statism watch

Afghan president’s half-brother denies corruption

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Related: Afghan leader’s corrupt brother paid by CIA, U.S. officials say | Afghanistan Drug Raid Snares Border Police Commander | Afghanistan’s Hidden Heroin Addicts | Canadian troops could soon target Afghan drug trade: top soldier | Reports reveal concerns over drug use among Canadian military | NATO to let troops fight Afghan drug lords | Karzai’s kin linked to heroin trafficking | Afghani Narco-state Continues to Blossom under Puppet President

Dawood Azami, BBC News
May 27, 2010

The half-brother of the Afghan president has denied any involvement in corruption.

In an interview with the BBC, Ahmad Wali Karzai accused “local enemies” and and the Western media of spreading malicious rumours about him.

Mr Karzai, the leader of the provincial council in Kandahar, has been linked to the drug trade and organised crime.

He has strenuously denied the allegations, accusing his critics of “seeking to defame him”.

Ahmad Wali Karzai is one of the main power brokers in the province of Kandahar, an area where the Taliban have a strong presence.

In an interview with the BBC, he said that Western officials had now realised that many of the allegations against him were baseless.

‘Rumours’

”Western officials have been victims of the negative propaganda against me by my opponents who have an agenda,” he said.

”The Western media want to sell stories and that is why they base their reports on rumours.”

Kandahar, the second biggest city in Afghanistan, is the birthplace of the Taliban movement.

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Lehman launches court battle against JPMorgan

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Related: JPMorgan, Citigroup Helped Doom Lehman, Report Says | Wall Street’s Big Takeover | What Really Killed Bear Stearns? | Competition study calls for lowered barriers to foreign ownership, bank mergers | Massive overhaul urged on foreign investment in airlines, media, and banks | Bilderberg Seeks Bank Centralization Agenda | Banks face “new world order,” consolidation: report

Joanna Slater, The Globe and Mail
May 26, 2010

Firm accuses investment bank of unlawfully grabbing billions of dollars

As Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. tottered, the final blows came from another Wall Street firm, according to an explosive new lawsuit.

Lehman’s bankruptcy estate accused JPMorgan Chase & Co. Wednesday of unlawfully grabbing billions of dollars from the gravely wounded financial institution days before it collapsed.

JPMorgan abused its position as Lehman’s principal bank, the suit alleged, to extract $8.6-billion (U.S.) in collateral from the firm in September, 2008.

The effect was “devastating,” according to the complaint, accelerating Lehman’s demise and ruling out an orderly wind-up of the firm.

Lehman’s bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history, set off a chain reaction that sent global financial markets into a terrifying tailspin.

The suit, filed in New York bankruptcy court, pits Lehman’s estate against a bank widely viewed as having weathered the financial crisis better than its peers. The bankruptcy estate is seeking to recover the billions of dollars Lehman paid as collateral to JPMorgan, together with damages.

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MPs shouldn’t fear expenses audit: AG

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Related: MPs reject request to audit expenses | MPs from all four parties ink secret deal on cash | Lax rules on political financing No. 1 global corruption threat: report | Author wins award for work identifying categories of state corruption | Tories admit to using regional funds for federal campaign last election | Another Conservative candidate attacks ‘in-out’ ad scheme | Donations of money, property and services continue to corrupt Canadian politics

Karina Roman, CBC News
May 25, 2010

Canadian members of Parliament should not be afraid to have their expenses audited, if it’s true that the rules and regulations in place are as good as the MPs say they are, says Auditor General Sheila Fraser.

“Well, I don’t think MPs have anything to fear. They’ve certainly indicated that they have strong systems and practices in place. If that’s the case, I would be very happy to report that.”

Fraser said the public and some MPs have clearly “misunderstood” what her intentions were when she asked to do a performance audit of the administration of the House of Commons. Fraser said a performance audit is not as detailed as a forensic audit.

While she could discover inappropriate spending – as happened in Britain with members of Parliament – the performance audit she is recommending is more focused on looking at what spending rules are in place and if they are being followed.

“I’ve heard people talking about a $4 cup of coffee. I’ve got, quite frankly, better things to do than look for $4 cups of coffee,” Fraser said.

She said she would welcome the chance to clarify her position at the Board of Internal Economy, which initially turned down her audit request.

Speaker Peter Milliken, who chairs the board, said it’s not up to him whether or not Fraser gets that chance; he says it’s up to the board as a whole.

