Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. And it’s actually much worse than the NY Times article reports. Here’s Matt Taibbi on the verdict, with a primal scream of his own:
They’re now saying that if you’re not an important cog in the global financial system, you can’t get away with anything, not even simple possession. You will be jailed and whatever cash they find on you they’ll seize on the spot, and convert into new cruisers or toys for your local SWAT team, which will be deployed to kick in the doors of houses where more such inessential economic cogs as you live. If you don’t have a systemically important job, in other words, the government’s position is that your assets may be used to finance your own political disenfranchisement.
On the other hand, if you are an important person, and you work for a big international bank, you won’t be prosecuted even if you launder nine billion dollars. Even if you actively collude with the people at the very top of the international narcotics trade, your punishment will be far smaller than that of the person at the very bottom of the world drug pyramid. You will be treated with more deference and sympathy than a junkie passing out on a subway car in Manhattan (using two seats of a subway car is a common prosecutable offense in this city). An international drug trafficker is a criminal and usually a murderer; the drug addict walking the street is one of his victims. But thanks to Breuer, we’re now in the business, officially, of jailing the victims and enabling the criminals.
There is a rot that has taken root in our culture that inculcates the elites from facing justice. It was apparent when none of the Iraq war contractors were hauled before Congress for war profiteering; it was apparent when no one went to jail for the financial crisis; and it’s apparent now in this outrageous verdict in the HSBC case. This country truly has lost its moral footing when it supports two sets of laws: one for the rich and one for everyone else. We now officially live in a kleptocracy.