Senate GOP grills AG nominee over money laundering case

Republicans are grilling Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch about her role as the federal prosecutor in a controversial money laundering case.

Concerns about Lynch have shifted, at least for the moment, from her views on immigration to how she handled claims that British bank HSBC laundered hundreds of millions of dollars for Mexican and Colombian drug lords.

As the U.S. attorney in New York, Lynch led the prosecution of HSBC, which culminated in hefty $1.9 billion fine — but no criminal charges against the bank’s top executives.

Republicans suggest she was two lenient toward the bank executives.

“Why do you believe that concluding an investigation into $881 million in money laundering without a single indictment or fine of an individual is a satisfactory result?” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Lynch in a series of follow-up questions after her confirmation hearing.

Grassley delayed Lynch’s confirmation last week, saying he was disappointed that she seemed to be avoiding his questions.

Lynch responded to a second round of written questions from Republicans this week, defending her actions in the HSBC case in levying “perhaps the most stringent [terms] ever imposed on a financial institution.”

She said she “carefully considered” the case and determined there was not enough evidence to convict the bank executives.

“In the course of your investigation, which individuals at HSBC do you believe were most culpable for this money laundering?” Grassley asked.

“Virtually all of the senior executives who oversaw HSBC’s flawed compliance programs were replaced,” Lynch answered. “Furthermore, HSBC ‘clawed back’ bonuses for senior executives who oversaw the anti-money laundering program. HSBC also took a number of steps to correct the lack of accountability over its anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance programs.”

Tags Chuck Grassley

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