Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

Nicaragua canal: Plan, nothing more

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

The Economist weighs in,
Nicaragua’s proposed canal
A man, a plan—and little else
Yet again, Nicaraguans are letting their longing for a trans-oceanic canal get the better of them

Since June, when the Sandinista-stuffed National Assembly rubber-stamped a law granting a 50-year concession, renewable up to 100 years, to Mr Wang’s HKND Group, many have wondered whether the 40-year-old telecoms boss is a crank. In August the Associated Press reported that in many countries, including Nicaragua, where he has claimed to be doing business, his companies are barely noticeable. Although both Mr Wang and President Daniel Ortega insist that the project will go ahead, people who have worked with HKND say it has more of an option to build than an obligation. In effect, the cost of the option is the tens of millions of dollars that Mr Wang is expected to pay from his own pocket to find out which route is most physically and financially feasible.

Hence ERM, a British consultancy, is looking at the environmental and social impact of digging a deep channel through Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest in Latin America, and carving through ancestral indigenous lands. Australian engineers are pondering how to remove millions of truckloads of dirt in a country with no large excavators, let alone nearby roads or railways. McKinsey, a business consultancy, is said to be working out how the project could make enough money to entice sovereign-wealth funds to bankroll it.

Good luck with that; all they have is dubious plans and abundant unknowns.

Again: the Chinese government are not involved in this; only Wang Jing – and he and Ortega already made a $300million sweet deal.

I’ve been saying all along, Don’t be the next Lord Crawley.

Venezuela: Swarm loots a truck after an accident

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The sad state of affairs in Venezuela:
A truck carrying meat got stuck under a bridge, and it was immediately swarmed and looted by people who actually climbed over the injured driver, who later died.

Daniel Duqenal comments about The society Chavez has left us: barbarians inside the gate

At 9 AM about 300 bikers arrived and tried to overpower the police security people who had to call for reinforcement. Of course, the idea was to loot the truck…

The disaster blocked the whole city all the way until downtown (photo included in the link)

So there you have it, 14 years of Chavez socialism and we are left with a large group of people who think that they can grab whatever they want, at any price, shocked, SHOCKED when actually some authority tries to explain to them that no, they cannot do so. Note: the society of motorbikes is a creation of chavismo who has subsidized them heavily in the early years because they were their storm troopers to quickly go around town to crush any anti Chavez protest. Remember Lina Ron? Now they are out of control, a threat to regime itself. One shudders at the idea that suddenly 300 bikes could appear in a neighborhood and start looting while the cops look helpless. Because they are armed, you know, the bikers, better than the cops probably.

The problems we face to rebuild Venezuela are much, much worse than a matter to find money for reconstruction, putting finance in orders, supporting business to produce and hire people. We have become a society of looters, robbers, abusers, drug traffickers, and what not, to a degree of cruelty and violence that leads us to prison riots where the hearts of the victims are pulled out of their chests.  Viva Chavez, carajo!

The looting was open and went on for a long time,

Daniel further comments,

But what that video illustrates quite well is the plague that motorbikers have become in Venezuela, the huge numbers they are and their ruthless contempt at blocking traffic and reckless driving. Chavez is the man that has allowed the rise of that cast of violent folks. True, they may be, for all that I know, a minority inside the motorbiker “community”. Chavez made motorbikes easily available for his supporters, and with the ridiculous price of gas they had no problem in learning to use their bikes all the time. Chavez wanted that because he wanted a form of storm troopers ready to mobilize on short notice across Caracas, to launch counter protests wherever needed, the threaten whomever was necessary with a “spontaneous” protest of chavismo own. Soon, they were even allowed without helmets in the highways, a place they were banned from until Chavez.

The result was to be expected. After a decade of driving recklessly, of scratching and banging the cars stuck in traffic as they sneak through it, these storm troopers are realizing that they can mobilize themselves by the hundreds, attack whatever they want to attack, and push back the authorities. They are on the loose on Caracas, a violent mob like gang.

I have several friends mention that the trucks were frequently looted in Venezuela. But this is monstrous.

In other Venezuela news, Maduro expelled three American diplomats for meeting with the opposition.

Because you can never be tough enough on crime.

