An increasingly cozy alliance between companies that manufacture processed foods and companies that serve the meals is making students — a captive market — fat and sick while pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. At a time of fiscal austerity, these companies are seducing school administrators with promises to cut costs through privatization. Parents who want healthier meals, meanwhile, are outgunned.
Each day, 32 million children in the United States get lunch at schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program, which uses agricultural surplus to feed children. About 21 million of these students eat free or reduced-price meals, a number that has surged since the recession. The program, which also provides breakfast, costs $13.3 billion a year.
Scoop summary: Howard Jonas, CEO of U.S. telecom IDT, in an interview with Lucy Komisar, acknowledges for the first time that then Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2003 met with an IDT official during discussions about a contract to pay Haiti Teleco for calls from U.S. customers. That contract included agreement for IDT to send payments to a shell company in the offshore Turks and Caicos Islands. Jonas said IDT got an “ethics letter” from a law firm clearing the deal, but the lawyer said in a memo filed with the court, published here for the first time, that he simply told IDT to do “due diligence.” IDT signed the contract the next day.
A former IDT official, who objected to the deal, was fired and is suing the company; trial is set for Nov 9th. The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Jonas’s revelations are likely to have a major impact in the trial and investigations.
When the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January, IDT, the New Jersey-based global phone company, moved fast to help.
It announced it was setting up calling stations at hotels and other sites so Haitians could use its Internet calling-service to reach family and friends around the world. It cut rates on its U.S. prepaid calling-card to 2 cents a minute to Haiti (at least for 12 days), donated 4,000 $2-prepaid calling-cards to Haitian community groups in New York and Florida, and said it would give some proceeds from prepaid calls to Haitian Red Cross relief.
Such a warm, fuzzy response from a U.S. corporation often wins plaudits, though, of course, IDT has a business interest in the impoverished island. In 2005, in its latest publicly available figures, the company reported $4 million in profits from $17 million in revenues for routing calls there.
Winner of second place for Business News, the National Headliner Awards
Years before his banking empire was shut down in a massive fraud case, Allen Stanford swept into Florida with a bold plan: entice Latin Americans to pour millions into his ventures — in secrecy.
From a bayfront office in Miami in 1998, he planned to sell investments to customers and send their money to Antigua.
But to pull it off, he needed unprecedented help from an unlikely ally: The state of Florida would have to grant him the right to move vast amounts of money offshore — without reporting a penny to regulators. He got it.
Congress has deftly avoided the real story of AIG’s collapse, which will make a few million in bonuses seem like peanuts.
Most legislators at a House Finance subcommittee hearing last week deftly avoided the real story of AIG’s collapse. Instead, they homed in on the public relations disaster of hundreds of top AIG officials and staff getting $165 million (later revealed as over $218 million) in bonuses.
The key issue ignored by the congressmen and women was the potential catastrophe represented by as much as $2.7 trillion in AIG derivative contracts and how AIG and the U.S. government are dealing with them. To put that number in context, we’ve so far provided the company only about $170 billion.
U.S. Senators at Timothy Geithner’s confirmation hearing for Treasury Secretary Wednesday may want to ask him about a failure to act that is costing the U.S. a lot more than the amount he evaded on taxes.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which he has led since 2003, conducts the operations on Wall Street of the Federal Reserve in Washington, the country’s central bank.
The New York Fed under Geithner’s presidency has failed to stop massive naked short selling of U.S. Treasury bonds that threatens the stability of the market and sale of the bonds.
Ironically, the scam, enabled by a lack of regulation at the behest of Wall Street brokerage houses, makes it more expensive for the U.S. to bail out those same financial institutions.
American International Group (AIG) operated a captive insurance scam that involved fraudulent use of offshore tax havens. Currently, the U.S. government has invested over $40 billion in AIG, with the U.S. getting nearly 80 percent of its stock.
This puts the U.S. in a unique position to investigate the internal operations of a giant corporation with a reputation for using the offshore system for tax evasion.
U.S. authorities could begin their investigations with a look into a very curious practice that was revealed 15 years ago in a case that was never exposed by the mainstream press and which insurance insiders say is endemic.
AIG would keep a portion of a client’s inflated insurance premium and send the rest to the client’s offshore reinsurance company. AIG would earn a higher commission. The client would write off the entire amount as a business expense and enjoy the extra cash offshore, tax free.
This story tells how notorious fraudster Victor Posner made an AIG deal to stash reinsurance profits in Bermuda.
Articles I wrote this month about the resignation of IDT CEO James Courter as John McCain’s finance co-chair provoked supporters of former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to noisy denials and personal attacks.
I wrote that Courter had resigned after I reported that the Federal Communications Commission had fined IDT $1.3 million for failing to file its contract with Haiti.
Why would IDT fail to file the contract? Maybe because it shows that in this Aristide-administration deal, payments were below the legal 23 cents a minute set by the FCC (money that would have gone to Haiti) and that IDT payments were ordered sent to a shell company account in the Turks & Caicos instead of to a government account in Haiti.
Now that the U.S. Congress is investigating the truth of President George W. Bush’s statements about the Iraq war, they might look into one of his most startling assertions: that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
Critics dismissed that as an invention. They were wrong. There was a link, but not the one Bush was selling. The link between Hussein and Bin Laden was their banker, BCCI. But the link went beyond the dictator and the jihadist — it passed through Saudi Arabia and stretched all the way to George W. Bush and his father.
