Corporate Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Corporate Corruption News Articles in Media
Wall Street bankers could have averted the global financial crisis, so why didn't they? In this exclusive extract from his book Inside Job: The Financiers Who Pulled Off the Heist of the Century, Charles Ferguson argues that they should be prosecuted: The Securities and Exchanges Commission has been deservedly criticised for not following up on years of complaints about [Bernard L.] Madoff. But not a single bank that had suspicions about Madoff made such a call. Instead, they assumed he was probably a crook, but either just left him alone or were happy to make money from him. It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the global financial sector has become criminalised, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behaviour that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis of 2008 was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident. This behaviour is criminal. We are talking about deliberate concealment of financial transactions that aided terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation and large-scale tax evasion; assisting in major financial frauds and in concealment of criminal assets; and committing frauds that substantially worsened the worst financial bubbles and crises since the Depression. And yet none of this conduct has been punished in any significant way.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corruption and criminality in the finance industry, click here.
Biotechnology's promise to feed the world did not anticipate "Trojan corn," "super weeds" and the disappearance of monarch butterflies. In the Midwest and South - blanketed by more than 170 million acres of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton - an experiment begun in 1996 with approval of the first commercial genetically modified organisms is producing questionable results. Those results include vast increases in herbicide use that have created impervious weeds now infesting millions of acres of cropland, while decimating other plants, such as milkweeds that sustain the monarch butterflies. More than a million people have signed a petition to the Food and Drug Administration to require labeling of genetically engineered food. The stakes on labeling such foods are huge. The crops are so widespread that an estimated 70 percent of U.S. processed foods contain engineered genes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved more than 80 genetically engineered crops while denying none. Genetically engineered crops ... have spawned an infestation of "super weeds" now covering at least 13 million acres in 26 states. The crops led to a 400-million-pound net increase in herbicide applications. Dave Mortensen, a weed ecologist at Pennsylvania State University, said the number of "super weed" species grew from one in 1996 ... to 22 today. Last month, scientists definitively tied heavy use of glyphosate to an 81 percent decline in the monarch butterfly population. It turns out that the herbicide has obliterated the milkweeds on Midwest corn farms where the monarchs lay their eggs after migrating from Mexico. Iowa State University ecologist John Pleasants, one of the study's authors, said the catastrophic decline in monarchs is a consequence of the genetically engineered crops that no one foresaw.
Note: Multiple reliable sources have shown that you may be eating genetically modified food daily which scientific experiments have repeatedly demonstrated can cause sickness and even death in lab animals. For key reports from major media sources on hidden facts on the dangers of genetically modified food, click here.
A study in Finland has found that children vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu virus with Pandemrix were more likely to develop the sleep disorder narcolepsy. The condition causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sufferers can fall asleep suddenly and unintentionally. The researchers found that between 2002 and 2009, before the swine flu pandemic struck, the rate of narcolepsy in children under the age of 17 was 0.31 per 100,000. In 2010 this was about 17 times higher at 5.3 per 100,000 while the narcolepsy rate remained the same in adults. Markku Partinen of the Helsinki Sleep Clinic and Hanna Nohynek of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, also collected vaccination and childhood narcolepsy data for children born between January 1991 and December 2005. They found that in those who were vaccinated the rate of narcolepsy was nine per 100,000 compared to 0.7 per 100,000 unvaccinated children, or 13 times lower. Pandemrix was the main vaccine used in Britain against the swine flu epidemic in which six million people were vaccinated. It was formulated specifically for the swine flu pandemic virus and is no longer in use.
