by Art Moore
The global banking giant HSBC lodged a complaint that blocked access to a WND story reporting a whistleblower’s charge that the London-based corporation has engaged in a massive international money-laundering scheme.
The story by WND senior staff writer Jerome Corsi – “PayPal, American Express implicated in bank fraud” – included redacted images of customer account statements that HSBC claimed was an illegal disclosure of personally identifiable information.
No personal information was visible in the images, however.
HSBC filed the complaint Feb. 9 with a WND Internet service provider, EdgeCast Networks. Access to the article was blocked, but the Internet provider restored access after three hours when an investigation concluded the complaint was unwarranted.
HSBC never contacted WND about its complaint with the story, noted WND CEO Joseph Farah.
“I’ve been in journalism for 30 years and in Internet journalism for 15 years,” Farah said. “In all that time I have never seen such a blatant and temporarily effective effort at raw censorship by a powerful institution – in this case, one of the world’s largest banks.”
Farah said that without “any accusation or evidence of wrongdoing, HSBC used its clout to block our content.”
As WND reported, the whistleblower – former HSBC southern New York region relationship manager John Cruz –has 1,000 pages of customer account records he claims are evidence of an international money-laundering scheme by the bank, which reportedly is under investigation by a U.S. Senate committee.
HSBC did not respond to requests to comment on its blocking of the article and also turned down another opportunity to answer Cruz’s accusations.
“HSBC still refuses to answer why it is prospering at the expense of identity-fraud victims,” Farah said. “It still refuses to answer questions about money-laundering allegations being made by a whistleblower who worked within the company. It refuses to explain the anomalies we see in the thousands of banking records we have reviewed.”
Corsi explained that before posting the HSBC customer account records to illustrate Cruz’s charges, any personal information was redacted.
He added that WND is in the process of sharing the customer records with federal investigative law enforcement agencies. Future articles on Cruz’s charges are under way, Corsi said.
“We’re determined to fulfill our obligations under the First Amendment to pursue and report to our readers investigations of financial impropriety when credible allegations of wrongdoing come to our attention,” he said.
Anthony Citrano, EdgeCast’s vice president for communications and marketing, explained that his company moved quickly on HSBC’s request because EdgeCast can be held liable under laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for delivering illegal content.
“Someone was a little too cautious, and that meant the article wasn’t available for a period of time, and we’re sorry about it,” he told WND.