NEW YORK – Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch could be facing new confirmation problems in the U.S. Senate after being tied to the world’s biggest banking scandal, involving HSBC, which used its power to temporarily shut down WND.com as the news site was breaking a series of stories on the mega-bank’s money-laundering practices – practices that resulted in more than $1.2 billion in fines
According to court papers filed Wednesday, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice appears to be stonewalling the release of documents that could implicate Lynch in a massive cover-up of Obama administration involvement in international money-laundering of Mexican cartel drug money.
In 2012, Lynch, as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, oversaw the investigation of drug-related international money laundering allegations against London-based HSBC Holdings LLC.
WND published a series articles documenting charges HSBC laundered billions of dollars that traced back to the Mexican drug cartels, culminating with a $1.256 billion fine paid to the U.S. government to end the investigation and avoid the filing of criminal charges.
The federal government’s unwillingness to prosecute HSBC was exposed by a former HSBC vice president and relationship manager in New York, John Cruz, who called the bank a “criminal enterprise.” Cruz was ignored by law enforcement authorities until he brought to WND 1,000 pages of customer account records that document his claims.
Cruz called the $1.92 billion fine the U.S. government imposed on HSBC “a joke” and filed a $10 million lawsuit for “retaliation and wrongful termination.” Whistleblowers in India and London joined Cruz in charging the HSBC settlement amounted to a massive cover-up.
In response to WND’s reporting of Cruz’s evidence, HSBC lodged a complaint that blocked Internet access to one of the WND stories, and senior reporter Jerome Corsi was fired by the New York City investment firm he had worked with for two years as a senior managing director, Gilford Securities.
WND also reported on evidence Holder’s Justice Department did not investigate money-laundering charges in deference to bank clients of his Washington-based law firm, where he was a partner prior to joining the Obama administration.
In addition, WND reported HSBC was engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud citizens of India who live abroad out of billions of dollars in investment accounts.
‘Continuing to cover up’
In a telephone interview Friday, Cruz said the Obama administration “is continuing to cover up its role in the HSBC money laundering scandal.”
“The IRS has blocked every legal effort I have made to be credited as a whistleblower in the HSBC billion-dollar settlement,” Cruz said. “It is impossible that the Obama administration did not know HSBC was laundering drug money for the Mexican cartels, because the documentation I had showed the laundered money passed through the federal wire-transfer services.”
Cruz charged the 1,000 pages of customer account records show HSBC relied on identity theft, capturing legitimate Social Security numbers that were then used to create bogus retail and commercial bank accounts. Through the accounts, HSBC employees systematically deposited and withdrew hundreds of millions of dollars on a daily basis, apparently without the knowledge of the identity-theft victims.
“When an individual finds out they got a loan they never knew about, 5 percent of that loan went to the accounting firm that made up the phony tax returns and the other 95 percent of that loan went to the manager,” he explained.
“One manager was involved in the transaction, another manager was involved in notarizing the transaction, and senior management was involved where they signed off permission to give the loans even when the loans get rejected by underwriting.”
In an attempt to make his charges public, Cruz in 2011 published a book titled, “World Banking World Fraud: Using Your Identity.”
On July 17, 2012, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a majority and minority 330-page staff report titled, “U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History.” It documented HSBC’s role in illegally laundering hundreds of billions of dollars of drug money for the Mexican cartels and for terrorist-affiliated Middle Eastern groups.
“In an age of international terrorism, drug violence in our streets and on our borders, and organized crime, stopping illicit money flows that support those atrocities is a national security imperative,” said the committee’s chairman at the time, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Levin said HSBC “used its U.S. bank as a gateway into the U.S. financial system for some HSBC affiliates around the world to provide U.S. dollar services to clients while playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules.”
HSBC paid the $1.256 billion fine in December 2012 in an deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act.