Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

Today’s Colombian hookers update

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Remember the grope and change story of the Secret Service agents partying with hookers in Colombia?

Well, there were also 10 DEA guys partying in Colombia, too, only for a longer time.

The hookers were Hired By the Drug Cartels.

The cartels sent the hookers; Who would have thunk it?

Let’s call Capt. Louis,

But wait! There’s more,

In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.
. . .
“The foreign officer allegedly arranged ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years,” the IG report says.

——————-

In other party news, Guatemalan congressmen asked for “whisky and Colombian girls” in exchange for approval of a clean-up project for Lake Amatitlán.

No word from Guatemalan hookers on the subject, but at least they prefer whisky to whiskey.

Venezuela: El Mundo finally catches up on Derwick

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Venezuela blogger Alek Boyd has been investigating Derwick Associates’ connection to Venezuelan officials’ money laundering for years. Today Spain’s El Mundo’s front-page story catches up as The world is shrinking for Derwick Associates

One of Spain’s newspapers of record, El Mundo, published in its front page today about corrupt officials from Venezuela using the subsidiary of a little bank in Andorra to launder billions of dollars. The news may come as a surprise to some. Readers of this and other blogs of mine will, I hope, share a feeling of vindication with me today, for as extraordinary as El Mundo’s decision to name names is, we have known this for a while. In fact, I alerted Spain’s money laundering authorities (SEPBLAC) about it in April 2012.

Read the whole thing.

Bill & Hillary: Noxious here, noxious in Haiti

Monday, March 9th, 2015

The Clinton’s noxious legacy lives not only in America, but also in Haiti:

The Clinton Foundation and Haiti Contracts
After the earthquake in 2010, the Clintons’ outsize influence in the small nation increased.
(emphasis added)

The Clinton Foundation lists the Brazilian construction firm OAS and the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) as donors that have given it between $1 million and $5 million. Those relationships are worth learning more about.

OAS has been in the news because it is caught up in a corruption scandal centered on Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras. In November Brazilian police arrested three top OAS executives for their alleged roles in a bribery scheme involving inflated contracts and kickbacks. OAS denies the allegations. Closer to home the 2013 OAS donation to the Clinton Foundation deserves attention because of the power that Bill Clinton has in Haiti, where OAS has been awarded IDB contracts.

Development banks are the butt of jokes among economists because while they claim to fight poverty they are mostly good at empire building. The same might be said of the Clintons in Haiti. A few months after Hillary Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, Bill Clinton was named the U.N. special envoy to Haiti. That gave the Clintons a lot of power over U.S. foreign-aid decisions in the small country.

They accumulated more influence after the 2010 earthquake, when Bill was named co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. Being on the right side of Bill matters if you want to benefit from U.S. foreign aid destined for Haiti.

In Haiti, The Shelters That Clinton Built
Structurally unsafe and laced with formaldehyde, the “hurricane-proof” classroom trailers installed by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti came from the same company being sued for sickening Hurricane Katrina victims.

Last January, – missing, to the tune of $10billion.

Brazil: Dilma’s shaky inaugural

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

The WSj writes on Dilma Rousseff’s second inaugural. Brazil Leader Starts Term on Shaky Ground
President Dilma Rousseff Promised to Fight Corruption and Fix the Economy During Her Inauguration

After being in office for four years, the numbers are not good:

In an inauguration ceremony that was upbeat but drew sparse applause and little spontaneous celebration by her supporters, Ms. Rousseff extolled her legacy of poverty reduction while outlining a vision to get Latin America’s largest economy back on track.

“We will prove that it is possible to make adjustments to the economy without repealing rights that have been won or betray social commitments,” she said in a speech in Brazil’s Congress attended by cabinet members, foreign dignitaries, allied lawmakers and other officials.

Her pledge came as Brazil confronts flat growth, stubbornly high inflation, ballooning debt and a potentially explosive corruption scandal at state-controlled oil giant Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

Petrobras is key:

But the darkest cloud on the horizon for Ms. Rousseff might be the fast-moving corruption scandal at Petrobras.

Brazilian prosecutors allege that executives at Petrobras conspired with construction companies to inflate the cost of contracts, skimming off as much as $1.5 billion, by the estimate of Brazil’s budget watchdog, to enrich themselves while funneling kickbacks to Ms. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party and its allies.

