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.
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.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, famous as the founder of Médecins Sans Frontieres (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.
Los legisladores de Estados Unidos que investigan la veracidad de los argumentos del presidente George W. Bush para invadir Iraq deberÃan analizar una de sus afirmaciones mÃ¡s resonantes: la del vÃnculo entre Saddam Hussein y Osama bin Laden.
Los crÃticos de Bush desacreditaron tal aseveraciÃ³n, a la que calificaron de invenciÃ³n. Estaban equivocados. El vÃnculo existÃa, pero no era el que el presidente le vendiÃ³ al pÃºblico.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.