Tag Archives | Plunder

Western Banks ‘Reaping Billions From Colombian Cocaine Trade’

Reports Ed Vulliamy in the Guardian:

The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich “consuming” countries – principally across Europe and in the US – rather than war-torn “producing” nations such as Colombia and Mexico, new research has revealed. And its authors claim that financial regulators in the west are reluctant to go after western banks in pursuit of the massive amount of drug money being laundered through their systems.

The most far-reaching and detailed analysis to date of the drug economy in any country – in this case, Colombia – shows that 2.6% of the total street value of cocaine produced remains within the country, while a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks, in first-world consuming countries.

“The story of who makes the money from Colombian cocaine is a metaphor for the disproportionate burden placed in every way on ‘producing’ nations like Colombia as a result of the prohibition of drugs,” said one of the authors of the study, Alejandro Gaviria. “Colombian society has suffered to almost no economic advantage from the drugs trade, while huge profits are made by criminal distribution networks in consuming countries, and recycled by banks which operate with nothing like the restrictions that Colombia’s own banking system is subject to.”…

Read More: Guardian

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‘Inside Job’ Director Charles Ferguson Indicts Our ‘Predator Nation’

Bald EagleHail Caesar! The circle of those of us crusading for a jail-out of banksters, and not another bailout for them is widening, Our newest Commissar of Condemnation, Charles H. Ferguson, director of the film Inside Job is in the house with a new must-read book, Predator Nation, that documents and details how the financial elite and its values took over our culture and country.

When I first saw Ferguson’s film, coming out two years after my Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time on a similar subject, I was a bit jealous because of all the support he attracted from Sony and Hollywood insiders who waged a successful Oscar campaign on its behalf. He had access to big money for a film on big money, after selling a software company. He could afford high production values but also the kind of marketing that Indy filmmakers like myself dream about.

As a PhD, former business executive and government advisor, Ferguson had developed a keen skill for synthesizing information and creating a filmic “explainer,” almost like a big screen power-point presentation, that recounts how we got into this financial crisis through government deregulation/complicity.… Read the rest

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How Wall Street, Congress and President Obama Killed Financial Reform

Financial Reform“It’s bad enough that the banks strangled the Dodd-Frank law. Even worse is the way they did it – with a big assist from Congress and the White House.” Another must read from Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Two years ago, when he signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, President Barack Obama bragged that he’d dealt a crushing blow to the extravagant financial corruption that had caused the global economic crash in 2008. “These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” the president told an adoring crowd in downtown D.C. on July 21st, 2010. “In history.”

This was supposed to be the big one. At 2,300 pages, the new law ostensibly rewrote the rules for Wall Street. It was going to put an end to predatory lending in the mortgage markets, crack down on hidden fees and penalties in credit contracts, and create a powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to safeguard ordinary consumers.

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Occupy Protesters Attempt To Crash Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting in San Francisco

Wells FargoThe police are ready for this. Good luck. Reports the AP via the Washington Post:
Police were guarding the entrance to the annual meeting of Wells Fargo shareholders on Tuesday as protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement geared up to crash the gathering. Dozens of officers were stationed around the Merchant’s Exchange Building in the city’s Financial District in advance of the 1 p.m. meeting. Bank stockholders were asked to show certificates or other proof of ownership before being corralled past gates erected in front of the doors. Many of the early arrivals represented community groups from across the country that purchased Wells Fargo stock so they would have a say in the bank’s practices. Shareholder Mark Richmond, a 59-year-old Portland member of the group We Are Oregon, said he hoped he could voice his concerns specifically about predatory lending and home foreclosures. He said he expected some raucousness inside and outside the meeting.
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Is Lloyd Blankfein An Accessory In the Death of Dimitris Christoulas?

Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square

Relax, folks, nothing to see here.  After all, I’m sure that all that austerity-funded bond money is going towards a good cause—like gold-plating the vomitorium drains in Lloyd Blankfein’s villa on the Riviera, for instance. From the BBC’s Mark Lowen:

Protesters have clashed with riot police in the Greek capital, Athens, hours after a pensioner shot himself dead outside parliament.

The 77-year-old man killed himself in the city’s busy Syntagma Square on Wednesday morning.

Greek media reported he had left a suicide note accusing the government of cutting his pension to nothing. Flowers have been laid at the spot where he died and tributes have been paid online.

“I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life, so I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.”—Extract from reputed suicide letter

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the square outside parliament on Wednesday evening, the scene of many large protests in recent months.

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It’s Tax Time: Time to Occupy the IRS

IRSEvery year I trek down to a nondescript office building near Wall Street with a bag full of receipts and a belly full of anxiety.

When it’s tax time, I always hope for the best but … I also had an accountant who I trusted to keep me on the up and up. He was recommended years earlier by the Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman, who wanted to avoid the Al Capone problem.

Abbie had been busted enough for his political activities and didn’t want more jail time for non-payment of taxes. So he had to be like the driven snow to withstand any audit. And he was. He was a revolutionary who held his nose and paid the man.

Back in the day, the government used IRS investigations to threaten political activists and intimidate activists that paid their taxes as opposed to those who became tax resisters to refuse to pay for wars.… Read the rest

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JPMorgan Chase’s Ugly Family Secrets Revealed

ChaseMatt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone:

In a story that should be getting lots of attention, American Banker has released an excellent and disturbing exposé of J.P. Morgan Chase’s credit card services division, relying on multiple current and former Chase employees. One of them, Linda Almonte, is a whistleblower whom I’ve known since last September; I’m working on a recount of her story for my next book.

One of the things we were promised by the lawmakers who passed the Dodd-Frank reform bill a few years back is that this would be a new era for whistleblowers who come forward to tell the world about problems in our financial infrastructure. This story now looms as a test case for that proposition. American Banker reporter Jeff Horwitz did an outstanding job in this story detailing the sweeping irregularities in-house at Chase, but his very thoroughness means the news may have ramifications for Linda, which is why I’m urging people to pay attention to this story in the upcoming weeks.

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Russian Corruption ‘Out of Control’

Via Al Jazeera:
Valery Morozov, a successful Russian businessman has been granted political asylum in Britain after exposing an alleged corruption scandal involving officials and police in Russia. Hoping to build a hotel in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, he says he paid about $10.5m in bribes to keep the contract from a competitor with close ties to the government, contributing to an estimated $300bn in bribes paid by Russians every year, according to the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International.
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Greg Smith’s NY Times Op-Ed Cost Goldman Sachs $2.2 Billion for Shareholders

Christine Harper reports on Bloomberg:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. saw $2.15 billion of its market value wiped out after an employee assailed Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein’s management and the firm’s treatment of clients, sparking debate across Wall Street.

The shares dropped 3.4 percent in New York trading yesterday, the third-biggest decline in the 81-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index, after London-based Greg Smith made the accusations in a New York Times op-ed piece.

Smith, who also wrote that he was quitting after 12 years at the company, blamed Blankfein, 57, and President Gary D. Cohn, 51, for a “decline in the firm’s moral fiber.” They responded in a memo to current and former employees, saying that Smith’s assertions don’t reflect the firm’s values, culture or “how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients.”

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, 84, whose “Volcker rule” would limit banks like New York-based Goldman Sachs from making bets with their own money, called Smith’s article “a radical, strong” piece.

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