The 5 Most Cartoonishly Evil Banks of All Time

#2. Castle Bank Stole John Fogerty's Mansion Money

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Castle Bank & Trust just oozed class and legitimacy. Not only did they attract high-profile celebrity clients like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hugh Hefner, and the Hyatt chain of hotels, but they were centrally located in the freaking Bahamas. Would a gargantuan and malevolent organization have access to such bitchin' beaches? We ask you -- do these Mai Tais taste evil?

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It's hard to be sinister in a straw hat.

The Evil

In the early 1970s, someone at the IRS realized that Hyatt hadn't paid any taxes since they opened their account at Castle Bank. This is generally frowned upon in polite society, as Mssrs. Hammer and Nelson can testify. So the IRS hired a grizzled private investigator named Norman Casper to look into it, because if there's one lesson we've learned in this article, it's that accounting is WAY more exciting than we've all been led to believe. Over the next few months, Casper distracted his targets with beautiful women while he photographed their secret files and gathered intelligence. Using the old "squick and click" method, Casper discovered that not only was the bank acting as an illegal tax haven for clients like former President Nixon, it was also laundering money for the friggin' mob.

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This might not have been the ideal spokesman in 1977.

Then, out of nowhere, the CIA stepped in and stopped the investigation.

Turns out the CIA had used Castle Bank & Trust to funnel money to anti-Castro groups (and anyone else with a big enough haterection for the communists). No one was ever prosecuted, but the bank collapsed, and all of their clients (including CCR) lost their deposits. And that's why Creedence Clearwater Revisited has to rock your shitty county fair to this very day.

#1. The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Doesn't Care

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The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was founded in the 19th century to handle British profits from the opium trade. And given that China had several million opium addicts and the British responded to any attempts to ban the drug by murdering everyone who looked at them funny, those profits were considerable. But, hey, that's all ancient history, right? It's not like you have a little card in your wallet right now that says HSBC on it ...

Oh.

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We're very disappointed in you, A Citizen.

The Evil

If you've ever talked to their customer service people about their BS "annual fee," it should come as no surprise that HSBC was founded on centuries of murder for profit. In 2012, investigators discovered that they had been helping fund international terrorism and the Mexican drug trade for decades. It wasn't an occasional thing, either. Here's the extent of their familiarity with the cartels: At one point HSBC considered enlarging their teller windows because the boxes of cash they were accepting were too big to fit through the normal ones (possibly the least sympathetic problem we've ever heard of). So the Sinaloa Cartel (responsible for tens of thousands of murders in the past decade alone) did their old pals a solid and started using custom-designed money boxes specifically to fit through HSBC branch windows.

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Carpeting meant to hide stains left by patrons dripping blood was more of a branch-to-branch thing.

So if they're so blatantly corrupt, why hasn't anybody caught them? The answer is simple: They totally have! Many, many times. You've heard of the term "too big to fail"? Well, here's an addendum: "... and too rich to give a damn when they do."

When HSBC was caught a third time, the authorities got serious and handed them a $1.9 billion fine. Staggering, right?

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But what's 21 tons of cash between friends?

That's roughly five weeks' profit for HSBC.

Again, nobody went to prison for this blatant money laundering. They didn't get grounded, or even sent to their room without supper; they just had their allowance docked for like a month. That wouldn't teach an uppity child not to shoplift, much less a major financial institution that supporting mass murderers isn't profitable. When asked why these people are allowed to Snidely Whiplash their way around the country with no repercussions, the U.S. assistant attorney general explained, "Had the U.S. decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat, and the entire banking system would have been destabilized."

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We're sure thousands of grieving families were cool with that answer.

So there you go, straight from the mouth of the U.S. government itself: Banks can do whatever they want, because they have our money. If you're considering canceling your HSBC card in light of these revelations, well, we're sure they'll cry themselves to sleep over it. Maybe they can fit some bigger windows to get those extra-large boxes of tissues in there.


Alex has no Internet presence, but wants you to check out this awesome album of electronic music by JugularNotch, which you can download right now!

Related Reading: If all this fiscal fuckery has you bitter about banks, read this article about incredible heists. Like the time Swedish robbers reenacted Die Hard at a Post Office. And money isn't the only thing you can store in a bank: you can fit a ton of sperm in one. Unless you're a ginger, runt or minority! Last, balance things out by reading about life in poverty.

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