Reports & analysis by award-winning investigative journalist Lucy Komisar “”

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Murdoch the tax dodger

Murdoch the tax dodger

July 19, 2011 – I am waiting for the media analysts and critics of Rupert Murdoch to mention that the fellow is an egregious tax evader.
An article I posted on the subject four years ago was called “Tax dodging helps Murdoch buy the Journal” and starts out:

Where did Rupert Murdoch get $5 billion to buy up the Wall St. Journal? Beyond normal profits, his coffers were stuffed by dodging taxes in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of that is your money!

German documentary “Transit” searches for truth about a brother who fled to East Germany

German documentary “Transit” searches for truth about a brother who fled to East Germany

April 20, 2011 – “Transit,” a fascinating documentary by German filmmaker Angela Zumpe, seeks to understand the story of her 21-year-old brother Reinhard, who in 1968 immigrated from West to East Germany and eight months later – never contacting his family — jumped from a window to his death.

Russian Deputy PM says 1,000 Russian banks are money-launderers

Russian Deputy PM says 1,000 Russian banks are money-launderers

April 4, 2011 –

Sergey Ivanov, the Russian deputy prime minister, spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations lunch today. I asked if he thought the U.S. and Russia should get together to put a stop to offshore tax evasion. He smiled and agreed that the two countries need to deal with the international offshore system. That was something to consider in the future. And then he said, “There are more than 1,000 banks in Russia. They are not banks but launderers.”

A Russian spook operation? “Khodorkovsky” film mysteriously stolen twice

A Russian spook operation? “Khodorkovsky” film mysteriously stolen twice

Feb 5, 2011 – The final edit of a film about the jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a film to which I contributed, has been stolen from the offices of German director Cyril Tuschi. The documentary, “Khodorkovsky,” is to have its world premier at the Berlin International Film Festival Feb. 14. I did reporting for the film and also was video-interviewed for it. The film tells Khodorkovsky’s story from his youth to the build-up of his oil empire and his political challenge to then President Vladimir Putin. Putin had told the “oligarchs,” men who had stolen the Russian patrimony to build their wealth, that he wouldn’t bother them as long as they stayed out of politics. Khodorkovsky, however, sought to influence the Duma election. He was arrested in 2003 and then tried and jailed for tax evasion.

Ex-employee who claimed firing over opposition to Haiti bribery settles suit against IDT

Ex-employee who claimed firing over opposition to Haiti bribery settles suit against IDT

Jan 24, 2011 – The lawsuit filed by a former employee against the Newark-based global telecom IDT is over. J. Michael Jewett, who was an IDT executive, claimed in 2004 that he was fired for opposing bribes to Haitian officials. Lawyers for both sides agreed to drop the complaint and counterclaims in an accord filed with the U.S. District Court in Newark on January 13th. This has not been reported before now.

IDT spokesman Bill Ulrey said, “We have no comment…as usual. Thank you.” Jewett’s attorney William Perniciaro also declined to discuss the matter. When both sides don’t talk about an agreement to dismiss a case, that normally means a confidential settlement has been reached.

A preview of what Rudolf Elmer gave WikiLeaks

A preview of what Rudolf Elmer gave WikiLeaks

Jan 17, 2011 –

Rudolf Elmer appeared with WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange in London today and announced that he had given WikiLeaks two CDs with information about more than 2,000 prominent individuals and companies who evaded taxes or were involved in other criminal activities.

I used Elmer’s documents two years ago to show how the Julius Baer group adopted a plan in 1996 to utilize its Grand Cayman shell company Baer Select Management (on whose board he served) to help investors in Julius Baer Investment Management New York and JBIM London evade taxes.

Lucy asks Condoleezza Rice about WikiLeaks

Lucy asks Condoleezza Rice about WikiLeaks

Dec 6, 2010 – Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations Friday and used the occasion to attack WikiLeaks. I used the occasion to ask her a question: “If WikiLeaks should be charged criminally for putting up this information, should The New York Times be charged criminally for doing the same thing?”

CNBC Power Lunch: I blame Congress for prisoners’ fraudulent tax refunds

CNBC Power Lunch: I blame Congress for prisoners’ fraudulent tax refunds

Dec 4, 2010 – I was invited to CNBC’s Power Lunch to talk about a report by the IRS Inspector General that prisoners had received $112 million in tax refunds they shouldn’t have gotten. I surprised the interviewers by turning the question to tax cheating by those outside prison walls.

Lucy on Canadian TV defending WikiLeaks

Lucy on Canadian TV defending WikiLeaks

Nov 30, 2010 – I went on CTV, the Canadian News Network, to debate Martin Collicott, a former Canadian ambassador, over the WikiLeaks document release. Here’s a link to the video, done live yesterday, and then the text of what I said.