Trip Advisor: Caracas

Why has Brazil stagnated?

Friday, September 27th, 2013

The Economist is asking, Has Brazil blown it?
A stagnant economy, a bloated state and mass protests mean Dilma Rousseff must change course

The Economist’s op-ed looks at the factors why Brazil’s economy grew by only 0.9% in 2012:

  • The world’s most burdensome tax code
  • Absurdly generous pensions
  • Spending only 1.5% of GDP on infrastructure, compared with a global average of 3.8%
  • Gross public debt has climbed to 60-70% of GDP

The Economist recommends that Brazil do three things:

It needs to rediscover an appetite for reform by reshaping public spending, especially pensions.
. . .
Second, it must make Brazilian business more competitive and encourage it to invest
. . .
Third, Brazil urgently needs political reform

None of this is likely to happen; Carlos Alberto Montaner writes

“All you have to do is read the records of the São Paulo Forum and observe the conduct of the Brazilian government,” he said. “The friends of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, of Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party are the enemies of the United States: Chavist Venezuela, first with (Hugo) Chávez and now with (Nicolás) Maduro; Raúl Castro’s Cuba; Iran; Evo Morales’ Bolivia; Libya at the time of Gadhafi; Bashar Assad’s Syria.

“Cuban influence in Brazil is covert but very intense. José Dirceu, Lula da Silva’s former chief of staff and his most influential minister, had been an agent of the Cuban intelligence services. In exile in Cuba, he had his face surgically changed. He returned to Brazil with a new identity (Carlos Henrique Gouveia de Mello, a Jewish merchant) and functioned in that capacity until democracy was restored. Hand in hand with Lula, he placed Brazil among the major collaborators with the Cuban dictatorship. He fell into disgrace because he was corrupt but never retreated one inch from his ideological preferences and his complicity with Havana.”

Yesterday commenter Marcos stated,

please write more about the Forum of Sao Paulo, the organization created by Brazil’s Lula and Castro to change Latin America into an united Marxist region. Brazil has totally fallen to Marxism and is now engaged in the help of all marxist partners.

Brazil has already received the first of 4000 Cuban physicians who will come to indoctrinate Brazilian poor people on the wonders of communism. These guys are not even certified as doctors and are slaves who never see their salaries (money goes directly to Fidel).

Add to that the immense, structural corruption, and the drug trade from fellow Foro member Bolivia.

Back in 2009 The Economist had a picture of the Corcovado Christ as a rocket. Now the rocket is on a crash course:

Is The Economist’s image a good summation of the country’s situation?

You decide.

Brazil: “Mensalão” vote-buying convictions to be appealed

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Their lawyers will be able to put their kids through Princeton University; heck, the lawyers will have enough money left to retire in Princeton, if they ever get to retire! This is going to be drawn out for decades:

Brazil Court Allows Corruption Case Appeals
Decision Could Lead to Lengthy Retrials

Brazil’s Supreme Court voted Wednesday to reassess the landmark convictions it handed down against a dozen defendants found guilty last year of participating in a vote-buying scheme that rocked the government of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The 6-5 vote allows 12 of the 25 defendants in the case, including Mr. da Silva’s once-powerful chief of staff José Dirceu, to appeal parts of their prison sentences, which could open the door to lengthy retrials. Mr. Dirceu maintains his innocence and says he is a target of political retribution.

The decision could send shock waves through a country that has long struggled with corruption, and where many held up the court’s earlier convictions of the defendants as a sign of change. The cash-for-votes scandal, dubbed the Mensalão, or ‘big monthly payoff’, resulted in Brazil’s biggest-ever political corruption trial.

Instead, the retrials now risk becoming a symbol of the inability of Brazilian prosecutors to make high-profile corruption convictions stick, said José Garcez Ghirardi, a professor of political theory and law at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas law school in São Paulo.

As I had posted a while ago, no one has served time on these charges.

Lula himself was not implicated in the case and has denied any knowledge of the scheme, so don’t be surprised if he runs again.

Brazil: A Lula comeback?

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Shampoo, rinse, repeat:
Talk turns to a Lula comeback as Brazil’s president tumbles in polls

Well, well. The protestors who were complaining about corruption would be willing to take Lula back?

