HSBC to Pay $1.92 Billion to Settle Charges of Money Laundering
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: December 18th, 2012
State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the worlds largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system. Instead, HSBC announced ... that it had agreed to a record $1.92 billion settlement with authorities. The bank, which is based in Britain, faces accusations that it transferred billions of dollars for nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to move money illegally through its American subsidiaries. The case, officials say, will claim violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and Trading with the Enemy Act. While the settlement with HSBC is a major victory for the government, the case raises questions about whether certain financial institutions, having grown so large and interconnected, are too big to indict. Four years after the failure of Lehman Brothers nearly toppled the financial system, regulators are still wary that a single institution could undermine the recovery of the industry and the economy. But the threat of criminal prosecution acts as a powerful deterrent. If authorities signal such actions are remote for big banks, the threat could lose its sting.
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