Os Quatro Cavaleiros do Sistema Bancário Mundial

Se tiver dificuldade em entender o que é a Nova Ordem Mundial -é realmente o antigo ordem mundial-, e quem o compõe, este é o artigo de esclarecimento.

Por Dean Henderson
Tradução de Luis R. Miranda
27 maio 2011

Se você quer saber onde está o centro de poder real no mundo, siga o dinheiro – cui bono. Segundo a revista Global Finance, a partir de 2010 os bancos mais poderosos estão nas fortalezas de Rothschild no Reino Unido e França.

Eles são o francês BNP (US $ 3 trilhões em ativos), Royal Bank of Scotland (US $ 2,7 trilhões em ativos), o HSBC Holdings baseado no Reino Unido (US $ 2,4 trilhão em ativos ), Credit Agricole França (US $ 2,2 trilhões de dólares em ativos) e o britânico Barclays (US $ 2,2 trilhões em ativos).

Em EUA, uma combinação de desregulação e mania por fusões bancárias deixou quatro mega-bancos como a cabeça do sistema financeiro. Segundo a Global Finance, a partir de 2010 estão o Bank of America (US $ 2,2 trilhões de dólares), JP Morgan Chase (US $ 2 trilhões de dólares), Citigroup (US $ 1,9 trilhão) e Wells Fargo (US $ 1,25 trilhões). Chamei estes os Quatro Cavaleiros do Setor Bancário dos EUA. A consolidação do poder e do dinheiro.

Em setembro de 2000, o casamento que criou o JP Morgan Chase, foi a maior concentração em um frenesi de consolidação bancária que ocorreu na década de 1990. A mania das concentrações foi impulsionada pela desregulamentação do setor bancário como a revogação da Lei Glass Steagall de 1933, que foi promulgada depois da Grande Depressão para conter monopólios bancários que causaram a quebra da Bolsa em 1929 e que precipitou a Grande Depressão.

Em julho de 1929, a Goldman Sachs lançou dois fundos de investimento chamados Shenandoah e Blue Ridge. Nos meses de agosto e setembro desse ano, os bancos promoveram esses fundos e venderam ações ao público por centenas de milhões de dólares em por meio de Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation por 104 dólares por ação. Os investidores de Goldman Sachs foram resgatados no mercado de ações. No outono de 1934 as ações valiam 1,75 dólares cada. Um diretor de Shenandoah e Blue Ridge e Sullivan & Cromwell foi o advogado John Foster Dulles. [1]

John Merrill, fundador do Merrill Lynch, saiu do mercado de ações em 1928, como fizeram os investidores no Lehman Brothers. O presidente do Chase Manhattan, Alfred Wiggin tinha um “pressentimento” e formou o Sherman Corporation em 1929, para atacar as ações de sua própria empresa. Na sequência da crise de 1929, o presidente do Citibank, Charles Mitchell, foi preso por sonegação de impostos. [2]

Em fevereiro de 1995, o presidente Bill Clinton anunciou planos para eliminar o Glass Steagall e o Bank Holding Company Act de 1956 – que proibiu os bancos de serem proprietários de empresas de seguros e outras instituições financeiras. Naquele dia, o traficante de ópio e escravos, Barings faliu após que um dos seus operadores com base em Cingapura chamado Nicholas Gleason foi pego no lado errado de bilhões de dólares em operações com derivativos. [3]

A advertência foi ignorada. Em 1991, os contribuintes dos EUA, que tiveram que pagar mais de 500 bilhões de dólares para o S & L, foram forcados a pagar mais 70 bilhões de dólares para socorrer o FDIC, e logo pagaram o custo do resgate secreto de dois anos e meio no Citibank, que estava à beira do colapso após a crise da dívida na América Latina. Com as contas já pagas pelos contribuintes dos EUA a desregulamentação bancária foi dada como certa, o palco estava armado para um grande número de fusões de bancos como o mundo jamais tinha visto.

O secretário do Tesouro, Reagan, George Gould disse que a fusão dos bancos -em cinco a dez gigantes corporacoes- era necessário para a economia dos EUA. A visão de Gould estava prestes a se tornar realidade.

Em 1992, o Bank of America comprou o seu maior rival na costa ocidental, Security Pacific, e depois engoliu o Continental Bank de Illinois. Bank of America adquiriu mais tarde uma margem de 34% do Black Rock Bank (Barclays detém 20% do Black Rock) e uma participação de 11% no China Construction Bank, tornando-o a segundo maior instituição bancária do país, com ativos de 214 bilhões de dólares. Citibank tinha 249 bilhões de dólares. [4]

Ambos os bancos aumentaram os seus ativos para cerca de 2 trilhões de dólares cada.

Em 1993, o Chemical Bank assumiu o Texas Commerce Bank para se tornar o terceiro maior banco comercial, com 170 bilhões de dólares em ativos. Chemical Bank foi fundido com Manufacturers Hanover Trust, em 1990.

O North Carolina National Bank se uniu com C & S Sovran para formar o Nations Bank, que se tornou o quarto maior banco dos EUA com 169 bilhões de dólares em seus cofres. Fleet Norstar comprou o Banco de Nova Inglaterra, enquanto o Northwest comprou o Bancos Unidos de Colorado.

Durante este período os ativos bancários dessas empresas quebraram recordes a cada trimestre. O ano de 1995 quebrou todos os recordes anteriores devido as fusões bancárias. Negócios entre os bancos ‘produziram’ um total de 389 bilhões de dólares. [5]

Os cinco grandes bancos de investimento, que tinham acabado de ganhar uma tonelada de dinheiro dirigindo negociações da dívida na América Latina, aumentaram os seus lucros através da lista interminável de fusões entre 1980 e 1990.

De acordo com Standard & Poor’s, os bancos de investimento mais poderosos eram Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Salomon Smith Barney e Lehman Brothers. Um acordo que fracassou em 1995, foi uma fusão entre o grande banco de investimento em Londres, SG Warburg e Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Warburg escolheu Union Bank of Switzerland como seu pretendente em seu lugar, e então veio UBS Warburg como a sexta força em bancos de investimento.

Depois do frenesi de 1995, os bancos agressivamente saíram para o Oriente Médio, e estabeleceram operações em Tel Aviv, Beirute e Bahrein, onde a frota de bancos dos EUA foi instalada. As privatizações do Banco de Egito, Marrocos, Tunísia e Israel abriu as portas a mega-bancos nessas nações. Chase e Citibank emprestaram dinheiro a Royal Dutch Shell e Saudi Petrochemical, enquanto o JP Morgan trabalhou com o consórcio Qatargas liderado pela Exxon Mobil. [6]

A indústria de seguros também tinha a mania de fusões. Em 1995, o Travelers Group tinha comprado Aetna e, Berkshire Hathaway, uma empresa de Warren Buffet, tinha absorvido Geico, Zurique Insurance tinha absorvido Kemper Corporation, CNA Financial comprou Continental Companies e General Re Corporation afundou seus dentes em Colonia Konzern AG.

