Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wall Street is a G-Unit

The superb John le Carre novel, Single & Single portrays prestigious London banks as money launderers for drug and weapons smugglers. Le Carre's previous career as a spy, combined with the detailed research he does for each novel, has produced a body of work that serves as a chronicle of the corruption and hypocrisy that more or less define the post-industrial West. Many people think le Carre lost a step when the Cold War ended, but I disagree. His post-Cold War novels do a better job than almost anything else of unraveling the shifting dual allegiances that characterize the era.

Case in point:

How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.


"After the Wachovia case, no one in the regulatory community has sat down with me and asked, 'What happened?' or 'What can we do to avoid this happening to other banks?' They are not interested. They are the same people who attack the whistleblowers..."

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