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GFI’s Heather Lowe to Discuss Money Laundering at CBC Event Featuring U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

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Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 ext. 222

Hosted by Rep. Maxine Waters, CBC Foundation Forum to Discuss Rethinking Mandatory Minimums for Drug Crimes and Targeting Money Laundering and Major Drug Traffickers

Opening Keynote Address to Be Delivered by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

EVENT ADVISORY

Mandatory Minimums:
Rethinking Failed Sentencing Policies and
Targeting Money Laundering and Major Drug Traffickers

September 19, 2013
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Washington Convention Center
Room 146 B

WASHINGTON, DCHeather Lowe, Legal Counsel and Director of Government Affairs at Global Financial Integrity (GFI), is slated to appear on a panel Thursday afternoon at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundations’ Annual Legislative Conference, discussing the importance of refocusing U.S. law enforcement policies on targeting money laundering and major drug traffickers.  Hosted by the Honorable Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the panel discussion will follow opening remarks delivered by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Ms. Lowe released the below comment ahead of her appearance Thursday:

“For too long—and to little effect—U.S. policy and law enforcement have focused on drug busts and placing small-time drug dealers behind bars.  The United Nations estimates that worldwide over forty percent of cocaine is seized somewhere between production and consumption. Meanwhile, it also estimates that less than one half of one percent of laundered criminal money is interdicted globally.  Drug trafficking is a profitable business.  If we want to curtail drug trafficking and other serious crimes, then the U.S. must place the emphasis on following the money and cracking down on those who enable criminals to launder their dirty money.

“Last year, HSBC admitted that it failed to apply legally mandated money laundering controls to more than $200 trillion in wire transfers alone, over just a three year period.  $200 trillion is roughly three times the size of global GDP.  At least $881 million of that $200 trillion was the proceeds of Mexican and Colombian drug cartels.  Nevertheless, neither HSBC nor a single employee of the bank was prosecuted.

“From Wachovia to Standard Chartered to ING, these sorts of cases—where the bank pays a relatively small fine and avoids prosecution for money laundering violations—have happened time and time again.  Without any accountability for the banks and the bankers who knowingly break the law and assist violent criminals, we’re never going to curtail drug trafficking, sex slavery, and other heinous crimes.”

The CBC event, titled “Mandatory Minimums: Rethinking Failed Sentencing Policies and Targeting Money Laundering and Major Drug Traffickers,” is open to the press and public, and it will take place from 3-5pm on Thursday, September 19, 2013 in Room 146 B at the Washington Convention Center.

The event is also scheduled to be live-streamed on the website of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

T o schedule an interview with Ms. Lowe, or other GFI spokespersons, contact Clark Gascoigne at +1 202 293 0740 x222 (Office) / +1 202-815-4029 (Mobile) / cgascoigne@nullgfintegrity.org. On-camera spokespersons are available in Washington, DC.

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Notes to Editors:

  • Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization which promotes transparency in the international financial system as a means to global development. For additional information please visit www.gfintegrity.org.

Contact:

Clark Gascoigne
cgascoigne@nullgfintegrity.org
+1 202-293-0740 ext.222 (Office)
+1 202-815-4029 (Mobile)

Scroll down for more event details from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation:


CBCF Logo

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Criminal Justice Issues Forum

MANDATORY MINIMUMS

Rethinking Failed Sentencing Policies and Targeting Money Laundering and Major Drug Traffickers

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will serve as honorary host for a special Criminal Justice Issues Forum to take place during the CBCF’s 2013 Annual Legislative Conference.  Rep. Waters will join government officials, criminal justice reform advocates, and special guests in a panel discussion on how state and federal policymakers can rethink mandatory minimum sentences and the failed war on drugs.  In light of Attorney General Holder’s recent announcement that federal prosecutors will no longer pursue mandatory minimum prison sentences in cases involving low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to major cartels, the panelists will also discuss ways in which Congress can enact policies that further reduce over-incarceration of low-level offenders while targeting major drug traffickers and their funding streams.  And while the Attorney General’s announcement was indeed historic, panelists may also discuss why Congress still needs to act to remove mandatory minimums from the federal code.  This year’s panel will also examine the extent current bank money laundering policies have failed to prevent the illegal laundering of millions in drug money through U.S. banks and the link between the supply of illegal drugs in the U.S. and the movement of illegal funds through the U.S. economy.  The panel format will allow esteemed experts the opportunity to express their views and research on all of the above topics and what more Congress and the Administration can do to get “smart on crime.”  The panel will also provide for audience Q&A.

September 19, 2013
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Washington Convention Center
Room 146 B

HONORARY HOST:

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

SPECIAL GUEST

 The Honorable Eric Holder – Attorney General, United States Department of Justice
(Special remarks)

INVITED PANELISTS:

Heather Lowe – Legal Counsel & Director of Government Affairs, Global Financial Integrity

John Cassara – Anti-Money Laundering Consultant

Nkechi Taifa – Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society Institute

Molly Gill – Government Affairs Counsel, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)

Kemba Smith – Founder, Kemba Smith Foundation

Charles Ogletree – Professor, Harvard University School of Law

For your reference, the following clips may be helpful:

Also, please take a look at Rep. Waters’ comments during a recent Financial Services Committee hearing where she discusses the war on drugs and money laundering:

Lastly, please see below that statement Rep. Waters released upon Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last week:

Congresswoman Waters Commends DOJ,
Urges Passage of Mandatory Minimums Legislation

“I am very pleased with Attorney General Holder’s announcement today that federal prosecutors will no longer pursue draconian mandatory minimum prison sentences in cases involving low-level, non-violent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale gangs and cartels.  The Justice Department’s policy shift largely adopts core components of legislation that I’ve introduced consistently for nearly 15 years – the Major Drug Traffickers Prosecution Act – and is the culmination of the tireless efforts among reform advocates who have spent many years in the courts, Congress, and town halls across the country raising awareness about the impact of crack-cocaine and harsh sentencing policies on African American and Latino communities. I remain hopeful that along with today’s announcement, and the emerging bipartisan consensus on over-criminalization, we will have the support we need in Congress to remove these failed sentencing policies from the federal code. 

“In the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, and at the height of the public outcry over crack-cocaine following the tragic death of college basketball star Len Bias, Congress acted hastily, without sufficient hearings or research, and enacted hard line anti-drug penalties that targeted low-level drug offenders. These statutes included new, long mandatory minimum sentences for such offenders. Twenty-seven years later, mandatory drug sentences have broken communities and destroyed lives. The result has been the incarceration of thousands of low level drug offenders – most of whom are minorities – and an exponential boom in the Federal prison population.  According to U.S. Sentencing Commission figures, no class of drug is as racially skewed as crack in terms of numbers of offenses. According to the Sentencing Commission, 79 percent of 5,669 sentenced crack offenders in 2009 were African American, versus 10 percent who were Caucasian and 10 percent who were Hispanic.

 “According to the Bureau of Prisons, when the 1986 drug law containing lengthy mandatory minimum sentences passed, the prison population was 36,000. Today, the federal prison population is over 215,000 prisoners, an increase of nearly 800 percent in 28 years. It costs taxpayers approximately $26,000 to keep one prisoner in federal prison for one year.

“For this reason, I have worked over the last 20 years to raise awareness and traveled across the country to educate communities about cocaine sentencing disparities and mandatory minimums.  I have also hosted many workshops on the subject during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference.  On many occasions, I have partnered with organizations such as Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), the Open Society Institute, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Sentencing Project during these forums. I have also worked alongside courageous advocates such as Professor Charles Ogletree and Kemba Smith, who was sentenced to serve a mandatory minimum before she was commuted under the Clinton Administration. I have also consistently introduced legislation in Congress that would reverse the effects of mandatory minimum prison sentences.

“This Congress, I plan to re-introduce the Major Drug Traffickers Prosecution Act of 2013. This bill is similar to previous legislation that I have introduced since 1999, and it would codify into law the policy that Attorney General Holder announced today so that no one, regardless of the Administration in office, will again be subject to harsh mandatory minimums. The Major Drug Traffickers Prosecution Act of 2013 will: curb federal prosecutions of low-level and non-violent drug offenders; re-focus scarce federal resources to prosecute major drug kingpins, and give courts and judges greater discretion to place drug users on probation or suspend the sentence entirely. Under this bill, judges will be able to make individualized determinations and take into account a defendant’s individual and unique circumstances rather than being held to a stringent sentencing requirement prescribed by Congress.

“I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress as we continue our joint efforts to reform the criminal justice system and focus federal resources on major drug traffickers and their funding streams.”

_______________________________

Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization which promotes transparency in the international financial system as a means to global development.

For additional information please visit www.gfintegrity.org.

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