No final de 1998, o gigante Citibank fundiu-se com o Travelers Group criando o Citigroup, um gigante de US $ 700 bilhões, que ostentava mais de 163.000 funcionários em 100 países, incluindo empresas Salomon Smith Barney (uma joint venture com o Morgan Stanley), Commercial Credit, Primerica Financial Services, Shearson Lehman Brothers, o Barclays America, a Aetna e Segurities Pacific Financial. [7]

Nesse mesmo ano, Bankers Trust e US Investment Bank Alex Brown foi adquirida pelo Deutsche Bank, que também tinha comprado Morgan Grenfell em Londres, em 1989. A compra pelo Deutsche Bank, fez com que o Deutsche Bank fosse o maior banco do mundo naquela época com um capital de 882.000 bilhões de dólares. Em janeiro de 2002, a japonesa Mitsubishi e Sumitomo Operations foram combinadas para criar Sumitomo Mitsubishi Bank, que superou o Deutsche Bank, com ativos de 905 bilhões de dólares. [8]

Em 2004, o HSBC se tornou o segundo maior banco do mundo. Seis anos depois, os três gigantes tinham sido eclipsados pelo BNP e Royal Bank of Scotland.

Em EUA, o pesadelo de George Gould chegou a seu ponto mais alto na hora certa para o novo milênio, quando o Banco Chase Manhattan, absorviu o Chemical Bank. Bechtel Banker Wells Fargo comprou o Norwest Bank, enquanto o Bank of America assumiu Nations Bank. O golpe final veio quando a reunificação da Casa de Morgan anunciou que iria fundir-se com o Chase Manhattan Bank/Chemical Bank/Manufacturers Hanover.

Quatro bancos gigantes surgem a reinar no mercado financeiro dos EUA. JP Morgan Chase e Citigroup foram os reis do capital da Costa Leste. Juntos, esses dois bancos controlaram 52,86% da Reserva Federal de Nova Iorque [9], enquanto o Bank of America e Wells Fargo prevaleceram na Costa Oeste.

Durante a crise bancária de 2008, essas empresas ainda cresceram mais, recebendo quase US $ 1 trilhão, cortesia da administração Bush e o secretário do Tesouro e ex-Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulsen, enquanto calmamente compravam ativos por centavos de dólar.

Barclays assumiu o Lehman Brothers. JP Morgan Chase engoliu o Bear Stearns e o Washington Mutual. Bank of America agarrou o Merrill Lynch e Countrywide. Wells Fargo teve o quinto maior banco do país, a Wachovia.

Os mesmos bancos controlados pelas mesmas oito famílias que durante décadas galoparam, seus Quatro Cavaleiros do petróleo pelo Golfo Pérsico são mais poderosos do que em qualquer outro momento na história. Eles são os Quatro Cavaleiros do Sistema Bancário Mundial.

[1] The Great Crash of 1929. John Kenneth Galbraith. Houghton, Mifflin Company. Boston. 1979. p.148

[2] Ibid

[3] Evening Edition. National Public Radio. 2-27-95

[4] “Bank of America will Purchase Chicago Bank”. The Register-Guard. Eugene, OR. 1-29-94

[5] “Big-time Bankers Profit from M&A Fever”. Knight-Ridder News Service. 12-30-95

[6] “US Banks find New Opportunities in the Middle East”. Amy Dockser Marcus. Wall Street Journal. 10-12-95

[7] “Making a Money Machine”. Daniel Kadlec. Time. 4-20-98. p.44

[8] BBC World News. 1-20-02

[9] Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History that Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons and the Great Pyramids”. Jim Marrs. HarperCollins Publishers. New York. 2000. p.74

Los Cuatro Jinetes de la Banca Mundial

Si a usted le es difícil entender que es el Nuevo Orden Mundial -en realidad es el antiguo orden mundial- y quienes lo componen, este es el artículo para aclarar sus dudas.

Por Dean Henderson
Traducción Luis R. Miranda
27 de mayo, 2011

Si quieres saber dónde está el centro de poder real del mundo, sigue el dinero – cui bono. Según la revista Global Finance, a partir de 2010 los más poderosos bancos se encuentran en los feudos de Rothschild en el Reino Unido y Francia.

Ellos son los franceses BNP ($ 3 trillones de dólares en activos), Royal Bank of Scotland ($ 2,7 trillones de dólares en activos), el HSBC Holdings con sede en el Reino Unido ($ 2,4 trillones de dólares en activos), el francés Credit Agricole (2,2 trillones de dólares en activos) y el Barclays británico (2,2 trillones en activos).

En los EE.UU., una combinación de desregulación y la manía de las fusiones bancárias ha dejado a cuatro mega-bancos como jefes del sistema financiero. Según Global Finance, a partir de 2010 son Bank of America (2,2 trillones de dólares), JP Morgan Chase ($ 2 trillones de dólares), Citigroup ($ 1.9 trillones de dólares) y Wells Fargo ($ 1.25 trillones). Los he llamado los Cuatro Jinetes de la banca de EE.UU. La consolidación del Poder del Dinero.

En septiembre de 2000 el matrimonio que creó JP Morgan-Chase fue la más grande concentración en un frenesí de consolidación bancaria que se llevó a cabo a lo largo de la década de 1990. La manía de concentraciones fue alimentada por una desregulación masiva de la industria bancaria como la revocación de la Ley Glass Steagal de 1933, que fue promulgada después de la Gran Depresión para frenar los monopolios bancarios que habían causado el crack bursátil de 1929 y que precipitó la Gran Depresión.