Are we talking about the same Lula who’s being investigated?

He has been accused of involvement in an illegal scheme that used public funds to pay coalition parties for political support.

And the guys who ratted him out have not served 1 day in jail.

Oh yes, that Lula.

Venezuela: The perils of hyperinflation

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

As Venezuela approaches Zimbabwe-heights of inflation, Nicolas Maduro fired the Central Bank president: Venezuela central bank head replaced amid corruption claims. What does it mean for Venezuela’s economy? Steve Hanke explains,

Steve Hanke, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University in the US and chief economic adviser in the mid-1990s to the then president of Venezuela, Rafael Caldera, told that a change at the top of the central bank will be “completely irrelevant” to the problems faced by Venezuela’s economy – chief among them annual inflation running at almost 240%, according to the Troubled Currencies Project, which Hanke runs in conjunction with the Cato Institute.

Hanke said the central bank is seen in Venezuela as a fourth source of funding for the government, after oil revenues, tax collection and the bond market – none of which have the capacity to fund the level of social spending enacted by Maduro’s government, in the same vein as the late Hugo Chavez before him.

There are two ways of halting inflation, according to Hanke: a currency board, or dollarisation as has been pursued in Ecuador. A currency board would allow Venezuela to keep its own national currency, the bolivar, but would “put a hard budget constraint in the system and fix the fiscal affairs”, Hanke said, adding: “You can’t go to the central bank and have them printing money” with a currency board in place.

The corruption in the political system also stems, said Hanke, from the monetary regime. “You have exchange controls put in to conserve scarce foreign exchange reserves,” he said, “but they’re also an invitation for massive corruption and favouritism.”

“The gross profit now from the black market is around 600%,” Hanke said, “a huge incentive to try to break the system. So we know, in short, that the current monetary arrangements will require that they retain some kind of exchange controls and capital controls, and that will invite massive corruption – and it has.”

According to Transparency International, Venezuela ranks 165 out of 176 countries, placing it among the 12 most corrupt countries in the world. Rest assured the corruption will continue.

Mexico: Caro Quintero, and Fast & Furious

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

In what can only be described as a slap in the face to the US, last Friday Mexican authorities released drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero, who founded the disintegrated Guadalajara Cartel and was the man behind the torture and killing of (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena. Now the U.S. asks Mexico to detain freed drug lord so can be extradited

The United States has asked Mexico to detain freed drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero to face charges brought decades ago by a U.S. court, the Mexican attorney general’s office said on Wednesday, setting the stage for a formal extradition request.

Caro Quintero, one of the infamous godfathers of Mexican drug trafficking, was freed last week from the Puente Grande prison after serving nearly three decades of a 40-year sentence for ordering the 1985 murder of undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena.

The ruling was a bitter blow to the DEA, and the United States said it would not cease in its efforts to bring Caro Quintero to justice on home soil.

Good luck with that: Not only does Mexico forbid extradition in cases where the accused may receive a death penalty, more ‘Fast and Furious’ weapons are still appearing at Mexico crime scenes

Three more weapons used in Operation Fast and Furious have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, Fox News confirms.

CBS News first reported earlier this week that the guns had been tracked down. According to Justice Department documents, all three are described as WASR-10 .762-caliber Romanian rifles and all three were traced to a gun shop in Glendale, Arizona. The exact locations where the guns were recovered, and what crimes the guns may have been used in, was not immediately clear.

The documents further state that two of the three guns were purchased by Uriel Patino, who is believed to have purchased 700 weapons with encouragement from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. The third was bought by Sean Steward, who was convicted on gun charges in 2012.

Hundreds of Mexicans have been killed with F&F weapons. To say that doesn’t sit well with Mexico doesn’t begin to describe it.

Indeed (emphasis added),

Edward Heath, the DEA’s regional director for Mexico at the time of the Camarena killing who was present during the identification of the agent’s body from dental records, said on Saturday that Caro Quintero’s release reflected a broader lack of cooperation with the US from the new Mexican government, in contrast with the administration of former president Felipe Calderón. “There’s some collusion going on,” he said. “This guy is a major trafficker. This guy is bad, a mean son of a gun.”

