But now we live in debased times,
Sans punishment to fit our crimes
Our moral compass has got lost,
Or on the rubbish heap been tossed.
As in this cautionary tale of bankers,
Who came to look like social cankers.
You will all know the basic story,
In all its venal details, gory.
Of how a bunch of peerless clowns
Despite degrees – from Yale to Brown –
Behaved like schoolboys in the lab,
When teacher’s gone to smoke a fag……..
Their attitudes were so repulsive
The public backlash grew convulsive,
And dimly seeing that their wages
Just might be threatened by these rages,
Self-interest prompted some to say
“We’re sorry” – in a muted way.
But actions more than words do speak
And their repentance was skin-deep,
Just like the artful crocodile
Shedding fake tears beside the Nile.
(And while we’re thinking of the zoo,
A vampire squid swims into view.)……
How could these people fail to see,
Their debt to all society?
The short answer must surely be
A banker’s mind is conscience-free.
They grab the profits of risk-taking,
Leave us the losses that they’re making…..
Too big to fail, too hard to tame,
They returned to their former game:
Taking risks of insane folly,
To stuff their pockets full of lolly,
Untroubled, with the certainty
Of a taxpayers’ guarantee
I know the conservative wing of the Slabbed Nation have scratched their heads at my occasional series of posts Thank God for Arizona and I appreciate that fact because the editorial positions I have taken in those posts have marched against the drumbeat of public opinion. I was happy that one of the members of the Citizens for Good Government brought up the topic when I visited with them a few weeks ago as I had a chance to explain a very abbreviated version of what drove my thinking, which in turn reassured them I was not a wild-eyed radical.
Simply and brutally put I think the mexicans are being scapegoated by the politicians and that the people in Arizona have been duped. My exact remark was something along the lines that every illegal immigrant in this country could not do the damage to her that a handful of corrupt bankers did in 2008. Further I suggested that when our politicians scapegoat minorities they do so to distract the public from the real problems at hand or their own outright thievery. Mississippians in particular should know this better than most but that lesson in history has evidently been lost in the 40 plus years since the civil rights struggle.
People are angry about the decline of this once great nation and that anger is often directed at mexican waiters, ditch diggers and farm hands that are scapegoated by demagogue politicians for the problems with drug related violence when in fact the banks that contribute heavily to their campaigns are more to blame than every illegal immigrant in this country. To be clear I do not support illegal immigration. That said, on the list of what ails this great land it doesn’t make my top 10 list. I’ll add the problem could be easily fixed if people engaged in semi rational thought when approaching the subject but the subject has become so emotionally charged that is unlikely to happen IMHO.
As always folks, follow the money and you’ll be set free. Bloomberg did just that with Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) and found them to be a willing partner of the mexican drug cartels. Closer to home we’ve been following the case of former Louisiana class action lawyer Hugh Sibley who recently plead guilty to crimes related to helping the mexican cartels launder money. When individuals are busted for such crimes they are generally given long prison sentences in the federal pen. When we catch banks doing the same, we use taxpayer funds to make sure everyone gets a big bonus. Frankly, the Bloomberg story that I now share with the Slabbed Nation encapsulates many reasons why this once proud and great country is so fucked up right now so lets begin:
Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.
They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.
The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.
It gets worse, far worse as we continue:
This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.
The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.
So while the enemy is within, our government pisses away more taxpayer money down the black hole on the border fighting boogiemen instead of attacking the cancer that is killing the patient:
“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.
Since 2006, more than 22,000 people have been killed in drug-related battles that have raged mostly along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border that Mexico shares with the U.S. In the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, 700 people had been murdered this year as of mid- June. Six Juarez police officers were slaughtered by automatic weapons fire in a midday ambush in April.
Rondolfo Torre, the leading candidate for governor in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, was gunned down yesterday, less than a week before elections in which violence related to drug trafficking was a central issue.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon vowed to crush the drug cartels when he took office in December 2006, and he’s since deployed 45,000 troops to fight the cartels. They’ve had little success.
Among the dead are police, soldiers, journalists and ordinary citizens. The U.S. has pledged Mexico $1.1 billion in the past two years to aid in the fight against narcotics cartels.
In May, President Barack Obama said he’d send 1,200 National Guard troops, adding to the 17,400 agents on the U.S. side of the border to help stem drug traffic and illegal immigration.
Behind the carnage in Mexico is an industry that supplies hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines to Americans. The cartels have built a network of dealers in 231 U.S. cities from coast to coast, taking in about $39 billion in sales annually, according to the Justice Department.
And people on the inside knew full well this was going yet the the bank gets a slap on the wrist and no one is held accountable:
“It’s the banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy,” says Martin Woods, director of Wachovia’s anti-money-laundering unit in London from 2006 to 2009. Woods says he quit the bank in disgust after executives ignored his documentation that drug dealers were funneling money through Wachovia’s branch network.
“If you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point,” Woods says.
Wachovia is just one of the U.S. and European banks that have been used for drug money laundering. For the past two decades, Latin American drug traffickers have gone to U.S. banks to cleanse their dirty cash, says Paul Campo, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s financial crimes unit.
Miami-based American Express Bank International paid fines in both 1994 and 2007 after admitting it had failed to spot and report drug dealers laundering money through its accounts. Drug traffickers used accounts at Bank of America in Oklahoma City to buy three planes that carried 10 tons of cocaine, according to Mexican court filings.
Federal agents caught people who work for Mexican cartels depositing illicit funds in Bank of America accounts in Atlanta, Chicago and Brownsville, Texas, from 2002 to 2009. Mexican drug dealers used shell companies to open accounts at London-based HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank by assets, an investigation by the Mexican Finance Ministry found……..
The bank didn’t react quickly enough to the prosecutors’ requests and failed to hire enough investigators, the U.S. Treasury Department said in March. After a 22-month investigation, the Justice Department on March 12 charged Wachovia with violating the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to run an effective anti-money-laundering program.
Five days later, Wells Fargo promised in a Miami federal courtroom to revamp its detection systems. Wachovia’s new owner paid $160 million in fines and penalties, less than 2 percent of its $12.3 billion profit in 2009.
If Wells Fargo keeps its pledge, the U.S. government will, according to the agreement, drop all charges against the bank in March 2011.
One solution is to legalize marijuana but that would deprive these banks of the money they make from the drug trade. It also would deprive our government of a revenue stream they have used in the past to fight their private wars abroad. This country created big time organized crime, fueled by the profits from bootlegging during prohibition, and it took the next 60 years or so to break those gangs. How long will we funnel obscene amounts of money to these extraordinarily violent drug cartels while spending billions more locking up the street soldiers in a drug war we have clearly lost?
Maybe Andrew Lahde knew a bit more than he disclosed in his farewell letter. Follow the money folks and you’ll be set free.