En julio de 1929 Goldman Sachs lanzó dos fondos de inversión llamado Shenandoah y el Blue Ridge. Durante agosto y septiembre de ese año, los bancos promocionaron estos fideicomisos al público, la venta de cientos de millones de dólares en acciones a través de Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation a $ 104 dólares cada acción. Los inversionistas de Goldman Sachs fueron rescatados en el mercado de valores. En el otoño de 1934 las acciones tenían un valor de $ 1.75 dólares cada una. Un director de Shenandoah y Blue Ridge y abogado de Sullivan & Cromwell, era John Foster Dulles. [1]

John Merrill, fundador de Merrill Lynch, salió del mercado de valores en 1928, al igual que lo hicieron inversionistas de Lehman Brothers. El presidente de Chase Manhattan, Alfred Wiggin tuvo una “corazonada”, al formar la Corporación Shermar en 1929, para atacar las acciones de su propia compañía. A raíz de la crisis de 1929, el presidente de Citibank, Charles Mitchell, fue encarcelado por evasión de impuestos. [2]

En febrero de 1995 el presidente Bill Clinton anunció sus planes para acabar con Glass Steagal y la Ley Bank Holding Company de 1956 – que prohibía a los bancos poseer compañías de seguros y otras entidades financieras. Ese día el comerciante de opio y esclavos, Barings, quebró después de que uno de sus operadores con sede en Singapur llamado Nicholas Gleason quedó atrapado en el lado equivocado de miles de millones de dólares en operaciones de derivativos. [3]

La advertencia no fue escuchada. En 1991, los contribuyentes de EE.UU., que ya habían tenido que pagar más de $ 500 mil millones de dólares al S & L, tuvieron que pagar otros 70 mil millones de dólares para rescatar a la FDIC, y poco después pagaron la factura de un rescate secreto dos años y medio de Citibank, que fue al borde del colapso después de la crisis de deuda en América Latina. Con sus cuentas ya pagadas por los contribuyentes de EE.UU. y la desregulación bancaria dada por un hecho, el escenario estaba listo para una gran cantidad de fusiones bancarias como el mundo nunca había visto.

El subsecretario del Tesoro de Reagan, George Gould ha afirmado que la concentración de la banca en cinco a diez bancos gigantes era necesario para la economía de los EE.UU. La visión de Gould estaba a punto de hacerse realidad.

En 1992, Bank of America compró a su rival más grande de la costa oeste, Security Pacific, para después tragarse al Banco Continental de Illinois. Bank of America más tarde adquirió una participación del 34% del banco Black Rock (Barclays posee el 20% de Black Rock) y una participación del 11% en China Construction Bank, haciendola la segunda mayor compañía bancaria del país, con activos de $ 214 mil millones de dólares. Citibank controlados 249 mil millones dólares. [4]

Ambos bancos han incrementado sus activos a alrededor de 2 trillones dólares cada uno.

En 1993, Chemical Bank absorbió el Commerce Bank de Texas para convertirse en el tercer mayor banco comercial con $ 170 mil millones de dólares en activos. Chemical Bank se había fusionado ya con Manufacturers Hanover Trust en 1990.

North Carolina National Bank y Sovran C & S se fusionaron y formaron el Nation Bank, para convertirse en la cuarta mayor compañía bancaria de EE.UU. con 169 mil millones de dólares en sus arcas. Fleet Norstar compró el Banco de Nueva Inglaterra, mientras que Norwest compró Bancos Unidos de Colorado.

A lo largo de este período los activos bancarios de estas empresas batieron récords cada trimestre. El año 1995 batió todos los récords anteriores desde las fusiones bancarias. Negocios entre bancos ‘produjeron’ un total de 389 mil millones de dólares. [5]

Los Cinco Grandes Bancos de Inversión, que acababan de ganar toneladas de dinero direccionando negociaciones de la deuda de América Latina, multiplicaron sus ganancias a través de la interminable lista fusiones entre 1980 y 1990.

De acuerdo con Standard & Poors los más poderosos bancos de inversión eran Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Salomon Smith Barney y Lehman Brothers. Un acuerdo que fracasó en 1995 fue una propuesta de fusión entre el mayor banco de inversión de Londres, SG Warburg y Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Warburg eligió Union Bank de Suiza como su pretendiente en su lugar, y de ahí surgió UBS Warburg como la sexta fuerza en la banca de inversión.

Después del frenesí de 1995, los bancos se movilizaron agresivamente hacia el Oriente Medio, y establecieron operaciones en Tel Aviv, Beirut y Bahrein, donde la flota de bancos de EE.UU. se instaló. Las privatizaciones del Banco en Egipto, Marruecos, Túnez e Israel abrió la puerta a los mega-bancos a esas naciones. Chase y Citibank, pidió dinero prestado a Royal Dutch Shell y Petroquímica de Arabia, mientras que JP Morgan asesoró al consorcio liderado por Qatargas Exxon Mobil. [6]

La industria mundial de seguros también tenía un caso de manía por las fusiones. En 1995, Traveler’s Group había comprado Aetna, y Berkshire Hathaway -una empresa de Warren Buffet- había absorbido Geico, Zurich Seguros absorbió Kemper Corporation, CNA Financial había comprado Continental Companies y General Re Corporation había hundido sus dientes en Colonia Konzern AG.

A finales de 1998 el coloso Citibank se fusionó con Travelers Group para convertirse en Citigroup, la creación de un gigante de un valor de $ 700 mil millones que se jactaba de tener 163.000 empleados en más de 100 países que incluía a las empresas de Salomon Smith Barney (una empresa conjunta con Morgan Stanley), crédito comercial, Primerica Financial Services, Shearson Lehman, Barclays América, Aetna y Financial Pacific Segurities. [7]

Ese mismo año, Bankers Trust y U.S. Investment Bank Alex Brown fueron adquiridos por Deutsche Bank, que había comprado también Morgan Grenfell de Londres en 1989. La compra hecha por Deutsche Bank el mayor banco del mundo en ese momento con activos de $ 882 mil millones de dólares. En enero de 2002, el japonés Mitsubishi y Sumitomo Operations se combinaron para crear Mitsubishi Sumitomo Bank, que superó a Deutsche Bank, con activos de US $ 905 mil millones de dólares. [8]

En 2004 HSBC se había convertido en el segundo mayor banco del mundo. Seis años más tarde, los tres gigantes habían sido eclipsados por BNP y Royal Bank of Scotland.

En los EE.UU., la pesadilla de George Gould llegó a su punto más alto justo a tiempo para el nuevo milenio, cuando el Chase Manhattan absorbió Chemical Bank. Bechtel Wells Fargo compró Norwest Bank, mientras que Bank of America absorbió Nations Bank. El golpe de gracia llegó cuando la reunificación de la Casa de Morgan anunció que se fusionaría con el Chase Manhattan Bank de Rockefeller/Chemical Bank/Manufacturers Hanover.

Cuatro bancos gigantes emergieron para reinar en el mercado financiero de Estados Unidos. JP Morgan Chase y Citigroup fueron los reyes del capital de la Costa Este. En conjunto, estos dos bancos controlaban 52,86% de la Reserva Federal de Nueva York [9] mientras Bank of America y Wells Fargo reinaban en la Costa Oeste.