Journalists from 40 Countries Join in Support for Wikileaks

Journalists from 40 Countries Join in Support for Wikileaks

Nov 7, 2010 –

[Update, by Dec it’s 60 countries and more than 460 signers.]

Journalists from every region of the world have joined together to support the whistle-blowing organization Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange who, they say, have provided an extraordinary resource for journalists around the world and made “an outstanding contribution to transparency and accountability on the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars”.

I am one of the organizers of the campaign.

The journalists, many of whom are prominent investigative reporters, come from countries as diverse as Russia and Namibia, and Israel and Indonesia, plus many from European countries and North America. The journalists, who are linked through investigative journalism networks, decided to speak out publicly after watching a growing campaign of threats and unfair criticisms against Assange and Wikileaks.

China blocks international crackdown on offshore, says European Commission President Barroso

China blocks international crackdown on offshore, says European Commission President Barroso

Sept 27, 2010 –

China is the major international power blocking a global solution to the offshore bank and secrecy problem. It is doing so because of its own secrecy jurisdiction, Hong Kong, says José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission.

He said some countries hadn’t been reacting positively to efforts to change the system , to establish a level playing field.

After the meeting, I asked him why the major financial powers hadn’t been able to achieve a solution. He said the problem was “China, because of Hong Kong.”

IDT’s imaginary “ethics letter”

IDT’s imaginary “ethics letter”

Sept 24, 2010 – Last Saturday, Barron’s ran my story in which IDT CEO Howard Jonas admitted for the first time a suspect deal with then Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide that involved sending payments due Haiti to a law firm in the Turks and Caicos. Jonas told me the company had gotten a lawyer’s “ethics letter” clearing the deal. But he wouldn’t provide it.

A day before the story was to run, Barron’s got a call from a lawyer of the firm representing IDT in a lawsuit by former IDT executive D. Michael Jewett, who says the company fired him for objecting to the offshore deal. He promised to provide the ethics letter. It was the end of day, Friday. The magazine noted that promise when it published the next day.

Days later, the lawyer called to say he couldn’t provide the letter because it was sealed. Hard to believe: there is no sealing order for the letter in the case docket.

Sodexo, exposed by Komisar for kickbacks, agrees to $20m settlement

Sodexo, exposed by Komisar for kickbacks, agrees to $20m settlement

July 21, 2010 –

The global food services company Sodexo, which I exposed last year for exacting “rebates” from suppliers and charging clients full price, has agreed to a $20 million settlement with NY Attorney General for that illicit practice.

Lucy accepts trophy for Loeb award

Lucy accepts trophy for Loeb award

June 30, 2010 – Last night I accepted a Gerald Loeb award trophy for the Allen Stanford investigation. The Loeb awards are the highest honors in U.S. financial journalism. I and my colleagues, Miami Herald reporters Michael Sallah and Rob Barry, won in the category of “medium & small newspapers.” The prize submission was entitled “Keys to the Kingdom: How State Regulators Enabled a $7 Billion Ponzi Scheme.”

National Press Club award for Stanford investigation

National Press Club award for Stanford investigation

June 25, 2010 – Another award for the Stanford investigation, this time from the National Press Club in Washington DC, bestowing the prize for Newspaper Consumer Journalism.

The NPC award categories are consumer reporting, Washington correspondence, press criticism, regional, diplomatic and environmental reporting, online journalism, freedom of the press, political journalism, animal reporting, and geriatric writing.

Lucy wins Sigma Delta Chi award for Stanford story

Lucy wins Sigma Delta Chi award for Stanford story

May 5, 2010 –

I have won the Sigma Delta Chi journalism award for Non-Deadline Reporting (Daily Circulation 100,001+) for “Allen Stanford’s Miami Connection.” This is the exposé I brought to the Miami Herald that told how the Florida Banking Department allowed Stanford to set up an unregulated office to move money offshore. I worked with two Herald reporters, who shared the award. It is one of the country’s major journalism prizes.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists, which presents the award, “Judges chose the winners from over 1,300 entries in categories covering print, radio, television and online. The awards recognize outstanding work published or broadcast in 2009.” They will be presented Oct. 2 during the 2010 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Las Vegas.

U.S. civil rights veterans pass torch to younger generation

U.S. civil rights veterans pass torch to younger generation

RALEIGH, North Carolina, Inter Press Service (IPS), April 27, 2010 – Robert Moses, 75, a legendary leader and organiser in the 1960s U.S. civil rights movement, was huddled with a dozen people discussing plans for a campaign to make quality education a constitutional right. On one side was his son Omowale, 38. Next to Omo was John Doar, 89, head of the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department in 1960-67 and prosecutor of the major civil rights cases of that era.