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Germany bans naked short-selling

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

It’s a little like swearing off the bottle the day after you’ve totalled the car and ran ‘naked’ through town swearnig you could create money from nothing, but it’s good to see Merkel’s political survival instincts are intact at least. And this may not help markets short-term, but if left in place it should act as a bulwark against any further financial terrorism and the long term damage that creates. (And has anyone seen the fine print yet?)

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Holger Hansen and Andreas Rinke, Reuters
May 18, 2010

New rule affects country’s 10 most important financial institutions; analysts skeptical move will help to calm markets

Germany, in an attack on the financial speculation on which it blames much of the euro zone’s debt crisis, on Tuesday announced a ban on some high-risk bets that prices of bonds and stocks will fall.

Analysts, however, were skeptical that Germany’s surprise move to ban some trades in a strategy known as naked short selling could be effective in taming market volatility, with one saying it suggested “desperation.”

Germany’s lack of co-ordination with any other countries, including any other euro zone members, underscored the measure’s weakness as a tool to calm markets, analysts said.

Naked short sales of euro-denominated government bonds, credit default swaps based on those bonds, and shares in Germany’s 10 leading financial institutions will be prohibited, a Finance Ministry spokesman said.

Credit default swaps, a type of derivative known as CDS, insure against the risk of debt defaults.

“The ban takes effect at midnight,” a Finance Ministry spokesman said, confirming what sources in Germany’s ruling coalition had told Reuters earlier. A coalition source said Chancellor Angela Merkel would formally announce the ban on Wednesday.

In naked short selling, a trader sells a financial instrument short, betting that its price will fall, without first borrowing the instrument or ensuring that it can be borrowed, as would be done in a conventional short sale.

(more…)

Greece links U.S. banks to debt crisis

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The situation in Europe right now is an illustration of how currencies bind nations, provinces, etc. together – a lesson that may be helpful given recent calls for global currency integration coming largely from European actors.

Papandreou knows US Banks pushed Greece over the edge – because he was the one buying the currency swaps off of Goldman Sachs as the Prime Minister. Of the Greek Socialist Party. The previous ‘conservative’ administration (Papandreou has only been in power since 2009) racked up debt as well installing a national broadband system and spending on the 2004 Olympics, however, so Greece was already in a precarious situation as a result of decades of corruption and a series of looters installed in the national government. One party sets the country up, the next knocks it down. High-fives and bonuses all around.

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The Associated Press
May 16, 2010

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is not ruling out taking legal action against U.S. investment banks for their role in creating the spiraling Greek debt crisis.

Papandreou told CNN on Sunday that “I wouldn’t rule out” going after the U.S. banks.

The government, as well as many Greeks, has blamed international banks for fanning the flames of the debt crisis with comments about Greece’s likely default.

The Greek leader also says a parliamentary investigation will soon examine the rapid swelling of Greece’s debt and the country’s banking practices.

European bailout only buys time

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a European Central Bank official have said the recently approved $1-trillion rescue loan package only buys indebted eurozone countries more time, but doesn’t resolve the continent’s underlying debt problem.

(more…)

MPs reject request to audit expenses

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Related: MPs from all four parties ink secret deal on cash | Lax rules on political financing No. 1 global corruption threat: report | Author wins award for work identifying categories of state corruption | Tories admit to using regional funds for federal campaign last election | Another Conservative candidate attacks ‘in-out’ ad scheme | Donations of money, property and services continue to corrupt Canadian politics

The Canadian Press
May 14, 2010

Parliament’s secretive, all-party management board has slammed the door on Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s request to examine MPs’ expenses.

The Board of Internal Economy issued a rare news release Thursday stating the proposed audit “would go beyond the scope of the auditor general’s mandate.”

Fraser – best known to Canadians as the bean counter who blew the lid off the Liberal sponsorship scandal in 2004 – asked almost a full year ago if her office could conduct a “performance audit” on $533 million of annual spending by both the House of Commons and Senate.

Recent examinations of politicians’ spending habits in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Britain have exposed some sensational examples of waste and greed.

Fraser has maintained she is not on a “witch hunt” and that her audits are “there to help improve management processes.”

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Multiple Wall Street banks investigated over links to ratings agencies

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Great – and a good outcome from this investigation would be the banning of CDS, CDO, derivatives, and the rest of the casino securities as inherently fraudulent and an expansion of the investigation to bring the political and economic power compact known as the Bilderberg group to account for their hand in this. What are the chances?

