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Archive for the Category ‘World’

Feds still investigating IDT on foreign bribery charges

Feds still investigating IDT on foreign bribery charges

Oct 15, 2012 – If you have followed the stories here showing strong evidence that IDT, the Newark-based telecom, bribed officials of the Haitian phone company, Teleco, you will be interested in today’s SEC filing by IDT. It says that the SEC and the Justice Department are still investigating charges made in 2004 by former IDT employee D. Michael Jewett that the company had paid off Haitian officials in connection with (ie. to get) a contract to supply long distance service between the U.S. and Haiti. That would have violated the FCPA, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. At the time, IDT was run by James Courter, the former Republican congressman from New Jersey.

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.

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.

IDT’s Voodoo Economics: Inside Justice Dept’s probe of telecom bribes in Haiti

IDT’s Voodoo Economics: Inside Justice Dept’s probe of telecom bribes in Haiti

The Big Money, March 11, 2010

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.

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.

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, GOP Candidate for NJ Governor, gets $ from IDT, NJ telcom investigated by Justice Dept for bribing Haitian officials

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, GOP Candidate for NJ Governor, gets $ from IDT, NJ telcom investigated by Justice Dept for bribing Haitian officials

Oct 22, 2009 –

Back in 2004, when Chris Christie was the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, his office first heard allegations that IDT Corporation, a Newark, N.J.-based global telecommunications company, was involved in a case of international bribery. No federal criminal case was ever brought against IDT, in contrast to several successful federal prosecutions in similar cases elsewhere. The company is run by James Courter, a former Republican congressman from New Jersey.

Fast forward to the present, and Christie is now the Republican candidate for the governor of New Jersey. And, an examination of campaign finance records shows, Christie has thus far racked up $26,800 in campaign contributions – earning him a total of $80,400 including state matching funds — from 27 individuals who could have a direct interest in the IDT case.

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 Real AIG Scandal: How the Game is Rigged at Wall Street’s Casino

The Real AIG Scandal: How the Game is Rigged at Wall Street’s Casino

AlterNet, March 26, 2009 –

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.

Cafeteria Kickbacks

Cafeteria Kickbacks
How food-service providers like Sodexo bilk millions from taxpayers and customers

In These Times, March 2009 –

The Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute provided generous support for this article.

At the end of the 2006 school year, children’s nutrition advocate Dorothy Brayley had a disturbing conversation with a local dairy representative. He had come to her office to discuss participation in the summer trade show of food providers she runs as director of Kids First Rhode Island.

At the time, the state’s schools were buying 100,000 containers of milk each week. The salesman for Garelick Farms, New England’s largest dairy, told Brayley that Sodexo—a food and facility management corporation that managed most of the state’s school lunch programs—was paying Garelick more than competitors in order to get a bigger rebate.

That’s just a taste of the hundreds of millions of dollars of “rebates”—or kickbacks from suppliers—that Sodexo, a $20 billion-a-year global leader in the food and facility management industry, has taken while operating cafeterias and other facilities for schools, hospitals, universities, government agencies, the military and private companies across the country, according to evidence provided by whistleblowers and internal company documents.

The Singer Who Defied Nigeria’s Generals

The Singer Who Defied Nigeria’s Generals

Inter Press Service (IPS) Sept 27, 2008

The scene is 1977 in Lagos, Nigeria. Film projections show people racing frantically to escape the thousand troops who have surrounded and invaded Kalakuta, the communal living space and recording studio of musician-songwriter, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

In a handful of years, Fela had become a worldwide music phenomenon and trenchant political critic of the regime.

How could the songs of one man be deemed such a political threat that the president, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, seeks to destroy him so brutally?

“FELA!”, a stunning U.S. musical theatre piece premiering in New York, tells the story using Fela’s own radical lyrics set to the Afrobeat he created out of jazz, African rhythms, funk and reggae. The play is a stirring musical indictment of decades of misrule by Nigeria’s thuggish military dictators

Palin’s campaign operations chief was VP of IDT, telecom investigated for bribery

Palin’s campaign operations chief was VP of IDT, telecom investigated for bribery

Sept 2, 2008 –

Michael Glassner, in charge of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s campaign operations, was till April 18th a vice-president of IDT, the New Jersey-based telecom fined $1.3 million by the FCC in July for failing to file its Haiti contract.

