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Enjoy News stories in Photographs
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
HSBC bankers need to face jail for their bank’s role in laundering drugs money;
fining the bank won’t work
Today, Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, announced that it will pay
$1.9 billion (£1.2 billion) to settle allegations that it laundered money for drugs
cartels, terrorists and pariah states. During approximately the same period
that HSBC failed to check whether the dollars it was shipping from Mexico to the US were drugs money, 47,000 people
died at the hands of Mexican drugs traffickers.
“Fines alone are
not going to change banks’ behaviour: the chances of being caught are
relatively small and the potential profits from accepting dodgy clients are too
big. Fines are seen as a cost of doing
business,” said Rosie Sharpe,
campaigner at Global Witness.
regulators should hold senior bankers legally responsible for their banks’
money laundering performance. At the
very least, senior bankers should be prevented from working in the industry,
akin to the way in which doctors can be struck off. Bonuses should be clawed back, and, in the
most serious cases, senior bankers should face jail,” said Sharpe.
According to the
chair of the US Senate Subcommittee, HSBC’s culture was ‘pervasively
polluted’. The number of drugs cartels
makes it a high risk for money laundering.
HSBC Mexico had high risk clients such as money remitters and offered
high risk products such as dollar accounts in the Cayman
Despite this, HSBC
treated its Mexican affiliate as low risk.
The result was that HSBC's Mexican operations moved $7bn in physical
cash into the US
between 2007 and 2008. Instead of prosecuting senior bankers, however, the US Department
of Justice has entered into a ‘deferred prosecution agreement’ with the bank,
in which the bank is essentially granted immunity from prosecution in exchange
for doing what they should have been doing all along. “If you get caught with your hand in the till
you go to jail, but if you’re a big bank and you’re caught breaking the law, it
seems that all that happens is you’re fined and told you’ll go to jail if you
do it again,” said Sharpe.
Yesterday the UK’s
Home Affairs Select Committee said that fines against banks that aided money
laundering and drugs trafficking were not enough. The Committee recommended
personal, criminal liability for those who hold the most senior positions in
banks that are found to have been involved in money laundering.
As well as
prosecuting senior HSBC bankers, bonuses should be clawed back. Lord Green was appointed HSBC chief executive
in 2003 and chairman in 2006, and is now the UK Trade Minister. “We estimate that Lord Green pocketed more
than £25 million in bonuses and shares during his time at HSBC, despite the
fact that the bank’s own criteria for awarding bonuses is meant to take into
account adherence to ethical standards; he should return this money,” said
responsibility for its past mistakes and stated that it had comprehensively
changed its approach to anti-money laundering compliance. The bank will be
monitored by the Department of Justice for the five year term of the agreement.
Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Meets in New York
Office of the Spokesperson
December 10, 2012
The United States will join
partners from nearly 80 countries, international organizations, and the
private sector at the United Nations in New York on December 11 for a
plenary meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.
The plenary, hosted by India, will be the thirteenth gathering of this
innovative diplomatic forum. Since its initial meeting in January 2009,
the Contact Group has nearly tripled in size − a testament to the
global consensus that piracy poses a shared security challenge to
maritime safety and to the need for further concerted and coordinated
international action. Among its accomplishments to date, the Contact
• Facilitated coordination of an unprecedented international naval
effort from more than 30 countries working together to protect
• Partnered with the shipping industry to improve practical steps
merchant ships and crews can take to avoid, deter, delay, and counter
pirate attacks. The shipping industry’s use of Best Management
Practices and the increasing use of Privately Contracted Armed Security
Personnel are among these measures, which continue to be the most
effective deterrents against pirate attacks.
• Strengthened the capacity of Somalia and other countries in the
region to counter piracy, in particular by contributing to the UN Trust
Fund Supporting Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of
• Advanced a new initiative aimed at disrupting the pirates’
financial and logistical networks ashore through approaches similar to
those used to target other types of organized transnational criminal