Ms. Rousseff hasn’t been implicated in the scandal, and leaders of her party have repeatedly denied allegations of involvement. Police have already filed charges against 36 suspects, including two former Petrobras officials.

There are two things to bear in mind:
1. The enormous amounts of money handled through Petrobras (and the temptation/opportunities for corruption)
2. Brazil’s antecedents when it comes to scandals and prosecutions

Related:
Blast from the past: The Economist explains What is Brazil’s “mensalão”?

Mexico: And now, for #Articulo39RenunciaEPN

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

The latest hashtag, #Articulo39RenunciaEPN (say that fast three times!) refers to a corruption scandal, and twitterers are asking that president Enrique Peña Nieto resign,
Mexico Leader’s Woes Follow Him to China
Revelations that a mansion used by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s family was held by a Mexican company whose owner has won big government contracts reverberated from Mexico to China on Monday.
(emphasis added)

The president’s office defended the home by saying it wasn’t the president’s property, but rather the first lady’s, who was paying the home in installments. It declined to give more information.
. . .
As the president flew to China for trade talks he faced controversy there as well.

A Chinese partner of the Mexican company, Grupo Higa SA, threatened to pursue legal action against Mexico’s government after it abruptly canceled their consortium’s $3.7 billion contract to build a bullet train in Mexico last week.

“The company is extraordinarily shocked by Mexico’s decision,” state-run China Railway Construction Corp. said in a statement late Sunday. “The bidding for the high-speed rail project complied with the requirements of the Mexican government.”

The Mexican government canceled the concession for the high-speed train project Thursday, days before news broke that one of the partners on the project held the title to the first lady’s home.

The house title

The house title is in the name of a company called Ingenieria Inmobiliaria del Centro, according to property records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. That firm is owned by Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantú, the owner of Grupo Higa SA and its unit Constructores Teya, which won part of the bullet-train contract as well as several big contracts during Mr. Peña Nieto’s 2006-2012 term as governor of the State of Mexico, according to public information.

Eduardo Sánchez, a spokesman for the president, told The Wall Street Journal that the home in question, which has six bedrooms and is in one of Mexico City’s most exclusive neighborhoods, belongs to the first lady, Angélica Rivera, a former soap-opera star.

Which gives new meaning to the term “drama queen.”

Pardon my cynicism, but I’m having a Capt. Louis Renault moment,

There’s a candle vigil/demonstration scheduled for tonight at 7PM,



Venezuela: $15 smugglers jailed, $3.08 billion a year smugglers go free

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014


Los miserables

Colombians Jailed in Venezuela for $15 Grocery Run

A $15 grocery run has cost two single mothers from Colombia 48 days in jail, along with the threat of a 14-year prison sentence, as a result of a crackdown on smuggling in Venezuela that is ratcheting up tensions and highlighting growing economic distortions between the neighbors.

Jenifer Rojas and Belsy Alvarez were arrested in early September by Venezuela’s national guard walking out of a supermarket in the western city of San Cristobal with bags of rice, pasta, mayonnaise and other staples whose prices are capped in Venezuela and whose sale is restricted to the country’s residents.

Right now they’re out on parole, along with the cashier, who also was arrested.

Back in September crossing the border with foodstuffs may have been profitable, but now, goods are bad,

My first shock was the grocery store when I went to refurbish my refrigerator. The prices went noticeably up in one month for the stuff I buy. There was no imported goods. Of course, among the goods available there is all sorts of imported stuff re-processed in Venezuela. After all we are importing now at the very least 60% of our food (estimates vary, I am giving you the bottom line). What I mean is that you could still find an occasional treat, like some average Italian pasta, or an overpriced jar of raspberry jam. This is now all gone. And it has not been replaced, even by sub-par Venezuelan production.

The real dough is in oil smuggling,

Caracas-based economist Asdrubal Oliveros recently estimated 130,000 barrels of gasoline are now smuggled across the border to Colombia each and every day.

That’s a big number. How big?

Well, assuming our men in uniform are bad at business and only make $65 per barrel sold (they’re wholesalers, after all), that would work out $8.5 million dollarsevery day, $253.5 million dollars a month, $3.08 billion a year.