Related: SEC widens probe of Wall Street to include Morgan Stanley | Goldman execs squirm in face of angry U.S. Senators | Goldman’s Fabrice Tourre: Emails reveal he thought borrowers ‘won’t last long | In revealed e-mails, Goldman chief says we ‘made more than we lost’ by betting against market | German bank severs Goldman ties | Goldman Sachs Eats Its Young | Goldman Sachs charged with $1bn fraud over toxic sub-prime securities | Goldman fights accusations of greed | Wall Street: Looting Main Street | J.P. Morgan rolls into Calgary | JPMorgan, Citigroup Helped Doom Lehman, Report Says | Goldman role in Greek crisis probed | How EU Countries Cooked Books Using Derivatives | Goldman Sachs Helped Greece Obscure Debt Through Currency Swaps | America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels | How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash | Goldman Sachs breaks record with $16.7bn bonus pot | More US Bank Failures and The Coming Deposit Insurance Bailout | Arrest Over Software Illuminates Wall St. Secret | The Lords of Time: Goldman Sachs and low-latency trading | Record quarterly profits and bonuses: Goldman Sachs makes out like a bandit on taxpayer’s dime | Goldman-Sachs: Pilfered trading code could be used to ‘manipulate markets’ | Taibbi: NYSE ends transparency to protect Goldman Sachs | Central banks to take off ‘training wheels’ | Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine | 10 U.S. banks to repay U.S. bailout money | Top Senate Democrat: bankers “own” the U.S. Congress | Barclays, Lloyd’s, RBS join Goldman-Sachs in the black | Goldman-Sachs to repay TARP loan, resume private operations, bonuses, at “earliest time” possible | Which Banks Will Rule? | Wall Street’s Big Takeover | IMF may need to “print money”, act as “world’s central bank” as crisis spreads | Behind the panic: Financial warfare over the future of global bank power | Goldman-Sachs Alumni Hold Reins of Financial System | What Really Killed Bear Stearns? | Soros points out regulated markets fail to operate on market fundamentals, calls for more regulation | Competition study calls for lowered barriers to foreign ownership, bank mergers | Massive overhaul urged on foreign investment in airlines, media, and banks | Bilderberg Seeks Bank Centralization Agenda

Andrew Clark, Julia Kollewe, The Guardian
May 13, 2010

Inquiry into bid to find whether banks cheated in hunt for high credit ratings includes Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley

An allegedly “cosy” relationship between top Wall Street banks and credit rating agencies is under investigation by New York’s attorney general, who has issued a flurry of subpoenas to examine whether leading financial institutions cheated in the hunt for valuable triple-A grades.

New York’s prosecution chief, Andrew Cuomo, is scrutinising the behaviour of eight leading banks, adding to a rapidly spreading web of criminal investigations into Wall Street’s questionable ethics in the run-up to the global financial crisis. Many financial experts believe that overly optimistic assessments by ratings firms were a key factor in creating an overblown market for derivatives and mortgage-backed securities.

Sources close to the investigation revealed that the banks targeted by the inquiry are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Credit Agricole and Merrill Lynch, which is owned by Bank of America. Subpoenas have also gone to the three major ratings agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch.

Cuomo wants to see whether banks provided misleading, or incomplete, data to the agencies to get lucrative high ratings for packages of sub-prime mortgages, allowing them to sell them as safe investments to clients. Many such securities became virtually worthless when the US housing market collapsed in 2007 and 2008, as it suddenly became clear that underlying home loans had been written on an irresponsible basis to homeowners without the wherewithal to repay them.

Critics of rating agencies say they were had a conflict of interest because their revenue came from the banks whose securities they were supposed to be rating objectively. The agencies have come under attack for revealing too much of the methodology used in their judgments, which could have allowed banks to “game” the system by providing selective information tailor-made to tick the right boxes.

