Sen. Elizabeth Warren demanded answers Thursday from top banking regulators over the possibility of shuttering financial firms that flout federal anti-money laundering laws or violate international trade sanctions, reports Politico. Referencing the penalties leveled against HSBC after the company was caught being used to funnel billions in drug money, the Massachusetts Democrat questioned regulators about why they did not consider forcing the British bank to shut its doors on U.S. soil. “What does it take?” Warren said. “How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords?
Regulators fined the company $1.9 billion over the laundering, but Warren questioned why no criminal prosecutions were aimed at the company or its employees, saying they were not being held to the same standard as common Americans. “If you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you go to jail. If you're caught repeatedly, you can go to jail for life,” Warren told regulators during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. “Incidentally, if you launder nearly a billion dollars in drug money, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.” Officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency hesitated to weigh in on when it was appropriate to shut down financial firms, saying the decision to shutter a bank would follow prosecutions by the Department of Justice.