Note: The WHO stated "more than 12 countries reported cases of narcolepsy in children and adolescents using GlaxoSmithKline's swine flu vaccine." For powerful media reports suggesting that both the Avian Flu and Swine Flu were incredibly manipulated to promote fear and boost pharmaceutical sales, click here. For many news articles showing that vaccines are not tested adequately for safety and are at times politically and financially motivated, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
Corporations pay a lower effective tax rate than Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney, but you wouldn't know it from all the complaints that our corporate tax rate puts our country at a competitive disadvantage. Despite an official corporate tax rate 35 percent, last year, U.S. corporations paid just 12.1 percent of their earnings in federal corporate income taxes. Buffett's tax rate is 17.4 percent; Romney's reported 2010 tax rate was 13.9 percent. Our broken tax system blesses U.S. multinational corporations with lots of loopholes that enable them to pay less in taxes than Main Street businesses. It has starved our government of revenue. Contrary to common perception, U.S. corporations pay far less toward the cost of public services and infrastructure than they did in decades past, and less than foreign competitors pay in their countries today. In the 1950s, corporate federal income taxes accounted for nearly one-third of federal government revenue; in 2011, corporate taxes accounted for less than 8 percent. U.S. corporate profits account for more than 10 percent of GDP, a 50-year high. Federal corporate income taxes collected as a percent of GDP are at a 50-year low. The challenge of corporate taxes and competitiveness is not that rates are too high, but that loopholes, preferences and subsidies make corporate tax collections far too low.
The current surge in gas prices has almost nothing to do with energy policy. It doesn't even have much to do with global supply and demand. It has most to do with America's continuing failure to adequately regulate Wall Street. Oil supplies aren't being squeezed. Over 80 percent of America's energy needs are now being satisfied by domestic supplies. In fact, we're starting to become an energy exporter. Demand for oil isn't rising. Oil demand in the U.S. is down compared to last year at this time. The American economy is showing only the faintest signs of recovery. Meanwhile, global demand is still moderate. Europe's debt crisis hasn't gone away. China's growth continues to slow. But Wall Street is betting on higher oil prices. Hedge-fund managers and traders assume that mounting tensions in the Middle East will hobble supplies later this year. Wall Street speculators also assume global demand for oil will rise in the coming year. These are just expectations, not today's realities. But they're pushing up oil prices just the same, because Wall Street firms and other big financial players now dominate oil trading. Where there's money to be made, Wall Street will find a way of making it. And when it comes to oil, so much money is at stake that gigantic sums can be made if the bets pay off. Speculators figure they can hedge against bad bets. Financial speculators historically accounted for about 30 percent of oil contracts, producers and end users for about 70 percent. But today speculators account for 64 percent of all contracts.
Note: This article was written by Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org. For lots more reliable information from the major media on energy manipulations, click here.
A report this week showing rampant foreclosure abuse in San Francisco reflects similar levels of lender fraud and faulty documentation across the United States, say experts and officials who have done studies in other parts of the country. The audit of almost 400 foreclosures in San Francisco found that 84 percent of them appeared to be illegal, according to the study released by the California city. "The audit in San Francisco is the most detailed and comprehensive that has been done - but it's likely those numbers are comparable nationally," Diane Thompson, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told Reuters. Across the country from California, Jeff Thingpen, register of deeds in Guildford County, North Carolina, examined 6,100 mortgage documents last year, from loan notes to foreclosure paperwork. Of those documents, created between January 2008 and December 2010, 4,500 showed signature irregularities, a telltale sign of the illegal practice of "robosigning" documents. Robosigning involves the use of bogus documents to force foreclosures without lenders having to scrutinize all the paperwork involved with mortgages. The practice was at the heart of the foreclosure scandal that led to a $25 billion settlement between the U.S. government and five major banks last week.
Note: For lots more from major media sources on the illegal foreclosures made by the biggest banks and financial firms, the collusion of government agencies, and more, see our "Banking Bailout" news articles.
Wall Street is its own worst enemy. It's busily shredding new regulations and making the public more distrustful than ever. The Street's biggest lobbying groups have just filed a lawsuit against the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, seeking to overturn its new rule limiting speculative trading in food, oil and other commodities. The Street makes bundles from these bets, but they have raised costs for consumers. In other words, a small portion of what you and I pay for food and energy has been going into the pockets of Wall Street. Just another redistribution from the middle class and the poor to the top. The Street argues that the commission's cost-benefit analysis wasn't adequate. Putting the question into the laps of federal judges gives the Street a huge tactical advantage because the Street has almost an infinite amount of money to hire so-called "experts" who will say benefits have been exaggerated and costs underestimated. But when it comes to regulating Wall Street, one big cost doesn't make it into any individual weighing: the public's mounting distrust of the entire economic system, generated by the Street's repeated abuse of the public's trust. Wall Street's shenanigans have convinced a large portion of America that the economic game is rigged. Wall Street has blanketed America in a miasma of cynicism.
