United States: Banking Giant HSBC Sued For Alleged Laundering

Families of US citizens murdered by drug cartels in Mexico are suing HSBC, saying it let the cartels launder billions of dollars to operate their businesses, resulting in the destruction of numerous lives, according to a case filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)Those named in the suit include: Special Agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Jaime Zapata, who was killed in 2011; Lesley Redelfs, a US consulate employee and her husband, Arthur, who were both shot leaving a child’s birthday party; and Rafael Morales Valencia, who was kidnapped, tortured and killed along with his uncle and brother just after his wedding ceremony.

The suit alleges that HSBC was “driven by its desire to expand its business and increase revenue” and provided “continuous and systematic material support to the cartels and their acts of terrorism by laundering billions of dollars for them.”

The plaintiffs allege that HSBC is liable under the US Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), for the “injuries sustained by the Victims and their families by reason of the terrorist acts of the Sinaloa, Juárez, and Los Zetas Cartels.”

The ATA allows victims of international terrorism or their families to sue for damages sustained. The plaintiffs are seeking the maximum amount allowed under the ATA. Bloomberg reports that the case appears to be one of the first to assert that the Mexican cartels are terrorist organizations.

A 2011 attempt by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) to designate seven of the top Mexican cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations” fell short amid concerns that it would damage relations with Mexico, according to the Guardian.