Friday, February 05, 2010

America the mattress, via HSBC

Senator Tom Coburn, in his luke-warm address yesterday discussing the landmark new report from the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has a nice quote:

"America should never be the mattress corrupt foreign officials use to hide their money."

Senator Levin, a tireless and legendary anti-corruption fighter, had some more eye-popping details to present in his address:

"HSBC, not only continues to provide U.S. correspondent accounts to the Angolan Central Bank, but also may be supplying the Central Bank with offshore accounts in the Bahamas. A Central Bank of a nation with offshore accounts? That’s a new one on me."

But here's something different. Citibank has rightly been excoriated for years for its appallingly lax standards -- as the Bongo, Salinas, Abacha document from 1999 highlights in lurid detail. But credit where credit is due: we are pleased to see this, from Senator Levin:

"As a result of those transfers and the corruption concerns they raised, Citibank closed its accounts for the Angolan central bank and all other Angolan government entities."

It seems to show that the Senate Subcommittee work does bear fruit.

"Corruption is a cancer that corrodes the rule of law, undermines economic development, and eats away at the fabric of civil society. In extreme cases, corruption can destabilize communities, and lead to failed states, lawlessness, and terrorism. For the United States, which has so much riding on global stability, corruption is a direct threat to our national interests."

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