By Vladimir Gladkov
The HSBS global banking system has been attacked by the US Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee. The Senators believe that the bank has been cooperating with customers suspected of links with Mexican drug cartels for many years.
The news that one of the world’s largest banks has been involved in laundering the Mexican mafia’s money came at a difficult moment in relations between Washington and Mexico City. US special services have ample grounds to fear that the new Mexican president would reduce the scale of the struggle against the drug mafia.
The Subcommittee’s report was published before the hearings which could yield shocking results. The hearings are due to involve questioning the bank’s management and officials responsible for financial regulation. One would be justified to presume even now that the Senators would not hear anything reassuring. The information which the report contains provides ample evidence that the bank has dealt with transferring many billions of dollars from its Mexican branches to those in the US, ignoring the requirements to give the government an account of such operations. In addition, the Associated Press reports, it has become known that the bank also served Iranian companies, cooperation with which was banned by Washington in connection with the conflict relating to Tehran’s nuclear programme, and operated with money from Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh allocated to financing terrorism.
The most surprising fact is not so much the bank’s dubious activities as the inability of US financial regulators to discover that multi-billion dollar manipulations with terrorists’ and drug dealers’ money have been going on right under their noses. It is also worth noting that the investigation has started at the time when relations between Mexico and the US are leaving much to be desired.
The White House’s concern was raised by the victory of Enrique Pena Nieto from the oppositional Institutional Revolutionary Party at the presidential election in Mexico. The party that ruled Mexico until 2000 has been repeatedly criticized in connection with corruption scandals and its readiness to close its eyes on mafia cartels’ activities. Washington’s fears were confirmed when Nieto declared that he was planning to shift the focus of the struggle against drug-trafficking to fighting against murders, robberies and kidnappings. This decision is likely to be enthusiastically welcomed by the country’s population which has absolutely no reason to be eager to continue the bloody war against drug cartels unleashed by previous President Luis Calderon.
This turn of events is not to the benefit of US special services that will have to fight single-handed against the powerful system of drug deliveries from Mexico to the US. However, US authorities should remember that they have themselves done a lot for this development of the situation. The Mexican government has repeatedly complained about US tough anti-immigration measures bordering on open racism, as well as about the US lenient gun laws as a result of which a large amount of US-manufactured weapons have accumulated in the hands of Mexican gangs. However, Washington did not want to compromise and now is likely to have to put up with an about-turn in relations with its neighbour. Without the support of Mexican special services, US fighters against drug trafficking could find themselves in a very difficult situation, especially in the context of new developments which have once again demonstrated US state officials’ incompetence.