What’s Wrong With This Picture . . .

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We live in a world of double standards (I understand it’s impossible to be totally fair)but  it seems to be getting worse.

Here’s something I really don’t understand.  It seems that the law is applied very differently to corporations, especially banks, than to individuals.

Suppose an individual citizen was caught by the government laundering money through for an officially recognised terrorist group.  It was not a one time mistake but a systematic activity of money laundering spanning several years and involving up to $329M by moving drug money into the United States, using it to purchase goods, in this case used cars, which were then shipped to West Africa. Hezbollah_FlagThe money from the sale of the cars were then funnelled to Hezbollah terrorist organisations in Lebanon for the purchase of weapons.

What do you suppose the penalty for such a crime that funded and openly sponsored terrorism would be for that individual?  How many years in prison?  We put “suspected” terrorists in GITMO for years without any real evidence and this money laundering scheme was well documented and tracked.  Open and shut case?

Money Laundering is a Crime?

Well, it wasn’t an individual, it was a bank.  The Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) to be exact.  Now it seems to me that those executives leading the bank should face, at the very least, being fired and not allowed to be involved in future banking activities for the rest of their lives.  I would also argue that some jail time is justified.

So, what actually happened.  LCB  settled the accusations brought by the US Government with a single payment (fine) of $102M.  The payment, in contrast to many other enforcement actions available to the US Government for such an offense, has resolved this case without any admission or acknowledgement of wrongdoing on the part of LCB.

“The bank is pleased to have reached a settlement with the United States Government, ending months of legal dispute,” Evan Barr, an attorney for the bank, said in a statement.

Let me translate for those of you who don’t quite believe this arrangement.  They paid a fine, 1/3 of what was actually documented to be illegally laundered money, did not admit to any crime, and are back in business. (You can pick yourself up off the floor now).

Sometimes I ask myself what’s the point of believing in equality under the law if there is such blatant disregard for justice?  Did the US Government prosecutors think that they couldn’t get a real conviction in government court or that the trial would be too long and expensive, or were they just lazy with our laws?  Did they believe paying $102M would make the leaders of this bank feel ashamed and change their ways?

Too Big to Fail or Too Big to Prosecute?

eric-holderRecently, US Attorney General Eric Holder testified before Congress that “some banks are just too big to prosecute”.  Government staffers also have admitted that the decision not to prosecute executives of HSBC for flagrant money laundering was taken out of fear that doing so would hurt the global economy. Well, maybe HSBC, but certainly not Lebanese Canadian Bank, a pimple compared to the big banks.

History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by  controlling money and its issuance. –James Madison

Next time you want to commit a crime, get a banking license first!

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

john@johnrchildress.com

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in Human Psychology, John R Childress, leadership, Organization Behavior, the business of business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What’s Wrong With This Picture . . .

  1. Demetrie Comnas says:

    RIGHT ON !! D.

    Like

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