HSBC Should Have Been Indicted for Money Laundering, NY Times Contends


The New York Times calls it a “dark day for the rule of law” because federal and state authorities chose not to indict London-based bank HSBC on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and endanger the financial system. The Times say in an editorial that “boggles the mind that a bank could launder money as HSBC did without anyone in a position of authority making culpable decisions.”

The newspaper criticizes the U.S. Justice Department for adopting the “notion that too big to fail is too big to jail. When prosecutors choose not to prosecute to the full extent of the law in a case as egregious as this, the law itself is diminished. The deterrence that comes from the threat of criminal prosecution is weakened, if not lost.” In the HSBC case, prosecutors may want the public to focus on its $1.92 billion settlement, reported yesterday in Crime & Justice News. The Times argues that if large banks cannot be held fully accountable, the solution is to reduce their size by breaking them up and restricting their activities , not shielding them and their leaders from prosecution for illegal activities

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