Last week saw newly minted Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) taking a lick at corrupt financial bigwigs once again, this time by shaking an angry finger at Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC) for involvement with money tainted by narco deals and murder. HSBC will pay the U.S. $1.92 billion to settle charges of laundering illegal funds, including funds from Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. The bank is also accused of coddling clients with ties to terrorism.
Warren gave attendees at a Senate banking committee hearing on on March 7 a piece of her mind about the lack of criminal prosecutions in such cases. If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, Warren pointed out, you go to jail. “But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions,” she charged, “your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night… and I just think that’s fundamentally wrong.”
Meanwhile Scott Brown, who recently vacated his Senate post in Washington and declined to run for the Senate seat just vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry, has joined the world of big-time finance and its lobbyists by taking a job with Nixon Peabody LLC. The firm announced that Brown’s focus would be “business and governmental affairs;” that seems to be translatable as lobbying, which Nixon Peabody is known for.
Brown, a Republican, rode into the Senate on a wave of money from Wall Street, and money seems to be the theme of his career, though public service runs it a close second; Brown has previously served as a state rep and state senator. But if the man who, as a Senate candidate, turned the barn jacket into a suburban chick-vote magnet runs for governor, as it’s rumored he may do, voters in the commonwealth should think twice about whether they want to compete with big business for his loyalty.•