On a chilly, sunny day early this month, Occupy Wall Street took another run at publicly shaming an untouchable Wall Street Behemoth: HSBC Bank.
The trigger event was the announcing of 4th Qtr. Results showing HSBC Canada profits of $157 million for the year -- an increase of 8.6 percent over 2011 (impressive). The location was a Manhattan branch adjacent to the Public Library (imposing). The Occupiers were a working group called Alt Banking (spirited).
The complaint: Why aren't these bankers in jail? (astounding)
As delineated in a New York Times editorial, HSBC settled with state and federal authorities for $1.92 Billion (paltry) as a way to deflect prosecutorial actions.
Let me count the ways the ways these banksters deserve a "perp walk." According to a congressional report issued in July, 2012, between 2001 and 2012 "HSBC knowingly exposed the American financial systems to money laundering and terrorist financing risks."
Over a span of years, HSBC has moved tainted money from Mexican drug cartels and Saudi banks tied to terrorist groups. It is fair to argue that blood spilled as a by-product of this greed and cupidity seeps from the very walls of this institution.
From Watchdog to Lapdog?
Did any of this money find its way into the pockets of regulators... or the bank accounts of lobbyists? We will likely never know. What we do know is that banks exercise an outsize influence -- and often veto power -- on policy and legislation and that too many senators and representatives fill their re-election campaign tanks from their deep pockets.
HSBC's executive staff (and complicit shareholders and stakeholders) have not only lived out -- and are continuing to live out -- the essence of Wall Street's "greed is good" mantra, but they have surpassed this by showing how publicly you can circumvent banking laws with impunity.
As described in a flyer handed out by the Occupy "Alternative Banking" group, the fine levied "represents only six week's worth of HSBC's 2011 profits." Six weeks! And, you can be sure that not one thin dime will be subtracted from the salaries and bonuses of the executives.
Truly, has Too Big to Fail become "Too Big to Jail," as described by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.? This, the same department that vigorously enforced the Civil Rights Act? The same one that President Franklin D. Roosevelt charged in 1933 to "prosecute in the courts of the United States... offenses against the Government of the United States?"
Standing Up for -- and in for -- the Rest of Us
Let's return to those lonely sentinels of banking responsibility -- the Occupiers.
Spokesperson Cathy O'Neil, declares that their group's purpose is to make people aware of -- particularly in the HSBC case -- "one of the many examples of the corruption and disgusting perspectives" that exist inside the banking system.
"Nothing is ever solved by sitting at home," she said. "[Prostesting] is... a moral imperative."
Occupiers present: perhaps two dozen. Police present: at least twice that, complete with motorscooters, barricades and command-central communication tools. Mainstream Media present: Zero, if you discount a lone HuffPost videographer and this blogger.
Occupiers arrested that day: zero. Occupiers arrested nationwide since the bank-caused financial meltdown? In 122 different cities, 7,732 across the U.S. Bankers arrested nationwide since that time? Zero.
As our government of the richest and mightiest country in the world is incapable of effecting retribution, we can only implore the divinity: please see to it that really bad things happen to these really bad people.