardless of which party of hucksters gain power.

As Henry observed, “private elites … had accumulated $7.3 to $9.3 trillion of unrecorded offshore wealth in 2010, conservatively estimated, even while many of their public sectors were borrowing themselves into bankruptcy, enduring agonizing ‘structural adjustment’ and low growth, and holding fire sales of public assets.”

Public sector thefts that enrich the shareholders and officers of corrupt institutions like HSBC.

Although settlement talks between U.S. regulatory agencies and HSBC has forced the bank to set aside at least $700m (£441m) to meet the cost of any fines, it is highly unlikely that officials at the bank will be criminally charged.

Currently negotiating with the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency over serious allegations that the bank conducted a multiyear, multibillion dollar business with terrorist financiers and global drug cartels, the price tag may balloon even higher.

“HSBC’s $700 million set-aside, if paid, would constitute the largest U.S. settlement reached over such allegations, topping the $619 million in penalties and forfeitures paid in June by ING Groep NV, the biggest Dutch financial-services company,” Bloomberg News reported.

According to The New York Times, “federal authorities think HSBC could end up paying at least $1 billion. The bank itself said ‘it is possible that the amounts when finally determined could be higher, possibly significantly higher’.”

A spokesperson for HSBC however, told the Times this “case is not about HSBC complicity in money laundering. Rather, it’s about lax compliance standards that fell short of regulators’ expectations and our expectations, and we are absolutely committed to remedying what went wrong and learning from it’.”

But as Rowan Bosworth-Davies, a former financial crimes specialist with London’s Metropolitan Police observed: “You don’t launder this volume of money by accident, because somewhere along the line, your systems and controls for preventing money laundering just ‘broke down’! You do it because you work in a bank which is willing to flout every rule in the book and engage in layer upon layer of criminal conduct if the money is right! You do it because your management structure is defined by a criminogenic determination to amplify the anomic environment within which you operate and in which you expect your staff to co-operate.”

For their part, Swiss bankers are scrambling to put as much daylight as possible between themselves, the Paris money laundering scandal and HSBC.

Bernard Droux, the chairman of the Geneva Financial Center foundation, an umbrella group of independent banks and wealth managers told Swiss Info: “We were surprised that it should still be possible to do this today. This is a practice that has been forbidden by law for more than 20 years.”

But as with other recent examples of financial skullduggery, Droux reverted to form and claimed “You can never rule out the possibility of black sheep in any profession. No international centre is totally protected from this kind of thing.”

He hastened to add that Switzerland was at the “forefront” of the international fight against drug money.

However, Droux’s “black sheep” brush-off was undercut by a recent Bloomberg Businessweek report. We were informed that “Swiss private banks are looking for footholds in Latin America as the lower fees and higher interest rates offered by local wealth managers deter the region’s super-rich from traveling to Geneva and Zurich.”

This “changing relationship,” Bloomberg reported, began “in the 19th century when Swiss banks guarded the fortunes of plantation owners and mining magnates. UBS AG (UBSN), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and other Swiss banks are being forced to seek acquisitions as Latin America’s $3.5 trillion wealth management market is set to grow by more than half by 2016, according to Boston Consulting Group.”

“‘People are becoming richer and richer,’ said Gustavo Raitzin, head of Latin America for Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER). ‘An emerging consumer class wants to make liquid investments and they need private banks and wealth managers’.”

It is worth recalling in this context that Julius Baer’s Cayman Islands division, as the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks revealed, was instrumental in squirreling away “several million dollars” of funds controlled by late Mexican Army General Mario Acosta Chaparro and his wife, Silvia, through a shell company known as Symac Investments.

Acosta, who served time in prison for his ties to the late drug trafficking kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the self-styled “Lord of the Heavens” who ran the Juárez Cartel, was killed in May when an assassin fired three rounds from a a 9mm revolver into his head.

The secret-spilling web site averred: “With the assistance of Julius Baer, Mr Chaparro was able to invest several millions of USD in Symac with all the secrecy which the Caymans allowed and to draw out some $12,000 a month.”

Who else might be in need of “private banks and wealth managers” employed by the likes of HSBC and Julius Baer to make such “liquid investments” possible with no questions asked?



