The EU's biggest problem child may be Deutsche Bank. Because they came relatively late to the crime spree, they weren't very good at it and have wound up holding the bag for a lot of banksters in New York and London. It can be argued that the massive austerity programs being foisted on the peoples of Europe are simply maneuvers to cover up the crimes and stupidities of German banks—especially their big daddy Deutsche Bank.
12/20/2012The crime wave at the banks includes their deep involvement with money laundering. Even wonder why recreational drugs are illegal? Well, it turns out, one BIG reason is that without the activity of providing drugs to people who want some small relief from the grim reality of their lives, many financial institutions would be FAR less profitable.
Suspicion of Collusion
Authorities Raid Deutsche Bank AgainProsecutors in Frankfurt raided Deutsche Bank headquarters yet again this week. It marks the second time in a fortnight that the mighty German financial institution has received an unwanted visit from the police. This time the focus is on suspicions of witness collusion in connection with a scandal that could cost the bank as much as 1.5 billion euros.
The police are becoming frequent guests at Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. For the second time in a week, authorities raided the bank in connection with an ongoing investigation, this time looking for evidence of witness collusion relating to court testimony in a high-profile case pitting Deutsche Bank against the family of the deceased German media magnate Leo Kirch.
The raid took place on Wednesday, but only became public early on Thursday afternoon, partially because it was not nearly as disruptive as a raid conducted a week ago Wednesday, when authorities showed up with 500 armed police and secured the bank's lobby. Nevertheless, the new search and seizure operation underlines yet again the dark cloud of suspicion that hangs over Deutsche Bank despite its stated desire to turn over a new leaf.
Police confiscated documentation and data on Wednesday, but did not make any arrests, according to a spokesperson for the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt. The visit marks the second such raid in connection to the Kirch proceedings, the first having taken place in November of 2011.
At its heart, the Kirch case is a civil suit. The family accuses former Deutsche Bank supervisory board head Rolf Breuer of hastening the demise of Leo Kirch's media conglomerate by voicing doubts in an interview about the company's creditworthiness. Last Friday, a court in Munich decided in favor of the Kirch family and indicated damages Deutsche Bank would be forced to pay would be somewhere between €120 million and €1.5 billion.
Latest Low Point
But prosecutors also believe that several senior bank executives and board members, including Breuer, former CEO Josef Ackermann and two others, may have illegally coordinated their testimony prior to initial hearings in that case. They deny the charge. Officials on Wednesday were looking for information that could provide clues as to whether the quartet had indeed acted illegally.
Wednesday's raid marks just the latest low point in a 2012 full of them. The investigation relating to the emissions certificates directly implicates current co-CEO Jürgen Fitschens and it led to five arrests last week, though all suspects have since been released from pre-trial detention. Still, it could prove a difficult corner for the bank to wriggle out of. Fitschens is said to have signed a questionable tax declaration for the year 2009 which included refund claims on fraudulently traded emissions certificates. The investigation has been ongoing since 2010, but authorities seem to believe that Deutsche Bank's criminal intent was greater than the financial institution is willing to admit.
The bank, Germany's largest, also stands accused of having played a role in the LIBOR scandal, which saw prominent international banks collude to manipulate the key international lending rate. On Wednesday, the Swiss bank UBS was fined $1.5 billion for its role in the ploy by US, British and Swiss regulators. Furthermore, a former bank employee has also accused Deutsche Bank of having cooked its books during the peak of the financial crisis in order to avoid being forced to accept a government bailout. There are several additional legal proceedings pending as well.
According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, in a story which will appear in the paper's Friday edition, this week's raid is linked to last week's. In a pre-publication press release, the Munich daily reported that investigators confiscated information last week that was also linked to the Kirch case and decided to come back for more. It is unclear for how long the investigation will last. more
Taibbi and Spitzer talk about the massive injustice perpetrated by the government in collusion with the banksters at HSBC.
Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a JokeMatt Taibbi December 13, 2012
If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.
Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected 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.
The banks' laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."
This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the "legitimate" banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank's teller windows. Tony Montana's henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional "American City Bank" in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain's most storied financial institutions.
Though this was not stated explicitly, the government's rationale in not pursuing criminal prosecutions against the bank was apparently rooted in concerns that putting executives from a "systemically important institution" in jail for drug laundering would threaten the stability of the financial system. The New York Times put it this way:
Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.It doesn't take a genius to see that the reasoning here is beyond flawed. When you decide not to prosecute bankers for billion-dollar crimes connected to drug-dealing and terrorism (some of HSBC's Saudi and Bangladeshi clients had terrorist ties, according to a Senate investigation), it doesn't protect the banking system, it does exactly the opposite. It terrifies investors and depositors everywhere, leaving them with the clear impression that even the most "reputable" banks may in fact be captured institutions whose senior executives are in the employ of (this can't be repeated often enough) murderers and terrorists. Even more shocking, the Justice Department's response to learning about all of this was to do exactly the same thing that the HSBC executives did in the first place to get themselves in trouble – they took money to look the other way.
And not only did they sell out to drug dealers, they sold out cheap. 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?
So you might ask, what's the appropriate financial penalty for a bank in HSBC's position? Exactly how much money should one extract from a firm that has been shamelessly profiting from business with criminals for years and years? Remember, we're talking about a company that has admitted to a smorgasbord of serious banking crimes. If you're the prosecutor, you've got this bank by the balls. So how much money should you take?
How about all of it? How about every last dollar the bank has made since it started its illegal activity? How about you dive into every bank account of every single executive involved in this mess and take every last bonus dollar they've ever earned? Then take their houses, their cars, the paintings they bought at Sotheby's auctions, the clothes in their closets, the loose change in the jars on their kitchen counters, every last freaking thing. Take it all and don't think twice. And then throw them in jail.
Sound harsh? It does, doesn't it? The only problem is, that's exactly what the government does just about every day to ordinary people involved in ordinary drug cases. more