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Warren: Drug possession warrants jail time but laundering cartel money doesn’t?

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Appearing at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled officials from the Treasury Department over why criminal charges were not filed against officials at HSBC who helped launder hundreds of millions of dollars for drug cartels.

The HSBC scandal resulted in the Department of Justice and Treasury announcing a record $1.92 billion fine after finding that the international bank repeatedly helped the world’s most violent drug gangs move at least $881 million in ill-gotten gains through numerous countries the U.S. has economic sanctions against.

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“HSBC paid a fine, but no one individual went to trial, no individual was banned from banking, and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the United States,” Warren said. “So, what I’d like is, you’re the experts on money laundering. I’d like an opinion: What does it take — how many billions do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate — before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”

Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen, though admitting HSBC’s actions were “egregious,” did not answer Warren’s question. “For our part, we imposed on HSBC the largest penalties that we’ve ever imposed on any financial institution ever. We looked at the facts and determined that the most appropriate response there was a very, very significant penalty against the institution.”

Warren reiterated her question and still got nowhere. “We at the Treasury Department… don’t have the authority to shut down a financial institution,” Cohen said.

“I understand that,” Warren said, visibly annoyed. “I’m asking, in your opinion — you’re the ones who are supposed to be the experts on money laundering, you work with everyone else including the Department of Justice — in your opinion, how many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords before somebody says, ‘We’re shutting you down,’?”

Cohen continued to rebuff her question, saying that Treasury vigorously prosecutes and fines offending banks but still insisting: “I’m not going to get into some hypothetical line-drawing exercise.”

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Frustrated, Warren turned to Federal Reserve board member Jerome H. Powell, who said that such a proceeding would take place after a criminal conviction. ‘That’s not something — we don’t do criminal investigation,” he added. “We don’t do trials or anything like that. We do civil enforcement, and in the case of HSBC we gave essentially the statutory maximum.”

Warren seemed stunned: “You have no advice to the Justice Department on whether or not this was an appropriate case for a criminal action?” But Powell deflected, saying that’s the Justice Department’s realm and that the Fed will “collaborate with them” mainly by answering questions, not by recommending prosecutions.

“You know, if you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail,” Warren said. “If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night, every single individual associated with this. I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

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This video is from Elizabeth Warren’s YouTube channel, published March 7, 2013.

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Tennessee Republican says he hasn’t ‘really studied’ whether the Civil War was about slavery

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On Thursday, The Tennessean's Natalie Allison reported that Tennessee state Rep. Mike Sparks, who makes a habit of complaining that "young people" and "journalists" don't bother to study history, could not answer a basic question about what the Civil War was fought over.

"Was the Civil War about slavery?" asked a reporter.

"I haven't really studied it," said Sparks.

"You said you know history!" said another reporter.

"I just think we need to all study history," said Sparks, still not answering the question. "There's different contexts."

This comes during a debate over whether to remove a bust of Confederate general and suspected Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. Another lawmaker, state Sen. Joey Hensley, defended Forrest, arguing that "3,000 Blacks attended his funeral" — a common but unproven claim of Confederate sympathizers.

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Law professor schools Trump’s legal team on why their Supreme Court arguments failed

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Fordham Law Professor Jed Sugerman noted on Twitter, that Thursday's Supreme Court ruling should be a "teachable moment" for the lawyers at the Mazars firm, which fought the disclosure of President Donald Trump's financial information.

During the oral arguments with the High Court about the New York case, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow argued that as president Trump was above the law.

"In both cases, petitioners contended that the subpoenas lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and violated the separation of powers," the Supreme Court said in the decision. "The President did not, however, argue that any of the requested records were protected by executive privilege."

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Ted Cruz mocked for tantrum about Gorsuch siding with Native American rights: ‘Way to channel Andrew Jackson’

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In a surprise move on Thursday, Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with Native American rights, ruling that Oklahoma must honor a treaty granting tribal sovereignty over much of the eastern portion of the state.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took to Twitter to vent his outrage over the decision.

Neil Gorsuch & the four liberal Justices just gave away half of Oklahoma, literally.

Manhattan is next. https://t.co/Ic9gqqznJp

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