BLACK DOSSIER: HSBC & TERRORIST FINANCE
http://antifascist-calling.blogspot.ca/2...nance.html


It's tough being the world's second largest bank.

HSBC, the London-based British multinational banking and financial services giant operates in 85 countries with 7,200 offices worldwide with assets totaling more than $2.6 trillion (£4.06tn).

They're also caught-up in serial scandals: the Libor interest rate-fixing scam, serious charges of drug money laundering as well as suspicions that bank officers "palled around" with terrorist financiers.

Founded in 1865 when the British Crown seized Hong Kong as a colony in the aftermath of the First Opium War, British merchants (today we'd call them drug lords) needed a bank to handle the brisk trade in the illicit substance and launched the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Company Limited. Rebranded "HSBC" in 1991, the bank expanded at breakneck speed in the heady days after The Wall fell.

While some might call them a success story, exemplars of financial wizardry in tough economic times, more appropriately perhaps, we might borrow a term from Mafia lore to describe their preeminent position in the capitalist pantheon of corrupt institutions: juiced.

'Sorry, now Go Away'

Today, the "War on Drugs" rivals the "War on Terror" for top spot on the global hypocrisy index.

Moral equivalencies abound. After all, when American secret state agencies manage drug flows or direct terrorist proxies to attack official enemies it's not quite the same as battling terror or crime.

Pounding home that point, a new report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accused HSBC of exposing "the U.S. financial system to a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks due to poor anti-money laundering (AML) controls."

That 335-page report, "U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History," (large pdf file available here) was issued after a year-long Senate investigation zeroed-in on the bank's U.S. affiliate, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., better known as HBUS.

Drilling down, we learned that amongst the "services" offered by HSBC subsidiaries and correspondent banks were sweet deals with financial entities with terrorist ties; the transportation of billions of dollars in cash by plane and armored car through their London Banknotes division; the clearing of sequentially-numbered travelers checks through dodgy Cayman Islands accounts for Mexican drug lords and Russian mafiosi.

From richly-appointed suites at Canary Wharf, London, the bank's "smartest guys in the room" handed some of the most violent gangsters on earth the financial wherewithal to organize their respective industries: global crime.

A case in point. In 2008 alone the Senate revealed that the bank's Cayman Islands branch handled some 50,000 client accounts (all without benefit of offices or staff on Grand Cayman, mind you), yet still managed to ship some $7 billion (£10.9bn) in cash from Mexico into the U.S. Now that's creative accounting!

Playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules, Subcommittee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said that by exploiting the bank's "poor AML controls, HBUS exposed the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious travelers cheques, bearer share corporations, and rogue jurisdictions."

Describing a "compliance culture" that was "pervasively polluted for a long time," Levin said it "will take more than words for the bank to change course."

Yet weasel words and butt-covering were all that were proffered to the American people even before Senate hearings began. Bank spokesman Robert Sherman said in an emailed statement that HSBC "will acknowledge that, in the past, we have sometimes failed to meet the standards that regulators and customers expect. We will apologize, acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what went wrong."

Right on cue, chief compliance officer David Bagley dramatically fell on his sword during those hearings and resigned on camera. It was quite a performance even by Washington's tawdry standards.

Appearing contrite, Bagley told the panel: "Despite the best efforts and intentions of many dedicated professionals, HSBC has fallen short of our own expectations and the expectations of our regulators. ... I recommended to the group that now is the appropriate time for me and for the bank, for someone new to serve as the head of group compliance."

While there's no word yet just how big Bagley's golden parachute will be, it's a sure bet he won't spend a day in jail, nor for that matter will Lord Stephen Green, HSBC's former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Between 2003-2010, Green tilled the helm after serial stints directing The Bank of Bermuda Ltd., HSBC Mexico, SA, HSBC Private Banking Holdings (Suisse) SA and HSBC North American Holdings Inc.; units which feature prominently in the scandal. Sensing perhaps that the jig was up, last year he joined David Cameron's Conservative government as Minister of State for Trade and Investment.

Unlike Pappy Bush who claimed to be "out of the loop" during the Iran-Contra guns-for-drugs affair, Green was fully apprised of bank shenanigans and the Senate published emails which prove it.

Cheekily however, while underlings take the fall, Green told The Daily Telegraph, "I do not believe that I have a case to answer other than in the important sense that as chairman and chief executive I was responsible for what the company did. HSBC has expressed regret for the failures. I share that regret."

The Telegraph noted that Green has not considered resigning from Cameron's government, saying he was "very engaged" with his current plum post.

Ironically enough, the current Baron of Hurstpierpoint is an ordained priest in the Church of England and the author of an inspirational tome, Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World. And no, you can't make this stuff up!

The top spot is now occupied by Stuart Gulliver who, quicker than you can say "we're sorry," admonished employees to "do better" and expressed remorse over his firm's "unacceptable behavior." Never mind that before ascending the throne, Gulliver was director of HBUS, HSBC Latin American Holdings Ltd., and HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd., divisions that have raised more than an eyebrow or two amongst Subcommittee investigators.

Topping Bagley's Kabuki-lite performance with her own rendition of clown car camp, Irene Dorner, HBUS's President and CEO told the Senate: "We deeply regret and apologize for the fact that HSBC did not live up to the expectations of our regulators, our customers, our employees, and the general public. HSBC's compliance history, as examined today, is unacceptable. ... We've worked hard to foster a new culture that values and rewards effective compliance, and that starts at the top."

Bathos aside, it was a polite way of saying "let's move on" and get back to the business of lining our pockets; after all, it's what we do best.

'The past is never dead. It's not even past'

Years before hijackers slammed passenger planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon killing nearly 3,000 people, secret state agencies began to exploit the fraternal links between Osama bin Laden's Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets, also known as al Qaeda, and prominent financial institutions.

In his 1999 book, Dollars for Terror, journalist Richard Labévière relates how a former CIA analyst explained: "The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia."

Was a new Cold War dawning?

No. In fact, it was the same Cold War. Only this time it was tricked-out in seductive finery by denizens of Western think-tanks and on-the-make NGOs. In the age of spin and endless news cycles, they'd hit upon a splendid formula to pour the "old" imperialist wine into new bottles: "humanitarian intervention" and a "responsibility to protect."

It was a brilliant script. In the blink of an eye our media-saavy masters could "enhance democracy" and "reform markets," magically transforming publicly-owned resources into privately-held assets controlled by banks! That terrorist proxies would serve as walk-ons and help drive the final nail into the coffin of national sovereignty wasn't considered proper conversation in polite company.

Labévière wondered whether "the new forms of terrorism actually embody the highest stage of capitalism?" They did, and "the straw men of the bin Laden Organization's subsidiaries [were] very well received by the business lawyers of Wall Street and the Bahamas, by the wealth managers of Geneva, Zurich and Lugano, and in the hushed salons of the City of London."

Not so curiously perhaps, "the privatization of violence and the privatization of the economy has become paradigmatic." In fact, "apart from any religious purpose," Labévière wrote, "the 'Jihad' is gaining ground as a profitable activity. It becomes liable to all the mafioso devolutions, and sinks into pure banditry. In many cases, Islamist ideology is used as a wonder worker to paper over banditry in all its forms."

Bin Laden as a Mafia capo di tutti capi? It certainly was a novel reading of geopolitical machinations!

More to the point, if an "army marches on its stomach," who then are the money men who put food in their bellies and kalashnikovs in their hands?

Bankrolled by Saudi and Gulf banks with a wink, a nod and logistical support from their old friends, the CIA and the Pentagon, today's Green condottieri once again are on the march, wrecking havoc and sowing chaos, with particular attention paid to states targeted as official enemies by the Global Godfather. Just ask the Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians.

While the Senate report may have disclosed that HSBC turned a blind eye to terrorist financing among it correspondent banks, the Riyadh-based Al Rajhi Bank for one, Saudi Arabia's largest privately-held financial institution, such arrangements hardly flourished in a vacuum.

With assets totaling $59 billion (£92.5bn), the Al Rajhi's are amongst the wealthiest families in the Kingdom. Investigators found that after 9/11 "evidence began to emerge that Al Rajhi Bank and some of its owners had links to organizations associated with financing terrorism, including that one of the bank's founders was an early financial benefactor of al Qaeda."

