Trading With The Enemy

US Courthouse Some members of Congress have expressed concern that remarks made in the past by former Senator Chuck Hagel indicate he may be soft on Iran, all the while not worrying too much about the several banks operating in this country that actually help Iran launder its ill-gotten gains, going so far as to assist them with ‘how to launder money’ tutorials. And yet not one single executive has been charged with a crime. (We covered this last month when the story first broke about HSBC laundering money for the Mexican drug cartels as well as Iran.)

Former federal agent Robert Mazur, author of The Infiltrator, served for 27 years, five of them as an undercover money launderer, and now informs us that this behavior is standard operating procedure at many banks. From his column in The New York Times “How to Halt the Terrorist Money Train;”

Court filings show that, since 2006, more than a dozen banks have reached settlements with the Justice Department regarding violations related to money laundering. ING Bank paid a $619 million fine for altering records and secretly transferring more than $2 billion for entities trading with Iran and other nations under sanctions. American Express Bank International acknowledged that more than $55 million in drug proceeds may have been laundered through offshore shell accounts it maintained. The Justice Department has signed similar agreements, withholding prosecution in exchange for bank promises to tighten oversight, with Wachovia, Union Bank of California, Lloyds, Credit Suisse, ABN Amro Holding (now owned by Royal Bank of Scotland), Barclays and Standard Chartered. All admitted to criminal offenses; all were handed the equivalent of traffic tickets — pay a fine on your way out the door.

Soft on Iran? What have the congressional homeland security and banking committees been doing since 2006? Congressmen, the next time you cash your paycheck why don’t you send Mr. Ahmadinejad a thank-you note.

(See Jon Stewart on this topic at Bank Wankers (1.9.13) where we learn that government officials decided HSBC was “too big to prosecute.”)

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