'Liberty Reserve' And Why Some Money Launderers Are "More Equal" Than Others
Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
- George Orwell’s Animal Farm
It’s been many, many years since I read George Orwell’s Animal Farm, but the message conveyed in it will remain with me forever. The book is many things, but more than anything else, it is a portrayal and critique of human nature and the political systems that we create. For those that need a refresher, or have not read the book, here’s the basic plot.
There’s a farm headed by a Mr. Jones, who drinks so much he becomes unable to take care of the farm and feed the animals. Over time, the animals (in particular the pigs), decide human beings are parasites and the pigs lead a revolt and run Mr. Jones off the property. They change the farm’s name from Manor Farm to Animal Farm and create a list of 7 commandments. They are:
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.
Rather quickly, the pigs assume leadership over the farm and one pig in particular, Napoleon, consolidates power after running his primary competitor off the property. It goes downhill from here fast. The pigs start to walk on two legs, drink alcohol and sleep in beds, amongst other things. Understanding that their new lifestyle in in direct contrast with their original seven commandments, they simply decide to make some adjustments. The adjustments are:
- No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
- No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
- No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
Rather quickly, even these adjustments becoming too binding for the glutinous and power hungry pig oligarch class. They decide to just condense everything down to one commandment: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
The above process is one for the ages, a process that has been reenacted time and time again by our species over the millennia. It is exactly what is happening in these United States right now.
The reason I spend so much time on the Constitution and civil liberties these days is because I can see the above unfolding right before my eyes. I also see an opportunity to stop it before it reaches its final, most destructive stage. Whether it’s the Department of Justice turning journalism into a criminal act, the IRS going after political enemies, or our Noble Peace Prize winning President droning thousands of innocent men, women and children all over the world with flying robots, the oligarch class in this country is dismantling the Bill of Rights one amendment at a time.
Once the founding document that has served this nation so well over the centuries (certainly not perfectly, but still far better than other nations), is chipped away at enough that it is rendered meaningless, the final more brutal and in your face feudal structure will be implemented. We cannot allow this to happen under any circumstances.
There are countless examples of rampant criminality and corruption as well as blatant evidence of a two-tier system of justice in America today. Too many to note or write about, but in this case I want to focus on this concept of “money laundering” in light of the recent shutdown of Liberty Reserve. This is how the Wall Street Journal describes the story:
The money was virtual, but prosecutors say the crime was real.
Officials brought charges against a group of men who allegedly manufactured an Internet-based currency to launder about $6 billion in ill-gotten gains, a sign of authorities’ rising concern with digital cash.
Liberty Reserve, which was incorporated in 2006, was a “bank of choice for the criminal underworld,” according to the indictment, which said the operation allegedly laundered the money through 55 million transactions before it was shut down earlier this month. The company has about one million users world-wide, including about 200,000 people in the U.S., according to prosecutors. They called the plot one of the largest money-laundering operations ever uncovered.
A spokesman for Liberty Reserve couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Prosecutors said Tuesday that they arrested five of the seven men charged in the indictment Friday in Spain, Costa Rica and Brooklyn, N.Y., and charged them with operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. The officials said they plan to seek extradition of those arrested abroad, and that the two remaining men are at large.
On Tuesday, in the first use of the 2001 Patriot Act against a virtual currency, the Treasury Department invoked a section of the law to choke off Liberty Reserve from the U.S. financial system. The Treasury’s proposal would prohibit U.S. financial institutions from opening or maintaining accounts for foreign banks that process transactions for Liberty Reserve and require special steps to guard against any transactions involving it.
Ok, now let’s compare the above to the way the authorities went after major financial institutions found laundering hundreds of millions of drug cartel money. HSBC is the most high profile example. From Reuters:
(Reuters) - HSBC Holdings Plc agreed to pay a record $1.92 billion in fines to U.S. authorities for allowing itself to be used to launder a river of drug money flowing out of Mexico and other banking lapses.
Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel between them laundered $881 million through HSBC and a Mexican unit, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.
“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 organization from the one that made those mistakes,” HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said.
Bank officials repeatedly ignored internal warnings that HSBC’s monitoring systems were inadequate, the Justice Department said. In 2008, for example, the CEO of HSBC Mexico was told that Mexican law enforcement had a recording of a Mexican drug lord saying that HSBC Mexico was the place to launder money.
No bank or bank executives have been indicted. Instead, prosecutors have used deferred prosecutions, under which criminal charges against a firm are set aside if it agrees to conditions such as paying fines and changing its behavior.
The difference in approach and in the application “justice” could not be more clear. In the case of Liberty Reserve, the entity was isolated from the U.S. financial system and those arrested will be targeted for extradition. Meanwhile a global manhunt is most likely on for the two remaining men at large. In other words, “money laundering” was uncovered and the “justice” in this case is that the operation was closed and the participants arrested. Ok.
Compare that to the HSBC settlement. No bank or bank executives were indicted despite the clear fact that there was a great deal of irresponsibility and criminality involved here. Not only that, but the bank merely has to pay a portion of its profits and life goes on. Like the IRS agents, they say they are “sorry” and promise to never do it again. That’s what happens when oligarchs or their minions break the law. When a regular citizen breaks the law, your life is ruined forever.
The crackdown on Liberty Reserve has nothing to do with “money laundering.” It’s about a cartel of “too big to jail” banks and the fraud financial system they operate eliminating any players that try to encroach on their turf. That isn’t capitalism, or socialism and it certainly isn’t anything close to freedom. It is a parasitic, oligarch created feudalistic structure that must be done away with. I often hear people say “we never learn from our mistakes.” Incorrect. People learn from their mistakes when there are consequences to their actions. Of course criminals don’t learn from their mistakes when there are no serious consequences to their crimes. Jail time would do the trick for a lot of bankers, politicians and bureaucrats.
In the meantime: Some money launderers are simply more equal than others.
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