Today’s New York Times lacks news coverage of the delicious prospect that a federal judge may be blocking the December 2012 civil settlement with the Justice Department that allowed HSBC executives to skate without criminal consequences, even though the megabank admitted laundering hundreds of millions of dollars for the Colombian and Mexican drug cartels.
Meanwhile, the paper’s financial gossip column, Dealbook, serves up a press release for the Treasury Department on the HSBC case. Author Ben Protess backs the ridiculous self-rationalizations made in a (conveniently obtained) internal Treasury report that since only Justice can indict, Treasury was right to take no position on whether to prosecute executives at the notorious money laundering entities HSBC and Standard Chartered. Treasury’s neutrality helped assure Justice would not indict.
Protess gets into double-talk about how aggressively Treasury pursued the civil settlement with HSBC — i.e., how Treasury effectively backed the government consensus not to prosecute the criminal bankers. Also, Treasury thinks it was unsporting of this Ben Lawsky guy, who regulates banks in New York State, to threaten to pull Standard Chartered’s license to do crime. They don’t like him.
Get this: “The Justice Department has explained that it follows guidelines requiring prosecutors to weigh indictments of businesses with ‘collateral consequences’ like job losses and, in the case of big banks, a threat to the economy. And in a recent letter to Congress, the department explained that it has ‘contacted relevant government agencies to discuss such issues,’ including federal regulators.”
Excuse the New York talk, but are you fucking kidding me?! Think of all the good-paying no-show jobs lost here in Queens when they took down a relatively small-change gangster like John Gotti! It turns out that John Gleeson, the judge who is troubling the HSBC deal, was also the prosecutor who finally got Gotti convicted.
On Treasury’s point man in the HSBC case, David S. Cohen, whom the Dealbook piece treats with affection, let’s recall: