Photograph Source: Theregan, From Wikimedia Commons – CC BY-SA 4.0
It is my cheerful duty to announce the acquisition of around 85 gigabytes of leaked emails, phone calls, faxes, and other documents originating from the London-based tax shelter firm Formations House, best known to the public for the assortment of often colorful scandals involving such figures as former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych, and best known to the global kleptocracy as a cheap and discreet option by which to avoid taxes or steal them altogether. These materials, which cover fifteen years from the company’s founding in 2001, were recently obtained by Distributed Denial of Secrets, the transparency organization founded by longtime researcher, activist, and Freedom of Information Act request record-holder Emma Best to facilitate and host leaks from state and corporate actors. My own non-profit Pursuance, meanwhile, has partnered with DDOS to help oversee early access by reporters, and thereafter to implement experimental crowd-sourced research protocols by which networks of volunteers will sift through this immense field of data to better ensure that critical stories are discovered and made public over the coming months and years.
Formations is among the considerable number of firms that have proliferated in recent decades to provide a focused array of financial services to clients around the globe. We must hasten to add that the majority of these are not engaged in any significant wrongdoing, while the list of services includes all manner of perfectly mundane business functions such as accounting, VAT registration, and domain hosting. The most widely utilized of its more undignified practices – providing customers with a suitably handsome ersatz physical address in one of London’s most respectable and thus expensive neighborhoods – is neither criminal nor even terribly shameful, and no more fundamentally deceptive than anything else in 2019.
But thanks to a series of successful prosecutions as well as several years of keen journalism – most notably on the part of The Guardian’s Oliver Bullough – it’s gradually become clear that a key segment of its clientele has used Formations for a range of considerably more illicit purposes, often involving “shelf” companies – pre-made corporations built on a template, including a ready-made board of directors and other forms of what amounts to a sort of institutional camouflage by which to skirt revenue collectors and regulators. But in some cases, the scam has gone well beyond the millennia-old tendency of wealthy citizens to avoid paying their share for the very infrastructure, diplomatic apparatus, and international security arrangements that benefit them the most, or in some cases exclusively. At least one of the known convictions involving Formations involves high-stakes confidence tricks employing the classic “Spanish prisoner” advance payment hustle – by one of Formations’ own directors. At least one of his partners is still on the run.
But the most important stories that will gradually be yielded from these materials will concern the looting of public resources, which institutions across the West have continued to facilitate despite the incalculable damage that results to entire populations. In 2016 Bullough summarized the Yanukovych affair – and much else – as follows: “If it was difficult for a Brit to discover that a registered address at 29 Harley Street was meaningless, it was even harder for a Ukrainian… investigative journalists in Kiev could see that a piece of state-owned land in a forest outside the capital had been illegally privatised, but they did not know who by.”
What makes this story unique is that the millions of pounds in assets pilfered with the help of a London “financial services” firm were ultimately recovered. If even one of the “400,000 companies, partnerships, and trusts” Formations notes having set up for its clients since the turn of the century are discovered to serve a similar function, and the stolen funds returned to the developing the nation that can scarce afford to have lost them, this project will have served its purpose.
As it happens, we can expect more. In the 48 hours since we began recruiting press for early access, we’ve brought on journalists from outlets like ProPublica, CNN, The Daily Beast, and the Columbia Review of Journalism, with further partnerships arranged in principle with CounterPunch and Investigative Journal. Over time, we’ll be expanding access to the entire cache on the part of both traditional outlets and experiment research collectives of the sort Emma Best and I have been overseeing in similar contexts for nearly a decade, along with many of our volunteers. To ensure the greatest yield and accommodate the widest possible access, we’ll also be allowing journalists and anti-corruption officials who may be precluded from engaging with such leaks directly to instead submit names and other keywords to be searched by our team, with any responsive documents to be securely relayed back to the inquirer.
Other special requests, along with press inquiries/requests for access and questions about volunteering for this and similar projects, should reach out to Distributed Denial of Secrets via their contact page.
To ensure the safety of those involved, the circumstances under which this cache was acquired and made available to DDOS will remain private for the time being.
The estimated 85 gigabytes are roughly divided along the following lines:
20GB – Mailboxes of specific employees of interest
50GB – SQL table containing every email received by the firm
7 GB – Misc. docs, faxes, phone calls
8 GB – Misc. databases
Moderately Amusing Excerpts from the “Terms and Conditions” page at Formation House’s website:
We reserve the right to refuse to offer any service or process any order or part of an order even if the order has been placed and accepted on our system, if in the light of further investigation if we feel that processing the order would damage our reputation.
Our email service is limited to 100mb of storage, any further use of storage and your emails will be deleted.
Barrett Brown is a journalist, activist, and founder of the crowd-sourced research outfit Project PM, which was listed in a search warrant executed by the FBI in 2012 along with HBGary and Endgame Systems, two firms linked to the U.S. intelligence community that the group had investigated along with Palantir, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others. After finishing a four-year stint in federal prison over controversial charges involving the “global analysis” firm Stratfor, which was hacked with the involvement of the FBI, Brown created Pursuance, a non-profit intent on building a universal software framework for mass civic collaboration while encouraging the development of crowd-sourcing. In 2015, Brown won the National Magazine Award in the category of columns and commentary for his monthly prison column for The Intercept, “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Prison”, along with other journalism awards. His third book, “My Glorious Defeats”, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Up in the Commonwealth—God save it!—we have this attorney general named Maura Healey. She isn’t the biggest person, but she’s a former Boston College point guard who can still play. And she is not someone whose attention you want to draw, especially if you happen to be someone working scams that end up killing people and starting nationwide epidemics.
The Sackler family, which got rich developing and marketing Oxycontin, has drawn Healey’s attention. From WBUR:
“I promise you that we will hold opioid makers accountable for the role they played in creating this crisis…we will do whatever it takes to hold this company accountable and get the justice our families so deserve,” she said Wednesday during her inauguration — and she’s making good on that promise.
In a complaint filed against the company that makes the opioid painkiller OxyContin, Healey alleges Purdue and its owners deceived Massachusetts doctors and patients in an effort to get more people to use its drugs — even though they knew the drugs are addictive and deadly. The complaint is the first to name individuals of the Sackler family, and alleges that they and Purdue executives directed misleading sales and marketing practices that influenced doctors to prescribe more opioids to vulnerable patients.
Getty ImagesPortland Press Herald
On January 15, Healey’s office filed a massive amount of documents in support of its lawsuit. In those documents are statements and corporate communications pried out of Purdue Pharmaceuticals that clearly indicated that Richard Sackler, the company’s former president, aggressively marketed the opioid, consequences be damned.
A new “secret” police study has found that Chinese crime networks could have laundered over $1B through Vancouver homes in 2016 alone, and that a surge in the city’s home prices are simultaneously tied to a surge in opioid deaths.
The report examined over 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland during that year, and concluded that over 10% were tied to buyers with criminal records. Crucially 95% of those transactions could be definitively traced by police intelligence back to Chinese crime networks.
While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5-billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012. — Fentanyl: Making a Killing
Since 2016 we’ve chronicled the “dark side” behind the Vancouver real estate bubble, which it turns out has long been a bubbling melange of criminal Chinese oligarch “hot money”, desperate to get parked offshore in any piece of real estate, but mostly in British Columbia regardless of price.
A number of investigations have since uncovered extensive links – including money laundering and underground banking – between China’s criminal underworld and British Columbia drug and casino cash and VIPs, as well as their connections to China, Macau and the notorious triads. These investigations have found much of the B.C. real estate bubble can be explained as nothing more than the “layering” and “integration” aspect of a giant money laundering scheme involving billions of dollars of Chinese hot money and the criminals behind it.
On Monday the new bombshell study revealed just how extensive and growing this Chinese underworld racket remains and how it continues to impact average citizens and regular home buyers, as well as fueling the continuing opioid crisis across the US and Canada, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives across North America, including nearly 4,000 Canadians in 2017 alone. The figures are so stunning that what is “known” years after the story first came to light could merely be the tip of the iceberg.
The study published by Canada’s Global News begins by painting a disturbing scenario that suggests some of Vancouver’s priciest homes are nothing more than a new “Swiss bank account” of sorts providing the promise of an anonymous store of value and retaining the cash equivalent value of the original capital outflow from initial criminal transactions overseen for Chinese crime syndicates — all the while fueling Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.
The ultimate end result of the sophisticated and massive money laundering scheme is that middle-class families have been priced out of the city, per the report:
The stately $17-million mansion owned by a suspected fentanyl importer is at the end of a gated driveway on one of the priciest streets in Shaughnessy, Vancouver’s most exclusive neighbourhood.
A block away is a $22-million gabled manor that police have linked to a high-stakes gambler and property developer with suspected ties to the Chinese police services.
Both mansions appear on a list of more than $1-billion worth of Vancouver-area property transactions in 2016 that a confidential police intelligence study has linked to Chinese organized crime.
The Coming Bankruptcy Of The American Empire
Better to bring the troops home on our terms than wait for a debt crisis to do it for us…
Previous investigations had quoted concerned residents describing that: “Vancouver seems to be evolving from a residential city into almost like a lockbox for money…but I have to live among the empty houses. I’m a resident, not just an investor.”
The snapshot that the new police study provides is based on analysis of a sample of about 1,200 high-end sales in 2016. Investigators cross-referenced databases of criminal records and confidential police intelligence with those high-end property records, which revealed the shocking 10% organized crime ties figure.
But the implications for prior years going all the way back to the early 2000’s and even into the 1990’s, when Canadian police believe the current kingpins of fentanyl — which is the powerful and extremely addictive narcotic added to heroin to increase its potency (said to be 100 times more potent than morphine) — began to dominate Canada’s heroin markets, are equally as startling.
For starters, the report finds, fentanyl-related money laundering which funnels illicit funds through the luxury housing market has been so pervasive that researchers “didn’t have the time or resources to study the over 20,000 transactions”. During the course of these some 20,000 transactions home prices in Vancouver have tripled since 2005.
From the new “Fentanyl: Making a Killing” extensive report
And further illustrating just how extensive the whole scheme remains, there is this bombshell section from the report:
While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5-billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012.
At the centre of the money laundering ring is a powerful China-based gang called the Big Circle Boys. Its top level “kingpins” are the international drug traffickers who are profiting most from Canada’s deadly fentanyl crisis.
The crime network, according to police intelligence sources, is a fluid coalition of hundreds of wealthy criminals in Metro Vancouver, including gangsters, industrialists, financial fugitives and corrupt officials from China.
The report is so full of specific examples of multi-tens of million dollar homes that are actually money laundering conduits for fentanyl drug kingpins that it puts President Trump’s recent accusations against China for fueling the opioid crisis into fresh perspective.
At that time Trump attempted to lay out the case that Chinese suppliers had been fueling America’s opioid crisis, saying in part “It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China.”
However judging by breadth and depth of figures merely from one major North American city (some American cities have been named in other investigations), it appears that Trump’s words actually understated the role of China and Chinese organized crime, of which it appears Beijing authorities have long been only too happy to look the other way while it takes deep roots on the American continent.
After all we can’t imagine China’s all-pervasive advanced surveillance systems and powerful domestic intelligence apparatus could miss this: “Police say that almost every drug seizure they now make in Vancouver turns up some form of synthetic opioid produced at factories in China,” according to the report.
Operation Car Wash began in March 2014 at a petrol and car wash complex in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, and it was initially thought to be routine.
The Federal Police team had the location under surveillance believing that it was the centre of a money -laundering operation run by Alberto Youseff, a former convicted criminal known as the “doleiro de doleiros” – the money launderer of money launderers.
When it was discovered in one of Youssef’s intercepted emails that he was paying for a Land Rover for an executive of Petrobras, Brazil’s national oil company, it immediately raised suspicions.
The executive turned out to be Paulo Roberto Costa, the man in charge of refining and supply. Costa became the main target in the first phase of the Car Wash investigation and was arrested.
Deltan Dallagnol, the lead Federal Prosecutor for the case, says that investigators uncovered “evidence of money laundering” totalling some 26 million Brazilian reals ($8m). Criminal charges were brought against Costa, who negotiated a plea bargain with authorities.
“That allowed for an exponential expansion of the investigation,” Dallagnol says. “It was the big bang of the Car Wash Operation.”
Never before did Brazil export corruption like it did in the Car Wash case.
Costa admitted that the Land Rover was just one of many bribes he received to issue contracts to construction companies, and told law enforcement officials participating in a task force set up to pursue the case that the bribing scheme was much larger than anything they imagined.
Corruption in the supply division he oversaw, Costa said, “was the tip of the iceberg”.
Bruno Brandao, the head of Transparency International in Brazil, says, “Never before did Brazil export corruption like it did in the Car Wash case.”
He adds that the problem of corruption in Brazil is systemic, and that in the Car Wash scandal, “the mechanism of corruption was traditional – overcharging of contracts and the setup of company cartels. What is new is the scale, the amounts of money and number of people involved – officials and companies. The dimensions of this case are what makes it extraordinary.”
Federal police inspector Felipe Hayashi, who heads the Financial Crimes Unit of the Car Wash taskforce, says the investigation “reached people of the highest rank and level of responsibility. That’s something that has never happened before.”
Investigators learned that there was a cartel of companies that dealt with Petrobras. According to a secret agreement that existed for more than 10 years, the cartel would nominate one of its members to be awarded each Petrobras contract – for refineries, oil rigs, and other multimillion-dollar projects.
“We secured documents that laid out the operation of the cartel in terms of championship rules for different sports,” says Dallagnol. “There were 16 championship players and their objective was to ‘maximise’ prizes in national and international markets alike. Obviously, these companies would never openly admit cartel arrangements in a clear way, so they tried to disguise them as championship rules for different sports.”
The cartel rules resulted in steep overpayments for the work done. Petrobras executives were bribed to go along, and the cost of the bribe built into the contract. In fact, the scheme stretched far beyond Petrobras to contracts for stadiums for the 2014 World Cup, the 2016 Rio Olympics and other major infrastructure projects throughout the country.
Brazil’s Car Wash scandal turned into the largest corruption case in Latin America’s history, involving some of the region’s most prominent public figures. [Getty Images]
The Odebrecht bribery machine
On June 19, 2015, the taskforce moved against the cartel players.
“It was time to take a step which had never been taken before in history; when big businessmen were finally reached, people who had been considered princes of enterprises in Brazil,” says Dallagnol.
Twelve top-level executives were arrested, among them Marcelo Odebrecht, CEO of the company that bears his name. Odebrecht is the largest construction company in Latin America. Its bribing operation typified that of cartel members and was the most extensive in the region.
Marcel Odebrecht was held without bail, and less than a year after his detention he was sentenced to 19 years in prison for corruption, money laundering and criminal association.
For decades and decades, in Brazil, you had to apply grease for everything. If a citizen wanted to obtain an ID, he certainly would have to pay something to a public agent to expedite the process.
Sergio Foguel, member of the Odebrecht Board of Directors
We headed to Salvador in northeast Brazil to get the Odebrecht Company’s response to the scandal.
The business was founded in 1944 by Marcelo Odebrecht’s grandfather, and the city is still its headquarters. Sergio Foguel, a long-time member of the Odebrecht Board of Directors, agreed to talk to us.
Despite the conviction of its CEO, the company still operates in more than 20 countries around the world and had revenues of about $26bn last year.
“There is no excuse to justify those acts of misconduct,” Foguel says. “But for decades and decades, in Brazil, you had to apply grease for everything. If a citizen wanted to obtain an ID, he certainly would have to pay something to a public agent to expedite the process”.
Our reporter, Gustavo Gorriti, wanted to know why the company had consistently denied any wrongdoing for months and months during the investigation.
“Despite all our strength as a company, we carried out acts within our organisation that today would be completely inadmissible,” Foguel says. “There was a collective blindness. Initially, corruption was tolerated and later, it expanded in an incredible way.”
A plea bargain by Odebrecht employees in the Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal led to testimony ensnaring nine ministers in President Michel Temer’s cabinet under investigation [Mario Tama/Getty]
‘Plug and play. It was serial corruption’
According to authorities, Odebrecht had a division of “Structured Operations” that ran an intricate off-the-books accounting system and a bank to bribe not only company executives, but also politicians.
This started to become clear when Marcelo Odebrecht began talking in hopes of reducing his 19-year sentence.
In testimony to prosecutors captured on audiotape, Odebrecht admitted that his company bribed politicians from all the major Brazilian parties in exchange for appointing Petrobras executives at the public company. Dozens of congressmen, senators and ministers have so far been implicated in the scandal.
Odebrecht’s testimony dealt a body blow to the Workers’ Party of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and his successor Dilma Rousseff.
Amid a deep political crisis, Dilma Rousseff was impeached in August 2016. Two weeks later, Lula was formally charged with corruption in connection with the Car Wash scandal.
While Brazil’s elites were being held to account, investigators were also making steady progress on the international front with the help of the US Department of Justice. The country is one of the world’s main destinies for financial transactions.
“This provides the United States jurisdiction over a good deal of money laundering crimes that happen around the world,” Dallagnol says. “The US acted in a very efficient way, identifying accounts kept in their country to launder money and delivering documents very quickly.
In December 2016, Odebrecht pleaded guilty to American charges that it provided almost $800m in bribes for more than 100 projects in 12 countries. It agreed to pay a $3.5bn fine and disclose details of its corrupt activities in Latin America and Africa.
According to Brandao, “Odebrecht, at least in the 12 countries it operated, had the same system, the same mechanism – plug and play. It was serial corruption.”
From Brazil to Panama: Fake companies and big deals
Odebrecht’s guilty plea in the US set off investigations throughout Latin America. Key to those efforts was deciphering how the money flowed from the company to corrupt officials through countries like Panama that specialise in offshore banking.
Rolando Rodriguez, who heads the investigative unit of the Panamanian newspaper La Prensa, says that “From Panama, money went out to officials from Brazil, officials from Peru and other parts of the world.”
Panama’s police investigators uncovered a Panamanian company tied to Odebrecht called Contructora Internacional del Sur.
“It was a fake company that received money from Odebrecht and sent it out to accounts in different countries, especially Switzerland,” Rodriquez says. “So, the laundering structure was set up using companies, most of them from Panama, as well as bank accounts, most of them from abroad.”
Many of the shell companies used by members of the Brazilian construction cartel to dispense bribes were set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak, which exposed the financial dealings of some of the most powerful and wealthy people in the world.
“Mossack Fonseca is one of the oldest firms that work on setting up shell corporations,” Rodriguez says. “So, by arriving here in Panama you resolve the problem of having to travel to 10 different countries to get 100 corporations.”
Panama was not only a good transit point for corrupt payments. It was also a place to land large construction projects at inflated prices. With projects of some $9bn, Odebrecht is the most important construction company in Panama. Between 2010 and 2014, according to the US Department of Justice, Odebrecht paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to secure public works contracts. One of the most profitable was building the Coast Highway.
I do harm to a country for $2 or $3bn. I agree to pay $300m, $500m or a billion and, after some time, I walk away free. What a business.
Jose Antonio Dominguez, legislator
“Panama ended up paying a great deal for a project that should have cost much less,” says Jose Antonio Dominguez, a legislator with the country’s governing Panamenista party who has been questioning the pricing of the project for years. “That project, without any change, suddenly was awarded for $189.5m instead of $133.5m. Why that $60m difference? For what?”
In July 2017, Odebrecht reached an agreement with the Panama authorities to pay $220m in fines and provide information about public corruption to settle bribery charges in the country.
“I do harm to a country for $2 or $3bn. I agree to pay $300m, $500m or a billion and, after some time, I walk away free. What a business,” says Dominguez.
A vast web of political and corporate corruption in Peru
Tensions over the way Odebrecht conducted its business are growing throughout Latin America. The latest flashpoint is Peru, where the country’s ruling establishment is reeling from its connections to the company.
Attorney Walter Alban served as the public ombudsman in Peru from 2000 to 2005 during the presidency of Alejandro Toledo, now accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht.
“It’s been demonstrated that there were transfers through offshore companies and close friends of the former president,” he says.
Odebrecht wanted the lion’s share of a multibillion-dollar highway project connecting the Peruvian coast to Brazil and they got it. Toledo has been charged with accepting a $20m bribe to steer them the business.
Jorge Barata, the head of Odebrecht in Peru, confessed in 2016 that he struck the deal in a meeting at a Copa Cabana hotel in Brazil that Toledo attended. Peruvian prosecutors are trying to extradite Toledo from the US to face bribery charges, which he denies.
Alban says Odebrecht didn’t just pay off individual politicians. The company promoted its interests by gaining influence over the political system itself.
“The scheme Odebrecht had was not only related to bribes to get contracts,” Alban says. “There was also this practice of promoting candidates and financing political parties, and not just one but all that might have a chance of winning.”
In a videotaped confession to prosecutors obtained by Peruvian investigative journalism organisation IDL-Reporteros, Barata admitted to giving $3m to the Nationalist Party to help finance the 2011 presidential campaign of Ollanta Humala. Humala won and served as president from 2011 to 2016.
Corruption is not an issue of right or left, or ideology. But of a confluence of interests.
Walter Alban, lawyer
Barata also claimed his company supported the left-wing Humala not only to promote Odebrecht´s interests in Peru, but to curry favour with Lula’s Workers’ Party in Brazil. “The Workers Party had an interest that all South American presidents share the same political and economic line as the Workers Party. Humala had those characteristics,” Barata says.
According to Alban, Odebrecht had strong links with ex-president Lula’s party in Brazil. It is described as a “geopolitical strategy” he says, indicating that “corruption is not an issue of right or left, or ideology. But of a confluence of interests.”
Both Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia who was general secretary of the Nationalist Party, are now in prison awaiting trial.
Keiko Fujimori and her Popular Force party are also under investigation for taking money from Odebrecht to fund her 2011 presidential bid. Fujimori says the accusation is false but Marcelo Odebrecht has testified that his company helped finance her campaign.
On February 28, Barata met Peruvian prosecutors and confirmed that the company gave money to support Fujimori in the presidential race – $1.2m.
“There aren’t political parties any more” says Alban, “There are groups that define themselves as political, but strictly speaking, they are supported in all cases by illegal funds”.
Demonstrators protest for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and also against corruption being investigated involving resource diversion and money laundering in Petrobras scandal of corruption on March 16, 2016, in Sao Paulo, Brazil [Victor Moriyama/Getty]
A new attitude towards corruption in Latin America
Last December, the Car Wash scandal arrived at the doorstep of Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Peru’s congress launched impeachment proceedings against him, alleging his companies received almost $800,000 from Odebrecht while he was serving as a public official.
Kuzcinsky vehemently denies all wrongdoing and narrowly avoided impeachment but prosecutors continue their investigations. In his February meeting with prosecutors, Barata said Odebrecht also contributed to Kuzcinsky’s 2011 presidential campaign.
Peru’s Attorney General Pablo Sanchez is overseeing the investigation of Peru’s high-level officials for dealings with Odebrecht. “We are talking about corruption and a series of very complex crimes that involve several different governments, not just one but at least three,” he says.
When asked why the corruption connected to the Car Wash case went so far in Peru, he says: “Our country is not prepared to face cases of this nature or prevent crime,” Sanchez says. “Our country has trusted too much in the behaviour of state officials and the politicians in our country. So in that way, we haven’t advanced at all, or just very little. What we do now, proper investigations, proper convictions, will help prevent this from happening again in the future.”
Car Wash in Brazil today is no longer just an investigation, nor a process. Lavo Jato today in Brazil is an attitude, an expectation that impunity will start to fade away.
Bruno Brandao, head of Transparency International
Every week seems to bring new developments around the world in connection with the Car Wash scandal.
Governments from Ecuador to Angola are dealing with the repercussions of the case. Meanwhile, back in Brazil, the Supreme Court is considering former President Lula’s appeal of a 12-year sentence he received for corruption. His plans to run for president this October are in danger of being derailed.
“Car Wash in Brazil today is no longer just an investigation, nor a process. Lava Jato today in Brazil is an attitude, an expectation that impunity will start to fade away,” Brandao says.
Alban agrees that a new attitude towards corruption is arising in Latin America. “Democratic societies in which we can say that the problem of corruption is at least controlled,” are those in which the public watches over how public resources are spent and demands “that public authorities be held to account. Because of the Car Wash case that is something that I believe is beginning to happen.”
By Valérie Ouellet, Dave Seglins, Rachel Houlihan,
Posted: Nov 06, 2017
Montreal Canadiens and Loblaw among Canadian entities found in massive international offshore leak
The names of more than 3,000 Canadian companies, trusts, foundations and individuals appear in the Paradise Papers, a leak of millions of records from offshore law firm Appleby and the corporate registries of 19 tax havens. (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)
A supermarket giant, an NHL hockey team, several billionaires and a yacht captain.
These are just a few of the roughly 3,300 Canadian companies, trusts, foundations and individuals whose names appear in the Paradise Papers, a leak of millions of records from offshore law firm Appleby and the corporate registries of 19 tax havens.
The leak, revealed Sunday by CBC/Radio Canada and the Toronto Star, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), is the largest ever involving Canadians who keep money in tax havens. It contains more than five times more Canadian companies and individuals than the 625 found in last year’s Panama Papers leak.
The records also show that Canada is one of Appleby’s biggest markets for offshore financial services clients, behind the U.S., the U.K. and China.
Leaked data from the law firm shines a light on hundreds of well-known companies and wealthy Canadians who benefit from offshore trusts and corporations set up in countries where they pay little or no taxes, as a way to legally avoid — or potentially evade — paying taxes at home.
The Paradise Papers name hundreds of Canadian contacts working as accountants, attorneys or consultants for clients of Appleby. Also named are companies, individuals and 306 organizers and beneficiaries of trust funds incorporated in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands.
When news of the leak broke Sunday, John Power, a spokesperson for the minister of national revenue, said “the CRA is reviewing links to Canadian entities and will take appropriate action.”
Canadian offshore clients
The Montreal Canadiens, an Appleby client since 1980, set up two trusts in Bermuda, including an employee benefit fund that was shut down in 2010. In a statement to CBC News, the organization says its offshore business was “in full compliance with the existing Canadian tax legislation.”
The Montreal Canadiens set up two trusts in Bermuda with Appleby’s help. In a statement to CBC News, the organization says its offshore business was ‘in full compliance with the existing Canadian tax legislation.’ (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
Canadian supermarket giant Loblaw says it paid all appropriate taxes on the two subsidiaries it set up with Appleby’s help in Barbados and Bermuda in 2005. They were used to invest tens of millions collected from users of its President’s Choice Financial MasterCard, according to leaked documents.
In a statement, Loblaw writes: “the CRA is aware of all of our international income. Our activities […] are legal and transparent.”
The late Carl M. Dare asked for Appleby’s help to administer a trust set up in 1975. According to leaked documents, the patriarch of Canada’s Dare Foods cookie and candy empire, who died in 2014, incorporated his $5-million fund in the Cayman Islands “for members of [his] family.”
The Appleby files also name lesser-known Canadians, including several doctors, engineers, geologists, housewives, a police officer, a retired admiral of the Canadian navy, a speech pathologist, students, teachers, two writers and a scientist living in the Yukon, most of them acting as officers for corporations or benefiting from trusts.
Dennis Howlett of Canadians For Tax Fairness says the leak reveals a bigger problem that goes beyond wealthy individuals.
“It’s big corporations taking advantage of subsidiaries in tax havens to shift their profits and pay a lot lower taxes,” he said.
Howlett said the Canadian government facilitates this practice by signing tax agreements with tax havens. “This is legal, and it should not be legal. That’s the point.”
Drinks at the Ritz
Appleby repeatedly targeted Canada between 2011 and 2013 to look for new clients, especially in the mining industry. The firm’s strategy included networking trips to Vancouver, Calgary and the annual convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in Toronto.
Records suggest all the wining and dining — at Toronto’s Ritz-Carlton, the Fairmont Royal York and top-ranked restaurant Canoe — may have paid off, as the firm secured 127 new Canadian accounts in 2012 alone.
The Paradise Papers reveal Appleby’s clients in 2014 included at least 17 Canada-based resource companies.
Appleby billed Canadian clients and law firms at least $12 million between 2009 and 2013, including $8.2 million through its Bermuda office.
In a 2013 email exchange, a pair of partners and a senior analyst discussed ramping up marketing efforts in Canada, including targeting national accounting and law firms.
“There has been significant law firm consolidation over the years especially on the national level so perhaps well worth us looking again.”
Appleby was clearly enthusiastic about signing up Canadians as offshore clients, but it was also interested in setting up its own shop here.
As last year’s Panama Papers investigation revealed, Canada is fast becoming a tax haven because of the combination of its sterling reputation and registry rules that allow the true owners of companies to hide their identities.
In 2007, Appleby launched “Project Kerry,” a plan to open a headquarters in a new jurisdiction. The firm’s short list of potential sites included the European island of Jersey; Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean; the British Isle of Man; and Halifax.
A memo to managing partners says Halifax is a logical long-term choice, with direct flights to the firm’s Bermuda and London offices, “very reasonable operating costs” and “very significant payroll tax rebates.”
While weighing pros and cons, Appleby worried that its clients who had incorporated in a tax-free jurisdiction may now have to pay taxes if they did business in Canada.
The firm also wondered if Canadian law enforcement could obtain warrants to access sensitive documents on offshore shell companies stored in Halifax.
In a memorandum prepared in August 2007, Appleby partner Michael Burns says he asked a local Halifax lawyer to evaluate whether keeping a server outside Canada “would constitute a complete and lawfully appropriate foil to the normal warrant search and seizure processes which generally apply to Canadian businesses.”
Burns says the initial informal advice from the lawyer “suggests there may be considerable cause for optimism in the outcome.”
CBC partners reached out to Burns, but he declined to comment.
In 2009, Appleby instead chose the Isle of Man for its new office, noting in an email that Halifax was a “very close second.”
The city has been trying to transform itself into a destination for offshore service providers for a few years now, according to Howlett.
“Even it is not illegal, it is definitely unethical,” he said of the strategy.
Howlett said he hopes the Paradise Papers leak acts as a wake up call for federal and provincial governments as well as average Canadians.
In a statement published online shortly after being contacted by the ICIJ, Appleby says it investigated allegations made by the consortium and was “satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients.”
Appleby goes on to say it doesn’t tolerate illegal behaviour and provides advice to clients on “legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business.” The firm says it’s “not infallible,” and when mistakes have happened, it notified the relevant authorities.
CBC’s conclusions rely on a 2014 copy of Appleby’s Master Client Database, authenticated by the ICIJ. CBC/Radio Canada and the Toronto Star analyzed thousands of addresses and names contained in that data to match offshore entities with their parent company using a unique address code assigned by Appleby. CBC’s definition of a “Canadian” found in this leak relies on finding at least one of the following within the data: a mailing, residential or business address in Canada; a Canadian passport number; or Appleby’s direct reference to a Canadian birthplace or nationality. The ICIJ excluded incomplete, pending and duplicate accounts.
