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

Archive for the Category ‘arms trade’

French Finance Minister not “sufficiently aware” of frigates case

French Finance Minister not “sufficiently aware” of frigates case

Oct 23, 2007 – In the continuing saga of the Frigates of Taiwan, involving about $1 billion in bribes and kickbacks paid by the French company Thomson to win a bid on the sale of six war frigates to Taiwan in the early 90s, I asked French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, at the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, if she would continue the cover-up on a corruption case that could be the largest (known) in French history.

Madame Lagarde wasn’t “sufficiently aware” of the case that has been exhaustively reported by French print and broadcast media for more than a decade.

A Frenchman acting on principle

A Frenchman acting on principle

Sept 29, 2007

It’s that time of the year when the UN General Assembly opens and heads of state and foreign ministers meet up at parties and quiet gatherings and even give a few public speeches around town. A popular stop is the Council on Foreign Relations, where anyone representing an establishment view is assured of a warm welcome. Bernard Kouchner

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, famous as the founder of Médecins Sans Frontières (actually he was one of 12 doctor and journalist founders), spoke at the Council on Tuesday. In his introduction Felix Rohatyn, the prominent investment banker, US ambassador to France in 1997-2000 and now an advisor to the chairman of Lehman Brothers, said, “There are very few people who act according to their principles. Bernard Kouchner acts on his principles, and that’s a very rare virtue, especially in a politician.”

I was hopeful that Minister Kouchner, a Socialist who has joined a conservative government, would display these principles in his answer to my question about a corruption scandal that could be the French Watergate. However, the minister displayed the not-so-rare political attribute of solidarity with high-level officials who want to suppress evidence of corruption.

Osama y Saddam, parientes incómodos de Bush

Osama y Saddam, parientes incómodos de Bush

Servicio Inter Press (IPS), 4 de abril 2007

Los legisladores de Estados Unidos que investigan la veracidad de los argumentos del presidente George W. Bush para invadir Iraq deberían analizar una de sus afirmaciones más resonantes: la del vínculo entre Saddam Hussein y Osama bin Laden.

Los críticos de Bush desacreditaron tal aseveración, a la que calificaron de invención. Estaban equivocados. El vínculo existía, pero no era el que el presidente le vendió al público.

BCCI logo on bank buildingEl punto de contacto entre el hoy ejecutado dictador de Iraq y el hoy prófugo líder terrorista era el Banco de Crédito y Comercio Internacional (BCCI), cuyas vinculaciones atravesaban toda Arabia Saudita y llegaban hasta el propio presidente Bush y su padre, el ex mandatario George Bush (1989-1993).

Cooking the Insurance Books: A Decade of Lax Regulation Lays Groundwork for Scandal

Cooking the Insurance Books: A Decade of Lax Regulation Lays Groundwork for Scandal

CorpWatch, Nov 17, 2004

In October, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed suit against the world’s largest insurance broker, Marsh, accusing it of rigging bids and receiving kickbacks in order to defraud clients such as other corporations, city governments, school districts and individuals of billions of dollars through inflated premiums.

“Greedy trial lawyers were the usual excuse for premium increases. Now we know that greedy corporations also have a starring role,” Spitzer said, accusing several insurance companies as co-conspirators in making phony or inflated bids and paying kickbacks to the brokerage to get business.

Saddam’s secret money laundering trail

United Press International (UPI), June 2, 2004

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.

Rumsfeld Queried on Offshore Banking Reform

Rumsfeld Queried on Offshore Banking Reform

The American Reporter, May 27, 2003

It hasn’t been reported in the U.S. press – until here, now – but Milan, Italy’s chief prosecutor has obtained thousands of documents that show how for more than 20 years Saddam Hussein used the Western bank and corporate secrecy system to launder bribes skimmed from oil revenues to pay his security forces and buy Western arms during international embargoes.

The key countries – whose governments openly allow these money-laundering systems to exist – were Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Panama and Nassau. Corporate registrations and bank accounts there use “straw men” and secrecy rules to cover up true owners of companies and accounts.

Are criminals in Russia sending missiles to Iraq?

Are criminals in Russia sending missiles to Iraq?

Sacramento Bee, Feb 23, 2003

American officials fear that Belarus is the middleman for Russian weapons sales to Iraq, according to last week’s Newsweek. The magazine noted that Leonid Kozik, a Belarus official who visited Iraq last fall, is on the board of a Russian-Belarussian company that markets weapons from those countries.

Iraq is subject to a U.N. arms embargo. If Iraq is getting Russian weapons through Belarus — either with the approval of Russian officials or via corrupt private firms — it refocuses attention on the destabilizing impact of the criminalization of the Russian state and the uncontrolled expansion of the world’s arms bazaar. Both developments have been largely ignored by Washington, with failure to confront Russian corruption a legacy of the Clinton administration and refusal to deal with weapons sales a result of the longtime political influence of arms-makers.

Police spoke to U.S. terror suspect

Police spoke to U.S. terror suspect

MSNBC.COM, Sept 16, 2002

MSNBC exclusive: Document shows Tunisian with alleged al-Qaida links gave information to Italians two years ago

A Tunisian-born terrorism suspect placed two weeks ago on Washington’s list of most-wanted militants confessed two years before to Italian police that he helped run an elaborate arms smuggling ring that aided Islamic militants, but it’s not clear whether Italian and U.S. officials acted on the information. The case, revealed in a confidential document obtained by MSNBC.com, raises new questions about intelligence gathering in the war on al-Qaida.

Dealing with Dictators: Bell Helicopters skirted U.N. embargo to sell to Serbia

In These Times, Sept 13, 2002

At a time when Americans are concerned about corporate fraud and corruption, another sort of corporate lawbreaking has been revealed in a report prepared for The Hague war crimes trial of former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic: the violation of an international U.N. arms embargo.