While the Al Rajhi family deny any role in financing terrorism, they have declined "to address specific allegations made in American intelligence and law-enforcement records, citing client confidentiality," The Wall Street Journal reported back in 2007.

Journalist Glenn R. Simpson averred that "a 2003 CIA report claims that a year after Sept. 11, with a spotlight on Islamic charities, Mr. Al Rajhi ordered Al Rajhi Bank's board 'to explore financial instruments that would allow the bank's charitable contributions to avoid official Saudi scrutiny'."

"A few weeks earlier," the Journal disclosed, the Agency said that "Mr. Al Rajhi 'transferred $1.1 billion to offshore accounts--using commodity swaps and two Lebanese banks--citing a concern that U.S. and Saudi authorities might freeze his assets.' The report was titled 'Al Rajhi Bank: Conduit for Extremist Finance'."

Although U.S. law enforcement and secret state agencies "acknowledge it is possible that extremists use the bank's far-flung branches and money-transfer services without bank officials' knowledge," the Journal noted that CIA analysts had concluded that "senior Al Rajhi family members have long supported Islamic extremists and probably know that terrorists use their bank."

It goes without saying that one should always approach CIA reports with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially in light of the Agency's well-documented history of employing cut-outs such as al Qaeda as terrorist cats' paws.

Such reports however, lay a trail of bread crumbs that policy makers can either act upon or more likely, ignore. That senior Bush and Obama administration officials did nothing with this information, never mind the regulatory agencies charged to enforce anti-money laundering laws, is testament to the corrupt, bipartisan nature of American policy as a whole.

It also beggars belief that Lord Green or the bank's compliance officers were unaware of CIA allegations or that Britain's own foreign intelligence arm, MI6, hadn't apprised top officials of the risks involved. In fact, as we'll see below, HSBC's own internal documents prove otherwise.

Osama's 'Golden Chain'

There were certainly plenty of red flags flying which should have alerted bank officials.

In March 2002, al Qaeda's list of financial benefactors surfaced when computers were seized in Sarajevo at the Bosnian headquarters of the Benevolence International Foundation, "a Saudi based nonprofit organization which was also designated a terrorist organization by the Treasury Department."

Osama bin Laden, who held a Bosnian passport issued by the breakaway government fronted by Western "liberal interventionist" darling Alija Izetbegović during NATO's dismemberment of socialist Yugoslavia, was a supporter of the Nazi SS Handschar Division during World War II. Bin Laden referred to this group of financial angels as his "Golden Chain."

Additional evidence also emerged in 2002 during Operation Green Quest, a Treasury Department effort to "disrupt terrorist financing in the United States."

In March of that year, law enforcement officials raided the Herndon, Virginia offices of the SAAR Foundation "an Al Rajhi-related entity." Indeed, the name "SAAR" was an acronym for the organization's founder, Sulaiman Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, the controlling partner of the Al Rajhi Bank.

Subcommittee investigators commented that "one of the 20 handwritten names in the Golden Chain document identifying al Qaeda's early key financial benefactors is Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi, one of Al Rajhi Bank's key founders and most senior officials."

An affidavit supporting the search warrants "detailed numerous connections between the targeted entities and Al Rajhi family members and related ventures. The affidavit stated that over 100 active and defunct nonprofit and business ventures in Virginia were part of what it described as the 'Safa Group,' which the United States had reasonable cause to believe was 'engaged in the money laundering tactic of 'layering' to hide from law enforcement authorities the trail of its support for terrorists."

Green Quest investigators were particularly keen on unraveling links between the SAAR Foundation and the Swiss Al Taqwa Bank, incorporated in the Bahamas in 1988 for "tax purposes."

Founded by Swiss Nazi sympathizer and convert to Islam, Albert Armand (Achmed) Huber, who professed admiration for both Adolph Hitler and Osama bin Laden, the bank was accused by U.S. officials in helping al Qaeda launder funds. Although the Treasury Department froze its assets in 2001, the investigation was shut down by the Bush admini...
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THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL MELTDOWN - by moeenyaseen - 08-27-2006, 09:59 AM

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