Jim Brown’s Weekly Column: Big Banks and Their Criminal Leaders Go Scott Free!

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


After years of financial chicanery, federal prosecutors have decided that Wall Street manipulators are both too big to fail, and too big to jail. The most recent culprit, in what seems to be a conspiracy to “go soft” on financial shenanigans, is the British owned bank, HSBC, that was granted a criminal reprieve and monetary slap on the wrist for confecting the largest drug and terrorism money laundering scheme in U.S. history. To give the aura of being tough on crime, the Justice Department levied a fine of $1.9 billion, which amounts to about five weeks of profit for this international bank for highly suspect, if not outright criminal actions, quite possibly extending as far back as 2001.

HSBC is far from the only bank guilty of such deplorable dealings. There has been a pattern of the largest banks on Wall Street engaging in the most relentless and irresponsible behavior – and this has undermined the entire U.S. financial system. At a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington last week, Senator Elisabeth Warren from Massachusetts confronted bank regulators and ask if they could identify any example of Wall Street bankers being criminally charged and taken to trial. The regulators could only say: “We will get back to you.”

Financial columnist Matt Taibbi concluded in a recent column: “Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial–crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth – and nobody went to jail. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom has ever been convicted.”

In the case of HSBC, it was the financial lapdog for a number of Mexican drug cartels, many of whom were suspected in thousands of murders during the past decade. The bank also had ties and handled money exchanges for groups linked to Russian gangsters, Hezbollah, Iran, North Korea and Al Qaeda. This was not your friendly, local neighborhood bank. So why wasn’t the bank and key employees charged with assorted federal crimes? Continue reading………….

“Launch of CIA Cocaine Coup turned on Romney win” gives needed context to Slabbeds examination of the Sibley prosecution

Hugh Sibley’s Driver License / Mad Cow Morning News

I know some of you folks likely speculate whether or not Slabbed has limits on the topics we cover or if we’re 100% No Fear.  That exact subject has been the topic of reader feedback since my second post that re-examined the money laundering prosecution of Greensburg area lawyer Hugh Sibley.  The international drug trade is one of those tension raising subjects and for good reason IMHO.

Last week I mentioned Slabbed had received a media inquiry and it was not an ordinary one.  Before I get to that and let’s go back to that No Fear thing as it is true the drug trade has no mainstream trade journal, though I am familiar with one Spanish language blog that would be considered the Slabbed of that genre.  Amazingly it is tolerated by the drug cartels but rest assured I have no desire to raise the stakes of what Slabbed New Media does any further than the high bar we’ve already set.

So last week investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker sent me an email inquiring about Hugh Sibley as he was connected to Jorge Arévalo Kessler, one of the people that was indicted along with Sibley.  Hopsicker’s body of work includes the Barry Seal murder (Slabbed’s profile here) which in turns leads us to Seal’s Baton Rouge Defense Attorney Louis Unglesby, rumored to be one of the combatants engaged in Sal Perricone’s online rants at NOLA.com.  It just gets more complicated from there folks but the bottom line is there has been some serious perversions of our drug laws by the intelligence community and it seems as most of the smuggling routes are here across the deep south.

Some of what Hopsicker reports has multiple, credible media sources such as the US Banking connection to the money train.  Just this past Sunday 60 minutes profiled the take down of a “Super Drug Cartel” operating out of Columbia illustrating the huge expanse of the topic.  I mention this because I’m skeptical on Romney connection cited in this post’s headline, which is taken from the following story by Hopsicker that focuses mainly on Ecuador’s role in the drug trade, which leads us to Jorge Arévalo Kessler, which in turn leads us to Hugh Sibley. I highly recommend it as a companion to last week’s post on Slabbed re-examining the Sibley prosecution. Stay tuned for part three of that series.

Let’s continue to build the case: Slabbed takes a second look back at USA v Sibley as we make more connections

Last month Slabbed reintroduced William “Hugh” Sibley to the reading public and the response that post received has been fantastic. In fact it was a media inquiry that I received today that serves as the catalyst for this post.  To get started though I want to make sure everyone is on the same page so here is an except from my Sibley reintroduction:

So why do I bring up news Slabbed covered in 2009? Sweet serendipity that’s why. Sources familiar with the Sibley’s law practice indicate to Slabbed that while Sibley was Fayard’s political go to guy, Nipun “Nick” Desai was Sibley’s right hand man. Desai, a one time college exchange student from East India that graduated from LSU in 1996, reportedly parlayed the association with Sibley into a real estate empire that stretches across Louisiana and includes the now fabled Super 8 Motel on Clearview Parkway.

This is important because Desai is a bit of a mystery man.  You see folks multiple sources have indicated to Slabbed that Desai was arrested on a cocaine distribution charge somewhere between 2008 and 2010 yet we’ve been unable to uncover anything on the arrest or the case itself as it does not show in the Federal Court Database PACER nor is there a Louisiana state record that we can find.  Desai is a big mystery but we solved some of it here.

Tackling this topic entails a bit of a gut check folks, given the people and organizations involved in the Sibley affair.  For instance, the lead defendant in the Sibley prosecution was Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler.  Here is a snippet from the Hispanic News Network Blog that mentions Kessler:

Last Wednesday, Jorge Gustavo Arévalo Kessler, 43, was extradited to the U.S. from Mexico to face money laundering, and cocaine trafficing federal charges in Texas. Kessler originally from Heidelberg, Germany, but living in Mexico transported tons of cocaine from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico and eventually ending up in the U.S.

The indictment states, Kessler between Dec. 2002 to June 2003 transported tons of cocaine by private plane and a Boeing 727, transported cash abroad, and as a high ranking member of a Mexican drug cartel, he directed where the money would be deposited to various bank accounts.

Kessler was arrested by Mexican federal authorities on April 7, 2008 in Mexico City. He worked for the criminal organization headed by Antonio Aguilar (real name Pedro Antonio Bermúdez Suazo), aka “El Arquitecto,” or “El Jefe” in Mexico.

Kessler was extradited to the U.S. on Feb. 24, 2010 by the law enforcement coordination efforts between the U.S. Marshals Service, the Ministry Federal Police, and Mexican INTERPOL with the Attorney’s General Office (PGR).

Kessler is not just your average drug kingpin though as this translated excerpt from the website Contra Linea indicates:

In his ministerial statement, Gustavo Jorge Arévalo Kessler, 43-year-old native of Heidelberg, Germany, son of Jorge Arevalo Gardoqui, who in turn was the brother of former Secretary of National Defense Juan Arevalo Gardoqui-, confessed to participating in moving drugs from South America to Mexico, and to carry cash abroad.

Or even better as put in an email I received today: Continue reading “Let’s continue to build the case: Slabbed takes a second look back at USA v Sibley as we make more connections”

Thank God for Arizona Part 3: Blaming the surge in drug violence on the Mexicans. God damn the pusher man (and his U.S. banker).

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. Continue reading “Thank God for Arizona Part 3: Blaming the surge in drug violence on the Mexicans. God damn the pusher man (and his U.S. banker).”