You could make three thousand milicos millionaires for that kind of money, and still have spare change to cut another 843 of them $100,000 gifts. (Note: the government believes the amount is about $2.2 billion per year)

In some ways, the headline figure is actually quite small. It’s only a fifth of the $14-15 billion a year in foregone sales from subsidizing gasoline in the first place, andmuch less than the $25 billion a year we would be earning from extra oil produced in the Orinoco Belt if Chávez hadn’t muscled out our foreign partners in 2005-2006 and production had risen according to what was then the schedule, but hasn’t cuz, y’know, he did.

Don’t wonder, then, why there is no military coup in Venezuela. All that money is going somewhere.

Meanwhile, Maduro raised the minimum wage by 15%, i.e., the $776 lie

Nicolás Maduro raised the minimum wage by 15% last night, starting December 1st.

Quickly, government news agencies began spewing the lie – there really is no other way to characterize it – that this was the highest minimum wage in Latin America, equivalent to US$ 776. The rub lies in the fact that this conversion is calculated using the official-yet-impossible-to-find exchange rate of BsF 6.3 per dollar – if you were to use the market exchange rate of BsF 102 per dollar, you get a minimum (and I mean really minimum) wage of US$ 48 per month.

He’s also aligning himself with the hardcore Marxists

That’s going to work as all Marxism has so far.

Report on 100% food inflation in Venezuela,

Parting question,
Could Low Oil Prices End Venezuela’s Revolution? The answer to that question may depend on the outcome of Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi trip this week to Venezuela.

Mexico: #Ayotzinapa backlash in Mexico Bronco

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

The 43 students are still missing. Here are today’s headlines:

Mexican Tied to Missing Students Is Killed
Death of Benjamin Mondragón, Alleged Head of Guerreros Unidos, Comes After Protests

The alleged leader of a Mexican criminal band that prosecutors accuse of colluding with police in the disappearance of 43 college students was killed on Tuesday during a shootout with security forces, federal officials said.

The security forces had tracked Benjamin Mondragón to a house in a suburb of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City, where the battle took place, officials said.

The officials said Mr. Mondragón led the Guerreros Unidos gang, which they said collaborated with police in the September shooting deaths of six people and the subsequent disappearance of the college students—whom most officials presume to be dead—in Iguala, a city in Guerrero state.

The death of Mr. Mondragón, known as Benjamón, or Big Ben, came a day after teachers and students burned and vandalized parts of Guerrero Gov. Angel Aguirre’s office and the state’s local legislature, demanding the return of the missing students and the governor’s resignation.
. . . .
But the incident in Iguala is a reminder of what Mexicans call “Mexico Bronco,” or “Untamed Mexico”—a wild land rife with poverty, cronyism and violence. Entire states and hundreds of cities and towns are in the grip of drug gangs and corrupt police and city halls, security experts say. The rule of law is shaky: Fewer than 3% of homicides are solved, officials say.

Protesters Burn State Building in Southern Mexico
Students, Teachers Clash With Police as Anger Flares Over Disappearance of 43 Young People

Missing Mexico students: Iguala eyewitness account

The search continues in Mexico for 43 students who have been missing since 26 September following clashes with the police. Omar Garcia is one of the students who witnessed the deadly clashes in which six people died. Here he describes what he saw that evening and what he thinks may have happened to his 43 fellow students.
. . .
We think the municipal police took them – what we think happened is that they kept them somewhere and then, as we say, “disappeared” them – like so many thousands of others in this country who are missing.

The Twitter tag is #Ayotzinapa

Could Mexico become the next Russia?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

In Russia, Putin is king. Paul Roderick Gregory writes that Putin’s Reaction To Sanctions Is Destroying The Economy And China Won’t Help

Things are not going well for Vladimir Putin. The price of oil and the ruble continue to fall. Top Russian officials admit that the economy is in big trouble, despite Putin’s denials. Likely presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, has declared that Putin must be contained. Putin’s counter sanctions are making things worse. The most ominous sign, however, is that Putin is weakening the foundations on which his power is based. He is cutting off foreign investment by bailing out his friends, and he is breaking the social compact on which his KGB-Mafia state is founded.
. . .
Putin’s kleptocracy is based on the following principles of (mis)governance: 1) The state determines what is legal and what is not; there is no rule of law. 2) The state serves the interests of Putin and his inner circle, not of the people. 3) Putin’s kleptocracy uses its media monopoly to brainwash the people with Goebbels-like big lies. 4) Putin determines property rights – who owns what. 5) Disloyalty will be punished by confiscation of property, banishment, prison, or worse. Loyalists can rest easy, however. Their property is safe, or at least says their friend, Vladimir Putin.

