According to Rolling Stones' Matt Taibbi, although British banking giant HSBC "admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels" while "violating a host of important banking laws," the U.S. Justice Department opted "not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a 'record' financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted, is about five weeks of income for the bank."
[...] You'll hear bragging this week by the Obama administration that they wrested a record penalty from HSBC, but it's a joke. Some of the penalties involved will literally make you laugh out loud. This is from Breuer's announcement:
As a result of the government's investigation, HSBC has . . . "clawed back" deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.
Wow. So the executives who spent a decade laundering billions of dollars will have to partially defer their bonuses during the five-year deferred prosecution agreement? Are you fucking kidding me? That's the punishment? The government's negotiators couldn't hold firm on forcing HSBC officials to completely wait to receive their ill-gotten bonuses? They had to settle on making them "partially" wait? Every honest prosecutor in America has to be puking his guts out at such bargaining tactics. What was the Justice Department's opening offer ? asking executives to restrict their Caribbean vacation time to nine weeks a year?
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