Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The only surprising thing about this is that it went this far:
Argentine Prosecutor Drops Case Against President Cristina Kirchner
Javier De Luca argued that accusations were spurious
(emphasis added),

In a 27-page decision, prosecutor Javier De Luca argued that Mr. Nisman’s case against Mrs. Kirchner and others was spurious. “The constitution prohibits the initiation and continuation of a criminal investigation simply to determine if a crime has been committed when it is readily clear that no crime has been committed,” Mr. De Luca wrote.
. . .
The prosecutor is a member of a pro-Kirchner group, Legitimate Justice, which some members of the judiciary say is focused on protecting government officials. The group’s leaders say they are trying to reform a judiciary that had become too close to big corporations and vested interests. Argentina ranks 127 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum ratings on judicial independence.

De Luca also argued that the negotiations with Iran with members of Cristina’s inner circle cannot be considered a crime since conspiracy is not included in the Argentine Penal Code.

Nisman’s writ: strike III and out?

Although the judges from that tribunal can question the grounds of De Luca’s decision they cannot take up the complaint itself, sources from the court told the Herald yesterday.
. . .
De Luca’s dismissal came the same day that Nisman’s mother, Sara Garfunkel, along with a group of opposition politicians and intellectuals filed a writ before the Supreme Court to keep her son’s complaint afloat, something that is not likely to happen at the influential Comodoro Py courthouse.

As Capt. Louis Renault famously said,

UPDATE:
Carlos Hos has a list of unanswered questions regarding Nisman’s murder (in Spanish)

Brazil: The demonstrators are not going away

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

In fact, now some are calling for military intervention:

700,000 protest against Brazilian government with some calling for military intervention
Anti-government rallies continue as calls for Dilma Rousseff to be impeached grow. Some even urge the military to get involved

Anti-government rallies drew an estimated 700,000 protesters to the streets around Brazil on Sunday amid calls for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff
. . .
The protests were aimed at the Workers’ Party (PT), which has been beset by a massive corruption scandal within state-owned oil company Petrobras.

The Workers’ Party has been implicated by an investigation that found some Petrobras contracts were inflated and profit creamed off for executives and politicians.

Elvis left the building, and was on the street:

As I’ve been saying, the outcome is entirely up to the Brazilians.

Colombia: Hillary changed her mind on FTA over $50 million, oops, $130 million

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

LANGUAGE WARNING

Ace posts, Hillary Clinton Reversed Position on Trade Deal With Colombia After Huge Donation to Clinton Foundation

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Frank Guistra, a mining magnate — that means oil — who gave the Clinton Foundation up to fifty fucking million fucking dollars.

Make that $130 million, Ace,

Oh. I guess I lowballed it.

As Colombian Oil Money Flowed To Clintons, State Department Took No Action To Prevent Labor Violations

The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact. Having opposed the deal as a bad one for labor rights back when she was a presidential candidate in 2008, she now promoted it, calling it “strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States.” The change of heart by Clinton and other Democratic leaders enabled congressional passage of a Colombia trade deal that experts say delivered big benefits to foreign investors like Giustra.

Just how much money are we talking about?

In a Wall Street Journal story from 2008, Giustra is described as a “friend and traveling companion” of former President Clinton who donated more than $130 million to Clinton’s philanthropies.

This is not the first time the Clintons were dealing from both sides of the deck. As you may recall,

Mark Penn, her campaign strategist was also working for the Colombian government towards pushing the agreement.

Penn was fired by the Colombians on Saturday and lost his job as Hillary’s campaign strategist on Sunday, but will remain as pollster and adviser to the Hillary campaign, whatever that means.

Frank Giustra now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation,

Just the other day Bill was saying his foundation

is, by a good long stretch, the most transparent of all the presidential foundations and more transparent than a lot of other major foundations in the country.”

It all depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is:

Since it’s Throwback Thursday, coinciding with the Summit of the Americas, a quick glance back to 2012, when Hillary tied one on and led the conga line at the Summit,

Is Hillary Clinton becoming an embarrassment as Secretary of State?

Argentina: Yet another Iran connection

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Argentina’s current ambassador to the OAS allegedly held accounts in Iranian banks totaling nearly US$48 million.

Máximo Kirchner held bank accounts abroad with Nilda Garré, says financial sector investigator
The son of Argentina´s president, Cristina Kirchner, is said to have been a joint accountholder in million-dollar bank accounts in the United States and Cayman islands with Argentina´s former ambassador to Venezuela

On Sunday, March 29, the Argentinean newspaper Clarín published an article in which it claimed that Nilda Garré had held bank accounts in the United States and Iran. One of the accounts mentioned by the newspaper was with Felton Bank, headquartered in the American state of Delaware, and amounted to US$ 61.5 million between 2005 and 2010.

The Iranian bank account was said to have been opened on April 28, 2011. This occurred only three months after a secret meeting held in the Syrian city of Aleppo in which the foreign ministers of Iran and Argentina negotiated the creation of a truth commission that would serve to cover up Iranian participation in the 1994 attacks against the Jewish association Amia in Buenos Aires, according to the Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman who was murdered in January of this year.

Nilda Garré has been an influential figure within the Argentinean government since the first days of the presidency of the late Néstor Kirchner. She was Argentinean ambassador to Venezuela, Defense minister, Security minister and is currently ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS). She denied to Clarín that she had maintained bank accounts in the United States and Iran.

Garré, who was Argentina´s Defense minister when the Iranian government had asked Chavez to persuade Argentina to share nuclear secrets in exchange for money, “was in charge of handling this matter with her counterparts in Iran and Venezuela.”

The Iranian accounts totaled almost US$48 million.

See also: Afirman que Garré habría manejado dos cuentas en Irán
Sospechas de triangulación de dinero e insumos a través de Venezuela
Llegaron a tener 48 millones de dólares. Antes habría tenido otra en un banco de EE.UU. La ex ministra lo niega.



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.