Note: The author of this analysis, Robert Reich, is a former U.S. secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.
Regulators and the world's $700 trillion derivatives industry are closely watching a legal battle that began in Britain ... and which will fuel a sea change in swaps payouts. Four cases, including one involving a unit of collapsed U.S. bank Lehman Brothers, are being presented in a five-day hearing at the UK Court of Appeal. All revolve around payouts under the derivatives industry's "master agreement", a framework contract. A bank that trades swaps with another bank typically has one master agreement which sets the terms for millions of transactions between them. The master agreement ... covers around 90 percent of off-exchange derivatives transactions. Under the agreement, Lehman's bankruptcy is considered a default. However, in the four cases before the court this week, the other party in the contracts elected not to terminate them because they would have had to pay out to the defunct bank.
Note: Like most reporting in the major media, this article trivializes the massive size of the derivatives market. $700 trillion is equivalent to $100,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world! Do you think the financial industry is out of control? For lots more powerful, reliable information on major banking manipulations, click here. For a powerful analysis of just how crazy things have gotten and with some rays of hope by researcher David Wilcock, click here.
The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, [Italy] has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic. The European Central Bank ... is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank's alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Even before the upheaval in Italy, there was no sign of Goldman Sachs living down its nickname as "the Vampire Squid", and now that its tentacles reach to the top of the eurozone, sceptical voices are raising questions over its influence. Simon Johnson, the former International Monetary Fund economist, in his book 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, argued that Goldman Sachs and the other large banks had become so close to government in the run-up to the financial crisis that the US was effectively an oligarchy. At least European politicians aren't "bought and paid for" by corporations, as in the US, he says. "Instead what you have in Europe is a shared world-view among the policy elite and the bankers, a shared set of goals and mutual reinforcement of illusions." This is The Goldman Sachs Project. Put simply, it is to hug governments close.
Note: For revealing major media articles on key secret societies which manipulate global politics, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.
Washington, D.C. is a town that runs on inside information - but should our elected officials be able to use that information to pad their own pockets? Members of Congress and their aides have regular access to powerful political intelligence, and many have made well-timed stock market trades in the very industries they regulate. For now, the practice is perfectly legal, but some say it's time for the law to change. Few of them are doing it for the salary and all of them will say they are doing it to serve the public. But there are other benefits: Power, prestige, and the opportunity to become a Washington insider with access to information and connections that no one else has, in an environment of privilege where rules that govern the rest of the country, don't always apply to them. Most former congressmen and senators manage to leave Washington - if they ever leave Washington - with more money in their pockets than they had when they arrived. Congressional lawmakers have no corporate responsibilities and have long been considered exempt from insider trading laws, even though they have daily access to non-public information and plenty of opportunities to trade on it.
Note: According to a New York Times article, U.S. "Senators' stocks beat the market by 12 percent," while "the average household's portfolio underperformed the market by 1.44 per cent a year." To watch this revealing 15-minute piece on CBS 60 Minutes, click here. For key reports from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
Bank of America Corp., hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits. Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events such as changes in the weather or interest rates. Keeping such deals separate from FDIC-insured savings has been a cornerstone of U.S. regulation for decades, including last year’s Dodd-Frank overhaul of Wall Street regulation. Three years after taxpayers rescued some of the biggest U.S. lenders, regulators are grappling with how to protect FDIC-insured bank accounts from risks generated by investment-banking operations. “The concern is that there is always an enormous temptation to dump the losers on the insured institution,” said William Black, professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a former bank regulator. “We should have fairly tight restrictions on that.” Bank of America’s holding company -- the parent of both the retail bank and the Merrill Lynch securities unit -- held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June. That compares with JPMorgan’s deposit-taking entity, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which contained 99 percent of the New York-based firm’s $79 trillion of notional derivatives.
Note: Remember that the GDP of the entire world is estimated at around $60 trillion, less than JPMorgan or BofA own in derivatives. For an excellent article laying out the incredible risk this creates of a major economic collapse, click here. For more on the high risk and cost to taxpayers of BofA moving its massive amount of derivatives to its subsidiary, click here. For lots more from major media sources on the illegal profiteering of major financial corporations enabled by lax government regulation, click here.
The Defense Department, which has promised to publish a reliable account of how it spends its money by 2017, has discovered that its financial ledgers are in worse shape than expected and that it will have to spend billions of dollars in the coming years to make its financial accounting credible, the Center for Public Integrity reported [on October 13]. The U.S. military has spent more than $6 billion to develop and deploy new financial systems, but the effort has been plagued by significant added overruns and delays, defense officials told the CPI, a nonprofit investigative news organization. The Government Accountability Office said in a report last month that although the services can now fully track incoming appropriations, they still can't demonstrate that their funds are being spent as they should be. The Pentagon’s bookkeeping has come under increased scrutiny as Congress and the Obama administration have vowed to reduce the federal deficit. The department could face substantial cutbacks if a special bipartisan "supercommittee" can’t agree on a formula for reducing the deficit.
Note: For an essay by a top U.S. general revealing how wars are used to bring huge profits to the powerful elite of our world, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.
The American banking sector apparently is going to be vastly different when it finally emerges from the financial crisis that took hold more than three years ago. It is going to be significantly smaller, and the domination of a relative handful of behemoth institutions is going to increase. At the end of June, there were 7,522 commercial banks, down from 8,542 on Dec. 31, 2007. That is a decline of nearly 12 percent in just three and a half years. Of the more than 1,000 banks that disappeared, about 370 failed. But the rest of the decrease came through mergers and acquisitions as a decades-long pattern of consolidation continued. Most banks in the United States still are fairly small. The median size of a bank at the end of June, according to an analysis of statistics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was about $155 million in assets. That’s about an 18 percent increase since the end of 2007. But those numbers seriously skew the nature of the industry. Of the more than $13.6 trillion in assets held by banks at the end of June, nearly $9.4 trillion is in the hands of just 37 institutions, each with more than $50 billion in assets. And of that, $5.5 trillion is held by just four banks: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo. Each of those have more than $1 trillion in assets. In other words, the U.S. banking industry resembles a tall cake, with a very thick layer of icing on top.
Note: To learn how these same four banks and their holding companies hold over 90% of the $700 trillion derivatives market, click here. For many revealing reports from reliable sources on the concentration and centralization of financial power by a few megabanks, click here.
Twenty-five of the 100 highest-paid U.S. CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax, a pay study by a Washington think tank said [on August 31]. The Institute for Policy Studies said it also found many of the companies spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes. The institute compared CEO pay with current U.S. taxes paid, excluding foreign, state and local taxes that may have been paid, as well as deferred taxes, which can often be far larger than current taxes paid. The group's rationale was that U.S. taxes paid are the closest approximation in public documents to what companies may have actually written a check for last year. It said deferred taxes may or may not be paid. Among the companies topping the IPS list: •EBay, whose CEO John Donahoe made $12.4 million, but which reported a $131 million refund on its 2010 current U.S. taxes. •Boeing, which paid CEO Jim McNerney $13.8 million, sent in $13 million in federal income taxes and spent $20.8 million on lobbying and campaign spending. •General Electric, where CEO Jeff Immelt earned $15.2 million in 2010, while the company got a $3.3 billion federal refund and invested $41.8 million in its own lobbying and political campaigns.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.
The SEC has violated federal law by destroying the records of thousands of enforcement cases in which it decided not to file charges against or conduct full-blown investigations of Wall Street firms and others initially suspected of wrongdoing, a former agency official has alleged. The purged records involve major firms such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and hedge-fund manager SAC Capital. At issue were suspicions of actions such as insider trading, financial fraud and market manipulation. A file closed in 2002 involved Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse fueled the financial meltdown of 2008, according to the former official. A file closed in 2009 involved suspected insider trading in securities related to American International Group, the insurance giant bailed out by the government at the height of the financial crisis. The allegations were leveled in a July letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) from Gary J. Aguirre, a former SEC enforcement lawyer now representing a current SEC enforcement lawyer, Darcy Flynn. Flynn last year began managing SEC enforcement records and became concerned that records that were supposed to be preserved under federal law were being purged as a matter of SEC policy, Aguirre wrote.
Note: For more on this important news by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on the criminal practices of Wall Street corporations which led to global economic recession and massive government bailouts, click here.
British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known. Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK. "This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear." Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power. Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like "scandalous collusion". "This highlights the government's blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear," she said.
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public. Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. Not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.
Note: Read this detailed report in its entirety to see the amazing range of serious problems in the US nuclear industry which have systematically been covered up by the NRC. For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
Goldman Sachs is bracing itself for what may be the most contentious annual meeting in the embattled investment bank's 142-year history. Angry shareholders, including a coalition of religious groups, are planning to call on Goldman's executives to justify the combined $69.6m (Ł42.4m) payday its top five executives received in 2010 and to answer questions about allegations that the bank misled clients and lied to Congress. The meeting comes amid mounting pressure on the bank. Earlier this week Eric Holder, the US attorney-general, confirmed that the justice department was investigating Goldman's role in the financial crisis following a withering report on the bank's role led by senators Carl Levin and Tom Coburn. The 650-page report "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse," gave Goldman its own section titled "Failing to Manage Conflicts of Interest: A Case Study of Goldman Sachs." In July the bank paid $500m to settle charges brought by financial regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it misled customers over complex sub-prime mortgage products it sold in 2007. The spotlight on executive pay could not come at a more sensitive moment for the bank. The bank's top five executives received cash and stock last year that was 13 times greater than the year before. Goldman's 2010 net revenues fell 13% and profits fell 37%. Goldman paid Blankfein close to $19m in compensation for 2010, almost double his award for the previous year.
Note: For lots more on the financial chicanery of Goldman Sachs and other major financial corporations that led to the global economic crisis and massive taxpayer bailouts of the firms, click here.
Analysts who reviewed complex mortgage bonds that ultimately collapsed and ruined the U.S. housing market were threatened with firing if they lost lucrative business, prompting faulty ratings on trillions of dollars worth of junk mortgage bonds, a Senate report said [on April 13]. The 639-page report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations confirms much of what McClatchy Newspapers first reported about mismanagement by credit ratings agencies in 2009. Credit rating agencies are supposed to provide independent assessments on the quality of debt being issued by companies or governments. Traditionally, investments rated AAA had a probability of failure of less than 1 percent. But in collusion with Wall Street investment banks, the Senate report concludes, the top two ratings agencies - Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's - effectively cashed in on the housing boom by ignoring mounting evidence of problems in the housing market. Profits at both companies soared, with revenues at market leader Moody's more than tripling in five years. Then the bottom fell out of the housing market, and Moody's stock lost 70 percent of its value; it has yet to fully recover. More than 90 percent of AAA ratings given in 2006 and 2007 to pools of mortgage-backed securities were downgraded to junk status.
Note: For many key reports from major media sources illuminating how major financial corporations knowingly brought about the global financial crisis and profited from it, click here.
Christy Mack, the wife of Morgan Stanley Chairman John Mack, and Susan Karches, the widow of the company's former investment-banking division president, Peter Karches, are among the chief investors in a company that received $220 million in low-interest loans. The funds came from a federal bailout program that "virtually guaranteed them millions in risk-free income," according to the article ... "The Real Housewives of Wall Street," which appears in [Rolling Stone]. In 2009, Christy Mack and Susan Karches launched Waterfall TALF Opportunity, a company with a Cayman Islands address, although the two women did not seem "to have any experience whatsoever in finance." TALF stands for "Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility." The federal aid they received "falls under a broader category of bailout initiatives designed" by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. With an initial upfront investment of $15 million, Waterfall TALF received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which it used to purchase "student loans and commercial mortgages." The loans were set up so that the investors "would keep 100% of any gains on the deal while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90% of the losses."
Note: We don't usually quote the New York Daily News, but as they were the only major media to report this important story, we've included it here. Why are the major media silent on this powerful information uncovered by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders? For the full story on this, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on corruption in the government bailouts of the biggest banks, click here.
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