Veronica Roberts

This culture of being above the law seems to exist in the financial sector like no other area in the United States. If you or I are caught with our fingers in the proverbial cookie jar, you bet your assets, we would be wearing prison jumpsuits, desperately trying to pay off "Big Bertha or Big Bubba" to stay alive in the “big house.”

The stunning fraud, mismanagement and dangerous practices prevalent in our banks and on Wall Street go unpunished yet again. Four years after the devastating financial collapse, HSBC got slapped with a $1.9 billion federal fine for doing much of the same and even going beyond to additional criminal activities.

Just as no one was prosecuted or imprisoned for that crisis—in fact they were rewarded, with many of those same CEOs still in place and huge bonuses handed out after being bailed out — no HSBC Executives were held criminally responsible for laundering drug money from Mexico and moving money across the globe for forbidden countries like Iran, Libya and others sanctioned.

Punishing a bank, which deals in the business of money, with a fine is like punishing a bank robber with a fine to be paid out of the loot he had stolen. This logic is incredibly preposterous. Why would the federal government think justice was served by charging the bank a fine without prosecuting those who committed the crimes?

I find it stunning that four years after the financial tsunami that plunged the globe into an economic free-fall still being felt here and abroad, our government is once again giving “too big to fail” bankers a mere slap on the wrist. Is this how they think there are going to change the climate of “too big to fail and too big to jail” that seems to exist in this industry?

The Obama administration loves to boast about their new regulations imposed on the financial sector, but strangely there is no evidence of any change. It feels like business as usual if the feds are satisfied with a fine with no jail time.

In defense of this sharp oversight, the U.S. government is defending their “punishment” meted out and according to The Associated Press, cited HSBC’s “full cooperation,” in addition to the damage and instability prosecuting folks from the “world’s local bank” would cause the global markets. The giant bank could collapse and thousands may lose jobs if they go after criminal bank execs, they reasoned, for HSBC is located in more than 80 countries.

Apparently these banking criminals are indispensable and cannot be replaced? If any business is this fragile, then maybe they shouldn’t exist? This dangerous “too big to fail or jail” message cloaked in illogical dressing is a recipe for another catastrophic disaster.

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