According to U.N. investigators, on June 5, 1998, Serbia paid $154,785 to Bell Helicopter Textron, a Texas company, for spare parts for the maintenance of Bell helicopters. At the time, Serbia was under a U.N. arms embargo—in February, more than a year before NATO bombing began, it had commenced attacks against Kosovo—but it was in dire need of helicopters and other war supplies.

Serbia’s Deadly Choppers – U.S. Firm Sold Parts to Milosevic

Serbia’s Deadly Choppers – U.S. Firm Sold Parts to Milosevic

Pacific News Service, Aug 16, 2002

Bell Helicopters of Texas sold parts to Serbia during a U.N. arms embargo, a report to the war crimes trial of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic shows. The Milosevic regime, writes PNS investigative reporter Lucy Komisar, paid through a secret offshore financial network that included a byzantine web of global tax havens.

At a time when Americans are concerned about U.S. corporate corruption, a tribunal in The Hague has revealed another shadowy deal with international reverberations. Bell Helicopters of Texas sold parts to Serbia during a U.N. arms embargo, when Serbia was involved in a genocidal war using helicopters. The regime of ex-president Slobodan Milosevic paid through a complex, secret offshore financial network.

U.S. Investigators Missed Russian Mob in N.Y. Bank Scandal

U.S. Investigators Missed Russian Mob in N.Y. Bank Scandal

Pacific News Service, Aug 6, 2002

An aggressive European investigation of international crime has revealed alleged Russian mafia leaders operating in the United States. The U.S. Justice Department dropped the ball three years ago during the Bank of New York scandal, which now threatens to explode.

NEW YORK–Nearly three years ago, the Justice Department called the Bank of New York (BoNY) money-laundering scandal “just” a Russian tax-evasion scheme. Now, European investigations show that BoNY was a channel for organized crime. And according to a document obtained by Pacific News Service, some of the alleged Russian mafia leaders have operated freely in the United States.

L’ex-préfet mêlé à un trafic de «mercure rouge»

L’ex-préfet mêlé à un trafic de «mercure rouge»

Dimanche (Lausanne), 14 décembre 2001

Pour vendre 600 kg de matériel nucléaire à des Saoudiens, l’ex-conseiller national UDC et son notaire ont pris moult précautions. Berne ouvre une enquête.

Mercredi, le Ministère public de la Confédération a reçu un envoi curieux en provenance des Etats-Unis: un paquet de documents explosifs attestant l’existence d’un vaste trafic de mercure rouge via la Suisse pour un montant de 200 millions de francs. «Mercure rouge est le nom de code donné à toutes sortes de matériel nucléaire passé en contrebande», précise Hansruedi Indermühle du laboratoire AC de Spiez; cette notion floue englobant uranium, plutonium, césium voire osmium 187 et autres contrefaçons.

SVP-Politiker dealte mit Uran

SVP-Politiker dealte mit Uran

Von Lucy Komisar*, Beat Kraushaar Und Henry Habegger, Mitarbeit: Laurent Duvane SonntagsBlick (Zurich) 9 Dezember 2001 BERN – 600 Kilo nukleares Material wollten Ex-SVP-Nationalrat Bernard Rohrbasser und Notar R. verkaufen – an die Saudis. Verwickelt in den dubiosen Handel ist auch das Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten. Jetzt ermittelt die Bundesanwaltschaft. Diesen Mittwoch erhielt die Bundesanwaltschaft […]

Swiss Bank Denies Link to Bioweapons, Islamic Militants

Swiss Bank Denies Link to Bioweapons, Islamic Militants

Pacific News Service, Nov 14, 2001

When tracking down the terrorist money trail, Washington will inevitably wind up in Switzerland. Swiss banks have long been used by shady characters worldwide to launder money. One of them might be a good starting point for U.S. investigators seeking terrorist funding sources and illicit bioweapons trade.

GENEVA–To protect America from terrorist attack, the United States must investigate illicit trade in biological weapons and trace the movement of terrorist money. A good starting point is a controversial Swiss bank that may have facilitated the sale of hazardous biological materials to Islamic militants.

Swiss bank handled sale from Russian bioweapons company

Swiss bank handled sale from Russian bioweapons company

Earth Times News Service, Nov 12, 2001

GENEVA– As the U.S. searches for the culprits who let loose an anthrax attack on America and for the money trail of Islamic terrorists believed to have plotted the attack on the World Trade Center, key questions are: “How does the illicit trade in biological weapons operate and how is terrorist money moved?”

For answers to both those questions, the U.S. ought to zero in on a Swiss bank that handled a sale from a known Russian biological weapons producer, Biopreparat, to a company, Interplastica, with links to Islamic militants.

Mobster on Thin Ice

Mobster on Thin Ice

Featurewell.com, Aug 6, 2002

For Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, 53, called Taivanchik (the Taiwanese) because of his Asian features, the plot to get an Olympic gold medal for Russia’s top figure-skaters was small-time.

The Russian mafia don who was arrested July 31 for fixing skating contests at the Salt Lake City summer Olympics reminds one of Al Capone, who was put away for tax evasion, because the government couldn’t get enough evidence against him for murder, extortion and criminal racketeering.

OECD commits to curb bribery among public officials

OECD commits to curb bribery among public officials

Earth Times News Service, May 14, 2001

PARIS — OECD Secretary General Donald Johnston says he is pleased about the OECD commitment to try to stop companies from its own member states from bribing public officials in other countries. But, he added, that effort needs to be extended to cover bribery of corporate officials as well.

The Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions entered into force in February 1999. It commits 34 signatory countries, including all the world’s biggest economies, to adopt common rules to punish companies and individuals who engage in bribery.