WASHINGTON – The staff of Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is advising fellow Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to withhold public support for the confirmation of attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch as the senator’s office investigates her handling of the HSBC money-laundering scandal.
WND reported Thursday that Vitter has opened an investigation into why Lynch, in her capacity as U.S. attorney, allowed the banking giant to avoid criminal prosecution of bank officers and other employees for laundering uncounted billions of dollars of illegal drug and terrorist money through its U.S. bank in the service of Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists.
After the announcement of Vitter’s probe, the Associated Press reported Thursday that Senate Republicans have delayed a committee vote on the confirmation, explaining they had more questions for Lynch.
Wednesday afternoon, Vitter’s Washington staff examined allegations made since 2009 by John Cruz, a former HSBC manager armed with 1,000 pages of bank account records and recordings of employees and numerous state and federal law enforcement agents who labeled him as “crazy” rather than seriously look into his claims. The staff spoke to Cruz in an hour-long teleconference that WND attended in the senator’s office.
After an examination of the evidence, Vitter’s staff explained to WND that GOP senators otherwise inclined to support Lynch are being advised to withhold judgment as the evidence is investigated further.
Vitter’s staff believes the extensive evidence raises the question of why HSBC senior managers in the U.S. were allowed to avoid criminal prosecution, while New York State and federal prosecutors negotiated a cash settlement with the bank.
Cruz’s allegations were first reported in a series of WND stories that began with a February 2012 report. 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.”
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.
At the conclusion of the meeting Wednesday, Vitter’s staff authorized WND to announce the senator has decided to open a formal investigation into Cruz’s allegations against HSBC.
Vitter’s staff explained that at the center of the investigation will be the question of whether Lynch, acting in her capacity as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, had engineered or knowingly participated in a government settlement in 2012 that allowed HSBC senior management to avoid criminal prosecution.
HSBC was allowed to admit only deficiencies in administrating anti-terrorism, money laundering statutes while bank employees down to the branch level who laundered billions of dollars in Mexican drug cartel and Middle Eastern terrorist money were let off the hook, with many remaining as employees of the bank even today.
A Department of Justice press release Dec. 11, 2012, named Lynch, representing the Justice Department, in its civil settlement with HSBC.
The bank agreed to pay a fine of $1.256 billion and an additional $665 million in civil penalties in exchange for “deferred prosecution.” The DOJ agreed not to pursue any criminal prosecutions of HSBC officers or employees after a probe in which DOJ criminal investigators were joined by investigators from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Treasury.
The investigation found HSBC had violated numerous anti-money laundering statutes, processing billions of dollars of transactions for Mexican drug cartels and Middle East terrorist organizations.
“I was told in 2009 that HSBC had reserved $2 billion to pay government fines as a cost of doing business to avoid criminal prosecutions in the money-laundering case,” Cruz told WND.
“It’s a travesty of justice that no one at HSBC got prosecuted when HSBC laundered billions of dollars of drug money for Mexican drug cartels and laundered billions more for Middle Eastern terrorists, in a massive bank fraud scheme I can prove HSBC bank officials knew was going on from the highest executives in the bank to branch managers and employees throughout the HSBC bank,” he said.