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. The 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?
Recently, 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