Afghanistan’s president favors offshore transparency, Robert Rubin not so much?

March 30, 2015 – In a talk to the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday, Afghanistan‘s president, Ashraf Ghani, spoke of the international drug trade and grand corruption damaging his country. He said: “The global criminal economy is 1.7 trillion [dollars] a year. Afghanistan is certainly among the 20 top contributors to this because of the heroin trade. But heroin has been sidelined as a phenomenon and its impact.

We have at least 15”or 35 people who are worth $10 to $20 billion, and they have yearly income from this trade, it’s 300 to $500 million. We”they fuel insecurity. So, that, again, needs to be understood.”

And, “The first problem is grand corruption. Corruption is the system.” He emphasized that “corruption has become very deep and entrenched and we have to break it.”

So, I asked him this: You talked a number of times about the grand corruption and also about the international drug trafficking that has a number of billionaires in your country.

To what extent do you think that this is facilitated especially by the big players, by the international offshore bank and corporate secrecy system, where they can stash their money in accounts that do not have their names?

CIA Director John Brennan dodges question about offshore

March 16, 2015 – You don‘t expect the CIA director to give away the crown jewels, but you do expect him to take seriously a question about the offshore bank and corporate secrecy system. That is the opaque system of bank accounts and shell companies set up in banking centers and networked islands and mini-states and used by terrorists, criminals, arms traffickers, corporate crooks, tax evaders and the like.

But when I asked him about it at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting, that was later broadcast on the Charlie Rose show Friday, he evaded and waffled.

Janet Napolitano evades issue of U.S. weakening cybersecurity

Jan 29, 2015 – Even out of office, U.S. officials evade crucial questions about U.S. policy. Here is Janet Napolitano, former head of the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, 2009-13, also former Gov. of Arizona, at the Council on Foreign Relations Jan 29th evading a crucial question about U.S. policy in the era of cyber-war.

She spoke at a Home Box Office History Makers Series “on the contributions made by a prominent individual at a critical juncture in international relations.” Given her answer to this question, which measures intellectual and political honesty, we have to think, “maybe not so much.”

NY Review of Books reports this comment, but won’t print it

NY Review of Books reports this comment, but won’t print it

Jan 15, 2015 – Anne Applebaum wrote an article about Putin’s Russia in the Dec. 18, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books that was filled with distortions. When I saw NYRB editor Robert Silvers at a Dissent magazine party in New York Dec. 5th, I told him my opinion. He said to send him my comments. But then he declined to print those comments and said that he would run this editorial statement:

Lucy Komisar has written to us that she has a statement to make about the article by Anne Applebaum in our December 18, 2014 issue. This statement is available on her website, The Komisar Scoop. ” The Editors.

Khodorkovsky‘s Contradictions

Khodorkovsky‘s Contradictions

Oct 6, 2014 – Mikhail Khodorkovsky is “doing” the U.S. He appeared on big-time celebrity TV and I saw him today at the Council on Foreign Relations. After some dicey years as a Russian “oligarch” (a euphemism for a corrupt guy who loots the Russian patrimony), he became a “reformer” and was jailed by Vladimir Putin, serving ten years for tax evasion and related crimes. (Other oligarchs did the same crimes, but they got a pass, because they didn‘t challenge Putin.)

Yes, he was targeted for political reasons, but what about what he actually did? Siphon profit out of his companies via offshore shell companies, thereby cheating minority shareholders and (via tax evasion) the Russian people. (details below). How does he deal with it?

U.S. uses the Metropolitan Museum of Art for propaganda

U.S. uses the Metropolitan Museum of Art for propaganda

Sept 29, 2014 –
Last week (Sept. 22), I went to a Metropolitan Museum of Art event about a new exhibit, Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age.
It included a talk by Secretary of State John Kerry and some speeches by art experts. A theme was the destruction that the “bad guys” have wrecked on historic art and archeological places in the Syria-Iraq region.

Homeland Security Secretary Johnson shows his contempt

Homeland Security Secretary Johnson shows his contempt

Sept 10, 2014 – I went to hear Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson at the Council on Foreign Relations today at a lunch speech positioned to precede the President‘s TV address tonight to say what he is to do (beyond “don‘t do something stupid”), to deal with the threat of ISIS.

Johnson‘s speech included reference to the danger posed by Islamic militants inside the country. So at question time I asked, “How do you deal with the problem posed by militants in the U.S. who can easily go to states that sell them guns and assault weapons with virtually no regulation – weapons they can carry to public places including airports. Isn‘t this a hole in homeland security that allows militants to get lethal weapons with which they can harm us all?”

