HSBC’s Heartfelt Apology; Sort Of….


“Greed is good.”  Gordon Gecko, Wall Street, 1987.

I suppose some would say it is unfair to paint all Big Banks with the same HSBC brush, now that it’s openly admitted to money laundering for terrorist organizations and drug cartels.  Well, too bad; I can’t resist.  They just have too many things in common:

  • Ethical and moral vacuity;
  • A complete absence of personal, i.e. “human” accountability;
  • Rapacious corporate conduct that belies their PR platitudes.

According to the Economist, in their race to the bottom, here’s the Big Bank scorecard to date:

Frankly, I’m not sure who is more culpable in this entire money laundering affair – HSBC or a government that lets them off the hook.  So what if they pay $1.9 billion in fines?  It wasn’t their money – it belonged to their shareholders.  And how significant was this wrap on the knuckles?  According to Matt Taibbi, [“Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke”], it reportedly represents about five weeks’ income for HSBC.

Although Big Banks try to appear anthropomorphic, they aren’t.  There is more protoplasm in a single cell amoeba, than in the largest Big Bank.   However, according to their website, HSBC has seen the light:

“We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again. The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organisation from the one that made those mistakes. Over the last two years, under new senior leadership, we have been taking concrete steps to put right what went wrong and to participate actively with government authorities in bringing to light and addressing these matters.”

This apology is about as heartfelt as Archie Leach’s in “A Fish Called Wanda.”  Problem is, Big Banks don’t go to jail.  And apparently their executives don’t either.