The contract, effective in 2004, revealed payments to an offshore shell company in the Turks & Caicos which sent only part of the fees to Haiti’s phone company. The case is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A former IDT insider, Michael Jewett, who managed the company’s Caribbean region, says the missing money represented kickbacks to former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

“Where’s Mobutu!”

“Where’s Mobutu!”

June 18, 2008 –

I never thought I’d hear those words, certainly not at the Council on Foreign Relations. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico spoke at a Council lunch today. The subject was immigration. Before the talk, several people, including this reporter, stopped at the speaker’s table to chat. Maurice Templesman, photo by Lucy Komisar I was standing there when Maurice Tempelsman approached Richardson. The Governor greeted him and said, “Where’s Mobutu!”

Well, that was a conversation stopper! Tempelsman, a very very rich man, and a generous donor, frequently gets a place of honor at the Council head table, though not today. Nobody raises the question of how he got his money.

Benazir Bhutto in 1987 talked to me of concern about Afghan militants and how she dealt with death threats

Benazir Bhutto in 1987 talked to me of concern about Afghan militants and how she dealt with death threats

Dec 28, 2007

Twenty years ago, on a campaign trip in rural Pakistan in October 1987, Benazir Bhutto told me of her concern about the long-term effect of Afghan refugees who had set up safe houses, stored munitions and created networks in her country.Bhutto at interview, photo Lucy Komisar

We talked for an hour in an interview I videotaped. It was the day after I traveled with her on a political procession in Sailkot, in the Punjab, northern Pakistan, where she was mobbed by supporters.

She was prescient about the impact of the Islamic Afghanis who had arrived in Pakistan during the war with the Soviet-supported government.

She said “a long-term domestic fallout” would be that “even if Afghanistan today is solved and guaranteed by both superpowers, what about the future? Because the network has been created.”

Italy’s President once a leading communist whom Kissinger never fathomed

Italy’s President once a leading communist whom Kissinger never fathomed

Dec 13, 2007

I chatted for a few minutes with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano Giorgio Napolitano, photo by Lucy Komisarafter he spoke this morning at a Council on Foreign Relations breakfast. He agreed that there is a problem posed by offshore financial centers and pointed to concern in Europe reflected in a recent joint letter on the subject by the UK, France and Germany.

Napolitano is an extraordinary man who served nearly 40 years in the Italian parliament and was a leader of the Italian Communist Party, the PCI, helping to move it out of the Stalinist camp to social democracy.

Richard Gardner, US ambassador to Italy 1977 to 81, who presided over the meeting, told me that he had tried to persuade Henry Kissinger that Napolitano was a social democrat. Gardner said that Kissinger never could grasp that.

Peru: US Gov’t Document Links García to 1980s Death Squads

Peru: US Gov’t Document Links García to 1980s Death Squads

Inter Press Service (IPS), Dec 5, 2007

There is irony in the recent announcement by Peru’s President Alan García that he would publish the names of 1,800 “freed terrorists”, so that people might recognise and report them if they were participating in anti-state conspiracies. His list includes people imprisoned on false charges or never convicted or sentenced.

One name that is not on the list is that of Alan García. Alan García However, according to a declassified U.S. government document, García, during his first administration from 1985-1990, gave instructions to terror squads organised by his political party to assassinate suspected leftists. Victims included trade unionists and other civil society leaders.

This writer discovered the document, and it was declassified at her request. It is posted following the full article.

Robert Rubin gushes over Musharraf’s vision of democracy

Robert Rubin gushes over Musharraf’s vision of democracy

Nov 3, 2007

Learning of General Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule (martial law) in Pakistan, I can’t help but recall the gushing introduction of the general made by Citigroup honcho and Democratic financial eminence grise Robert Rubin when the dictator, who came to power in a military coup, spoke at the Sept 25, 2006 meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. Robert Rubin

Rubin urged the audience to “understand a great deal more than those in our country tend to know about Pakistan, the Muslim world, the meaning of democracy in the context of countries very different from our own.”

Rubin’s obsequious comments might be connected to the fact that Musharraf had appointed a top Citigroup official to be his finance minister, giving the bank privileged entrée into the country.

