Senate Banking Committee Hearing – Bank Money Laundering

Senate Banking Committee Hearing – Bank Money Laundering


Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you all three for being here today. You know, as Senator Reed just pointed out, the United States government takes money-laundering very seriously, for a very good reason. And it puts very strong penalties in place. In addition to monetary penalties, it’s possible to shut down the bank that’s been involved in money laundering. Individuals can be banned from ever participating in financial services again. And people can be sent to prison. Now in December, HSBC admitted to money laundering — to laundering $881 million that we know of for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. And also admitted to violating our sanctions for Iran, Libya, Cuba, Burma, the Sudan. And they didn’t do it just one time. It wasn’t like a mistake. They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it, and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it. Now HSBC paid a fine, but no one individual went to trial. No individual was banned from banking, and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the United States. So what I’d like is — you’re the experts on money laundering. I’d like your opinion: what does it take? How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this? Mr. Cohen, can we start with you? Cohen: Certainly, Senator. No question, the activity that was the subject of the enforcement action against HSBC was egregious, both in the money laundering that was going on in HSBC and the sanctions violations. For our part, we imposed on HSBC the largest penalties that we had ever imposed on any financial institution. We looked at the facts and determined that the appropriate response there was a very, very significant penalty against the institution. Warren: Let me just move you along here, though. On the point, Mr. Cohen. My question is: given that this is what you did, what does it take to get you to move toward even a hearing, even considering shutting down banking operations for money laundering? Cohen: So Senator, we at the Treasury Department, under oath and FinCEN authority, think don’t have the authority to shut down a financial institution. Warren: I understand that. I’m asking, in your opinion — you are the ones who are supposed to be the experts on money laundering. You work with everyone else, including the Department of Justice. In your opinion, how many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords before somebody says we’re shutting you down? Cohen: Well I think the authority to pull a license, pull the Charter, is an authority that is committed to the supervisors, to the OCC, the Fed, whatever the supervisor may be. I think we take these issues extraordinarily seriously. We aggressively prosecute and impose penalties against the institutions to the full extent of our authority, and as I said earlier, one of the issues… Warren: I’m not hearing your — I’m sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt, and I just need to move this along. But I’m not hearing your opinion on this. You are supposed to be, Treasury is supposed to be, one of — you are the leaders in how we understand and work together to stop money laundering. And I’m asking: what does it take even to say, here’s where the line is. We’re gonna draw a line here. And if you cross that line, you’re at risk for having your bank closed. Cohen: So Senator, we’re mindful of what our authorities are. Mindful of what the supervisors authorities are. We will, and have, and will continue to exercise our authorities to the full extent of the law. The question of pulling a bank’s license is a question for the regulators. Warren: So you have no opinion on that? You sit in Treasury and you try to enforce these laws, and I’ve read all of your testimony. You tell me how vigorously you want to enforce these laws, but you have no opinion on when it is that a bank should be shut down for money laundering? Not even an opinion? Cohen: Of course we have views on… Warren: That’s what I asked you for, your views. Cohen: But I’m not going to get into some hypothetical line drawing exercise. Warren: Well it’s somewhere beyond $881 million of drug money. Cohen: Well Senator, the actions, and I’m sure the regulators can can address this issue. The actions that we took in the HSBC case, we thought were appropriate in that instance. Warren: Governor Powell, perhaps you can help me out here? Powell: Sure. So the authority to shut down an institution or hold a hearing about it I believe is triggered by a criminal conviction, and that is that is not something, we don’t do criminal investigation. We don’t do trials or anything like that. We do civil
enforcement, and in the case of HSBC, we gave essentially the statutory maximum acceptable money penalties, and we gave, we gave, you know, very stringent cease and desist orders. And we did what we have a legal authority to do. Warren: I appreciate that, Mr. Powell. So you’re saying you had no advice to the Justice Department on whether or not this was an appropriate case for a criminal action? Powell: So the way it works is, the Justice Department has total authority. This is what they do. It’s the heart of their jurisdiction to decide who gets prosecuted and for what.
It’s not our jurisdiction. They don’t do monetary policy. They don’t give us advice on that. We cooperate with them, and we discuss with them. We collaborated with them. And we did on HSBC. They asked us specific questions: how does this statute apply, what would happen if we did this. We answer those questions. That’s what we do. Warren: So what you’re saying to me is: you are responsible for these banks, and again I read your testimony, and you talked about the importance of vigorous enforcement here. But you’re telling me you have no view when it’s appropriate to consider even a hearing to raise the question of whether or not these banks should have to close their operations when they engage in money laundering for drug cartels? Powell: I’ll tell you exactly when it’s appropriate. It’s appropriate where there’s a criminal conviction. Warren: And so you have no view on it until after the Justice Department has done that? Powell: Again, the Justice Department makes that decision, we play our role in that. We have a constant dialogue with them around not just, essentially many, a broad range of violations that take place. We always have a Justice Department involved. But when do, when they make these decisions, they make them themselves. Warren: So I understand that I am over my time, and I’ll just say here: you know, if you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night. Every single individual associated with this. I just think that’s fundamentally wrong.

