Economics Government Justice

“If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, you go to jail. But if you launder billion for drug cartels, you go home.” – Elizabeth Warren

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>In recent years, major US financial institutions have been caught, among other things, cooking their books, committing fraud, financing terrorists, and laundering money, and many walked away with little more than a wrist-slap. Last year, for example, the Justice Department declined to prosecute HSBC for years of money-laundering violations, levying a fine instead. In March, Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, conceded that the size of the banks, at least in the view of the administration, warrants some degree of impunity—that some banks are “too big to jail.”

“There is no question that settlements, fines, consent orders, and cease and desist orders are important enforcement tools, and that trials are expensive…But I believe strongly that if a regulator reveals itself to be unwilling to take large financial institutions all the way to trial…the regulator has a lot less leverage in settlement negotiations and will be forced to settle on terms that are much more favorable to the wrongdoer…If large financial institutions can break the law and accumulate million in profits, and if they get caught, settle by paying out of those profits, they do not have much incentive to follow the law.”

>The same month, at a hearing on bank money laundering, Warren pointed out the absurdity of Holder’s position. “If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, you’re going to go to jail,” she said. “But if you launder nearly billion for international cartels and violate sanctions [as HSBC did], you pay a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”

[MotherJones](http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/05/elizabeth-warren-obama-put-bad-banks-trial)

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““If you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, you go to jail. But if you launder billion for drug cartels, you go home.” – Elizabeth Warren”