Tomorrow - money laundering so outrageous you wouldn't believe it - told by @SternEverett, a man of rare passion and conviction
What happens if banks gets too big to jail? right - they do stuff that deserves jailing. Everett Stern, ex-HSBC http://rt.com/shows/sophieco/banks-globe-stream-economy-875/
Sophie Shevardnadze: Our guest today is whistleblower Everett Stern, former employee of one of the world’s banking giants HSBC.
You’ve been very vocal about your experience with HSBC. Can you tell our viewers in a nutshell, in simple words, what it’s all about?
SS: These are actually huge words – what did actually happen? Let’s start from the beginning. You were hired by HSBC after you went to business school, right? And then what happened?
SS: I just would like to get to the point when you started detecting suspicious activities. I gather from your earlier interviews, you said it was basically a team of former debt collectors re-hired to become an anti-money-laundering unit. None of them was experienced in that unit, including yourself. Then how were you able to detect all of these suspicious activities, if you weren’t really sure what you’re doing?
SS: But, technically, how did you detect it technically? How does it happen? How did you detect suspicious transaction that could be linked to terrorism or drug cartels?
SS: You said that it was very simple to actually detect what was going on. Were you the only one who was suspicious, or the others were just pretending not to see this?
SS: But when you went to your seniors, when you went to your bosses, and said “Hey guys, I’m kind of clearing all these dubious transactions that could be linked to terrorist and drug cartels,” what did they say? “No Everett, you’re hallucinating, you’re not doing any of that,” or did they say, “We know but you have to kind of shut up about it?” What was their reaction?
SS: What are you talking about, with the transactions linked to Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, what kind of money are we talking about? What kind of transactions were they and where was the cash coming from?
SS: If we abstract from the HSBC case, who is ultimately in charge of preventing money laundering in the US? Are they doing their job or does it have to be individuals like you who would actually step up?
SS: It does sound like a lot of money, but is it really a lot of money for HSBC? It seems like they’ll be making that sum in couple of weeks…
SS: So you’re saying nothing really has changed in HSBC even after it was fined $19.9 billion, right?
SS: You’re saying that no one was held responsible or criminally charged, the FBI and the CIA didn’t really follow up this case that you presented to them, governments are afraid to criminally prosecute banks like HSBC because of reasons linked to economic crisis – so could it be that they are complicit?
SS: I want to talk a little bit globally about what is going on. If we look at the banks that are actually getting away with criminal activities likethese because governments are afraid that the economy could worsen if the banks are charged – doesthis mean that the banks could actually do whatever they want?
SS: But Everett, can I play devil’s advocate for a second here – you don’t really know that if banks are charged, that wouldn’t cause the economic crisis. No one knows that. If there is this obvious connection link between major banks and economic prosperity - you personally, would you risk the global economy for the sake of bringing banks to justice?
SS: So it seems like a country that’s fighting a War on Terror is also financing it at the same time…
SS: Even though HSBC isn’t really an American bank, it is one of the largest banks that is operating on American soil. But HSBC is just one big bank that you specifically caught red-handed. Now the problem of money laundering is much wider. I know that you made a list of banks you believe are harming America. Tell our viewers which banks are these and what did they do to make the list?
ES: I’m doing great; I’ve started my own company, Tactical Rabbit, which is an intelligence company. We became profitable five months ago, but it was extremely hard. I was working at PF Chang’s restaurant as a waiter after I left HSBC, because I had no money, I had nothing left, and I literately walked into PF Chang’s with the Rolling Stone article when I was featured in Rolling Stone, and I said to them “Look, I’m a whistleblower and I can’t get work. I need a job, I never waited tables before. I’ll do a good job for you guys,” and they hired me. They said “Look, we’ll give you a chance,” and I took all of that PF Chang’s money and I put it into Tactical Rabbit and that’s how I launched this very, very successful company now. We’re going to be a multimillion dollar company.
SS: Wow. So you’re a great example of someone who can actually stand up, whistleblow and still be very successful. There are a lot of people who are actually weighting pros and cons and saying “No, I’m not doing this because then my life is over.” But you are a great example of how you can whistleblow on dubious activities and still make it in life. Can I ask you something – except for that Rolling Stone piece that I’ve read, has other media showed any interest in you or in your story?
ES: It’s amazing – the answer is “No”. Yes and no. I did a 45-minute interview with Brian Ross at ABC studios, and I think you used to work for ABC. Brian had a 45-minute interview with me and he said he was going to air it in two weeks, and he never aired it. Other networks wouldn’t tape me because they were nervous because Brian Ross had it in. And Brian Ross said that his hands were tied, and I made it very clear to Mr. Ross that this was a national security issue and that the story has to get out. He just said it was “not news.” I have a problem with that, and I think that American people have problem with that, and I still think that Brian Ross should air that tape.
SS: Fighting big banks at frauds is like your life call right now, but would you say you have strong team of supporters around you and do you see any change coming as a result of your work and efforts, more importantly.
ES: Not from the media, and from the public I’m not getting it either, to be honest with you. And the reason is because I need the media – that’s why I’m so happy you’ve invited me to this show. I need the media to able to carry the message and let the public know what’s going on.
It appears to me that the American mainstream media for some reason here does not want to tell this story and to really show to American people what is going on. CNN, MSNBC – why they are not showing that you have the bank, HSBC, that has an anti-money-laundering facility in Newcastle, Delaware, that’s hiring and firing debt collectors to work. That’s a huge story, why it is not on the front pages of New York Times, that’s the problem.
SS: Within your community, within your friends and family, just people who know what you did, and people who read the Rolling Stone piece – do you feel like a hero? Does it feel like a hero? Or you are more of a loose cannon?
ES: I think, I’m more of a loose cannon. I don’t think I’m a hero. I think right now I’m a loose cannon turning into a guy on a corner, yelling crazy stuff about “Hey, here’s what’s going on with the banks!” It’s a problem that I’m analyzing right now, because I don’t know what else to do. I’m trying to strategize, because I don’t want to come off as loose cannon, but at the same time I keep knocking on doors to get people to pay attention to an issue, but the media won’t help me. It’s a very frustrating experience and, yeah, I hope I won’t come off as a nut, but unfortunately sometimes in order to get things done you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.