The Corruption of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

July 25, 2014 – Anyone who had read the two-part series published here, Fees for our friends: the scandal that taints Andrew Cuomo and Fees for our friends, Andrew Cuomo’s vendetta, both published in 2006 — eight years ago — and ignored by the mainstream media, would not be surprised about the Cuomo corruption just revealed by the New York Times. Cuomo‘s Office Hobbled Ethics Inquiries by Moreland Commission.

Too bad reporters and readers didn’t focus on my story detailing Cuomo’s corruption. The candidate for governor was an attractive guy with a good-looking girlfriend and an articulate ex-governor father. So why look further? Why even do an internet search? But better late than never. (For the corporate press, it’s usually later.)

Justice Department lets U.S. tax evaders escape Credit Suisse net

May 20, 2014 – Rudolf Elmer is a Swiss whistle blower who has been persecuted by the Swiss justice system for revealing tax evasion facilitated by the Julius Bär Bank in Zurich. He comments on the Justice Department deal with Credit Suisse, whose egregious money-laundering for 22,000 U.S. tax-evading accounts was exposed by Senate hearings led by Sen. Carl Levin. The settlement requires Credit Suisse to pay $2.6 billion in penalties, with no requirement that it turn over the names of U.S. tax evaders. The U.S. could have withdrawn the bank‘s license to practice in America. It declined to use that leverage.

Are Citibank and NSA complicit in credit card theft?

March 6, 2014 – Last October, my mother was notified by her credit card company that there was a suspicious charge for $800 on her card. Her card was replaced and she lost nothing. She thought one of the clerks at Sally Beauty Supply was responsible. That was the last purchase she had made on that card. After that she used cash at the store. (Sally’s is a national chain and Mom likes to shop there.)

Today’s NY Times mentions Sally’s in a story about credit card theft.

What it does not mention is that this (apparently) was going on for many months without a fix or public notice. The theft of Mom’s card info happened nearly five months ago. It is clear that the card issuer (Citibank) did not follow up (adequately or at all) when put on notice about this problem.

Gigantic sums of money may be being stolen from banks in this manner. The federal law that limits individual losses to $50 per card protects the banks, but hides the real losses that the banks pass on without scaring customers out of using their cards.

Lucy at the March

Aug 28, 2013 — Since it‘s the 50th anniversary, I‘m writing a brief remembrance about the March on Washington. I‘d been in Jackson, Mississippi, for a year, editing the “Mississippi Free Press,” a civil rights weekly. In August 1963, I took a bus home to New York, stopping at the March, which friends of mine had helped organize.

My recollection of Roger Ebert, another view

April 8, 2013 – Amidst the wide-ranging hagiographic praise of film critic Roger Ebert, who died last week, I can add a remembrance of another type. I knew Roger from National Student Association conferences of the 1960s. I liked him. In 1970, he invited me and a friend, Nanette Rainone, both of us strong feminists, to appear at a Russ Meyer Film Festival at Yale Law School. We accepted partly as a lark, partly because we thought that Yale Law students might seriously consider our views.

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.

Why you shouldn‘t invest in the stock market

Oct 8, 2012 – I always knew I should not invest/gamble in the stock market, and Scott Patterson has told me why. I always thought the system was rigged, gamed by the insiders, and Patterson, a Wall Street Journal reporter, has described that in “Dark Pools” in fascinating detail.

Did you think the stock market was about companies of good value raising capital because investors knew that the good value meant that their shares would be easily tradeable? And would likely go up in value? Because people who studied companies knew they were doing a good job? Forgetaboutit.

Former NY Fed President McDonough is worried about your $4 million

Sept 28, 2012 –

I was having lunch today at the Council on Foreign Relations before a meeting with one of the national leaders in town for the UN General Assembly. At my table was William F. McDonough, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1993 to 2003. That meant he was vice chairman and a permanent member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which formulates U.S. monetary policy.

The dishonesty of WSJ columnist Mary O’Grady

March 12, 2012 – Mary O’Grady today used a killing in Haiti linked to bribery of former Haiti Teleco officials to attack the Democrats. She said investigators might uncover the details of the arrangement that Fusion Telecommunications”run by former Democratic Party Finance Chairman Marvin Rosen with Joseph P. Kennedy II and numerous influential Democrats had in Haiti during the Clinton years. She didn’t mention that there is much more evidence of Teleco bribery by IDT, then run by former Republican Congressman James Courter with a host of high-level GOP bigwigs.

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!

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

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

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

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

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?