Durante la crisis bancaria de 2008 estas empresas crecieron aún más, recibiendo casi $ 1 trillón de dólares cortesía del gobierno de Bush y el secretario del Tesoro y ex de Goldman Sachs, Henry Paulsen, mientras que silenciosamente compraban activos por centávos de dólar.

Barclays se hizo cargo de Lehman Brothers. JP Morgan Chase se tragó a Bear Stearns y Washington Mutual. Bank of America tomó a Merrill Lynch y Countrywide. Wells Fargo se apoderó del quinto más grande banco del país, Wachovia.

Los mismos bancos controlados por las mismas ocho familias que durante décadas habían galopado sus Cuatro Jinetes del petróleo por el Golfo Pérsico son ahora más poderosas que en cualquier otro momento de la historia. Son los Cuatro Jinetes del Sistema Bancario Mundial.

Fuentes:

[1] The Great Crash of 1929. John Kenneth Galbraith. Houghton, Mifflin Company. Boston. 1979. p.148

[2] Ibid

[3] Evening Edition. National Public Radio. 2-27-95

[4] “Bank of America will Purchase Chicago Bank”. The Register-Guard. Eugene, OR. 1-29-94

[5] “Big-time Bankers Profit from M&A Fever”. Knight-Ridder News Service. 12-30-95

[6] “US Banks find New Opportunities in the Middle East”. Amy Dockser Marcus. Wall Street Journal. 10-12-95

[7] “Making a Money Machine”. Daniel Kadlec. Time. 4-20-98. p.44

[8] BBC World News. 1-20-02

[9] Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History that Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons and the Great Pyramids”. Jim Marrs. HarperCollins Publishers. New York. 2000. p.74

Consolidating US Money Power: The Four Horsemen of Global Banking

By Dean Henderson
Global Research
May 25, 2011

If you want to know where the true power center of the world lies, follow the money – cui bono.  According to Global Finance magazine, as of 2010 the world’s five biggest banks are all based in Rothschild fiefdoms UK and France.

They are the French BNP ($3 trillion in assets), Royal Bank of Scotland ($2.7 trillion), the UK-based HSBC Holdings ($2.4 trillion), the French Credit Agricole ($2.2 trillion) and the British Barclays ($2.2 trillion).

In the US, a combination of deregulation and merger-mania has left four mega-banks ruling the financial roost.  According to Global Finance, as of 2010 they are Bank of America ($2.2 trillion), JP Morgan Chase ($2 trillion), Citigroup ($1.9 trillion) and Wells Fargo ($1.25 trillion).  I have dubbed them the Four Horsemen of US banking Consolidating the Money Power.

The September 2000 marriage which created JP Morgan Chase was the grandest merger in a frenzy of bank consolidation that took place throughout the 1990’s.  Merger mania was fed by a massive deregulation of the banking industry including revocation of the Glass Steagal Act of 1933, which was enacted after the Great Depression to curb the banking monopolies which had caused the 1929 stock market crash and precipitated the Great Depression.

In July 1929 Goldman Sachs launched two investment trusts called Shenandoah and Blue Ridge.  Through August and September they touted these trusts to the public, selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shares through the Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation at $104/share.  Goldman Sachs insiders were bailing out of the stock market.  By the fall of 1934 the trust shares were worth $1.75 each.  One director at both Shenandoah and Blue Ridge was Sullivan & Cromwell lawyer John Foster Dulles. [1]

John Merrill, founder of Merrill Lynch, exited the stock market in 1928, as did insiders at Lehman Brothers.  Chase Manhattan Chairman Alfred Wiggin took his “hunch” to the next level, forming Shermar Corporation in 1929 to short the stock of his own company.  Following the Crash of 1929, Citibank President Charles Mitchell was jailed for tax evasion. [2]

In February 1995 President Bill Clinton announced plans to wipe out both Glass Steagal and the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956- which barred banks from owning insurance companies and other financial entities. That day the old opium and slave trader Barings went belly up after one of its Singapore-based traders named Nicholas Gleason got caught on the wrong side of billions of dollars in derivative currency trades. [3]

The warning went unheeded.  In 1991 US taxpayers, already billed over $500 billion dollars for the S&L looting, were charged another $70 billion to bail out the FDIC, then footed the bill for a secret 2 1/2-year rescue of Citibank, which was close to collapse after the Latin American debt crunch hit home.  With their bill’s paid by US taxpayers and bank deregulation a done deal, the stage was set for a slew of bank mergers like none the world had ever seen.

Reagan Undersecretary of Treasury George Gould had stated that concentration of banking into five to ten giant banks was what the US economy needed.  Gould’s nightmare vision was about to come true.

In 1992 Bank of America bought its biggest West Coast rival Security Pacific, then swallowed up the looted Continental Bank of Illinois for cheap.  Bank of America later took a 34% stake in Black Rock (Barclays owns 20% of Black Rock) and an 11% share in China Construction Bank, making it the nation’s second largest bank holding company with assets of $214 billion.  Citibank controlled $249 billion. [4]

Both banks have since increase their assets to around $2 trillion each.

In 1993 Chemical Bank gobbled up Texas Commerce to become the third largest bank holding company with $170 billion in assets.  Chemical Bank had already merged with Manufacturers Hanover Trust in 1990.

North Carolina National Bank and C&S Sovran merged into Nation’s Bank, then the fourth largest US bank holding company, with $169 billion in its war chest.  Fleet Norstar bought Bank of New England, while Norwest bought United Banks of Colorado.

Throughout this period US bank profits were soaring, breaking records with each new quarter.  The year 1995 broke all previous records for bank mergers.  Deals totaling $389 billion occurred that year. [5]

The Big Five investment banks, who had just made boatloads of money steering Latin American debt negotiations, now made a killing steering the bank and industrial merger- mania of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

According to Standard & Poors the top five investment banks were Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers.  One deal that fell through in 1995 was a proposed merger between London’s biggest investment bank S. G. Warburg and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.  Warburg chose Union Bank of Switzerland as its suitor instead, creating UBS Warburg as a sixth force in investment banking.

After the 1995 feeding frenzy, the money center banks moved aggressively into the Middle East, establishing operations in Tel Aviv, Beirut and Bahrain- where the US 5th Fleet was setting up shop.  Bank privatizations in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Israel opened the door to the mega-banks in those nations.  Chase and Citibank lent money to Royal Dutch/Shell and Saudi Petrochemical, while JP Morgan advised the Qatargas consortium led by Exxon Mobil. [6]

The global insurance industry had a case of merger mania as well.  By 1995 Traveler’s Group had bought Aetna, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway had eaten up Geico, Zurich Insurance had swallowed Kemper Corporation, CNA Financial had purchased Continental Companies and General RE Corporation had sunk its teeth into Colonia Konzern AG.

