HSBC, one of the world’s biggest and most systemic banks, has been given yet another dainty slap on the wrist for its role allegedly laundering hundreds of millions for ruthless Mexican drug barons.
A US probe said the bank had been a conduit for “drug kingpins and rogue nations”. HSBC says the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) — a form of probation — has now expired.
Once again, we are left with a very big question: why is it that the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to prosecute any too-big-to-fail banks or—more importantly—their bankers, even for admitted crimes?
It’s a crucial question, because after eight straight years of unremitting prosecutorial failure, it looks very much as if a select group of top banks can, in fact, do no wrong. If that’s the case, then the U.S. constitutional republic isn’t merely in trouble. It’s dead.
A person or group of people who satisfy Blackstone’s criterion for ultimate sovereign power—the power to commit crimes with impunity—can’t exist in a nation where the law reigns supreme. And yet here we are, a decade after the financial crisis began in earnest, and not one TBTF bank executive has gone to jail.
Legally, the TBTF banks are indistinguishable from the King, since the power to commit crimes with impunity swallows all other sovereign powers; such a power isn’t even supposed to exist in the U.S., and yet it does.
Moreover, since there can’t be two kings in a kingdom, the entire U.S. government, from the president on down, is just one of the King’s men under this formulation of power. The real job of the U.S. government, then, isn’t to represent the will of the people at all, it’s to do the King’s bidding. A nation that isn’t governed by law is governed instead by a king—it’s one or the other—and the president’s inferiority to such an above-the-law sovereign was confirmed over 40 years ago with Nixon’s ouster. The president, unlike the King, answers to the law (despite Nixon’s opinion).
Now, you may say that while the TBTF banks might arguably have the de facto power of the King, that’s a far cry from wielding such power formally (i.e., having de jure criminal immunity).
The reply to that objection is set forth in this film, “All the Plenary’s Men,” which is a sequel to “The Veneer of Justice in a Kingdom of Crime.”
Another objection, raised by the DOJ itself, is that it HAS prosecuted TBTF bankers, citing cases like that of Raj Rajaratnam. These cases, however, in fact reveal the DOJ acting on behalf of the criminal global banking cartel.
On that score, the DOJ’s abysmal track record is by now so extensive and so thorough that it’s possible to spot legal patterns in the DOJ’s protracted miscarriage of justice. As you’re about to see, those patterns are very deeply disturbing indeed. What’s been going on cuts right past a garden variety constitutional crisis like Watergate straight to a crisis of sovereignty.
The backdrop for all of this is HSBC’s exoneration in December of 2012 for laundering money for drug dealers and terrorists, about which the House Financial Services Committee issued a report in July of 2016. Whether it was due to the political circus in town at the time, or to the Republican authorship of that report (albeit without dissent), it didn’t get nearly the scrutiny it deserved.
You see, prosecutors working on the HSBC case were actually going to indict the bank, but they got overruled, and HSBC and its team of criminals skated. The story of how exactly that reversal came about reveals, if not the King himself, then certainly many of the King’s top men.
Make the coffee extra strong before viewing. Lots of ground gets covered, quickly.
And don’t mothball those pitchforks and torches just yet.