Ready to gag? “The new study discovered that, in total, America’s most profitable corporations in 2016 had $2.6 trillion stashed overseas in over 9,000 subsidiaries in various locations, including notorious tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.”
“As Congress considers proposals to institute a near zero percent tax rate on profits booked offshore by multinational corporations, the findings in this report should give policymakers pause.”
“Congress created the loopholes in our tax code that allow offshore tax avoidance and force ordinary Americans to make up the difference,” the new study observes. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/Flickr/cc)
As President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress intensify their push for massive corporate tax cuts that critics have said would encourage businesses to offshore profits and jobs, a new report published Tuesday by U.S. PIRG and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that 73 percent of companies on the Fortune 500 list are already taking advantage of overseas tax havens—costing the United States $752 billion in federal tax revenue last year alone.
“Lawmakers shouldn’t be discussing how to sweeten the pot and give corporations a huge tax break that amounts to a huge financial reward for engaging in bad corporate behavior.” —Richard Phillips, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
The new study discovered that, in total, America’s most profitable corporations in 2016 had $2.6 trillion stashed overseas in over 9,000 subsidiaries in various locations, including notorious tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, cautioned in a statement on Tuesday that the Trump-GOP tax proposals would, if passed, make this bad situation even worse.
“As Congress considers proposals to institute a near zero percent tax rate on profits booked offshore by multinational corporations, the findings in this report should give policymakers pause,” Gascoigne said. “The study shows that today’s flawed tax system allows for gaming on a grand scale.”
The PIRG-ITEP analysis makes clear that corporate tax avoidance is both an unnecessary problem—”Congress created the loopholes in our tax code that allow offshore tax avoidance and force ordinary Americans to make up the difference”—and a pervasive one.
At least 366 of the 500 companies on Fortune’s list “operate one or more subsidiaries in tax haven countries.” Furthermore, “30 companies with the most money officially booked offshore for tax purposes collectively operate 2,213 tax haven subsidiaries.”
But the report also highlights the fact that there are several “particularly egregious examples”:
Apple, which “holds at least $246 billion offshore, a sum greater than any other company’s offshore cash pile,” would owe $76.7 billion in U.S. taxes if this profit was not overseas;
Citigroup, which stashes $47 billion overseas, would owe $13.1 billion in U.S taxes; and
Nike, which holds $12.2 billion offshore, would owe $4.1 billion in U.S. taxes.
Richard Phillips, a senior policy analyst at ITEP, argued that in the face of these numbers, Congress should be looking to close loopholes that allow businesses to offshore profits on an enormous scale, not open them even further, as Trump and the GOP have proposed.
“Lawmakers shouldn’t be discussing how to sweeten the pot and give corporations a huge tax break that amounts to a huge financial reward for engaging in bad corporate behavior,” Phillips said.
The PIRG-ITEP analysis outlined several steps that could be undertaken by lawmakers in the place of their attempts to slash taxes, gut the safety net, and further incentivize offshoring.
“To end tax haven abuse, Congress should end incentives for companies to shift profits offshore, close the most egregious offshore loopholes, strengthen tax enforcement, and increase transparency,” the study concluded.
The research was based on a variety of data, including ICIJ’s Swiss Leaks and Panama Papers investigations, and prove for interesting reading. Here are seven highlights from the reports.
The ultra-rich avoid the most tax
The ultra-rich, people whose net worth is more than $45 million, are ten times more likely to evade taxes than the average citizen, according to the research.
That means the ultra-rich have worked out how to avoid paying about 30 percent of their personal income and wealth taxes.
And it probably doesn’t stop there, with the authors suggesting that “evasion among the wealthy may be even higher” because their research was based on Scandinavian countries where social trust is high, corruption low and respect for the rule of law strong.
The research also found that offshore wealth increases the “top 0.1 percent wealth share from 8 percent to 10 percent” when looking at Norway specifically. And for top 0.01 percent “taking tax evasion into account increases their wealth by a third.”
The ultra-rich are more likely to use offshore accounts
The likelihood of Scandinavians in the bottom 99 per cent of wealth share hiding their assets in HSBC accounts was “negligible,” according to research based on ICIJ’s Swiss Leaks.
But the probability rises to 1 percent among the richest 0.01 percent.
This chart shows the probability of owning an unreported HSBC account by wealth groups. (The first group [P90-P95] represents households worth less than $900,000 and the last the top 0.01 percent who are worth $44.5 million.)
“The gradient is notable too: top 0.01 percent households are 13 times more likely to hide assets at HSBC than households in the bottom half of the top 1 percent,” they wrote.
Hardly anyone except the ultra-rich use offshore accounts
The use of offshore accounts “steeply rises with wealth,” according to research based on ICIJ’s Panama Papers.
This charts shows the probability of owning a Mossack Fonseca offshore shell company significantly increased for the top 0.01 percent of Norway and Sweden’s population.
“The use of tax havens appears more concentrated in the Panama Papers than in the HSBC leak,” the authors wrote.
The researchers also suggested one reason very few households outside the 0.01 percent in the Panama Papers used shell companies to conceal wealth is because it is a “more sophisticated” strategy than owning offshore bank accounts.
“Both techniques are often combined, but the wealthiest tax evaders might be more likely to combine offshore accounts with shell companies, when less wealthy tax evaders may be relatively more likely to own offshore accounts directly in their own names.”
Tax havens hold 10 percent of global GDP
In the second study, the authors analyzed the global amount of wealth in tax havens.
“We find that while about 10 percent of world GDP is held in tax havens globally, this average masks a great deal of heterogeneity.”
For example, Russia (60 percent), Europe (15 percent) and other nations hold a significant chunk of their GDP offshore, whereas Scandinavian countries own just a few percent of GDP.
Offshore wealth is shifting from Switzerland to Asia
The research found the size of this wealth was “not easily explained by tax or institutional factors” but instead correlated more closely with a country’s proximity to Switzerland, the presence of natural resources and political/economic instability.
However, the times might be changing, with the research also discovering wealth was growing in tax havens based in Asia – and mainly in Hong Kong – with offshore accounts held in Switzerland declining since the 2008 financial crisis.
The authors predicted offshore assets in Hong Kong have grown six-fold between 2007 and 2015 with the country now ranked second behind Switzerland for tax havens.
Countries with more offshore wealth also use more tax havens
The next chart shows the number of unique owners of shell companies created by Mossack Fonseca in each country before 2006 and active in 2007, using Panama Papers data.
“There are strong similarities between the amount of offshore wealth we estimate and the use of tax havens as revealed by the Panama Papers,” the authors said.
Russia is one such country with a total of 2071 unique shells. The authors also highlighted that China is over-represented in the data given estimates of how much Chinese wealth is offshore. They suggest this could be because estimates of China’s offshore wealth are low, or that Chinese use shell companies for purposes other than concealing wealth.
Offshore wealth can substantially increase inequality
So what does that all mean for equality?
Including offshore assets generally increased the 0.01 percent’s wealth share substantially (even in the law abiding Scandinavian countries).
The effect in some countries is much worse than others. In the United Kingdom, Spain and France offshores assets accounted for between 30 to 40 percent of the 0.01 percent’s wealth. In Scandinavia, however, their share of wealth only increases by about 1 percent.
In total, 412 individuals will be prosecuted by his office in what’s been called the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history.”
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that federal prosecutors charged more than 400 people (doctors, nurses and pharmacists) for taking part in medical fraud and opioid scams that totaled $1.3 BILLION in fraudulent billing.
“Among those charged are six Michigan doctors accused of a scheme to prescribe unnecessary opioids. A Florida rehab facility is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards and visits to strip clubs, leading to $58 million in false treatments and tests.
Officials said those charged in the schemes include more than 120 people involved in illegally prescribing and distributing narcotic painkillers.” 1
In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died of overdoses. In 2016, that number rose to 59,000 Americans. Thanks to pharmaceutical companies who convinced physicians and other pharmacists that they had created drugs (like Oxycontin and Vicodin) that could treat pain but not be addictive, we are in the middle of a crisis.
NATO, although bound to expand with the addition of Sweden, Finland, Austria, and Malta as members, is essentially a giant chunk of Swiss cheese. When one considers that NATO membership is not popular with many opposition parties within its member states or with several sub-national regional governments, the Western alliance more resembles the pseudo-secure French Maginot Line.
In the four countries where there are current efforts by the current governments to enter NATO, there is immense domestic political opposition. In the lead-up to Malta’s general election, NATO member states’ psychological operations personnel began floating stories about «Russian interference» in the election on behalf of the anti-NATO opposition Nationalist Party-Democratic Party coalition. In the end, the «fake news» stories circulated by NATO interests appear to have helped incumbent pro-NATO Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his Malta Labor Party hold on to power with a parliamentary majority in the June 3rd election.
During the campaign, Muscat claimed he was warned by the CIA and Britain’s MI6 that the Russians were «possibly» targeting Malta’s election process. Press reports, likely planted by the CIA, accuse Russia of setting up a front company in Malta called MTACC Ltd. The company was said to be headed by a Russian who lived in Grunwald, Germany and an American who listed his address in California. On April 26 of this year, Muscat reportedly held discussions about NATO membership with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Muscat also agreed to allow the Antonov company of Ukraine to build an aircraft maintenance facility in Malta. Ukraine is also a prospective member of NATO.
According to the «Times of Malta», the opposition Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil called Muscat’s charges of Russian interference in Maltese politics «totally ridiculous and absurd». Busuttil also said, «If this was true, the Prime Minister would have called a meeting of the security committee, which I form part of», adding, «I don’t think Vladimir Putin cares if it’s him [Muscat] or someone else who runs the country». Democratic Party leader Marlene Farrugia said Muscat’s charge of Russian interference in Malta’s politics «sounded far-fetched» and that she was «not convinced» they were true. The opposition coalition is opposed to NATO membership for Malta, preferring to maintain Malta’s traditional neutrality.
Russia was also being accused of being behind the data leak that exposed 70,000 offshore companies in Malta, many used for tax evasion. The data was leaked by an «anonymous» source to a North Rhine-Westphalia tax office in the German town of Wuppertal. Several German firms and up to 2000 German citizens were discovered to maintain tax avoidance corporate contrivances in Malta. The scandal resulted in Malta being called the «Panama of Europe», a reference to the leaked Panama Papers showing massive use of Panama’s Mossack-Fonseca law firm to set up dummy corporations in the country.
Muscat’s wife Michelle was identified as the sole shareholder of a Panama-based company, Egrant Inc., that was used to launder money for the ruling Aliyev family of Azerbaijan. Money from Al Sahra FZCO, based in Dubai’s Jebel Ali free trade zone, was discovered to= have been transferred to Egrant. Al Sahra FZCO is owned by Leyla Aliyev, the daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. As if all of this was not bad enough news for Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, the deputy leader of the Labor Party and the Energy and Health Minister, was discovered to have maintained both an offshore trust in New Zealand and a shell company in Panama called Hearnville Inc. Another political bombshell hit Muscat when it was discovered that his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, also operated a dummy corporation in Panama called Tillgate Inc.
Maltese investigators discovered that Mizzi’s and Schembri’s financial advisory firm, Nexia BT, was owned by another firm, BT International, which in turn was owned by Brian Tonna, the sole shareholder of Mossack Fonseca & Co. (Malta) Ltd. Schembri’s British Virgin Islands-based shell company was found, courtesy of the Panama Papers, to be a co-owner of a Cyprus-based firm called A2Z Consulta.
The investigation of the Muscat government was impeded by two sudden resignations of law enforcement officers: Michael Cassar, the Commissioner of Police, and Manfred Galdes, the Director of Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).
The fact that so many members of Muscat’s pro-NATO government possessed secret offshore tax shelters may indicate that NATO and the CIA compensates pro-NATO politicians with bribes paid through secret bank accounts. How else could a corrupt organization like NATO maintain a high level of support, particularly in neutral nations, almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War?
Charges of financial corruption tarnished Muscat’s government days before the June 3rd election but the scandal was not enough to unseat the pro-NATO government. Muscat and his NATO and CIA friends had to concoct a story of Russian interference in Malta’s election to save both Muscat’s NATO agenda and his Panama Papers scandal-ridden government.
There is little wonder why former CIA director John Brennan did not want to publicly discuss details of the CIA’s covert election manipulation operations before a recent hearing of the House Intelligence Committee that was examining alleged «Russian interference» in U.S. and foreign elections.
It was perhaps no coincidence that the pro-NATO prime minister of NATO member Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, and his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, were also discovered to have an offshore company, Wintris, Inc., based in the British Virgin Islands. If NATO and the CIA are buying off NATO allies like Muscat and Gunnlaugsson, at least they are including the wives in the operation!
After Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign over the Panama Papers scandal, it was discovered that his successor, the conservative pro-NATO Bjarni Benediktsson, maintained an offshore investment firm in Seychelles called Falson & Company.
NATO is also slowly absorbing Europe’s other traditionally neutral nations. Finland recently hosted the Annual NATO Conference on WMD Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Helsinki, another step toward full NATO membership. Finland’s membership in NATO would give NATO the right to position military forces on 833-mile long Finno-Russian border. A September 2016 report by the Swedish government concluded that there would be «advantages» for Swedish membership in NATO. Based on the examples of Malta and Iceland, perhaps anti-NATO opposition parties in Finland and Sweden should start examining pro-NATO politicians’ finances for foreign bank accounts and tax avoidance shell companies.
It has been discovered that Montenegro, NATO’s newest member, has also figured prominently in the Panama Papers. Some 13 companies based in Montenegro were discovered in the Panama Papers. Two of them, Wicked Soft SA of Panama and Sunnydale Services of the British Virgin Islands, were linked to officials in the government of Prime Minister Dusko Markovic. The prime minister ignored opposition Democratic Front demands for a popular referendum on NATO membership prior to steering his nation into the military bloc.
A distinct pattern has emerged that links pro-NATO politicians in Europe to offshore contrivances exposed in the Panama Papers. Opposition politicians from both the left and right understand that NATO is a dangerous anachronism. They are joined by regional politicians in Wales, Scotland, the Outer Hebrides, Isle of Man, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Greenland, Catalonia, Basque Country, Flanders, Wallonia, Aland Islands, Saaremaa, Gotland, Bornholm, Sardinia, Corsica, Azores, and Sicily. From NATO environmental pollution and economy-damaging sanctions on Russia to making their homes targets in a nuclear war and unwanted foreign troops on their soil, the democratic opposition and regional leaders are waking up to the dangers posed by NATO, along with the graft and corruption NATO brings to their ruling elites.
Those who follow the scandals of the pharmaceutical industry closely, and who have a knack for understanding their economics via the state-created monopolies granted to these companies, know the power these most unscrupulous companies often wield. We’ve seen companies use the power of the state to grant themselves monopolies on decades-old drugs, and, in turn, spike the prices to astronomical levels. However, we’ve never heard of an instance of pharmaceutical companies deliberately destroying life-saving products to force the state to raise the price of its drugs — until now.
Cancer drugs and their makers are often surrounded by controversy and conspiracy theory. However, they remain in high demand because people rely on them during their battles with cancer. This high demand, over the years, has created a higher supply and by a function of the market — even though it is a state controlled market — resulted in a lower price.
This natural function of the market apparently infuriated one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. So, as appears to be the norm in the pharma industry, they took unethical and illegal action to change it.
According to a scathing report out of the London Times, who recovered leaked internal emails from Aspen Pharmacare, corruption is the norm and is even celebrated.
Leaked internal emails appear to show employees at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies calling for “celebration” over price hikes of cancer drugs, an investigation has revealed.
Staff at Aspen Pharmacare reportedly plotted to destroy stocks of life-saving medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.
After purchasing five different cancer drugs from British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company tried to sell the medicines in Europe for up to 40 times their previous price, reported The Times.
The price of Busulfan, a drug used to treat leukemia, rose from £5.20 to £65.22 in England and Wales after this move. Other drugs for fighting cancer quickly skyrocketed as well.
READ MORE:Speeding Cop Kills Man, Only Gets Ticket. Prosecutors Magically Forgot to Tell Judge Someone Died
What do you do if your unscrupulous business practice of destroying product to manipulate the price of life-saving medicine pays off? Well, you celebrate, of course.
In a confidential email published by The Times, an Aspen employee appeared to write: “We’ve signed new reimbursement and price agreement successfully: price increases are basically on line with European target prices (Leukeran, a bit higher!)… Let’s celebrate!”
As the Independent reports:
According to The Times’s investigation, the company said it would stop supplying Italy with the drugs in October 2013 if authorities did not agree to price rises of up to 2,100 per cent in three months.
This all-powerful pharma company was essentially caught holding the government hostage in an unethical ploy to increase their bottom line.
Naturally, they were held accountable and those who facilitated this fraud were brought to task, right? Wrong.
A Department of Health spokesperson told the Independent that they are simply proposing more laws to “take action against excessive price rises on unbranded generic medicines.”
“We are working closely with the Competition and Markets Authority on unwarranted price rises of unbranded generic medicines, and where companies have breached competition law, we will seek damages and invest that money in the NHS.”
Sadly, these measures will likely be in vain.
As the Free Thought Project reported last year, Aaron Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School was the co-author of paradigm-shattering research on drug prices, which led to the Journal of the American Medical Association officially recognizing why drug prices skyrocket in America. Big pharma is granted a monopoly by the state which effectively eliminates their competition and allows them to charge any price they want — so they do.
The paper, published on August 23, The High Cost of Prescription Drugs in the United States: Origins and Prospects for Reform, set out to “review the origins and effects of high drug prices in the US market and to consider policy options that could contain the cost of prescription drugs.”
The companies who make these drugs are not beholden to any state, which makes this study applicable to the Aspen case as well.
What the paper’s authors, Harvard Medical School doctors Aaron Kesselheim and Jerry Avorn, and jurist Ameet Sarpatwari, found and subsequently admitted, shatters the very assertion that government regulation in the market is needed to keep medical care costs low. In fact, their findings were quite to the contrary.
According to the paper:
“The most important factor that allows manufacturers to set high drug prices is market exclusivity, protected by monopoly rights awarded upon Food and Drug Administration approval and by patents.”
It seems Aspen also knows this as well, and has, like so many companies before them, chosen to game the system.
An investigative reporting coalition recently released a report alleging a multi-billion dollar money laundering operation that has affected hundreds of banks and companies in 96 countries including the repeat offender, HSBC.
In 2012, HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, settled with the U.S. Government, avoiding criminal prosecution of its executives, for helping to launder money for Mexican drug cartels as well as Al Qaeda. According to the US Senate’s report, which investigated the matter, HSBC provided a “gateway for terrorists to gain access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system.”
Loretta Lynch, while serving as the U.S. District Attorney in NY said HSBC engaged in a, “sustained and systemic failure to guard against the corruption of our financial system by drug traffickers and other criminals and for evading U.S. sanctions law.” As a result of the criminal charges for money laundering and admitted guilt in four counts against the global banking firm — the megabank was let off with a slap on the wrist.
“HSBC has agreed to forfeit 1.256 billion dollars, the largest forfeiture amount ever by a financial institution for a compliance failure,” Lynch stated.
Because they were let off with zero criminal charges, the bank was allowed to go back to crooked business as usual.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project published a comprehensive narrative that details how billions of dollars were moved from Russian sources to bogus shell companies before traveling further into various banks, and ultimately numerous companies that inadvertently accepted corrupt funds.
The OCCRP reports:
Money entered the Laundromat via a set of shell companies in Russia that exist only on paper and whose ownership cannot be traced. Some of the funds may have been diverted from the Russian treasury through fraud, rigging of state contracts, or customs and tax evasion. Money that might have helped repair the country’s deteriorating roads and ports, modernize the health care system, or ease the poverty of senior citizens – was instead deposited in a Moldovan bank.
At the other end of the Laundromat, money flowed out for luxuries, for rock bands touring Russia, and on a small Polish non-governmental organization that pushed Russia’s agenda in the European Union. (It is run by Mateusz Piskorski, a Polish pro-Kremlin party leader arrested for spying for Russia).
The Guardian noted the”ingenious” strategy behind how the money was easily relocated from faceless companies to banks. “Typically, company A ‘loaned’ a large sum of money to company B. Other businesses in Russia – fronted by Moldovans – would then guarantee these ‘loans’. Company B would fail to return the ‘money’. Moldovan judges would authenticate the “debt”, allowing Russian companies to transfer real money to a bank in Moldova,” The Guardian reported.
HSBC, which is headquartered in London, processed US$545.3m in Laundromat cash, mostly routed through its Hong Kong branch, according to the Guardian.
In response to these allegations, HSBC said, “This case highlights the need for greater information sharing between the public and private sectors, each of whom holds important information the other does not.”
“The bank has systems and processes in place to identify suspicious activity and report it to the appropriate government authorities.”
Apparently, those ‘systems and processes’ aren’t good enough to catch hundreds of millions of dirty money coming through.
An OCCRP infographic further explained that all of the “debt” settlements consistently involved a citizen of Moldova.
A great number of banks accepted these funds easily, and the scheme touched upon at least 96 countries receiving the tainted money including the United States, with money ending up at Citibank and Bank of America. The OCCRP reported that “the 21 shell companies fired out 26,746 payments from their various Trasta Komercbanka and Moldindconbank accounts” between 2011 and 2014.
Earlier estimates of about $20 billion in laundered money through this project were initially reported, but recent projections have increased that number to as much as $80 billion.
While the OCCRP first reported on this operation three years ago, knowledge of the corruption has only begun to reach mainstream news outlets. The Guardian reports that the suspected “architect” behind this massive undertaking is Moldovan businessman Vyacheslav Platon. Platon was arrested and extradited to Moldova in 2016 and has so far denied evidence of any crime.
Moldova has accused Russia of “harassment” related to its investigation of the operation which has been commonly referred to as the “Global Laundromat.” The OCCRP echoed that “law enforcement in Moldova, Latvia, the United Kingdom, and Russia continue to investigate the Laundromat, but attempts to bring those responsible to justice and to recover the money have been hampered in part by the reluctance of Russian officials to cooperate.”
Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) watch President Trump deliver his inaugural address Jan. 20. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
On paper, Microsoft’s facility in Puerto Rico was wildly profitable. With just 177 workers, the plant recorded $4 billion in earnings in 2011, a Senate investigation found.
The gimmick was entirely legal. According to the Senate’s report, the software company’s lawyers were channeling its profits from sales all over the country through the Puerto Rican operation, getting Microsoft out of about $1.5 billion in taxes a year.
It was the kind of scheme that designers of congressional Republicans’ tax proposal hope to eliminate. The vast sums Microsoft saved hint at how much money is at stake for corporations that rely on similar strategies to reduce their taxes, which are especially common among technology firms and other companies with valuable brands, patents and copyrights.
Understanding the uncertain and potentially disruptive consequences of the GOP plan, known as a “border adjustment tax,” has become an urgent priority for U.S. firms — not just in Silicon Valley, but throughout the corporate sector, said John Gimigliano, a principal at KPMG in Washington.
“It is a pretty significant departure from the current system of taxation,” he said. “It’s almost impossible to talk about anything else.”
From Redmond to Puerto Rico
The Senate investigation into Microsoft’s taxes in 2012 described this kind of legal strategy in detail. First, Microsoft had sold a share of its brands and copyrights to its subsidiary in Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory’s rules for taxes are different from those that apply to businesses in the 50 states.
The Puerto Rican subsidiary made an impressive profit on that investment over the years — profits that would otherwise have accrued to Microsoft’s main office in Redmond, Wash., where they would have been subject to ordinary federal taxes.
Microsoft’s practices were typical, experts say. Many multinational firms set up subsidiaries in jurisdictions with minimal taxes — whether in Europe, Asia or the Caribbean — and then pay those subsidiaries for goods and services. Those payments come out of the income taxed in the United States.
In 2011, for example, the Puerto Rican entity paid $1.9 billion to the main U.S. company as an installment on its initial purchase of the intellectual property. Microsoft then manufactured copies of its software in Puerto Rico and imported it back onto the mainland for sale.
In 2011, the Puerto Rican subsidiary’s $4 billion in earnings were taxed at a rate of 1 percent.
“This structure is not designed to satisfy any specific manufacturing or business need,” the committee’s report concluded. “Rather, it is designed to minimize tax on sales of products sold in the United States.”
Microsoft cooperated with the congressional investigation, according to the Senate report, which presented no evidence of wrongdoing or lawbreaking.
“In conducting our business at home and abroad, we abide by U.S. and foreign tax laws as written,” Microsoft vice president William Sample told the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “That is not to say that the rules cannot be improved — to the contrary, we believe they can and should be.”
A spokesman for Microsoft declined to comment on whether the company would support the GOP proposal or on whether the company’s practices had changed.
Western Union admitted it behaved criminally through its “willful failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud,” reports Forbes. They’ve agreed to pay a $586 million fine. From the Forbes article:
In a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, authorities describe insufficient or poorly enforced policies that resulted in the funneling of hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds from illegal gambling, fraud and drug and human trafficking.
In one case, illegal immigrants from China sent money back to the people who smuggled them across the border. With the help of employees, the payments were structured so that they didn’t trigger reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act, say authorities.
In another example, Western Union processed hundreds of thousands of transactions for an international scam, wherein fraudsters directed people to send money in order to claim a prize or help a relative. Western Union employees often processed the payments in return for a cut of the proceeds, say authorities.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, the U.S. Attorney in Miami, said the misconduct reflected “a flawed corporate culture that failed to provide a checks and balances approach to combat criminal practices.”
“Western Union’s failure to implement proper controls and discipline agents that violated compliances policies enabled the proliferation of illegal gambling, money laundering and fraud-related schemes,” he added.
I’m not a fan of civil asset forfeiture, which is basically a way for law enforcement to steal money and assets from anyone without charging them with a crime. But in this case, it seems appropriate for the government seize the assets of the CEO of Western Union, Hikmet Ersek, until he can prove that his $8.5 million salary didn’t depend on Western Union’s admitted criminal activities.
Former managing director and member of the board of directors of Wall Street investment firm Dillon, Read & Co., as well as former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner in the Dept. of H.U.D. during the Bush 41 administration, Catherine Austin Fitts infamously blew the whistle on bankers, claiming they buy out all the real estate assets with money they stole from their clients. She once even revealed that she discovered one block in San Diego that had lost 20 million dollars in HUD loans made on properties that never existed and did not even have postal street addresses.
Fitts also created the Community Wizard program to help voters see just how much federal money was being spent in each zip code to make way for better control of government spending. Her action was met with a lawsuit. She was investigated 18 times and eventually run out of Washington, DC.
Fitts is also know for her series called Narco Dollars for Beginners, which involves about 17.3 billion dollars (at a rate of 4 billion dollars a week for 4.3 weeks) being stolen from unaudited government spending, of which Fitts blamed it on the narcotics trade.
“One day I was a wealthy entrepreneur with a beautiful home, a successful business and money in the bank. I had been a partner and member of the board of directors of the Wall Street firm of Dillon Read, and an Assistant Secretary of Housing during the Bush Administration. I had been invited to serve as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and, instead, started my own company in Washington, The Hamilton Securities Group. Thanks to our leadership in digital technology, financial software and analytics, Hamilton was doing well and poised for significant financial growth.
The next day I was hunted, living through 18 audits and investigations and a smear campaign directed not just at me but also members of my family, colleagues and friends who helped me. I believe that the smear campaign originated at the highest levels. For more than two years I lived through serious physical harassment and surveillance. This included burglary, stalking, having houseguests followed and dead animals left on the doormat. The hardest part was the necessity of keeping quiet lest it cost me more support or harm my credibility. Most people simply do not believe that such things are possible in America. They are.”
But despite her setbacks, Fitts focused on moving forward, and is now an active voice in economics and the U.S. & world political systems.
After a tumultuous and confusing 2016 U.S. presidential election, a huge topic we can no longer ignore has arisen: how will we escape what we know to gain what we need? The systems are corrupt, the people in power are corrupt, and the public is left brainwashed while a country, and ultimately, the world, suffers as a result.
In an interview, Fitts brought up so many intriguing points, pondering the question of how the government expects people to pay their taxes if the government is no longer viewed as legitimate. The world economy is set up for failure because of a banking system that relies on taking users’ money in order to pay usury each time a transaction occurs. This can ultimately result in citizens being brainwashed into believing they need a global currency that’s managed by the global elite.
For quite some time now, there have been clear warnings that have slipped through the cracks of mainstream media regarding the demise of the dollar. Now, Fitts says that warning is coming to a head, claiming that the economic collapse may be right around the corner.
“The system has the capacity with monetary policy in one sense to keep going forever if the force and military capacity is there to do it, but at some point, you burn through the fat, you burn through the muscle and then you have to change institutions.”
The financial crisis of 2008, in which the government hindered a collapse of systems by working with chiefs of the financial sector by giving them incomprehensible bailouts, then inflating the dollar through quantitative easing, has now, eight years later, reached its limit.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult to get people to continue to pay their taxes when they’re highly confident the money’s not being spent legally and it’s going to the advantage of small parties or things that they don’t understand. And so you can’t move further without institutional overhaul,” said Fitts.
Fitts harps on the danger of groups within the U.S., like ALEC, who are already urging for law changes and constitutional convention that would throw out these institutions.
“If you want to enforce the Constitution or fix things, that’s what you do. The reason you get a Constitutional Convention is you want to tear it up because you’re worried, now that people realize the extent of the corruption, that they’re going to try and enforce.”
We are living in a time where corruption reigns supreme, and the only good side of that is that the smell is so strong, we can no longer ignore it. We are being forced to wake up to the corruption of our government and financial rulers, as well as the elites who are working tirelessly to demolish the middle class. But the more the reality is discussed, the more likely we will get closer to watching the people who put so many down finally be faced with the karma of their crimes.
I don’t understand why people glorify the psychopaths who run most Big Pharma companies. Look at what they do when they think no one is watching. Now watch these failures of humanity get community service for their ill gotten filthy lucre.
Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense.
‘We have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,’ says Connecticut attorney general
“Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason,” the federal lawsuit alleges. (Photo: Jamie/flickr/cc)
Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense.
The federal lawsuit (pdf) names generic drug-makers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and concerns two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic used to treat a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication.
It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and labels Heritage as the “principal architect and ringleader” that helped organize a “wide-ranging series of conspiracies” to fix prices.
“The misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their subordinate marketing and sales executives.” George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General
“My office has dedicated significant resources to this investigation for more than two years and has developed compelling evidence of collusion and anticompetitive conduct across many companies that manufacture and market generic drugs in the United States,” said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, who is leading the coalition.
The other plaintiff states are Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
“While the principal architect of the conspiracies addressed in this lawsuit was Heritage Pharmaceuticals, we have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,” Jepsen said. “Ultimately, it was consumers—and, indeed, our healthcare system as a whole—who paid for these actions through artificially high prices for generic drugs.”
A release from Jepsen’s office says “the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their subordinate marketing and sales executives,” who “coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences, and other events, as well as through direct email, phone, and text message communications.”
“While generic competition is supposed to bring prices down, these companies secretly agreed to rig the system to drive prices up at the expense of patients,” Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said in a statement.
She said a salesperson for Heritage in Minnesota played a key role in the scheme by organizing dinners among employees of competing drug companies when they visited the state.
“The dinners and meetings led to the exchange of information about the competitors’ business plans and ultimately led to agreements on setting prices and/or allocating the market so as to avoid competing on price,” a statement from Swanson’s office said.
The news comes just one day after it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Justice has charged two former Heritage executives with conspiring to fix generic prices—”the first fruits of an ongoing and sweeping investigation into generic drug price-fixing by the Department,” according toArs Technica.
As Bloombergreported, guilty pleas and cooperation from the two executives “could lead to charges against executives at other drugmakers.”
Forbespredicts “[t]he antitrust lawsuit and federal investigation will likely bring further political heat to the generic drug sector.”
Indeed, the lawsuit charges: “Over the last several years, however, [the] price dynamic has changed for a large number of generic drugs. Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason, sparking outrage from public officials, payers, and consumers across the country whose costs have doubled, tripled, or in some cases increased up to 1,000 percent or more.”
The Forbes billionaire list is perhaps the most mainstream source for who the wealthiest individuals in the world are, yet, some prefer to believe in this list as the authority on wealth. How close is this to the truth?
Within the inherent characteristics of the world monetary system, we have myriad forms of stock ownership, banks and hedge funds owning corporations, banks pulling strings for entire monetary systems, obfuscating who actually owns what. The entire system is awash in practices which conceal who the most influential and wealthy individuals, hedge funds, corporations, and powers are.
The more one looks into it, the more wealth in this world appears to be intentionally obfuscated.
This article will examine 4 factors that imply the wealthiest individuals and entities on this planet are in fact unknown to the public, and that the ones we know to be wealthy are more or less wealthy than we are led to believe.
Rothschild family members are some of the most notorious suspects when it comes to the hidden wealthiest people on Earth: in response to the Deutsche Bank situation, they are buying gold, an ominous “warning” for the rest of us.
“The most prominent bank in Germany is at risk of imminent collapse, with potentially profound effects for the EU, the United States and the rest of the world. The prospect of a cataclysmic global banking collapse of this nature has not been seen since the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and subsequent fallout in the global banking world.
But these events haven’t taken place in a vacuum, as earlier this year savvy international investor Lord Jacob Rothschild, during a semi-annual address to RIT Capital Partners, announced that they are reducing stock market and currency exposure and increasing their gold holdings, warning that the world is now in “uncharted waters” and the consequences are “impossible” to predict.”
“One day after its stock soared from all time lows, following what so far appears to have been a fabricated report sourced by AFP which relied on Twitter as a source that the DOJ would reduce its RMBS settlement amount with Deutsche Bank from $14 billion to below $6 billion (and which neither the DOJ nor Deutsche Bank have confirmed for obvious reasons), moments ago Bloomberg reported that six current and former managers of Deutsche Bank, including Michele Faissola, Michele Foresti and Ivor Dunbar, were charged in Milan for colluding to falsify the accounts of Italy’s third-biggest bank, Monte Paschi (which itself is so insolvent it is currently scrambling to finalize a private sector bailout) and manipulate the market.”
Fabricated reports sprinkled into a situation where the bank is going under, and on top of that they are being charged for fraud in Italy: a plethora of falsehoods illustrating exactly how money works.
2. Wachovia Bank (now owned by Wells Fargo) laundered billions for Mexican drug cartels, nad was fined less than 2% of annual profit.
If a person pays attention to the scandalous activities of powerful entities beneath the surface level, they start to notice inconsistencies that obliterate the entire mainstream perception of that entity or industry, ushering in a bottomless pit of potential criminality, expanding the realm of probable corruption into deeply unknown territory.
In other words, if the scandals we hear about are this intense, how perception shattering is what we still don’t know?
“Wells Fargo is one big elite networking operation that’s not afraid to get its hands covered in blood money.
Just recently, in late July, Wells Fargo surpassed the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) as the world’s largest bank by market capitalization. This followed Wells Fargo reporting a 19% increase in profits over the second quarter as the bank has been busy consolidating the housing market while other big banks have retreated from it. Wells Fargo had amassed a share of almost 40% of the U.S. mortgage market by early 2013.”
“Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash, just as Wells Fargo became a beneficiary of $25bn in taxpayers’ money.
‘Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations,’ said Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor. Yet the total fine was less than 2% of the bank’s $12.3bn profit for 2009. On 24 March 2010, Wells Fargo stock traded at $30.86 – up 1% on the week of the court settlement.
The conclusion to the case was only the tip of an iceberg, demonstrating the role of the “legal” banking sector in swilling hundreds of billions of dollars – the blood money from the murderous drug trade in Mexico and other places in the world – around their global operations, now bailed out by the taxpayer.”
3. Money from Afghanistan’s US-tied opium trade goes unaccounted for.
How much money is being made in the Afghanistan opium trade (now the source of 90% of the world’s supply of heroin), and how is the US profiting by clearly aiding in the growth of this corrosive industry? Who exactly is becoming rich?
This recent video sheds light on the continuous US occupation of Afghanistan.
One day perhaps an earth shattering revelation will come regarding exactly who is profiting from this. Until then, we can at least mark this down as another factor obfuscating who the world’s wealthiest individuals are.
4. We don’t know who owns the Federal Reserve.
We simply don’t know who owns the Federal Reserve bank. Its shareholders are private banks, we know that. We get glimpses of the strings that pull the Fed, when they generously provide private banks such as Chase with resources they would never provide to the common people.
“The Federal Reserve (or Fed) has assumed sweeping new powers in the last year. In an unprecedented move in March 2008, the New York Fed advanced the funds for JPMorgan Chase Bank to buy investment bank Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar. The deal was particularly controversial because Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, sits on the board of the New York Fed and participated in the secret weekend negotiations.
In September 2008, the Federal Reserve did something even more unprecedented, when it bought the world’s largest insurance company. The Fed announced on September 16 that it was giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG) for a nearly 80% stake in the mega-insurer. The Associated Press called it a “government takeover,” but this was no ordinary nationalization. Unlike the U.S. Treasury, which took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the week before, the Fed is not a government-owned agency. Also unprecedented was the way the deal was funded.”
For more info about the purposeful obfuscation of wealth implied by the actions of the Federal Reserve, this is a great documentary.
“Is the world economy a closed system or an open system? In other words, are the world’s financial elite conducting transactions with off-planet entities, enslaving the human race to unseen actors?
The world’s people are held in perpetual bondage to the fiat currency money masters who have saddled us with absolutely insurmountable debt obligations which are mathematically impossible to repay. At present, the CIA estimates the total global debt to be nearing $90 trillion.
The gross world product, the nominal value of planetary human endeavor per year, was recently estimated at $78 trillion, meaning nearly an entire year of the productivity of every man, woman and child on planet earth, some 7.4 billion people, is owed to someone, but who exactly no one really knows for sure. How is this possible?”
We may never definitively know who the world’s wealthiest individuals or entities are, but we can know what golden revelations fall through the cracks in a wall of purposeful obfuscation, if we simply pay attention and make reading a routine.
(Toby Moreland is the pen name for a 25-year-old living in Florida in 2009.)
July 26, 2016
from Dec 7, 2009
CEO’s are just highly paid actors. Big investors make the decisions. Most have little allegiance to the corrupt satanic system they serve. We need to appeal to people we’d normally dismiss as part of the “establishment.”
Having tripped across the truthabout 9/11, central banks, etc. in 2006, I set out to get a grasp on the elite class in order to understand their collective mindset.
For three summers, I caddied at one of the most exclusive private golf clubs in the Northeast and had the opportunity to spend four hours at a time with some of the most recognizable stars of the business world and their families. I was not out there asking direct questions like a journalist, just going where the conversations went. Here are some of the impressions these experiences left me with. -Not many of them know. We have to realize that the internet is relatively brand new, and that most successful people with children and grandchildren and money to spend freely haven’t looked into the possibility of hidden satanists at the top of the pyramid. Many internet writers associate firms such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers with evil itself, but in reality, even with respect to career upper level employees, most of them have no idea. It is highly compartmentalized.
– CEO’s are PR reps, and that’s all they are unless tapped to serve further in the public eye. I have spent many days with a former CEO of a major financial institution that failed, a man who took significant heat in the media for it, and I can tell you he had no control over it. He knows, but he also knows there’s nothing he can do about it. He was a fall guy, and he worked his entire life to get into a position to be a fall guy, and get that golden parachute. The entire system depresses him, as it should, but he is out of it now and trying to enjoy retirement with his lovely wife and children. Who can blame him?
– A former CEO of a major television network, genuinely disillusioned by the system, was very candid with me at times expressing his discontent. After spending several consecutive days with him and his family on the golf course, we began discussing alternative media. When I asked him if four conglomerates own the entire mass media, he corrected me, saying it was only three. When I asked him what group was more influential, the U.S. Congress or the CFR, he smiled and said, “If you’re asking me that question, you already know the answer.” The impression he gave me was that even as CEO, especially as a CEO, your hands are tied. His entire family is composed of first-class individuals.
– One topic that is totally taboo is the Middle East. Never a peep.
– Prescription drug abuse is as common among the wives of the elite as it is on college campuses. While I saw no direct proof of this, I didn’t need to. Money does not buy happiness, often it gives you enough rope to hang yourself with. Most of the super-rich have personal problems, they empathize with other people’s problems, and they genuinely wish things were better for everyone. How can they help our cause?
The real ‘power elite’ that is enslaving mankind is minuscule in numbers and far removed from us. At this stage of the game, the system runs autonomously. It is not necessary for anyone to believe in the merits of the agenda, so long as no one can mount sufficient opposition against it.
It is almost impossible for normal people to identify an agenda based on destruction, distraction and division – three ideas inherently in disagreement with our souls.
What most of us fear has already happened. It has been written in the minds of my generation. It’s a tragedy, and we’re all in it together. There is no one worth antagonizing. There is no one worth blaming. Our opponent is a collection of false ideologies. It can only be conquered with unwavering love and faith in the truth.
Sometimes I think that this movement, whatever it is, behaves like grown children who want to dig people out of their graves and beat the piss out of them.
From Satan to Rothschild to Kissinger, I’m thankful to have learned from all of their errors. If they hadn’t gone to such great lengths in attempting to destroy God, the undeniable spiritual truth, there is no way I could see it so clearly.
United States citizens feel helpless against both the 100 year old wall street banking cartel and easily bought political elections. Juxtapose Ireland… where their countrymen are taking down those who are responsible for destroying their lives and livelihood.
Shocking! … Former Irish Bank leader, David Drumm, has been extradited from the U.S. and brought in front of a Dublin District Court Magistrate to face charges for his part in the 2008 financial crisis felt round the world.
The former chief executive of Irish Anglo Bank was found in Boston in late 2015 and arrested.
Held in Federal Custody, Drumm originally fought extradition to Ireland but recently withdrew his plea and returned to his home country on March 15, 2016.
The People vs. The Bankers
Iceland’s move to hold the bankers criminally accountable has led the way for Ireland to do the same.
Drumm faces 33 criminal charges that include fraud, forgery, misleading management reporting, unlawful lending, falsifying documents, and false accounting.
“The CEO of Anglo Irish Bank from 2005 until December 2008, Drumm faces 33 charges related to a circular lending scheme that involved authorizing billions in loans to be invested back into the bank, artificially propping up its share price.”
As expected, Drumm is far from talking truth and is denying any wrongdoing regardless of the fact that his actions are linked to financial transactions prior to the collapse of Anglo, according to the Irish Times.
Prosecutors fear his “capacity to marshal significant sums” of money adds to the possibility Drumm could easily disappear into the hidden recesses of the global community. Considered A High Flight Risk
Prosecutors consider Drumm a flight risk based on the fact that he sought to hide within the United States. Based on his behavior, the court only allowed him to post bail based on the stringent condition that he must forfit his passport, which is currently being held by the Gardaí (Garda Síochána, or Irish Police).
“A Dublin court judge had agreed to grant bail in the amounts of 50,000 euros for Drumm personally plus two independent sureties of 50,000 euros, for a total of $166,434. (about $187,171 US).” – Cape Cod Times
The court further required Drumm to swear under oath that he would not apply for another passport and does not possess a U.S. passport.
Also under terms of the bail agreement, Drumm will be staying in the seaside town of Skerries, north of Dublin, and must sign in twice a day at a local Garda station.
Four relatives of Drumm’s put their houses up as “security” for his bail.
With the complexity of this case and the “more than 400 phone calls, millions of pages of evidence, and potentially well over 150 witnesses” … the judge acknowledge to the court that the trial may not begin until 2017.
An Adult Game Of Hide-And-Seek
After the catastrophic financial debachel rose to unavoidable global exposure in 2008, Drumm fled to the United States in early 2009 and reportedly remained hidden and refused to cooperate with any investigation into his part in the wrong doings.
Drumm brazenly attempted to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. in mid 2009 after Anglo filed civil action against him in Dublin. Both his original bankruptcy filing and a subsequent appeal were rejected.
With that, Drumm fell into seclusion…
Then on October 10, 2015, U.S. Marshals arrived at his Wellesley home with an extradition request from the Irish government. Drumm began a series of court requests to fight extradition and be allowed bail.
For five months he has been under arrest in the U.S. and “detained in at least four prisons, including the Plymouth County Correctional Facility.”
“Two U.S. District Court judges denied bail, in December and again in January.”
On February 11, 2016, during a U.S. District Court Hearing in Boston, Drumm waived his rights to fight extradition and agreed to return home to Ireland to address the charges facing him.
As part of his extradition he was required to admit all of the conditions for extradition have been met.
“During the hearing, he signed an affidavit which stated, in part, “that probable cause exists to believe that I committed the 33 offenses for which extradition was requested.”
The Cost Of Prosecution
The former banking executive has not yet entered a formal plea.
“Each of the offenses carries a five- or 10-year jail term, except for a single count of conspiracy to defraud, which has a maximum penalty of an “unlimited term of imprisonment” under Irish law.”
Iceland, and now Ireland, have taken action to hold criminal bankers accountable for their direct role in the economic devastation which enveloped most of the world beginning in 2008 — the exact opposite of what the U.S. does.
Greed In The U.S. Since 1928
The U.S. has essentially rewarded and excused the choices made by bankers and decision makers that caused our global financial crisis. Government handouts were given … regardless of public outcry.
Adding to the offense, millions ended up being used as bonus money given to the same banking executives and decision makers that created the financial disaster.
Separate from the top-tier corporate and political machine is the working class. This manufactured climate is designed to make U.S. citizens pay to feed their own by handing over hefty taxes to fund social programs.
Never will the top-tier corporations or political machine hand over bail outs to the working class.
This manufactured social climate was started just before the 1930’s economic crash. Watch the story of how this most recent game of political and financial chess began.
The Corporate Takeover of Our Government (FULL) — Robert F.Kennedy Jr. (29:39)
United Kingdom — When someone who has spent more than a decade exposing the criminal underbelly of the Italian mafia calls a country the “most corrupt on earth,” it’s time to sit up and listen. This is precisely what happened in the U.K. this week during a world-renowned mafia expert’s rare and historic appearance at a literary festival.
Author and journalist Roberto Saviano has lived under police protection since he publicly spilled the beans on Italy’s gangsters in 2006. In the eyes of the gangs, the 36-year-old’s crime is his best-selling book, Gomorrah, which exposes the Camorra, the Mafia of Naples. According to Saviano, the network of criminal gangs dwarfs the original Mafia of Sicily and other organised gangs, both in economic power and ruthless violence.
In 2015, the U.K. ranked 10th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, which measures perceived levels of corruption worldwide. However, Saviano disagrees with this assessment. Flanked by a heavy security presence at Hay-on-Wye literary festival, he told the audience why:
“If I asked you what is the most corrupt place on Earth you might tell me well it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy and I will tell you it’s the U.K.”
“It’s not the bureaucracy, it’s not the police, it’s not the politics but what is corrupt is the financial capital. Ninety per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.”
Going on to accuse Jersey and the Cayman Islands of being the access gates to criminal capital in Europe, he said this is because the U.K. is allowing it. “That is why it is important, why it is so crucial for me to be here today and to talk to you because I want to tell you this is about you, this is about your life, this is about your government,” he added.
Weighing in on the E.U referendum, Saviano claimed “Brexit,” the term for the U.K.’s exit from the European-wide government, will give the green light to corruption. “It means allowing the Qatari societies, the Mexican cartels, the Russia Mafia to gain even more power and HSBC has paid £2 billion Euros in fines to the US government, because it confessed that it had laundered money coming from the cartels and the Iranian companies,” he said.
“We have proof, we have evidence,” Saviano added.
The world-renowned mafia expert’s comments come in the wake of revelations from the Panama Papers that Prime Minister David Cameron benefited from an offshore fund set up by his late father. His accusations also echo the findings of a 2015 Private Eyeinvestigation that revealed over £100 billion worth of property in London was snapped up by wealthy investors, some using shadowy offshore companies linked to money laundering and tax evasion. Two-thirds of the purchases were made by companies registered in four “British” tax havens — Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands.
The beautiful irony of Britain being labelled “the most corrupt place on earth” will not be lost on many, particularly in light of David Cameron’s recent embarrassment after he was caught on camera describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt.”
The UK is the place to go for assorted international criminals who take money and resources from countries such as Nigeria and Afghanistan, with the City of London benefiting from this huge influx of wealth, says John Wight, writer and political commentator.
Delegates from all across the world have arrived in Britain for a major anti-corruption summit in London. But the event has already been marred by remarks – not supposed to reach the public’s ears – made by UK Prime Minister Cameron earlier this week in his conversation with the Queen and Speaker of the House John Bercow. Cameron was accidently caught on camera saying that Nigeria and Afghanistan are “fantastically corrupt.”
RT: David Cameron has voiced these comments even before the summit started. Do you think that might have an impact on the conference?
John Wight: I don’t think that will have an impact on the conference itself, but it will certainly have an impact on people’s perceptions and understanding of the nature of global power. What we have been treated to with these unguarded, indiscreet comments is a rare insight into the mindset of a British ruling class that remains in the 19th century with regard to its disrespect towards countries such as Nigeria, China and Afghanistan. These people treat these countries as if they are of lower culture, as if they are unfit to rule themselves. And I am sure they would much prefer… if they were still ruled directly by Britain. So this is a very, very rare insight into a mindset of a ruling class which has been responsible for much of the corruption in places such as Nigeria and Afghanistan through its history of colonialism.
RT: Apparently the prime minister didn’t want these comments to be heard. Is it a blow to his reputation?
JW: I don’t think David Cameron’s reputation could get any lower than it already is. We’ve already had the revelations surrounding the Panama Papers with his father and family connected to the huge corruption that was revealed in those. We’ve already had the role of his government in whipping up a frenzy of anti-Semitic charges against Labour Party members and politicians and so forth. So I think the general public knows the history of the Tories and David Cameron is only the latest in the long line of discredited, dishonorable Tory prime ministers.
RT: The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, rebuffed the accusations and in fact said his country’s assets had been stolen by officials who fled to London. What would you make of those allegations?
JW: Mr. Buhari’s comments are entirely accurate. Britain, and London in particular, has become the favorite second home of assorted international criminals, whether they are taking money and resources of Russia, post the collapse of the Soviet Union, or of Nigeria, or other countries in the global south. London is the go-to place. The City of London has benefited from this huge influx of wealth, which it has then re-invested and through its greed come close to crushing the world economy, or played a key role in that regard in 2008. What we’re seeing is an excess of corruption that starts in London and ends in London.
The history of colonialism and its role today as a second home of international criminals from places such as Nigeria and Afghanistan… This is the truth of the matter. And every single statue in the center of London – Downing Street, Westminster, everywhere you go – all these statues and monuments are monuments to a history of colonialism, raping, devastation, and super-exploitation of countries such as Nigeria. When we talk about foreign aid – that is an insult to countries such as Nigeria. We should be talking about reparation for those countries, for that history of colonialism, which has done so much to keep these countries mired in underdevelopment.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone