Iranians, hit by sanctions and soaring prices, were shocked by the scale of a $2.6 billion bank loan embezzlement scheme that was exposed last year, and by allegations it was carried out by people close to the political elite or with their assent.
Days ago, an Iranian court handed down sentences. Of 39 defendants whose charges were heard, the court’s judge has sentenced four to death and two others to life imprisonment. The remaining defendants received prison terms of 25 years, 20 years, 10 years, and less severe sentences.
Meanwhile, back in “The land of the free and the home of the brave,” Timothy Geithner, while heading up the New York Federal Reserve, used $62 billion in taxpayer money to bail out 16 U.S. and European banks that were “too big to fail,” by purchasing credit default swaps – worth maybe 30-40 cents on the dollar – making the “free” and the “brave” pay essentially their face value. The derivatives were purchased from AIG. Geithner, or other members of the New York Fed – who are sometimes called “regulators” – even used “national security” as an excuse to keep this bailout from the public, according to recently-released emails.
$2.6 billion gets death in Iran; $62 billion gets a promotion to Secretary of the Treasury in the U.S.
Here’s another contrast in ethics:
Two months ago in Washington DC, a poor black man named Edward Dorsey, Sr. was convicted of peddling 5.5 grams of crack cocaine. He was given a mandatory 10 years in jail.
Last week, managers from Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, lined up before the Senate’s permanent sub-committee on investigations – just across the Potomac river from the scene of Dorsey’s crime – to be asked questions such as: “It took three or four years to close a suspicious account. Is there any way that should be allowed to happen?”
The “suspicious account” belonged to the largest criminal syndicate in the world and one of the most savage, the Sinaloa drug-trafficking cartel. The transactions had been flagged up to HSBC bosses by an anti-money laundering officer, but the whistle-blower was ignored, and the dirty business continued.
The transactions were sent through a casa de cambio (exchange house) called Puebla, which was known to be under investigation in another case involving the Wachovia bank during the time HSBC was laundering its money.
According to the Manchester Guardian:
Wachovia was fined $50m and made to surrender $110m in proven drug profits, but was shown to have inadequately monitored a staggering $376bn through the casa de cambio over four years, of which $10bn was in cash. The whistleblower in the case, an Englishman working as an anti-money laundering officer in the bank’s London office, Martin Woods, was disciplined for trying to alert his superiors, and won a settlement after bringing a claim for unfair dismissal.
No one from Wachovia went to jail – and, said Woods at the time of the settlement: “These are the proceeds of murder and misery in Mexico, and of drugs sold around the world. But no one goes to jail. What does the settlement do to fight the cartels? Nothing. It encourages the cartels and anyone who wants to make money by laundering their blood dollars.”
$2.6 billion gets death in Iran; $376 billion gets a fine paid out of petty cash. 5 grams gets 10 years.
“Is there any way that should be allowed to happen?”
“No, senator,” came the reply from a bespectacled Brit named Paul Thurston, chief executive, retail banking and wealth management, HSBC Holdings plc.
“Land of the Banks and Home of the Sheeple.”