In late 1998 the Citibank colossus merged with Travelers Group to become Citigroup, creating a behemoth worth $700 billion that boasted 163,000 employees in over 100 countries and included the firms of Salomon Smith Barney (a joint venture with Morgan Stanley), Commercial Credit, Primerica Financial Services, Shearson Lehman, Barclays America, Aetna and Security Pacific Financial. [7]

That same year Bankers Trust and US investment bank Alex Brown were swooped up by Deutsche Bank, which had also purchased Morgan Grenfell of London in 1989.  The purchase made Deutsche Bank the world’s largest bank at the time with assets of $882 billion.  In January 2002, Japanese titans Mitsubishi and Sumitomo combined operations to create Mitsubishi Sumitomo Bank, which surpassed Deutsche Bank with assets of $905 billion. [8]

By 2004 HSBC had become the world’s second largest bank.  Six years later all three behemoths had been eclipsed by both BNP and Royal Bank of Scotland.

In the US, the George Gould nightmare reached its ugly nadir just in time for the new millennium when Chase Manhattan swallowed up Chemical Bank.  Bechtel banker Wells Fargo bought Norwest Bank, while Bank of America absorbed Nations Bank. The coup de grace came when the reunified House of Morgan announced that it would merge with the Rockefeller Chase Manhattan/Chemical Bank/ Manufacturers Hanover machine.

Four giant banks emerged to rule the US financial roost.  JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup were kings of capital on the East Coast.  Together they control 52.86% of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. [9]  Bank of America and Wells Fargo reigned supreme on the West Coast.

During the 2008 banking crisis these firms got much larger, receiving a nearly $1 trillion government bailout compliments of Bush Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs alumni Henry Paulsen; while quietly taking over distressed assets for pennies on the dollar.

Barclays took over Lehman Brothers.  JP Morgan Chase got Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns.  Bank of America was handed Merrill Lynch and Countrywide.  Wells Fargo swallowed up the nation’s 5th biggest bank- Wachovia.

The same Eight Families-controlled banks which for decades had galloped their Four Horsemen of oil roughshod through the Persian Gulf oil patch are now more powerful than at any time in history.  They are the Four Horsemen of US banking.

Notes

[1] The Great Crash of 1929. John Kenneth Galbraith. Houghton, Mifflin Company. Boston. 1979. p.148

[2] Ibid

[3] Evening Edition. National Public Radio. 2-27-95

[4] “Bank of America will Purchase Chicago Bank”. The Register-Guard. Eugene, OR. 1-29-94

[5] “Big-time Bankers Profit from M&A Fever”. Knight-Ridder News Service. 12-30-95

[6] “US Banks find New Opportunities in the Middle East”. Amy Dockser Marcus. Wall Street Journal. 10-12-95

[7] “Making a Money Machine”. Daniel Kadlec. Time. 4-20-98. p.44

[8] BBC World News. 1-20-02

[9] Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History that Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons and the Great Pyramids”. Jim Marrs. HarperCollins Publishers. New York. 2000. p.74

 Dean Henderson is the author of Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network and The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries.  His Left Hook blog is at  www.deanhenderson.wordpress.com

Derivatives: The Real Reason Bernanke Funnels Trillions Into Wall Street

by Graham Summers

We’ve been over the numerous BS excuses that US Dollar destroyer extraordinaire Ben Bernanke has made for QE enough times that today I’d rather simply focus on the REAL reason he continues to funnel TRILLIONS of Dollars into the Wall Street Banks.

I’ve written this analysis before. But given the enormity of what it entails, it’s worth repeating. The following paragraphs are the REAL reason Bernanke does what he does no matter what any other media outlet, book, investment expert, or guru tell you.

Bernanke is printing money and funneling it into the Wall Street banks for one reason and one reason only. That reason is: DERIVATIVES.

According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities for the Second Quarter 2010 (most recent), the notional value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks is around $223.4 TRILLION.

Five banks account for 95% of this. Can you guess which five?

gpc 11-10-3 top five derivative exposure

Looks a lot like a list of the banks that Ben Bernanke has focused on bailing out/ backstopping/ funneling cash since the Financial Crisis began, doesn’t it? When you consider the insane level of risk exposure here, you can see why the TRILLIONS he’s funneled into these institutions has failed to bring them even to pre-Lehman bankruptcy levels.

gpc 2-8-1

Ben Bernanke is a stooge and a fraud, but he is at least partially honest in his explanations of why he wants to keep printing money. The reason is to try to keep interest rates low. Granted, he’s failing miserably at this, but at least he understands the goal.

Of course, Bernanke tells the public and Congress that the reason we need low interest rates is to support housing prices. He doesn’t mention that $188 TRILLION of the $223 TRILLION in notional value of derivatives sitting on the Big Banks’ balance sheets is related to interest rates.

Yes, $188 TRILLION. That’s thirteen times the US’ entire GDP, and nearly four times WORLD GDP.

Now, of course, not ALL of this money is “at risk,” since the same derivatives can be traded/spread out dozens of ways by different banks as a means of dispersing risk.

However, given the amount of money at stake, if even 4% of this money is “at risk” and 10% of that 4% goes wrong, you’ve wiped out ALL of the equity at the top five banks.

Put another way, Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan (JPM), Goldman (GS), and Citibank (C) would CEASE to exist.

If you think that I’m making this up or that Bernanke doesn’t know about this, consider that his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, knew as early as 1999 that the derivative market, if forced into the open and through a public clearing house, would “implode” the market. This is DOCUMENTED. And you better believe Greenspan told Bernanke this.

In this light, all of Bernanke’s monetary policies and efforts are focused on doing one thing and one thing only: trying to shore up the overleveraged, derivative-riddled balance sheets of the Too Big to Fails, or Too Bloated to Exist, as I like to call them.

The fact that the bank executives taking this money and using it to pay themselves and their employees record bonuses only confirms that these folks have NO interest in taking care of shareholders or their businesses. They’re just going to take the money and run for as long as this scheme works.

I don’t know when this will come unraveled. But it WILL. At some point the $600+ TRILLION behemoth that is the derivatives market will implode again. When it does, no amount of money printing will save the Too Bloated To Exist banks’ balance sheets.

At that point, it’s game over for Wall Street and the Fed.

HSBC, Wachovia, Bank of America Launder Mexican Drug Money

Bloomberg

Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 mileseast of Mexico City. As soldiers on the ground approached the plane, the crew tried to shoo them away, saying there was a dangerous oil leak. So the troops grew suspicious and searched the jet.