Is Citibank Spain a tax cheat?
New Internationalist, Aug 2006
With help from a whistleblower, I followed the money trail through the offshore operations of Citigroup, the world’s biggest bank, and discovered that Spanish bankers handling their client’s offshore accounts were getting commissions via an internal accounting system instead of on the regular books.
It is the same internal system that Citigroup used in the 1970s to compensate currency traders in Paris, London, Frankfurt and elsewhere who “booked” trades in the tax haven Nassau, the Bahamas. They were exposed by an insider, were investigated by the SEC and Congress, and had to pay millions in back taxes. Is this happening again?
The company is under investigation by the SEC, the United States Attorney in Newark, New Jersey, and a U.S. federal grand jury for allegedly paying bribes to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, former president of Haiti. Five nationally prominent US Republicans, the independent board members of a corporation that has been charged with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to get a sweetheart telecom deal in Haiti, are leaving its board. The company is IDT, the world’s third-ranked international phone company.
IDT is run by James Courter (shown here), a former New Jersey Republican congressman. The other Republicans are Rudy Boschwitz, former senator from Minnesota; James S. Gilmore III, former Virginia governor; Thomas Slade Gorton III, former senator from Washington State; Jack Kemp, former congressman from New York and 1996 vice presidential nominee; and Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former U.S. ambassador to the UN under President Ronald Reagan.
When Andrew Cuomo became HUD Secretary in 1997, he axed a federal program that had saved the US $2.2 billion between 1994 and 1997 and reinstituted a system that lost the government money while earning billions for favored friends.
He used the power of his office to target a former HUD official who had assisted his predecessor in operating the successful program. A HUD legal vendetta destroyed the official’s company before the Justice Department finally admitted there was no case and dropped it.
Now he is running for Attorney General of New York State.
When Andrew Cuomo became HUD Secretary in 1997, he reversed the policy of selling defaulted mortgages so that families could keep their homes. Instead, he chose to foreclose on mortgages, which meant that families lost their homes and insiders cleaned up on fire-sale priced properties. The program he axed had saved the U.S. $2.2 billion between 1994 and 1997. Cuomo fired the former HUD official whose company designed the program.
That wasn’t the only money big money lost under Cuomo. HUD reported at the time that $59 billion was missing! It couldn’t say where the money went, because it failed to produce audited financial statements.
Two U.S. lawsuits charge that former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his associates accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from politically connected U.S. telecom companies.
Lawsuits filed this Fall challenge the former priest’s image of political purity and raise claims that both he and U.S. corporate executives scammed illegal profits off the hemisphere’s poorest population.
In one suit, a fired executive charged his former employer, the U.S. telecom IDT (Newark, NJ), with corruption, defamation, and intimidation under the New Jersey anti-racketeering law. In the second, the government of Haiti contends that IDT, Fusion (New York, NY) and several other North American telecoms violated the federal RICO anti-racketeering statute. Both suits allege that Aristide, now in exile in South Africa, and his associates, took kickbacks.
Add former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the long list of corrupt and repressive officials who have used Western banks and companies and offshore tax havens to plunder their countries and launder the stolen money.
Aristide and his associates looted government coffers, wrote checks to front companies for nonexistent purchases, padded invoices to get kickbacks from vendors, secretly owned companies that cheated Haiti of taxes, and laundered the money they stole through shell companies and secret bank accounts set up in the United States and the offshore tax havens of Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands.
Nearly $20 million has been documented as stolen between 2001, when Aristide took office as president for the second time, and 2004, when he fled or was forced out of the country according to varying accounts.
In the space of four or five years, Halliburton, the international oil services and construction conglomerate that is under attack for overcharging and underperforming in Iraq, has gone from reporting 70 or 80 offshore subsidiaries in its annual SEC filing to just two, both in the Cayman Islands. Offshore networks had become a central part of Halliburton’s management and financial strategy. When current United States Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, the company’s offshore subsidiaries increased from nine to 44. By the year 2001, that had nearly doubled. Now most of them have gone missing!
A detailed analysis of Saddam Hussein’s secret money-laundering techniques shows here for the first time how he used the same offshore money launderers as Osama bin Laden. That covert money network, based in the tax havens of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Panama and Nassau, helped bankroll the war machines of both Iraq and al-Qaida.
More than 1,000 pages of confidential corporate, bank and legal documents show how the network functioned. The papers come from court cases filed in several European countries, from corporate records, from investigations by Italian police, from a report of the Kroll international investigative agency, and from private sources. The documents are the basis of further investigations coordinated in Europe by the prosecutor of Milan.
The charges against key shareholders in Yukos are enormous and very varied in scope. The Yukos tale is a long, complex and controversial one, requiring lengthy and painstaking substantiation. Public interest in the Yukos controversy is very high.
However charges and counter charges, mostly of a political nature, are being flung so wildly about in the media that The Russia Journal believes it essential at this stage to focus on the evidence in the accusations against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his partners. His innocence of the charges that have been filed against him must be presumed until a competent trial is held.
Those who support his innocence of the charges are invited to review and comment on this, the first in a Russia Journal series on the case against him and others in Menatep Group.