Caro Quintero has gone into hiding, and now, “acting on a request from the United States”, the Mexican government wants Caro Quintero detained, in the spirit of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted.

What you really should be reading about Anthony Weiner

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

other than his pervy, salacious compulsions, has to do with his wife Huma’s Unmentionables:

Sorry to interrupt the Best Enabler of a Sociopath Award ceremony but, to recap, Ms. Abedin worked for many years at a journal that promotes Islamic-supremacist ideology that was founded by a top al-Qaeda financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef. Naseef ran the Rabita Trust, a formally designated foreign terrorist organization under American law. Ms. Abedin and Naseef overlapped at theJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA) for at least seven years. Throughout that time (1996–2003), Ms. Abdein worked for Hillary Clinton in various capacities.

Read the whole thing, written by Andrew McCarthy, who was chief prosecutor of the first World Trade Center terrorist attack. He concludes with

Naturally, what did get Washington chattering was a scandal far more typical in Clinton circles — the lucrative arrangement Ms. Abedin struck with Mrs. Clinton’s State Department that allowed her, after returning from maternity leave, to draw a $135,000 State Department salary while remaining in New York, not actually working at Foggy Bottom, and moonlighting as a “strategic consultant” for an outfit called Teneo – founded by Bill Clinton’s chum Doug Band.

What a racket. The marriage to Huma Abedin, a Clinton insider, enables Anthony Weiner to resurrect a debased career and deflect attention from his psychotic antics even as he continues them. The marriage to Anthony Weiner, a prominent Jewish progressive, enables Huma Abedin to deflect attention from her associations with various Islamic supremacists even as, during her tenure as a top State Department official, American policy embraces Islamic supremacists.

You must read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Mr. Bingley

Argentina and Mexico: #1 on corruption

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Transparency International has released its Global Corruption Barometer, and – keeping in mind that things in China are so bad they couldn’t even ask Argentina and Mexico tied for the #1 corruption spot in Latin America, followed by Venezuela,

Seventy-two percent of Argentines and 71 percent of Mexicans think their country’s corruption has grown in the past year. A close third is Venezuela, with 67 percent of population saying corruption runs rampant. It is precisely Venezuela the NGO gives as an example of classic corruption. A 50-year-old woman, Carmela,described the day when a group of policemen burst into her home and arrested her 27-year-old son and would not let him go free until she paid a ransom.

The report pointed out what institutions were the most affected, and results varied in different countries. The police was named the most corrupt entity in Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico and El Salvador. Politicians and political parties shared the top spot in Mexico and Argentina and came just behind legislators as the top corrupt authority in Brazil.

Brazil, a country that has made headlines recently over massive protests targeting corruption, among other things, had a very modest 27 percent of population saying that corruption had increased a lot in the past year. However, 72 percent of respondents said that lawmakers were extremely corrupt. Uruguay and Colombia also pointed at legislators as their most corrupt authority.

You can read the Global Corruption Barometer at the link.

Argentina: The high cost of not doing business

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Ralph Lauren Corp., which closed its Buenos Aires shop last year over economic and currency issues (at a cost of US$3million in severance pay and lease expenses), self-reported to the US DOJ and the SEC, and agreed to pay

$882,000 penalty as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and $734,846 to the Securities and Exchange Commission

over bribes company employees allegedly paid to

Argentine customs officials with dresses, perfume and cash to accelerate the passage of merchandise into the South American country…

The bribes, allegedly paid via a customs broker, were labeled as “loading and delivery expenses” or “stamp tax/label tax” on invoices in order to disguise the payments, according to U.S. authorities.

The Justice Department alleged that the bribes were paid in order to improperly obtain the paperwork necessary for goods to clear customs, to permit the clearance of prohibited items and to occasionally avoid inspection entirely.

With a system of rampant corruption, the local employees probably figured it was the only way to get the merchandise to the store. Otherwise the cargo would sit in customs until a substantial part of it went “missing” – and you’d still have to pay off someone.

RLC didn’t admit or deny the allegations in its agreement with the SEC, and this is the first time the SEC has entered a nonprosecution agreement in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act matter.