British bank HSBC has agreed to pay $1.9 billion in forfeitures and penalties, authorities announced in Brooklyn yesterday, but it has avoided criminal prosecution in connection with the laundering of $881 million from narcotics traffickers in Mexico and for allowing prohibited transactions with Libya, Iran, Burma, Sudan and Cuba.

Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said during a press conference at the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office that the bank was being held responsible “for a stunning failure of oversight and worse.”

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