Elizabeth Warren Slams Money-Laundering Banks: What Does It Take?

Abby Zimet

Breath of Fresh Fierce Air Dept: During a Senate Banking Committee hearing about money laundering, the splendid Sen. Elizabeth Warren ripped federal  regulators who failed to prosecute or shut down British bank HSBC despite the bank confessing to laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, Iran and Libya. Warren thus challenged not only a slew of squirming federal regulators, but Attorney General Eric Holder's earlier contention it could be bad for the economy to shut down big banks even when they commit egregious crimes - that, essentially, “too big to fail” means “too big to jail.” Five years after the financial crisis they caused, Warren declared, banks are still free and clear, and still being subsidized by $83 billion a year by American taxpayers, and "it is past time to end too-big-to-fail.” See a ticked-off Warren saying what should be said.

"They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it," Warren said of HSBC. "How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?... If you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're gonna go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your bed at night - every single individual associated with this. And I think that's fundamentally wrong."

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