Magazine article New Internationalist

Too Big to Jail

Magazine article New Internationalist

Too Big to Jail

Article excerpt

Megabanks are truly transnational corporations, bigger and more powerful than many countries. The two biggest financial centres are Wall Street and the City of London. They dominate the world's capital markets - and they undermine democracy and the rule of law as well.

For example, the US government deems it appropriate to fine the megabank JP Morgan Chase $20 billion for a whole list of transgressions, yet decided not to prosecute a single senior banker for fraud.

Isn't this the country that locked up not only Ivan Boesky for insider trading but 1,000 senior bankers who committed fraud in the Savings and Loans scandal of the 1980s? In the early 2000s the US made sure that the main characters behind the accounting frauds at World Comm and Enron were convicted and handed jail sentences.

Loaded up with good intentions and promises to the American people, and armed with a mandate via the ballot box, why hasn't President Obama taken on the power of Wall Street and the megabanks?

Dear President Obama, do you think the American people are stupid?

Across the Atlantic, a very wealthy British Prime Minister, whose Cabinet contains 18 millionaires, moves effortlessly among the wealthy elite. David Cameron seems to think it is okay to have made Lord Green, the former boss of the HSBC megabank, a trade minister, despite his wilful blindness to the fact that the bank's Mexican subsidiary had been enlarging its cashier windows to allow murderous drug cartels to deposit bigger sacks filled with $7 billion of dirty cash for laundering.

HSBC was exposed for busting sanctions imposed on Iraq. It paid a final settlement of $1.9 billion to the US, not to Britain, which failed to investigate. The bank escaped criminal convictions, prompting the charge that its bosses were too big to jail. Its Private Bank in Switzerland, on top of allegations of hosting tax evasion, has been raided by the Swiss government on suspicion of money laundering. …

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