NEW YORK – Even as scandal-plagued HSBC was laundering billions of dollars from murderous Mexican drug cartels, violent terrorists and rogue nations, including Iran, it was engaged in a pattern of political campaign financing that favored members of Congress with influence on banking.
The latest figures reinforce a 2012 WND report that found HSBC financial contributions targeted members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and the House Financial Services Committee.
Meanwhile, the role of President Obama’s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, in the Justice Department’s decision to allow HSBC to avoid criminal prosecution is being examined by the Senate Judiciary Committee. 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 HSBC. The DOJ investigation culminated Dec. 11, 2012, in a “deferred prosecution agreement” Lynch signed with HSBC in which the bank admitted “willful criminal activity” and paid a $1.9 billion fine in return for an agreement not to bring criminal charges against any HSBC employee.
HSBC North America, operating under HSBC Holdings as HSBC’s nationally chartered U.S. bank, spent $3.2 million from 1989 through the second quarter of 2014 to finance campaigns of individual members of Congress. The largest sum went to Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a member of the Senate banking panel, followed by contributions under $40,000 to various members of the House and Senate with membership on either the Senate banking panel or the House Financial Services Committee
Since 1989, President Obama has received the largest cumulative campaign contributions from HSBC and its employees, family members and political action committee.
According to InfluenceExplorer.com, Obama received a total of $71,780 while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., received $35,910 and Gov. Mitt Romney $31,000.
In 2012, WND reported:
- HSBC’s biggest financial beneficiary on the House Finance Committee was Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., who since 1997 had received $45,500 directly from the HSBC PAC. It cut a $1,000 check to Bachus for Congress Committee in November 2012. HSBC in May 2012, likewise, donated $2,500 to the Financial Services Roundtable, a PAC that had given Bachus $33,499 from 1997 onward, including a $5,000 check in February 2012.
- Subcommittee Vice Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, had reaped $34,500 from HSBC since 2002, last receiving $1,000 in September 2011. BANKPAC, however, donated $52,000 to his campaign in that same period.
- Ranking Minority Member Barney Frank, D-Mass., had directly received $21,000 since 2002 from HSBC, which in turn gave $42,500 to BANKPAC – which in turn donated a total of $48,250 back to Frank.
The pattern has continued with Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the current chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, receiving $30,500 from HSBC. Meanwhile, Kirk, on the Senate Banking Committee, led the most current list members of Congress receiving contributions from HSBC North America at $62,750.
In the period of time 1989-2014, HSBC Holdings, employees, family members and associated PACs distributed $3.2 million to political candidates, with Republicans receiving $1.6 million and Democrats $1.4 million. Just $155,900 went to third-party candidates.
In the period 2012-2014, HSBC North America has typically funded approximately 50 members of the House and 20 members of the Senate in amounts ranging from a maximum contribution of approximately $10,000 to a minimum contribution of under $1,000. The total amount contributed was roughly half to Republicans and half to Democrats.
InfluenceExplorer.com also reported that from 1989 through the second quarter of 2014, HSBC spent 30 times as much on lobbying as the bank spent on financing political campaigns, with a total of $67.2 million going to a select group of 10 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
OpenSecrets.org reports that 10 out of 11 HSBC Holdings lobbyists in 2013-2014 have previously held government jobs, and the top issues lobbied were taxes, banking, trade and finance, in that order.
OpenSecrets.org further reported that the $3.2 million that HSBC Holdings spent on lobbying in 2014 ranked the organization 164 among 4,065 organizations spending money on registered lobbying activities in 2014.
Postponed confirmation vote
Lynch’s confirmation vote in the Senate initially was postponed after Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened the investigation of Lynch’s role in the HSBC deferred prosecution after his staff quizzed John Cruz, a former HSBC employee-turned-whistleblower whose trove of original evidence of money laundering was reported first by WND.
As WND reported in a series of articles beginning on Feb. 1, 2012, the whistleblower, Cruz, documented a complex criminal scheme that involved wiring billions of dollars of money for Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists thorough thousands of bogus accounts created through identity theft. The names and Social Security numbers of hundreds of unsuspecting current and former customers were used, with the active participation of regional bank managers, branch managers and employees, as well as bank compliance officials at hundreds of HSBC locations throughout the nation.
WND reported Monday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office confirmed Monday the Senate has once again postponed the vote on Lynch’s nomination.
McConnell, R-Ky., said in a CNN interview Sunday he won’t hold a confirmation vote for Lynch before the Senate completes its work on a human-trafficking bill.
The majority leader’s further delay the Lynch confirmation vote is widely viewed by Washington insiders as a Republican rebuke to President Obama’s controversial executive actions, including de facto amnesty for up to 5 million illegal aliens. Also, the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge a legitimate role for Senate consideration of any agreement Secretary of State John Kerry may conclude with Iran in the current round of negotiations in Geneva over Tehran’s nuclear program.
On Tuesday, NorthJersey.com reported Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., may be the key to Lynch’s nomination as attorney general.
The New Jersey newspaper reported an ethics expert maintained it would not be a conflict of interest for Menendez to cast the deciding vote, even as the senator expects the Department of Justice to hand down an indictment for alleged corruption.
“There would be no requirement under any rule he recuse himself from such a vote,” said Robert Walker, a former chief counsel to the Senate Ethics Committee. “It might be that under the circumstances, he would want discretion to be the better part of valor and he simply decides to abstain.”
Menendez was a vocal critic of the White House as he openly expressed his support for Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic speech to a joint session of Congress on March 3.
Menendez has been generally supportive of Lynch’s nomination, even to the point of signing a letter urging McConnell to schedule a vote quickly on the nomination.