They found 128 black suitcases, packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million. The stash was supposed to have been delivered from Caracas to drug traffickers in Toluca, near Mexico City, Mexican prosecutors later found. Law enforcement officials also discovered something else.

The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August 2010 issue.

This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers — including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.

‘Blatant Disregard’

Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history — a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product.

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,” says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.

Since 2006, more than 22,000 people have been killed in drug-related battles that have raged mostly along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border that Mexico shares with the U.S. In the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, 700 people had been murdered this year as of mid- June. Six Juarez police officers were slaughtered by automatic weapons fire in a midday ambush in April.

Rondolfo Torre, the leading candidate for governor in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, was gunned down yesterday, less than a week before elections in which violence related to drug trafficking was a central issue.

45,000 Troops

Mexican President Felipe Calderon vowed to crush the drug cartels when he took office in December 2006, and he’s since deployed 45,000 troops to fight the cartels. They’ve had little success.

Among the dead are police, soldiers, journalists and ordinary citizens. The U.S. has pledged Mexico $1.1 billion in the past two years to aid in the fight against narcotics cartels.

In May, President Barack Obama said he’d send 1,200 National Guard troops, adding to the 17,400 agents on the U.S. side of the border to help stem drug traffic and illegal immigration.

Behind the carnage in Mexico is an industry that supplies hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines to Americans. The cartels have built a network of dealers in 231 U.S. cities from coast to coast, taking in about $39 billion in sales annually, according to the Justice Department.

‘You’re Missing the Point’

Twenty million people in the U.S. regularly use illegal drugs, spurring street crime and wrecking families. Narcotics cost the U.S. economy $215 billion a year — enough to cover health care for 30.9 million Americans — in overburdened courts, prisons and hospitals and lost productivity, the department says.

“It’s the banks laundering money for the cartels that finances the tragedy,” says Martin Woods, director of Wachovia’s anti-money-laundering unit in London from 2006 to 2009. Woods says he quit the bank in disgust after executives ignored his documentation that drug dealers were funneling money through Wachovia’s branch network.

“If you don’t see the correlation between the money laundering by banks and the 22,000 people killed in Mexico, you’re missing the point,” Woods says.

Cleansing Dirty Cash

Wachovia is just one of the U.S. and European banks that have been used for drug money laundering. For the past two decades, Latin American drug traffickers have gone to U.S. banks to cleanse their dirty cash, says Paul Campo, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s financial crimes unit.

Miami-based American Express Bank International paid fines in both 1994 and 2007 after admitting it had failed to spot and report drug dealers laundering money through its accounts. Drug traffickers used accounts at Bank of America in Oklahoma City to buy three planes that carried 10 tons of cocaine, according to Mexican court filings.

Federal agents caught people who work for Mexican cartels depositing illicit funds in Bank of America accounts in Atlanta, Chicago and Brownsville, Texas, from 2002 to 2009. Mexican drug dealers used shell companies to open accounts at London-based HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank by assets, an investigation by the Mexican Finance Ministry found.

Following Rules

Those two banks weren’t accused of wrongdoing. Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton and HSBC spokesman Roy Caple say laws bar them from discussing specific clients. They say their banks strictly follow the government rules.

“Bank of America takes its anti-money-laundering responsibilities very seriously,” Norton says.

A Mexican judge on Jan. 22 accused the owners of six centros cambiarios, or money changers, in Culiacan and Tijuana of laundering drug funds through their accounts at the Mexican units of Banco Santander SA, Citigroup Inc. and HSBC, according to court documents filed in the case.

The money changers are in jail while being tried. Citigroup, HSBC and Santander, which is the largest Spanish bank by assets, weren’t accused of any wrongdoing. The three banks say Mexican law bars them from commenting on the case, adding that they each carefully enforce anti-money-laundering programs.

HSBC has stopped accepting dollar deposits in Mexico, and Citigroup no longer allows noncustomers to change dollars there. Citigroup detected suspicious activity in the Tijuana accounts, reported it to regulators and closed the accounts, Citigroup spokesman Paulo Carreno says.

Criminal Empires

On June 15, the Mexican Finance Ministry announced it would set limits for banks on cash deposits in dollars.

Mexico’s drug cartels have become multinational criminal enterprises.

Some of the gangs have delved into other illegal activities such as gunrunning, kidnapping and smuggling people across the border, as well as into seemingly legitimate areas such as trucking, travel services and air cargo transport, according to the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center.

These criminal empires have no choice but to use the global banking system to finance their businesses, Mexican Senator Felipe Gonzalez says.

“With so much cash, the only way to move this money is through the banks,” says Gonzalez, who represents a central Mexican state and chairs the senate public safety committee.

Gonzalez, a member of Calderon’s National Action Party, carries a .38 revolver for personal protection.

“I know this won’t stop the narcos when they come through that door with machine guns,” he says, pointing to the entrance to his office. “But at least I’ll take one with me.”

Subprime Losses

No bank has been more closely connected with Mexican money laundering than Wachovia. Founded in 1879, Wachovia became the largest bank by assets in the southeastern U.S. by 1900. After the Great Depression, some people in North Carolina called the bank “Walk-Over-Ya” because it had foreclosed on farms in the region.

By 2008, Wachovia was the sixth-largest U.S. lender, and it faced $26 billion in losses from subprime mortgage loans. That cost Wachovia Chief Executive Officer Kennedy Thompson his job in June 2008.

Six months later, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, which dates from 1852, bought Wachovia for $12.7 billion, creating the largest network of bank branches in the U.S. Thompson, who now works for private-equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners LLC in New York, declined to comment.

As Wachovia’s balance sheet was bleeding, its legal woes were mounting. In the three years leading up to Wachovia’s agreement with the Justice Department, grand juries served the bank with 6,700 subpoenas requesting information.

Not Quick Enough

The bank didn’t react quickly enough to the prosecutors’ requests and failed to hire enough investigators, the U.S. Treasury Department said in March. After a 22-month investigation, the Justice Department on March 12 charged Wachovia with violating the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to run an effective anti-money-laundering program.

Five days later, Wells Fargo promised in a Miami federal courtroom to revamp its detection systems. Wachovia’s new owner paid $160 million in fines and penalties, less than 2 percent of its $12.3 billion profit in 2009.

If Wells Fargo keeps its pledge, the U.S. government will, according to the agreement, drop all charges against the bank in March 2011.

