HSBC Sued Over Cartel Money Laundering

Banks and drug cartels have some things in common. They are both very lucrative businesses and not particularly popular with the general public. And, of course, they use copious amounts of each other’s products – at least if anecdotal evidence of the behavior on Wall Street can be believed.

While bankers can probably get their highs any number of ways, the Mexican drug cartels need financial institutions to clean their dirty money. And, it seems, there is no better bank for that than London-based HSBC, which is one of the world’s largest. In the first six months of last year, it reported a pre-tax profit of $13.6 billion.

According to a lawsuit filed against HSBC earlier this month, it earned some of those profits by allowing the drug cartels to cycle billions of dollars through it.

“From 2004 through at least 2008, HSBC Mexico accepted over $16.1 billion in cash deposits from customers throughout Mexico. This amount eclipsed the amount of USD cash deposits at financial institutions with market shares multiple times greater than HSBC Mexico’s,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The Place to Launder Money”.

Why was HSBC so popular? For one thing, its Mexican operation had particularly lax anti-money-laundering policies. Or, as the lawsuit puts it, “a culture of recklessness and corruption pervaded HSBC.”

Cashiers would routinely accept large cash deposits, sometimes more than $1 million, from people with no identifiable source of income. This money was often packaged in boxes designed to fit through the HSBC teller windows...


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