A Senate report has found lax controls and inadequate oversight allowed Mexican drug cartels and firms linked to terrorism obtain financial services from the banking giant HSBC. The report found loose protections at HSBC’s U.S. unit provided a “gateway for terrorists to gain access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system.” Among other allegations, the bank reportedly supplied a billion dollars to a firm whose founder had ties to al-Qaeda. HSBC is also accused of shipping billions in cash from Mexico to the U.S., despite warnings the money was coming from drug cartels. The report frames rampant violations at HSBC as part of a larger problem of illegal money entering the United States through international financial firms. In addition to HSBC, legislators also faulted a top U.S. bank regulator for failing to properly monitor the bank. Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin called HSBC’s culture “pervasively polluted” and said lax government oversight has helped fuel financial wrongdoing. The report on HSBC comes amid widespread scandals in the global financial sector, including news the British bank Barclays manipulated a key global interest rate.
A former Barclays executive who left his job over the bank’s interest-rate fixing scandal has testified he was directly ordered to manipulate interest rates by former CEO Bob Diamond. Diamond resigned earlier this month just days after Barclays was fined $453 million by U.S. and British authorities for manipulating key interest rates. A British probe found Barclays conspired to manipulate the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, which provides the basis for rates on trillions of dollars in transactions across the globe. The manipulation meant millions of borrowers paid the wrong amount on their loans. Diamond has maintained he never ordered company officials to take part in the rate fixing. But appearing before British lawmakers on Monday, former Barclays executive Jerry del Missier contradicted Diamond’s account.
Jerry del Missier: “I relayed the contents of the conversation that I’d had with Mr. Diamond and fully expected that the Bank of England’s views would be incorporated in the Libor submissions. … Given that Barclays was high rates, I would have expected that taking that into account would have resulted in lower submissions.”
The Libor rate-fixing scandal has spread to a number of other major banks, with at least two criminal investigations underway in the United States.
President Obama continues to push his campaign theme of linking Republican rival Mitt Romney to the outsourcing of U.S. jobs. Appearing Monday in Ohio, Obama seized on a new report that said Romney’s tax and regulatory proposals would send U.S. jobs overseas.
President Obama: “There’s a new study out by nonpartisan economists that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would in fact create 800,000 jobs. There’s only one problem: The jobs wouldn’t be in America. They would not be in America. They’d be in other countries.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues a Middle East tour with a stop in Israel. Visiting after a weekend of talks in Egypt, Clinton held talks Monday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. At a news conference in Jerusalem, Clinton said Iran’s latest proposals on its nuclear program are “non-starters” and stressed the United States and Israel share the same stance on confronting the Iranian government.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “As to the diplomatic track, I made very, very clear that the proposals we have seen from Iran thus far within the P5+1 negotiations are non-starters. Despite three rounds of talks, it appears that Iran has yet to make a strategic decision to address the international community’s concerns and fulfill their obligations under the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council. It’s absolutely fair to say we are on the same page at this moment, trying to figure our way forward to have the maximum impact on affecting the decisions that Iran makes.”
Clinton was also asked about coming under protest in Egypt, where demonstrators pelted her motorcade with tomatoes. It was the second consecutive time Clinton had faced protests in Egypt, having been the Obama administration’s most public backer of the Mubarak regime after the Egyptian revolution began. Clinton shrugged off the show of opposition.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “I was not offended. You know, I was relieved that nobody was hurt, and I felt bad that good tomatoes were wasted. But other than that, it was not particularly bothersome.”
Thousands of people are continuing a march in Pakistan against the resumption of NATO supply convoys for neighboring Afghanistan. The convoys resumed after the Obama administration apologized for an attack that killed 24 Pakistani troops in November. Led by the Jamaat-e-Islami political party, demonstrators reached the city of Peshawar on Monday, and organizers expect up to 50,000 people for the next phase of the march toward the Afghan border. Lead organizer Munawar Hasan said Pakistanis are upset with the Afghan war and with ongoing U.S. drone strikes.
Munawar Hasan: “People are protesting and agitating and voicing their views that NATO supplies should be stopped, drone attacks should be stopped. And if Americans are friendly towards Pakistan, they shouldn’t behave that way.”
Prosecutors in the Indian Ocean state of Maldives have ordered the country’s ousted former president, Mohamed Nasheed, to stand trial. Nasheed is being charged for ordering the arrest of a judge appointed by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years before Nasheed became its first democratically elected president in 2008. Nasheed was ousted earlier this year in what he has described as a coup at gunpoint by Gayoom’s supporters. Nasheed’s backers say the latest charges are a politically motivated attempt to thwart his candidacy in new elections.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Tokyo on Monday in Japan’s largest protest against nuclear power since last year’s Fukushima disaster. Japan halted nuclear production earlier this year for the first time since the 1970s but recently resumed operations by bringing a shuttered plant back online. Organizers say up to 170,000 people took part in Monday’s protest.
A female relative has accused George Zimmerman, the killer of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, of molesting her over a 10-year period. The unnamed woman says the abuse began when she was six years old and Zimmerman was eight, lasting until she was 16. The woman says she came forward to prosecutors early on in their probe of Zimmerman to disclose her knowledge of his family’s bias against African Americans. On newly released recordings, the woman said she was concerned Zimmerman had killed Martin because Martin was black.
Witness: “I was afraid that [Zimmerman] may have done something because the kid was black, because growing up, they’ve always made — him and his family have always made statements that they don’t like black people if they don’t act like white people. They like black people if they act white. And other than that, they talk a lot of — a lot of bad things about black people.”
In Ohio, a group of demonstrators blocked access on Monday to a natural gas well in Trumbull County used for the dumping of waste from the drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The protesters rallied to call for increased testing and monitoring of waste water from fracking sites after a spill in a residential area earlier this month. At least three people were detained in Monday’s action.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the biggest Republican donor in the 2012 election, has come under new scrutiny for possible violations of federal anti-bribery law and ties to Chinese organized crime. The potential violations stem from Adelson’s efforts to build casinos and other projects in Macau. An investigation by the University of California, ProPublica and PBS Frontline found Adelson may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when he instructed a top executive to give $700,000 to a Macau legislator who aided his company’s efforts there. Officials are also probing possible ties between Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands, and Chinese organized crime. The projects in Macau helped Adelson amass a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion. He has given tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and other Republican causes, and has spoken of spending upwards of $100 million to defeat President Obama’s re-election.