WASHINGTON – An honest Senate vetting process would have uncovered the role of Obama’s attorney general nominee in a federal government cover-up of HSBC money laundering and other corruption, alleges a judicial watchdog.
“When the White House and Justice Department first vetted Loretta Lynch to be Eric Holder’s replacement as attorney general, she was required to disclose that she had been the subject of at least one complaint of professional misconduct filed with the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility,” explained Elena Sassower, director of the Center for Judicial Accountability in White Plains, New York.
“I know at least one complaint of professional misconduct has been filed against Loretta Lynch – because I filed it myself,” Sassower told WND in an interview, referring to a 2001 complaint.
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Her national grassroots organization was created in 1989 to expose judicial corruption at all levels of government.
As WND reported, Lynch oversaw the investigation in 2012 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.
As a result of HSBC agreeing to a settlement requiring the international bank holding company to pay the U.S. government more than $1.2 billion in fines for money laundering, Lynch’s office agreed in return not to press criminal charges against any bank employee of the U.S.-based HSBC subsidiary.
Sasshower’s professional conduct complaint against Lynch was filed March 23, 2001. Also named was Mary Jo White, then-U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Sasshower’s charge was that they did not reply to CJA’s various complaints and accompanying documentation alleging then-Republican New York Gov. George Pataki had “politicized” the merit selection process to appoint judges, including judges to New York’s Supreme Court.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee was not interested in legitimate complaints that could have been filed against Lynch’s conduct as U.S. attorney,” Sassower said. “The committee members were not interested in investigating corruption in New York judicial politics.”
Having Eric Holder endorse Lynch as his successor would have been like appointing Attorney General John Mitchell to head the Watergate committee investigating President Nixon, she said.
Sassower asked why John Cruz – the former HSBC employee who presented WND with 1,000 pages of internal bank account records documenting fraud – wasn’t called by the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify.
Cruz alleges his records show a systematic pattern of HSBC senior management in New York and Long Island illegally laundering hundreds of millions of Mexican drug cartel-related money through bogus customer accounts created by HSBC senior management.
Answering her own question, Sassower said the Senate panel didn’t call Cruz because “the committee was uninterested in hearing from knowledgeable critics that wanted to present evidence Lynch, in her capacity as U.S. attorney, sought to prevent criminal investigations and prosecutions of HSBC management involved in the money-laundering scandal.”
HSBC not off the hook?
In a written question posed to Lynch by Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Lynch appeared to indicate that HSBC could still be subject to criminal prosecution.
“I want to reiterate,” she said, “particularly in the context of recent media reports regarding the release of HSBC files pertaining to its tax clients, that the Deferred Prosecution Agreement reached with HSBC addresses only the charges filed in the criminal information, which are limited to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act for failures to maintain an adequate anti-money laundering program and for sanctions violations.”
Lynch said the agreement “explicitly does not provide any protection against prosecution for conduct beyond what was described in the Statement of Facts.”
“Furthermore, I should note the DPA explicitly mentions that the agreement does not bind the Department’s Tax Division, nor the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division,” Lynch said.
Vitter also asked Lynch to respond to Holder’s comment at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that some companies should be exempted from criminal prosecution due to their impact on the nation’s financial system or economy.
“I believe that no individual or company, no matter how large or how profitable, is above the law, and none is categorically exempt from prosecution,” she replied.
“Rather, when evidence suggests beyond a reasonable doubt that a company or individual has engaged in criminal conduct, the Department will prosecute to the full extent of the law, consistent with longstanding Department of Justice policy.”
‘Pattern of corruption’
In her 2001 complaint, Sassower pointed to Pataki’s appointment of his attorney Michael Finnegan to the New York Commission on Judicial Nomination in 1999.
She cited a letter to the editor of the New York Times published Nov. 16, 1996, in which she alleged a “supposedly independent body that is to furnish him [Governor Pataki] the names of ‘well qualified’ candidates to that court [the New York Supreme Court].”
“More egregious is how Governor Pataki has handled judicial appointment to the state’s lower courts,” Sassower continued in her letter to the editor.
“Over a year and a half ago, the Governor promulgated an extensive executive order to establish screening committees to evaluate candidates for appointive judgeships,” she wrote. “Not one of these committees has been established. Instead, the Governor – now almost halfway through his term – purports to use a temporary judicial screening committee. Virtually no information about that committee is publicly available.”
Sassower explained to WND that her files dating back to 1999 document a pattern of corruption in which both Democrat and Republican governors have circumvented the legally constituted process in New York state for appointing impartial judges to make political appointments to all levels of New York courts, including the state’s highest court.
“Corruption in the judiciary is symptomatic of more pervasive government corruption,” Sassower asserted.
“I petitioned to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Lynch’s nomination, but the Senate Judiciary Committee was not interested,” she said.
She said no one from the Senate committee even called her back.
“Why wasn’t I called to testify? There are a lot of critics of Loretta Lynch in New York,” she said.
“Why is the Obama administration and Congress conspiring that none of the Loretta Lynch critics are heard testifying before the American people?”
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 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.
WND reporter Garth Kant contributed to this story.