Wells Fargo regrets that some of Wachovia’s former anti- money-laundering efforts fell short, spokeswoman Mary Eshet says. Wells Fargo has invested $42 million in the past three years to improve its anti-money-laundering program and has been working with regulators, she says.

‘Significantly Upgraded’

“We have substantially increased the caliber and number of staff in our international investigations group, and we also significantly upgraded the monitoring software,” Eshet says. The agreement bars the bank from contesting or contradicting the facts in its admission.

The bank declined to answer specific questions, including how much it made by handling $378.4 billion — including $4 billion of cash-from Mexican exchange companies.

The 1970 Bank Secrecy Act requires banks to report all cash transactions above $10,000 to regulators and to tell the government about other suspected money-laundering activity. Big banks employ hundreds of investigators and spend millions of dollars on software programs to scour accounts.

No big U.S. bank — Wells Fargo included — has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act or any other federal law. Instead, the Justice Department settles criminal charges by using deferred-prosecution agreements, in which a bank pays a fine and promises not to break the law again.

‘No Capacity to Regulate’

Large banks are protected from indictments by a variant of the too-big-to-fail theory.

Indicting a big bank could trigger a mad dash by investors to dump shares and cause panic in financial markets, says Jack Blum, a U.S. Senate investigator for 14 years and a consultant to international banks and brokerage firms on money laundering.

The theory is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for big banks, Blum says.

“There’s no capacity to regulate or punish them because they’re too big to be threatened with failure,” Blum says. “They seem to be willing to do anything that improves their bottom line, until they’re caught.”

Wachovia’s run-in with federal prosecutors hasn’t troubled investors. Wells Fargo’s stock traded at $30.86 on March 24, up 1 percent in the week after the March 17 agreement was announced.

Moving money is central to the drug trade — from the cash that people tape to their bodies as they cross the U.S.-Mexican border to the $100,000 wire transfers they send from Mexican exchange houses to big U.S. banks.

‘Doesn’t Stop Anyone’

In Tijuana, 15 miles south of San Diego, Gustavo Rojas has lived for a quarter of a century in a shack in the shadow of the 10-foot-high (3-meter-high) steel border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico there. He points to holes burrowed under the barrier.

“They go across with drugs and come back with cash,” Rojas, 75, says. “This fence doesn’t stop anyone.”

Drug money moves back and forth across the border in an endless cycle. In the U.S., couriers take the cash from drug sales to Mexico — as much as $29 billion a year, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That would be about 319 tons of $100 bills.

They hide it in cars and trucks to smuggle into Mexico. There, cartels pay people to deposit some of the cash into Mexican banks and branches of international banks. The narcos launder much of what’s left through money changers.

The Money Changers

Anyone who has been to Mexico is familiar with these street-corner money changers; Mexican regulators say there are at least 3,000 of them from Tijuana to Cancun, usually displaying large signs advertising the day’s dollar-peso exchange rate.

Mexican banks are regulated by the National Banking and Securities Commission, which has an anti-money-laundering unit; the money changers are policed by Mexico’s Tax Service Administration, which has no such unit.

By law, the money changers have to demand identification from anyone exchanging more than $500. They also have to report transactions higher than $5,000 to regulators.

The cartels get around these requirements by employing legions of individuals — including relatives, maids and gardeners — to convert small amounts of dollars into pesos or to make deposits in local banks. After that, cartels wire the money to a multinational bank.

The Smurfs

The people making the small money exchanges are known as Smurfs, after the cartoon characters.

“They can use an army of people like Smurfs and go through $1 million before lunchtime,” says Jerry Robinette, who oversees U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations along the border in east Texas.

The U.S. Treasury has been warning banks about big Mexican- currency-exchange firms laundering drug money since 1996. By 2004, many U.S. banks had closed their accounts with these companies, which are known as casas de cambio.

Wachovia ignored warnings by regulators and police, according to the deferred-prosecution agreement.

“As early as 2004, Wachovia understood the risk,” the bank admitted in court. “Despite these warnings, Wachovia remained in the business.”

One customer that Wachovia took on in 2004 was Casa de Cambio Puebla SA, a Puebla, Mexico-based currency-exchange company. Pedro Alatorre, who ran a Puebla branch in Mexico City, had created front companies for cartels, according to a pending Mexican criminal case against him.

Federal Indictment

A federal grand jury in Miami indicted Puebla, Alatorre and three other executives in February 2008 for drug trafficking and money laundering. In May 2008, the Justice Department sought extradition of the suspects, saying they used shell firms to launder $720 million through U.S. banks.

Alatorre has been in a Mexican jail for 2 1/2 years. He denies any wrongdoing, his lawyer Mauricio Moreno says. Alatorre has made no court-filed responses in the U.S.

During the period in which Wachovia admitted to moving money out of Mexico for Puebla, couriers carrying clear plastic bags stuffed with cash went to the branch Alatorre ran at the Mexico City airport, according to surveillance reports by Mexican police.

Alatorre opened accounts at HSBC on behalf of front companies, Mexican investigators found.

Puebla executives used the stolen identities of 74 people to launder money through Wachovia accounts, Mexican prosecutors say in court-filed reports.

‘Never Reported’

“Wachovia handled all the transfers, and they never reported any as suspicious,” says Jose Luis Marmolejo, a former head of the Mexican attorney general’s financial crimes unit who is now in private practice.

In November 2005 and January 2006, Wachovia transferred a total of $300,000 from Puebla to a Bank of America account in Oklahoma City, according to information in the Alatorre cases in the U.S. and Mexico.

Drug smugglers used the funds to buy the DC-9 through Oklahoma City aircraft broker U.S. Aircraft Titles Inc., according to financial records cited in the Mexican criminal case. U.S. Aircraft Titles President Sue White declined to comment.

On April 5, 2006, a pilot flew the plane from St. Petersburg, Florida, to Caracas to pick up the cocaine, according to the DEA. Five days later, troops seized the plane in Ciudad del Carmen and burned the drugs at a nearby army base.

‘Wachovia Knew’

“I am sure Wachovia knew what was going on,” says Marmolejo, who oversaw the criminal investigation into Wachovia’s customers. “It went on too long and they made too much money not to have known.”

At Wachovia’s anti-money-laundering unit in London, Woods and his colleague Jim DeFazio, in Charlotte, say they suspected that drug dealers were using the bank to move funds.

Woods, a former Scotland Yard investigator, spotted illegible signatures and other suspicious markings on traveler’s checks from Mexican exchange companies, he said in a September 2008 letter to the U.K. Financial Services Authority. He sent copies of the letter to the DEA and Treasury Department in the U.S.

