When a bank is found guilty of doing business in countries where they’re not supposed to be, and when the same bank is found guilty of helping drug cartels launder money, shouldn’t the public have a right to know about the bank’s efforts at correcting such actions? That’s the question being raised with respect to HSBC’s 1.92 billion dollar settlement with the U.S. and oral arguments are taking place in federal court this week on whether or not the compliance report should stay sealed.
The bank lost in court in 2012 when it was discovered they had business dealings in, “Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma, racking up violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading With the Enemy Act,” according to CNS. The bank’s executives, who knew full well what the bank was doing, were given deferred prosecution agreements, so long as the bank, going forward, would reform its business practices and comply with the law.
“HSBC admitted to violating U.S. sanctions laws and failing to stop Mexican and Colombian cartels from laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds through the bank,” but now is fighting to keep the contents of the compliance report a secret. And the bank is getting help from what should be considered the most unlikely of sources, the Department of Justice. Yes. That’s right. The same justice department which prosecuted HSBC and won, is now seeking to keep the progress, or lack thereof, in complying with the law, a secret.