A question now for Robert Rubin: Just how do you fit martial law into your expansive meaning of democracy?

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.

Corruption: Another Lead in Siemens Bribery Probe?

<em>Corruption</em>: Another Lead in Siemens Bribery Probe?

Inter Press Service (IPS), Aug 30, 2007

U.S. officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation met with Munich prosecutors this week regarding the 1.3-billion-dollar bribe fund run by Siemens, the German multinational technology company.

After talking to the Germans about tracking the financial flows of the largest illicit slush-fund ever discovered, the U.S. investigators would do well to visit Luxembourg on Germany’s western border.
Clearstream list of Siemens accounts 2001
There they could seek information from Clearstream, the international financial clearing house, that might tell them how Siemens moved so much money and where it went. That is because Siemens has the unusual status of being one of only four non-financial companies among 2,500 Clearstream members. It gained membership on the insistence of a former CEO who was fired after a scandal.

Siemens has a $1.3-billion bribe fund; did it move payoffs through Clearstream?

Siemens has a $1.3-billion bribe fund; did it move payoffs through Clearstream?

Aug 15, 2007

Siemens, the German-based multinational technology company that made massive payoffs to get international contracts, has, according to the German press, a bribery slush fund of more than $1.3 billion. Siemens It moved money through a network of front companies, mostly in offshore Liechtenstein and the United Arab Emirates. Siemens is being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as by public prosecutors in Germany and Italy.

How did Siemens officials move so much money about? Investigators ought to take a look at Siemens’ transactions through Clearstream, the international financial clearing house in Luxembourg, whose clients do not undergo the same due diligence scrutiny that regular banks apply.

Siemens is one of only four non-financial companies (out of 2500) with Clearstream accounts. Here — published for the first time — are listings of Siemens’ Clearstream accounts for 1995, 2000 and 2001.

Tax dodging helps Murdoch buy the Journal

Tax dodging helps Murdoch buy the Journal

Aug 1, 2007

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!

The Economist, in 1999, investigated Murdoch’s corporate tax affairs and discovered that a collection of 800 offshore companies help him cut corporate taxes to 6%!

Politicizing the Justice Department, Bush takes a page from his father

Politicizing the Justice Department, Bush takes a page from his father

May 27, 2007

President Bush’s attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, has come under fire for politicizing the U.S. Justice Department for his dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, apparently because they didn’t target Democrats. But using the Justice Department for political ends isn’t simply an invention of Gonzales or of the President; it’s an old Bush family tradition.

In politicizing the Justice Department, Bush takes a page from his father. The George H.W. Bush Justice Department 25 years ago balked at investigating and prosecuting the key players in the scandal of the criminal, terrorist-friendly bank, BCCI, and moved only, and in limited fashion, after New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau forced its hand.

Central Intelligence AgencyBush had a strong reason to want Justice to block pursuit of the case: the CIA used BCCI for its “black ops,” including funneling some of the $2 billion Washington sent to client Osama bin Laden and running money for the illegal Iran-Contra operation.

Exclusive: Confessions of a Citibanker

Is Citibank Spain a tax cheat?
New Internationalist, Aug 2006
Citigroup

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?

Citigroup: a culture and history of tax evasion

Citigroup: a culture and history of tax evasion

This report describes and details a history of tax evasion by the world’s largest
financial conglomerate, Citigroup. Going back decades, it is a story of
repeated, aggressive tax evasion for itself and clients, depriving governments
and therefore citizens of huge amounts of funds and carried out with relative
impunity.

Poisoned Russian linked to investigation of possible bribes by ex-Yukos official

Poisoned Russian linked to investigation of possible bribes by ex-Yukos official

Dec 27, 2006

Who might have killed former Russian spy Litvinenko? Julia Svetlichnaya, a Russian living in London, told the press there that she had met Litvinenko and learned that he was collecting information about mega-rich Russian entrepreneurs to use for blackmail.

It has not been reported before that Litvinenko’s collaborator, Yevgeny Limarev, had visited Elena Collongues-Popova (shown here), a Russian woman in Paris, to seek information connecting ex-Yukos official Alexei Golubovich to bribery of the former president of Lithuania. And Svetlichnaya hasn’t told the press that she worked for the very same Golubovich.