(more…)

SEC widens probe of Wall Street to include Morgan Stanley

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Related: Goldman execs squirm in face of angry U.S. Senators | Goldman’s Fabrice Tourre: Emails reveal he thought borrowers ‘won’t last long | In revealed e-mails, Goldman chief says we ‘made more than we lost’ by betting against market | German bank severs Goldman ties | Goldman Sachs Eats Its Young | Goldman Sachs charged with $1bn fraud over toxic sub-prime securities | Goldman fights accusations of greed | Wall Street: Looting Main Street | J.P. Morgan rolls into Calgary | JPMorgan, Citigroup Helped Doom Lehman, Report Says | Goldman role in Greek crisis probed | How EU Countries Cooked Books Using Derivatives | Goldman Sachs Helped Greece Obscure Debt Through Currency Swaps | America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels | How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash | Goldman Sachs breaks record with $16.7bn bonus pot | More US Bank Failures and The Coming Deposit Insurance Bailout | Arrest Over Software Illuminates Wall St. Secret | The Lords of Time: Goldman Sachs and low-latency trading | Record quarterly profits and bonuses: Goldman Sachs makes out like a bandit on taxpayer’s dime | Goldman-Sachs: Pilfered trading code could be used to ‘manipulate markets’ | Taibbi: NYSE ends transparency to protect Goldman Sachs | Central banks to take off ‘training wheels’ | Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine | 10 U.S. banks to repay U.S. bailout money | Top Senate Democrat: bankers “own” the U.S. Congress | Barclays, Lloyd’s, RBS join Goldman-Sachs in the black | Goldman-Sachs to repay TARP loan, resume private operations, bonuses, at “earliest time” possible | Which Banks Will Rule? | Wall Street’s Big Takeover | IMF may need to “print money”, act as “world’s central bank” as crisis spreads | Behind the panic: Financial warfare over the future of global bank power | Goldman-Sachs Alumni Hold Reins of Financial System | What Really Killed Bear Stearns? | Soros points out regulated markets fail to operate on market fundamentals, calls for more regulation | Competition study calls for lowered barriers to foreign ownership, bank mergers | Massive overhaul urged on foreign investment in airlines, media, and banks | Bilderberg Seeks Bank Centralization Agenda

Barrie McKenna, The Globe and Mail
May 12, 2010

Regulator investigating whether Morgan Stanley created then bet against pools of mortgage bonds

As suspicion grows about Wall Street’s behaviour in the mortgage meltdown, so do the number of investigations.

No longer is Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(GS-N147.205.233.68%) the sole major target. The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal probe of Morgan Stanley’s (MS-N27.80-0.58-2.04%) role in creating and then betting against complex pools of subprime mortgage bonds as the housing market cratered. And a separate report indicated that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed documents from Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc. as part of its investigation of similar mortgage-related pools, known as collateralized debt obligations.

Like the SEC’s case against Goldman, the probes raise new questions about the activities of the country’s biggest investment banks in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

U.S. authorities are trying to determine if any laws were broken when the market for these complex mortgage securities collapsed in 2007 and 2008, leaving the global financial system near ruin.

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RCMP launches investigation into five officers after in-custody death

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

It’s hard to keep on top of this stuff, which is why there’s a site called RCMP Watch, thankfully someone has taken that on. You’d think the RCMP as a professional association would have a better way of detecting recruits with this kind of mental disorder but perhaps not – which has got to be a pretty frustrating administrative problem.

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The Canadian Press
May 7, 2010

Yukon RCMP apologizes for conduct of Mounties after allegations they laughed at aboriginal man while he vomited 26 times before his death

The head of the Yukon RCMP says five members of his force will be investigated for their role in an in-custody death.

Raymond Silverfox died at the Whitehorse RCMP detachment in December 2008, where officers laughed at him as he vomited 26 times during his 13 hours in custody.

When staff finally called an ambulance for Mr. Silverfox, he no longer had a pulse.

RCMP Superintendant Peter Clark said five Mounties have been notified they will be investigated under the force’s code-of-conduct provisions for their “insensitive” and “callous” treatment.

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Audit The Fed Push Strengthened By Second Front In Senate

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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Steve Watson, PrisonPlanet.com
May 6, 2010

Dorgan, Grassley introduce another amendment for spending transparency

The push to audit the Federal Reserve was given a fresh injection yesterday with the introduction of another bipartisan amendment to the Wall Street reform bill in the Senate that would force the central bank to reveal where $2 trillion in public bailout money was spent.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) noted that the Fed’s continued secrecy regarding its emergency lending programs, even in the face of federal court rulings, had motivated them to introduce the measure.

“The Fed refuses to disclose this information to the American people so we are taking Congressional action to determine how the Fed has used these trillions of dollars,” Dorgan said in a joint press release.

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