Woods, 45, says his bosses instructed him to keep quiet and tried to have him fired, according to his letter to the FSA. In one meeting, a bank official insisted Woods shouldn’t have filed suspicious activity reports to the government, as both U.S. and U.K. laws require.

‘I Was Shocked’

“I was shocked by the content and outcome of the meeting and genuinely traumatized,” Woods wrote.

In the U.S., DeFazio, who had been a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent for 21 years, says he told bank executives in 2005 that the DEA was probing the transfers through Wachovia to buy the planes.

Bank executives spurned recommendations to close suspicious accounts, DeFazio, 63, says.

“I think they looked at the money and said, ‘The hell with it. We’re going to bring it in, and look at all the money we’ll make,’” DeFazio says.

DeFazio retired in 2008.

“I didn’t want anything from them,” he says. “I just wanted to get out.”

Woods, who resigned from Wachovia in May 2009, now advises banks on how to combat money laundering. He declined to discuss details of Wachovia’s actions.

U.S. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan told Woods in a March 19 letter his efforts had helped the U.S. build its case against Wachovia.

‘Great Courage’

“You demonstrated great courage and integrity by speaking up when you saw problems,” Dugan wrote.

It was the Puebla investigation that led U.S. authorities to the broader probe of Wachovia. On May 16, 2007, DEA agents conducted a raid of Wachovia’s international banking offices in Miami. They had a court order to seize Puebla’s accounts.

U.S. prosecutors and investigators then scrutinized the bank’s dealings with Mexican-currency-exchange firms. That led to the March deferred-prosecution agreement.

With Puebla’s Wachovia accounts seized, Alatorre and his partners shifted their laundering scheme to HSBC, according to financial documents cited in the Mexican criminal case against Alatorre.

In the three weeks after the DEA raided Wachovia, two of Alatorre’s front companies, Grupo ETPB SA and Grupo Rahero SC, made 12 cash deposits totaling $1 million at an HSBC Mexican branch, Mexican investigators found.

Another Drug Plane

The funds financed a Beechcraft King Air 200 plane that police seized on Dec. 29, 2007, in Cuernavaca, 50 miles south of Mexico City, according to information in the case against Alatorre.

For years, federal authorities watched as the wife and daughter of Oscar Oropeza, a drug smuggler working for the Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel, deposited stacks of cash at a Bank of America branch on Boca Chica Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas, less than 3 miles from the border.

Investigator Robinette sits in his pickup truck across the street from that branch. It’s a one-story, tan stucco building next to a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. Robinette discusses the Oropeza case with Tom Salazar, an agent who investigated the family.

“Everybody in there knew who they were — the tellers, everyone,” Salazar says. “The bank never came to us, though.”

New Meaning

The Oropeza case gives a new, literal meaning to the term money laundering. Oropeza’s wife, Tina Marie, and daughter Paulina Marie deposited stashes of $20 bills several times a day into Bank of America accounts, Salazar says. Bank employees got to know the Oropezas by the smell of their money.

“I asked the tellers what they were talking about, and they said the money had this sweet smell like Bounce, those sheets you throw into the dryer,” Salazar says. “They told me that when they opened the vault, the smell of Bounce just poured out.”

Oropeza, 48, was arrested 820 miles from Brownsville. On May 31, 2007, police in Saraland, Alabama, stopped him on a traffic violation. Checking his record, they learned of the investigation in Texas.

They searched the van and discovered 84 kilograms (185 pounds) of cocaine hidden under a false floor. That allowed federal agents to freeze Oropeza’s bank accounts and search his marble-floored home in Brownsville, Robinette says. Inside, investigators found a supply of Bounce alongside the clothes dryer.

Guilty Pleas

All three Oropezas pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Brownsville to drug and money-laundering charges in March and April 2008. Oscar Oropeza was sentenced to 15 years in prison; his wife was ordered to serve 10 months and his daughter got 6 months.

Bank of America’s Norton says, “We not only fulfilled our regulatory obligation, but we proactively worked with law enforcement on these matters.”

Prosecutors have tried to halt money laundering at American Express Bank International twice. In 1994, the bank, then a subsidiary of New York-based American Express Co., pledged not to allow money laundering again after two employees were convicted in a criminal case involving drug trafficker Juan Garcia Abrego.

In 1994, the bank paid $14 million to settle. Five years later, drug money again flowed through American Express Bank. Between 1999 and 2004, the bank failed to stop clients from laundering $55 million of narcotics funds, the bank admitted in a deferred-prosecution agreement in August 2007.

Western Union

It paid $65 million to the U.S. and promised not to break the law again. The government dismissed the criminal charge a year later. American Express sold the bank to London-based Standard Chartered PLC in February 2008 for $823 million.

Banks aren’t the only financial institutions that have turned a blind eye to drug cartels in moving illicit funds. Western Union Co., the world’s largest money transfer firm, agreed to pay $94 million in February 2010 to settle civil and criminal investigations by the Arizona attorney general’s office.

Undercover state police posing as drug dealers bribed Western Union employees to illegally transfer money, says Cameron Holmes, an assistant attorney general.

“Their allegiance was to the smugglers,” Holmes says. “What they thought about during work was ‘How may I please my highest- spending customers the most?’”

Smudged Fingerprints

Workers in more than 20 Western Union offices allowed the customers to use multiple names, pass fictitious identifications and smudge their fingerprints on documents, investigators say in court records.

“In all the time we did undercover operations, we never once had a bribe turned down,” says Holmes, citing court affidavits.

Western Union has made significant improvements, it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and works closely with regulators and police, spokesman Tom Fitzgerald says.

For four years, Mexican authorities have been fighting a losing battle against the cartels. The police are often two steps behind the criminals. Near the southeastern corner of Texas, in Matamoros, more than 50 combat troops surround a police station.

Officers take two suspected drug traffickers inside for questioning. Nearby, two young men wearing white T-shirts and baggy pants watch and whisper into radios. These are los halcones (the falcons), whose job is to let the cartel bosses know what the police are doing.

‘Only Way’

While the police are outmaneuvered and outgunned, ordinary Mexicans live in fear. Rojas, the man who lives in the Tijuana slum near the border fence, recalls cowering in his home as smugglers shot it out with the police.

“The only way to survive is to stay out of the way and hope the violence, the bullets, don’t come for you,” Rojas says.

To make their criminal enterprises work, the drug cartels of Mexico need to move billions of dollars across borders. That’s how they finance the purchase of drugs, planes, weapons and safe houses, Senator Gonzalez says.

“They are multinational businesses, after all,” says Gonzalez, as he slowly loads his revolver at his desk in his Mexico City office. “And they cannot work without a bank.”