On Wednesday, May 29, 2013, the Washington Post called the Liberty Reserve "one of the biggest laundering operations in history." Liberty Reserve stands accused with laundering six billion dollars. For certain definitions of big, this statement could be considered accurate. In the real world, this is like called a house sparrow one of the biggest birds in history. HSBC was accused with laundering an estimated two hundred fifty billion dollars for Iran, as well as failing to properly monitor another six hundred seventy billion dollars of wire transfers and almost another ten billion in purchased US Dollars.
Let's put those amounts in numbers:
Liberty Reserve: 6,000,000,000
Hey, that's a lot of zeros. Let's strip these down and ask an eight year old which is bigger.
Genius Nephew, which of these two numbers are bigger: 6 or 930?
* Not pictured, my nephew laughing at me, calling me silly, and pointing at 930.
Seven people have been arrested in the Liberty Reserve case. Not one person has been arrested relating to the HSBC laundering case. Let's go back to my Financial Investigator, my eight year old nephew:
Genius Nephew, which of these two numbers are bigger: 7 or 0?
* Not pictured, my nephew laughing at me, calling me silly, and pointing at 7.
The lesson is quite clear. If you're going to launder funds, go big or go to the big house. Laundering money is fine as long as the amounts involved are staggering, and you use the profits to expand your business into credit cards and other types of loans.
You might think that I am an anarchist advocating that the government shouldn't bother prosecuting cases like this in the new age of the internet, the greatest social experiment yet, but I'm not. I am a progressive with some mild anarchist tendencies, usually only expressed while inebriated, advocating the radical idea that governments apply their laws to everyone, not just the conveniently prosecuted.
I'm also disappointed with the Post for the lazy reporting. Calling Liberty Reserve "one of the biggest" when HSBC was two* orders of magnitude larger is ludicrous. $6 billion is chump change compared to $980 billion. Even the Republicans wouldn't argue too much over six billion in a budget debate, but nine-hundred eighty billion gives anyone pause. To put that in recent news perspective, that is more than 2,940 massive Powerball jackpots. Imagine if three people won 300+ million dollar jackpots every day for the next two and a half years. Just ludicrous.
* Thanks, Pinko