Leon Krauze sees Russia as a cautionary tale for Mexico, and asks that Mexico’s President Must Not Ignore This Mass Grave of College Kids—or the Corruption It Represents. The mass grave refers to the 43 students missing since September 26

And then you have Guerrero, current epicenter of Mexico’s nightmare. For a while now, rival gangs have been fighting for control of the state. The result has been the usual parade of horrors: cities besieged (including Acapulco), governments infiltrated, journalists threatened, police corrupted. And death. And vengeance. The latest rearing of the beast’s head produced an atrocity: 43 college students were abducted by local policemen, reportedly under the order of both the police chief and the mayor of Iguala, a man allegedly in cahoots with organized crime (both are on the run). The whereabouts of the kidnapped students remain unknown, but authorities recently found a crude open grave filled with 28 severely burnt bodies. Some showed signs of torture. Forensics are still trying to figure out if the bodies are those of the kidnapped students. Relatives fear the worst.

Krauze points out,

Instead of trying to will reality into submission, the government should tackle Mexico’s biggest problem: corruption. Despite Peña Nieto’s penchant for structural change, his administration has failed to put in place even the most modest reform to fight the country’s deep-rooted corruption.

Updating the story yesterday, Mexico’s attorney general said that none of the 28 bodies found in a mass grave in Iguala belongs to the 43 missing students. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that nine mass graves exist in Iguala, or that none of the students’ remains have been found.

Iguala’s mayor Jose Luis Abarca (now missing, along with his wife and the town police chief), had numerous and serious complaints of corruption filed against him, which federal authorities ignored.

The thing is, Peña Nieto’s party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) was based, and ruled Mexico for over 70 years with impunity, on a culture built on widespread tolerance of corruption, which Krauze calls a “gigantic structure of perverse political convenience.” About the only thing preventing Mexico from a Putin-type of president was that the PRI insisted on changing presidents every six years.

When Krauze asked Peña Nieto (emphasis added)

how Peña Nieto planned to prevent Mexico from turning into Russia, especially now that billions of dollars will be in play due to the recent opening of the country’s energy sector to private investors. Peña Nieto shrugged off my concern. Corruption in Mexico “is a cultural matter,” he said, not realizing the implications of the sentence.

Until and unless Mexico tackles corruption, the country is not going to flourish, no matter what other changes the president du jour may attempt.

[Post edited for clarity]



Ecuador’s “dirty hand,” and Mia Farrow’s greased palm

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

My latest article, Ecuador’s “dirty hand,” and Mia Farrow’s greased palm is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Don’t expect the case to be over, either.

Venezuela: Why the military won’t rise up

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

While El Puma and a few others call for Venezuela’s military to rise up against the Cuban-run dictatorship, there’s a big reason why that’s unlikely: perks.

Perks, and the likelihood they already are running the country:

New Cars for the Army as Venezuelans Line Up for Food

The market with everything from subsidized meat to baby strollers, along with loans, new cars and apartments, are perks provided to the armed forces as the economy contracts, poverty rises and President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity sinks to a record low.

The benefits help ensure the loyalty of the military, while siphoning reserves away from the poor who have seen wage growth fall behind inflation, according to analysts, citizen activists and academics.

Since Maduro came to power 17 months ago, the armed forces have created their own television channel, housing program and bank, the only military-owned one outside Iran and Vietnam. A third of Venezuela’s 28 ministers and half the state governors are now active or retired officers, mostly companions of former paratroop commander and late President Hugo Chavez.

This echoes the Cuban model, where most businesses that cater to tourists are own by the military. In fact, Venezuela is now a military regime:

The rise in prices is not the only kind of inflation affecting Venezuela. Bloomberg reports that “its military now has between 4,000 and 5,000 generals” for a ratio of one general for every 34 servicemen (in the United States the ratio is one general per 1,490 servicemen). As expected, generals enjoy higher salaries and many other benefits. Moreover, the intelligence community believes that high-ranking army officers control most illegal activities in Venezuela, from smuggling to drug trafficking. In other words, military men are profiteering from the status quo.

Juan Cristobal Nagel:

Count the Armed Forces alongside Wall Street and China as the three groups Maduro will never default on. That´s why it pains me to read simplistic stuff such as García Mora’s latest, where he wonders out loud when the country will finally break.