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99 Replies to “Senate Banking Committee Hearing – Bank Money Laundering”

  1. They cleverly structured the laws so they can get away with these things. A grocery store thief gets harsher treatment. Big money interests who profit from crime are greatly rewarded, apparently now , with the only punishment to their shareholders who ultimately pay the fines. They poison kids with drugs and get rewarded. What??? More importantly, How to stop it?

  2. same major shareholders behind the banks are behind most of the media, and they also have the money to tie anyone they wish in the courts with lawyers. some level of law enforcement needs to gut this international crime syndicate. a few thousand people are behind most of the worlds problems. they need removing, one way or the other.

  3. If this is what our government is reduced to were heads of Treasury wont even give an opinion we're fucked.

  4. If you are making reference to the mainstream media I would have to agree. My real point is this should take the lead over crap stories about Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber but that's just my opinion. People are not reacting to stories like these because they don't know that these stories even exist thanks to the "owned" media.

  5. I really wish you were president right now. It would be so nice to have a democrat with some balls in the Whitehouse.

  6. Where are the dead body's, caskets, and maimed fighting men or even the thousands of dead civilian men women and children? During the Vietnam war you had to limit your children from the television because of the ugly results of a fruitless war, for fear of nightmares. 53% of the budget goes to the Military, $800 Billion Pentagon, $400 billion interest for war, $200 billion for their contingency budget, $100 billion on CIA, DEA, FBI, Homeland, the drone program etc… this is for Each year.

  7. People should be brave and go against the liberal institution by voting conservative/Libertarian 2016, by which I mean Rand Paul. We already missed our chance for Ron, but the country isn't lost yet.

  8. "Fundamentally wrong" She did asked the right questions the first guy avoided the question diverting and pointing out to his limited authority. The other guy was more helpful yet did not have an opinion or view beyond what his job indicates very incompetence. There is no laws that would imprison or make criminals out of bankers for money laundering the laws need change. It is not right to send a small time dope user to jail when the drugs money handlers run free..

  9. Senator Elizabeth Warren for President of the United States.

    Hey you can use words we all have heard. Not just it is fundamentally wrong. Go for it Senator.

    Keep the JUST THE TRUTH COMMING…
    Thank you a almost a BILLION TIMES or at least 881 Million times.

  10. Wow I love this woman!!! You should see my newest video I'm fighting US Bank… FORGERY in loan docs & files. They put a restraining order on a woman because she followed my advise to view her original loan file. I hope Senator Warren keeps going!!

  11. The trouble with selling Democracy is rooted in the very hypocrisy that Elizabeth Warren appears by implication to ridicule and this from the responses she receives of those whose attitude appears to be, 'not in my back yard.'

  12. oh look!! it's pig face communist warren talking about "money laundering"….. meanwhile, nobody can get bernanke to turn off the printing presses and effectively washing our currency away into a wasteland of turd world inflation

    isn't this synthetic indian broad just THE MOST? i mean she is REALLY a consumer advocate and always has been- dating right back to when she was cycling her cash through foreclosed homes in Oklahoma while she was the "tarp czar" for fair foreclosure practices, right?

  13. no barney frwanks did and he did it- his de-regulation allowed CYBER TRADING on wall street- that is to say that COMPUTERS are now doing LITTLE TEENY PUMP AND DUMPS with "if…. then" algorithms- two parts to the formula. and after every penny has been cyber pinched out of the stock market thanks to bawney fwanks' deregulation, then the "THEN" part of the statement = DO NOT TRADE and then the whole market crashes

    thanks to the demoNcrats, who took a payoff from a lobbyist to enact cyber trading

  14. you hope "senator" warren keeps going? does that mean she's going to continue and morph into a different minority other than a fake indian? what's next? hispanic maybe? then some more foreclosed house flippin', some more 1% lifestyle?

    don't be fooled by this rich old hag- she is in it to win it- all the illicit cash kickbacks she can for her pig self- that's all she's ever been about

  15. thank her for what? being tarp czar for "merciful foreclosures" while she flipped foreclosed homes in Oklahoma? thanks for being a fraud of a fake indian and playing that race card right into a 1% lifestyle? thanks for practicing law illegally with no license to do so, and furthermore practicing law FOR big corporations against coal miners and asbestosis victims, like a "consumer advocate" character NEVER would do?

  16. she has big bright shiny cherokee balls, right? without those cherokee balls she never pockets $5-10 million from harvard for being a shitty quality professor but "first minority" ward churchill wannabe. big shiny cherokee balls. yep

  17. I want to agree with you, but the truth is it is obvious her question is better directed at the Justice Department individuals who oversaw the HSBC case. I actually felt bad for the Treasury Department being constantly asked, on record, to give an opinion for something that is outside their jurisdiction.

  18. BOOM! Warren strikes again.

    I want to clone her 99 times and replace everyone in the senate with her (hell, lets go for 235 additional clones for the HoR.).

    Probably the only politician who hasn't spoiled the vote that We The People gave her.

    I love how most of her arguments make light of the double standards present when dealing with big corporations vs dealing with us "little people".

  19. I'm not trying to be rude. But what did her questioning these people accomplish? Are the people at HSBC any closer to being prosecuted? When does she question the people who have to the authority to prosecute?

  20. What are you talking about? Her campaign was payed for almost entirely from small donations. All of the other Senators lacked the balls to stand up to the banks. Now we finally have one who does.

  21. I like her. She wants her bucket of blood and pound of flesh. Banks better start paying up more than just dollars. People need to start getting put in prison for ever. Violating sanctions against military enemies should actually be treated as act of aggression – Aiding And Abetting The Enemy.

  22. she asks great questions, the type of questions that most will not ask for various reasons. But, what will become of these questions? Does anyone reading this know of any follow-through??? If you have found any court cases brought on due in part to these interviews/investigations please let me know. Thanks

  23. This is what you get with the BS Drug War, & you gotta love how almost all the Heroin in the world comes from Afghanistan after our government invaded them!

  24. WTF does that even mean? All I'm saying is the video is about HSBC not WF. If you're talking about WF then can you be more specific?

  25. Whatever dude. The video was talking about money Laundering and I don't have any HSBC banks near where I live. I do have Wells Fargo banks who were also involved in the money laundering.Go back and read my original comment and if still don't understand I can't help you.

  26. Great talking points everyone! Lovers and haters don't forget to cite your sources otherwise you'll only convince those who already feel the way you do. Have fun!

  27. The banks have been getting away with anything and everything without regulation. What about laundering the United States Citizens tax money with a bailout. Ms. Warren is asking questions that are rhetorical. There are no consequences for these white collar mafia and until we take corporate donations away from the politicians who protect the corporations we the people will continue to carry the wealthy on our back.

  28. Essentially, they 'clean' dirty money. I don't know exactly how it works, but the banks somehow made the money look legitimate, rather than look like drug money.

  29. Someone needs to explain to me how Eric Holder still has a job? Does Holder have a video of Barak Obama getting f***ed by a Great Dane or something?

  30. WHAT OTHER CONTACT WORK OR VOLUNTEER SUPPORT DO YOU NEED?
    AMERICAN BIG BANKS HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD TOI ME .
    HOW COME AMERICANS HAVE TO PAY TO OPEN AN OFFSHORE ACCOUNT IN ENDLAND .
    AMERICAN BANKS DON'T CHARGE THAT….. PWW

  31. im going to court for crumbles of marijuana, ill have to pay a fine go to court and enlist in a 3 month drug treatment program

  32. *revised* i did go to court but ill have to check back in and what not but its okay for them to loan money to mexican cartels that have anything from methamphetamines, opiates, lsd, pcp, weed , prescription drugs, acid but ITS OKAY… i guess when it all comes down to it… they are sorry.. and its okay because the government needs them to rip us off

  33. Hey guys, you guys should try Firepa.com if you want to make money online! I am making over $3,000+ per month! Visit FIREPA.COM and start making money now! FIREPA.COM Is paying me and my wife $10.000 / Month

    The superficial wave publishs the regret.

    The religion involves the run.

  34. I wish reporters would watch her. So many people in news fall for the sidestep. Not this lady. The harder they try to dance around the question, the more she traps them. Hey, investigative reporters– (the 2 or 3 that are left and have spines) watch and learn!

  35. Finally a senator who has a conscience! Thank you Elizabeth for standing up for what is truly right! Spread the word everyone. I did.

  36. What gets me is these banks are part of the illicit drug trade with no chance of jail time, but if one of the peasants gets busted with a single joint.Prosecution,jail, fines, you name it, it's throw the book time.We need more people like Warren in government.

  37. Look at the dude sitting behind the "honorable" david s cohen. He's just cringing and retreating into his chair. I love it! Look at all of them pass the buck.

  38. She is the best there is. I wish she had specifically asked them point-blank why they didn't recommend prosecution in this case if it's within their purview to do so. She kind of did in a way, but they still kind of weaseled out of it. If they work with Justice, then they should be able to at least recommend prosecution. That Justice didn't initiate charges in this case, means they're culpable too, and I'd like to see them take some heat. Think I'll write her in for Prez.

  39. i love ms warren … she's always tells the truth about what's up. 
    wells fargo was busted too … anything happen to them?  Nope. 
    Banksters the new kleptocrats who steal us blind into debt slavery.

  40. Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
   Senator   Errrr rr rrrrrr rr rrrrrr   Senator    Errrrr rrr rrrr rrr rrrrrrrrr
    The wise words of the banking 'police' speak volumes for their credibility!

  41. 1:36.

    "You're the experts on money laundering…"

    God I love this woman.
    Can we just appoint her supreme ruler of the planet?
    She needs a lot more power.
    You cannot clean out the rats while living in a cheese house.

  42. Towards the end of this clip she makes a point about repeat offenders,
    and the 3-strikes you're out law.

    How is the 3-strikes rule for crack-dealers NOT double-jeopardy?
    Not to mention cruel and unusual punishment?

  43. Obviously nobody wants to take responsibilities. They would not even consider what is morally wrong or acceptable. These are the people we pay salaries to protect us, 316 million Americans? So we still pay a hefty salary to Senator Powell and David Cohn in Treasury department? Are these people in cahoots  with those who laundered money at J P Morgan ? Do they make money from both sides? Peel off the tax payers and get bribes from the banks which launder the money ?
    I assume this is just a game. Banksters on Wall Street who suck our blood are still outside on the prowl. They did it in 2008 and are looking for the next move soon.

  44. This very intelligent lady should be our next president! She would attempt, but probably not be able to, because of Republicans, straighten this country out financially, which is one of our biggest problems today! People should find out all they can about this amazing woman!

  45. This woman is my preferred candidate for the presidential election in 2016, and I want Senator Warren to become the first female President of the United States.

  46. Just goes to show you the incredible grip big money institutions have on our whole political system.  These jokers wouldn't say the obvious about the criminality of HSBC in this case.  After all, it IS a large bank.

  47. Bravo!! Fucking Cohen was a complete asshole who should have been/should be sacked ASAP!

    "Pass-the-bucker's, Inc"!

  48. erm, erm, erm!

    No need for technical bullshit, the lady just asked a simple, heartfelt question?
    fck the left and right, system is a joke!
    It's all politics, fckn joke!

  49. I love this woman, Elizabeth is the smartest of all investment and banking issues.. she will clip wings and pump breaks!

  50. I have a problem here. Conflict of interest.

    as a past realtor in OK, I found many properties titled to Warren. she should have reclused herself. instead I noticed she made Hugh profit off the sales.

  51. Bank needs control! Then the cartels would not be off their own money and the violence would be eradicated by itself. So which one is now responsible for? The banks are considered independent and their policy is independent. Because nothing happens without a political one. Probably somebody is playing his part. Just as it controls ordinary people, it needs to control everything else. Then no black money would go through. If someone accidentally gets a lot of money, officials came to him with different questions. but when the cartel goes through many millions, nobody is looking for anything from where and to where. Another major irresponsibility for politics. Is the scheme, how do you seamlessly spray money in the direction you want? If the cash flow really was controlled then no one would have a question. And the money itself would finally be found. and all it would be enough …

  52. Unfortunately the comment section was disabled for the
    'Senator Elizabeth Warren's First Banking Committee Hearing'
    So I am commenting here:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxhyUAWPmGw

    I was part of the CHASE Overdraft Fee Class Action Settlement that took place in 2012-13.
    Chase had an 'Automatic Payment' scam where customers, like myself were charged overdraft fees during a period of time, for automatic payments due to posting of debit card transactions from highest to lowest dollar amount, regardless if the highest dollar amount was the last transaction made and had been a transaction that came after other transactions, days prior. There were many instances, where this occurred for me, where I had up to 10 (TEN) overdrafts at $34 each, due to this practice.

    The settlement was only for 10 million dollars and I only received $28 after lawyer's fees/costs and after over a million complaintants' payments.
    This practice of this scam was outrageous! I lost well over $6000 during that period of time, when that scam took place. I had had my bank account linked to auto payments of companies, such as website renewal, magazine subscriptions, etc., where even if I had a negative balance (due to overdraft fess) chase still allowed the payments to go through, despite my account not having funds and being in the negative, because chase's arbitrary 'policy' accepted auto payments.

    Out of $6000 I was compensated $28, $6 dollars shy of the cost of an actual overdraft fee. I have no choice but to do banking with some bank, as all banks have a similar policy, and so, I still with chase unfortunately. I suffer a kind of Stockholm Syndrome by proxy, and I feel that this is a human rights issue! All of the angry and saddening phone calls I to make to try to reverse the fees, each time a fee occurred, but to no avail. I lost out on being able to do many things, and had to put myself in the kindness of friends and family, just to be able to eat, and survive! Ten million was not even close or reasonable! Banks need to be held accountable when scams such as the one I am writing about, happen, and people need to be prosecuted and received jail time along with very hefty fines!

  53. Yet small petty cannabis dealers spend years and years in jail and have a lifelong criminal record. Those whom commit way bigger crimes don’t have consequences and profit big time. Hypocrisy at its best.. thank you Senator Warren!

  54. I so enjoy how every single person Elizabeth Warren questions does everything they can to avoid answering at all.

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