whistleblower –Everett Stern (ES) REPORTER Sophie Shevardnadze (SS)
Banks say they are the pillar of the modern society – ruling the streams of money across the globe and keeping a tight grip on the world’s economy; What is going on in offices of top level management is kept in a most valuable secrets.
SS- Everett Stern, former employee of one of the world’s banking giants HSBC.
ES- Sure. This is not a normal banking scandal, I mean this is about a bank sponsoring terrorism and killing people, that’s what it is about, and it is about defending the US and defending the world as a whole against terrorism, and saying that “too big to jail” is not an OK policy for any government to have.
SS- These are actually huge words – what did actually happen?
ES- I was hired as anti-money-laundering compliance officer and put in charge as a specialist on Middle Eastern transactions, also I was part of anti-terrorism financing team there, but really while I was there I saw the blatant criminal actions that were occurring and just how HSBC defrauded the US government.
SS- 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?
ES- when I joined, there were maybe 15 compliance officers in the entire department, I really had no idea of what I was doing, so I went to University of Delaware library, I checked out a whole bunch of books and I would spend mornings and nights reading and teaching myself about money laundering and terrorist financing. And then what happened, it was maybe about three weeks in, that’s when I saw a first suspicious activity with the company called Crossbar FX and I that was my first email to the CIA. It was on November, 12 of 2010.
So three weeks after I started, I started passing information to the CIA, I felt there was a national security risk. First, of course, I went to management of HSBC, which of course was nowhere, HSBC had a huge credit card division in the same building and they needed to show the government that they improved the program by hiring all these anti-money-laundering compliance officers. So they fired all of their debt-collectors, they sold off the credit card division to capital one and then re-hired debt collectors and anti-money-laundering compliance officers.
SS- 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?
ES- OFEC has a list of companies that the US cannot do business with, an OFEC sanction list, and so, for instance, Caribe Supermarkets, Tajco, the Tajideen Brothers, which were all linked to Hezbollah. Caribe Supermarkets is a supermarket chain based out in Gambia, and they are owned by Tajco, which is owned by Tajideen Brothers, which are based out in Beirut, and are financiers of Hezbollah. There were transactions going through HSBC and I saw it. these transactions, that were supposed to be stopped in the wire filter, were actually going through. They were going through because what HSBC employees were doing was adding dots and dashes and different numeric codings to the actual payments. The FBI later called it “stripping the payments”.
SS- Were you the only one who was suspicious, or the others were just pretending not to see this?
ES- The debt collectors they hired weren’t the brightest bulbs in the sky… So they were just clearing transactions all day long. That was the culture at HSBC, to clear as many alerts or investigations as possible. They gave us a minimum of 72 a week to clear. It was a culture that was extremely perverted, that was geared towards defrauding of American people. Also, what they did was that they hired one of the former heads of the counter-intelligence of the FBI to run a department, so he knew exactly how to manipulate the system.
SS-“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?”
ES- There’s an internal email that the FBI has and CIA has, and so does the US Congress, when I went to them about a month ago, called ‘Compliance error’ an email from me to management, explaining how these debt-collectors are approving funds that are going into Gaza and are going to Hamas. What I was told is that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. we could not put the word ‘suspicious’ in any alert or investigation that we did and any write up. The word ‘suspicious’ could not be put in because that could alert a regulator.
SS- the transactions linked to Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, what kind of money are we talking about?
ES- Overall, we’re talking about billions of dollars, a great example is the Caribe Supermarket. out of Africa, they were selling regular groceries that people were going to buy and then Caribe Supermarkets would take that money and send it to Tajeco in Beirut, which was owned by Tajideen Brothers, and then they would send it off to Iran. They were named to the FBI and Caribe Supermarkets is literally still operating and sending money to Hezbollah at this exact time.
SS- who is ultimately in charge of preventing money laundering in the US?
ES- The Department of Justice is not doing their job. Eric Holder specifically said during Senate hearings that prosecuting these banks criminally could cause a financial crisis. HSBC was fined $1.9 billion, which seems like a lot of money, but that’s actually only five weeks’ profit for them.
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…
ES- What the Department of Justice has made very clear is that bankers are held to a different standard than the public.
SS- So you’re saying nothing really has changed in HSBC even after it was fined $19.9 billion, right?
ES- No, nothing, I am asking for a new money-laundering probe to be issued and people to go jail. The thing is that the 1.9 billion covered transactions up until 2010. I started passing information to CIA and then I went to the FBI post-2010. So HSBC was never held accountable for those transactions of the Caribe Supermarkets to Hezbollah.
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
ES- the former managers that were my bosses who were subsequently fired from HSBC are now the heads. One of them is the head of compliance for TD bank, the other one is the head for the Chinese bank. HSBC have the blood of American soldiers on their hands. An IED going off in Afghanistan, killing and American or allied soldier – that is being financed through our banks.
SS- 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?
ES- Yeah, and they are doing whatever they want. . There was millions of dollars moving from a company in Saudi Arabia, called Sharbatly Fruit. It’s a fruit company, and they were sending money to one of the leading members of Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. So this is what HSBC is allowing, facilitating to happen here. What’s crazy about it is that HSBC admitted to the Department of Justice and to the world, they admitted the treason, financing the enemy.
SS-, would you risk the global economy for the sake of bringing banks to justice?
ES-YES, I don’t know for sure that prosecuting a bank would not cause a financial crisis, because it’s never happened before. If criminals, Russian mobsters, Hamas, Hezbollah – if they keep getting financed, the good guys are finished.
SS- So it seems like a country that’s fighting a War on Terror is also financing it at the same time…
SS- 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?
SS- Sure. JP Morgan, they’ve been fined like crazy through even last couple of weeks; Standard Chartered Bank that’s been operating here, Bank of America – they’ve had numerous accounts with drug cartels.
SS-– 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 he never aired it. Other networks wouldn’t tape me because they were nervous because Brian Ross had it in. 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.” 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. HSBC, that has an anti-money-laundering facility in Newcastle, Delaware, that’s hiring and firing debt collectors to work.
Sources—everett stern, reuters, tim shaffer