The age differences were noticeable at the conference they attended this month in Raleigh, North Carolina, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. It was a moment for the “elders” – as high school and college students at the conference called them – to pass the torch to a new generation of activists.

Where was Obama on SNCC’s 50th anniversary?

Where was Obama on SNCC’s 50th anniversary?

April 19, 2010 –

Last week, I was at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, for the 50th anniversary conference of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which led the sit-in movement of the 1960s. I attended SNCC’s founding conference at Shaw in April 1960.

That meeting had been called in response to the February 1,, 1960 protest in Greensboro, NC, when four black students sat at an all-white Woolworth’s lunch counter, demanded to be served and were arrested.

National Headliner Award for Komisar story on Stanford

National Headliner Award for Komisar story on Stanford

March 23, 2010 –

I’ve been awarded a National Headliner Award for the story on Ponzi-schemer Allen Stanford I took to the Miami Herald last year. It exposed how the Florida Banking Department ignored the strong advice of its own lawyer and allowed Stanford to set up an unregulated office to move money offshore.

Paul Volcker says privately Obama appointed him as “window dressing”

Paul Volcker says privately Obama appointed him as “window dressing”

Dec 14, 2009 – The man who isn’t there: whatever happened to Paul Volcker?

President Obama appointed him Chairman of the new Economic Recovery Advisory Board which is supposed to advise the president on jump-starting the economy and stabilizing financial markets. But the former Federal Reserve Chairman has been cut out of key discussions, including one taking place today with officials of a dozen big banks.

Film: Challenging 500 Years of Globalisation

Film: Challenging 500 Years of Globalisation

Inter Press Service (IPS), Nov 14, 2009 – To end poverty, you have to know how it began – with globalisation. No, not the 20th century variety engendered by multinationals and their friends at the IMF, World Bank and WTO. They just codified practices that kept developing countries poor.

French filmmaker Philippe Diaz, in an illuminating documentary opening in New York Friday, traces globalisation back 500 years to the Spanish and Portuguese conquests of the Americas. Diaz shows how the colonial North used the South’s resources to build its industrial base and how its continued control over resources, global trade and debt rules prevents developing countries from ending poverty.

My Stasi Files: getting banned by East German secret police in the 80s

My Stasi Files: getting banned by East German secret police in the 80s

Nov 8, 2009 – The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has called forth a plethora of memories and celebrations. Here are mine.

I visited West Germany in 1983 as it held massive demonstrations against the U.S. plan to station medium range missiles on German territory. The peace movement – objecting to the Ronald Reagan hard line against the East — had another view of how to bring down communism from within. The German government “Ostpolitik” – East politics – though denounced by the Reagan politicians, was ultimately successful.

Sodexo’s ‘safe’ supplier sickens 27 boy scouts at camp

Sodexo’s ‘safe’ supplier sickens 27 boy scouts at camp

Oct 17, 2009 – When he was interviewed for the investigative story I did in March on Sodexo’s practice of demanding rebates (ie kickbacks) from suppliers, Sodexo deputy counsel Tom Morse argued that working only with “compliant” vendors was necessary to assure health and safety. (“Compliant” means they pay rebates.”)

He said that “the first thing we vet our vendors for is safety” against food-borne illnesses …”

Corazon Aquino missed her chance

Corazon Aquino missed her chance

Aug 3, 2009 –
Corazone Aquino book

In January 1986, I went to the Philippines to chronicle the growing movement against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. I was there for the “people power revolution,” a non-violent massive street protest that in February finally drove Marcos from power. I remember being outside the presidential palace that night and racing through the streets when gunfire erupted. The U.S., which had supported him for decades, flew him and his wife Imelda to Honolulu. Along with documents that detailed how they had looted the country and where the money was.

The mysterious Bank Madoff

The mysterious Bank Madoff

March 17, 2009 –

There’s a mysterious “Bank Madoff, New York” that U.S. authorities don’t appear to know about. International securities clearing houses move trillions of dollars a year for banks and brokerages and are a natural way for crooks to launder Bank Madoff listing on Clearstream roster
and hide ill-gotten gains. So it would be natural for investigators to check the paper trails of Madoff accounts in CSDs (central securities depositories) around the world.

They already know about the one listed in the name of “Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC New York, US broker/dealer.”

But they don’t seem to know about “Bank Madoff, New York.” It appears on a list published by Clearstream, the international clearing and settlement house in Luxembourg. That “bank” has not been publicly mentioned by investigators.

(See the listing on its full page.)