News Release

HSBC Case: Are Huge Banks Now Too Big to Indict?


The New York Times reports this morning: “State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system. … 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.”

Editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, Mokhiber said today: “Twenty years ago, if major corporations engaged in criminal wrongdoing, they would be forced to plead guilty to a crime. Today, if major corporations engage in criminal wrongdoing, they get deferred or nonprosecution agreements. These agreements were intended for minor street crimes, not major corporate crimes. But the corporate crime bar has flipped the practice so that now these agreements are the way major corporate crime cases are settled. According to press reports, prosecutors working the HSBC case wanted to force the giant UK bank to at least plead guilty to Bank Secrecy charges. But higher ups in the Obama administration warned about the effects of a guilty plea on the broader economy. Obama has set in stone a double standard of justice — deferred prosecutions or no prosecution for corporate criminals, guilty pleas for living, breathing criminals.”