A whistleblower who divulged to WND an international money-laundering scheme by HSBC that now is under federal investigation says he is not impressed with the banking giant’s attempt to resolve the scandal.
John Cruz, a former HSBC vice president and relationship manager in New York, told WND the bank’s strategy is to avoid criminal prosecution by paying the federal government up to $1 billion in fines.
If the bank gets its way, Cruz said, HSBC employees, including senior management, might walk free and avoid surrendering any financial gains from their activities.
“HSBC is trying to put an end to the investigation of money laundering, but, according to my attorney, the voice recordings I made of bank officials and the documents I brought out of the bank are very damaging to the bank,” Cruz told WND.
HSBC has apologized for a “shameful” systems breakdown from 2004 to 2010 and is prepared to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines in a scandal that was exposed in a series of investigative WND reports that began in February. Cruz turned over 1,000 pages of evidence to WND he pulled from a bank computer system before he was fired. He was terminated in 2010, after two years at HSBC, for “poor performance.” But he contends he was let go because senior management didn’t want to him to pursue his personal investigation.
Cruz previously told WND he met with special agents with the IRS criminal division in April and handed over a computer disc with copies of his internal documents. The agents, according to Cruz, were overwhelmed with the volume and detail of the information, calling it “mind-boggling.”
As WND reported, law enforcement authorities sat on Cruz’s allegations until the story was exposed by WND.
A Senate report released last month presents evidence HSBC abetted massive money laundering by Iran, terrorist organizations, drug cartels and organized criminals throughout the world. The report said HSBC transferred $19 billion for Iran and $7 billion in physical cash for Mexico.
WND also reported evidence that Eric Holder’s Justice Department has not investigated money-laundering charges in deference to bank clients of his Washington-based law firm, where Holder was a partner prior to joining the Obama administration.
‘A culture of fraud’
HSBC now is in settlement discussions with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and attorneys representing the Department of Justice and the Treasury Department.
In July, HSBC announced it had reserved $700 million for any U.S. fines after the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations exposed that the bank was involved in terrorism-related, money-laundering activities.
In addition to the bank records, Cruz has recordings of dozens of hours of incriminating discussions he held with fellow bank employees – from bank tellers to branch managers to executives – before he was fired.
“The whole system is designed to be a culture of fraud to make it look like it’s a legal system,” Cruz said. “But it’s not.”
Cruz explained that even when he let bank managers know he was taping the conversation, the managers were not interested in what he was saying.
“HSBC is a criminal organization,” he emphasized. “It is a culture of crime.”
As WND previously reported, Cruz has applied to the Securities and Exchange Commission for whistleblower status, and he is pursuing a wrongful termination against the bank.
To make his charges public, Cruz published a book in 2011, “World Banking World Fraud: Using Your Identity.”