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View Diary: Taibbi: "How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it.” (145 comments)

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  •  The whistle-blower part of Taibbi's piece (64+ / 0-)

    was particularly interesting and should have been highlighted. It's about a young, fresh out of college, guy who got a job at HSBC under their internal anti-money-laundering program:

    In the summer of 2010, 25-year-old Everett Stern was just out of business school, fighting a mild case of wanderlust and looking for a job


    then he found an online job posting that piqued his interest. HSBC, a major international bank, was looking for people to help with its anti-money-laundering program. "I thought this was exactly what I wanted to do," he says. "It sounded so exciting."


    From the outset, Stern knew there was something weird about his job. "I had to go to the library to take out books on money-laundering," Stern says now, laughing. "That's how bad it was." There were no training courses or seminars on money-laundering­ – what it was, how to detect it. His work mainly consisted of looking up the names of unsavory characters on the Internet and then running them through the bank's internal systems to see if they popped up on any account names anywhere.

    Even weirder, nobody seemed to care if anybody was doing any actual work.

    Every time Stern brought one of these discoveries to his bosses, they rolled their eyes at him, if not worse. When he alerted his boss that a shipping company with ties to Iran was doing a lot of business with the bank, he blew up. "You called me over for this?" the boss snapped.


    After trying in vain to convince his bosses to at least let him do his job and look for money-laundering, Stern decided to turn whistle-blower, telling the FBI and other agencies what was going on at the bank. He left work at HSBC in 2011, fully expecting that the government would drop the hammer on his former employers.


    So he went to New York and sat in a hotel room, waiting for reporters to call for his comments. When he heard the news that the "punishment" Breuer had announced was a deferred prosecution agreement – a Don't Do It Again, Again, Again agreement, if you will – he was flabbergasted.

    "I thought, 'All that, for nothing?' " he says. "I couldn't believe it."

    I wish Bob had had the time to do a full workup on this story. It's got a lot more fascinating bits than the two excerpts cited in the diary indicate.

    Taibbi's update on the LIBOR story is must read as well. It comes in the last part of this story.

    The so-called LIBOR scandal, which is at the heart of the UBS settlement, makes Enron look like a parking violation. Many of the world's biggest banks, including Switzerland's UBS, Britain's Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland, got together and secretly conspired to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, which measures the rate at which banks lend to each other. Many, if not most, interest rates are pegged to LIBOR. The prices of hundreds of trillions of dollars of financial products are tied to LIBOR, everything from commercial loans to credit cards to mortgages to municipal bonds to swaps and currencies.

    There is nobody anywhere growing weed strong enough to help the human mind grasp the enormity of this crime. It's a conspiracy so massive that the lawyers who are suing the banks are having an extremely difficult time figuring out how to calculate the damage.

    •  The part on Stern particularly stood out for me... (29+ / 0-)

      ...too. Trying to re-work these posts, as opposed to encouraging folks to click on the third-party/author's link, and read it as the author intended it, seems kind of redundant to me.  I do end up doing that from time to time, however; and/or, re-posting these types of pieces in their entirerty (providing I have the proper authorization to do that). But, yes, in the middle of a workday, it would take hours from my life in the real world to rephrase/restate/capture the full intent of the story in my own much as I would have gotten into doing just that, IF I had the time. Alas...

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 01:28:22 PM PST

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      •  I agree that this is one of the most (13+ / 0-)

        important stories of this century, but if you want to know why it's not receiving any traction, just look at the type of stories that make it to the top of the recommend list each day, as opposed to stories like this that are of blockbuster importance.


        Not even the progressives give a crap anymore about holding people accountable for their crimes.  I've read many arguments about how the Justice Department had no choice but to give the criminals behind the global financial collapse a pass; otherwise, we would be facing a global financial collapse.  That's like saying we can't prosecute people who commit mass murders in school because it might inspire someone else to commit the same type of crimes.

        To me, this failure to bring thousands of white collar criminals to account for their crimes will be Obama's legacy.

        •  At least, this is encouraging: (17+ / 0-)
          At her first Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, Warren questioned top regulators from the alphabet soup that is the nation's financial regulatory structure: the FDIC, SEC, OCC, CFPB, CFTC, Fed and Treasury.

          The Democratic senator from Massachusetts had a straightforward question for them: When was the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial? It was a harder question than it seemed.

          "We do not have to bring people to trial," Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, assured Warren, declaring that his agency had secured a large number of "consent orders," or settlements.

          "I appreciate that you say you don't have to bring them to trial. My question is, when did you bring them to trial?" she responded.

          "We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals," Curry offered.

          A link to the article at the Huffington Post

        •  Neal Young - Helpless... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          walkshills, bobswern, IreGyre

          "Helpless, helpless, helpless
          Baby can you hear me now?
          The chains are locked
          And tied across the door,
          Baby, sing with me somehow.

          Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
          Yellow moon on the rise,
          Big birds flying across the sky,
          Throwing shadows on our eyes.
          Leave us

          Helpless, helpless, helpless."

          "It riles them to believe you perceive the web they weave." Moody Blues

          by BrianParker14 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 07:56:11 PM PST

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      •  Personally I much prefer honoring the (3+ / 0-)

        authors and publications with the links, using only a few cogent quotes to illustrate an issue. You do a great job getting permission from some authors for fully reprinting their work, with notice at the opening of the diary.

        Taibbi, as much as anyone, earns the links. I was caught between amusement and face palming at the suggestions he should run for office, be on the supreme court, etc in the comments. Just what we don't need, losing a superb investigative journalist to any other endeavor!

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:52:15 PM PST

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