Release the hounds!
Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
Although the Department of Justice and HSBC thought the money laundering case was settled ancient history, a determined chemist from Pennsylvania is throwing a wrench into their plans and it could have major implications.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
WEST CHESTER, Pa.—When Dean Moore ran into roadblocks with a request for mortgage relief, he did what many people do: He sat down at his kitchen table to bang out an angry letter.
The letter has thrust Mr. Moore, a chemist, and his wife, Ann Marie Fletcher-Moore, a part-time bookstore manager, into a high-stakes battle over whether HSBC Holdings PLC must release a secret report on its compliance with a $1.9 billion money-laundering settlement.
A “secret” report. You’ve got to be kidding me.
The disclosure would be the first ever for this type of case and would shine a light on an increasingly common practice for banks accused of breaking the law. Instead of being prosecuted, banks typically enter into settlements under which they often agree to be overseen by monitors whose detailed judgments are kept secret. Judge Gleeson’s order has the potential to dial back that confidentiality, opening a new channel of information that prosecutors say could threaten the viability of such settlements in future cases.
If you don’t get by now that America is a banana republic, there’s little hope for you.
HSBC and Justice Department prosecutors have opposed the release, saying it wouldn’t do much to help Mr. Moore with his mortgage predicament. Judge Gleeson, in his order to unseal the report, said that was irrelevant.
Big banks and the U.S. government are simply 100% in bed together. Constantly scheming to prevent citizens from learning the truth.
The bank is appealing the ruling, but already it may be having an impact. HSBC disclosed last week that the January report by independent monitor Michael Cherkasky found instances of potential financial crime and had “significant concerns” about the bank’s pace of progress in complying with the money-laundering settlement.
A legitimate government that cared about the people would want the public to know this, but not the U.S. government.
The Moores say the experience has been surreal. The couple lives in this Philadelphia suburb with their four children, two dogs and a 15-year-old rabbit and had never spent much time in court other than for jury duty. They have nevertheless held their own against a phalanx of lawyers from the British bank and the Justice Department. A recent hearing in a Brooklyn federal court “was like ‘Law and Order,’” said Mrs. Fletcher-Moore, who is 50 years old.
HSBC admitted in its 2012 settlement that it failed to catch at least $881 million in drug-trafficking proceeds laundered through its U.S. bank and that its staff stripped data from transactions with Iran, Libya and Sudan to evade U.S. sanctions.
The mortgage was administered by HSBC, and the Moores say they wrote to the bank starting in 2008 asking it to temporarily lower the 7% interest rate. They said the lender appeared receptive, only for its representatives to misplace documents needed to complete their application for a loan modification several times.
Frustrated, the Moores researched the bank online last year and stumbled upon news of the money-laundering settlement and the monitor’s secret report. The Moores say they believe the report details faulty internal controls like those they encountered when trying to modify their loan.
If his ruling stands, it would be “the first time we get to see what happens after a bank settles a prosecution,” said Brandon Garrett, a professor at University of Virginia’s law school who has studied the monitor system.
Which is exactly what the U.S. government doesn’t want people to see.
HSBC and the Justice Department are still fighting to keep the report private and have appealed Judge Gleeson’s ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. An appeals court ruling could be months away. “I feel like a very small boat in a very large ocean,” Mr. Moore wrote at one point, in a letter responding to some of their arguments.