Corporate Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Corporate Corruption News Articles in Media
A German man committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank is to have his case reviewed after evidence has emerged proving the validity of his claims. Gustl Mollath, 56, was submitted to the secure unit of a psychiatric hospital seven years ago after court experts diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder following his claims that staff at the Hypo Vereinsbank (HVB) – including his wife, then an assets consultant at HVB – had been illegally smuggling large sums of money into Switzerland. Mollath was tried in 2006 after his ex-wife accused him of causing her physical harm. He denied the charges, claiming she was trying to sully his name in the light of the evidence he allegedly had against her. He was admitted to the clinic, where he has remained against his will ever since. But recent evidence brought to the attention of state prosecutors shows that money-laundering activities were indeed practiced over several years by members of staff at the Munich-based bank, the sixth-largest private financial institute in Germany. A number of employees, including Mollath's wife, were subsequently sacked following the bank's investigation. The "Mollath affair", as it has been dubbed by the German media, has taken on such political dimensions that it now threatens to bring down the government of Bavaria.
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Britain’s biggest bank is at the centre of a major ... investigation after it opened offshore accounts in Jersey for serious criminals living in this country. Tax authorities have obtained details of every British client of HSBC in Jersey after a whistleblower secretly provided a detailed list of names, addresses and account balances earlier this week. Among those identified on the list are Daniel Bayes, a drug dealer who is now in Venezuela; Michael Lee, who was convicted of possessing more than 300 weapons at his house in Devon; three bankers facing major fraud allegations and a man once dubbed London’s “number two computer crook”. The disclosures raise serious questions about HSBC’s procedures in Jersey, with the bank already preparing to pay fines of around $1.5 billion in America for breaking money laundering rules. The bank is legally obliged to report to the authorities any suspicions about the source of money deposited in its accounts. The list identifies 4,388 people holding Ł699 million in offshore current accounts and they are also likely to have billions of pounds more in investment schemes. Several celebrities and other well-known figures are understood to be identified in the client data. The HSBC Jersey client list is understood to be heavily dominated by senior figures in the City. Dozens of bankers are understood to have deposited six-figure sums offshore with some institutions said to have “clusters” of employees taking advantage of the accounts. Doctors, mining and oil executives and oil workers are also heavily represented in the list.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption and criminality, click here.
It's becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use - if it wants to. What may be the most important agricultural study this year ... was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer. The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn't reduce profits by a single cent. In short, there was only upside - and no downside at all - associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it's a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.
U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study. Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University. Of that total, herbicide use increased over the 16-year period by 527 million pounds while insecticide use decreased by 123 million pounds. Herbicide-tolerant crops were the first genetically modified crops introduced to world, rolled out by Monsanto Co. in 1996, first in "Roundup Ready" soybeans and then in corn, cotton and other crops. Roundup Ready crops are engineered through transgenic modification to tolerate dousings of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. In recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become resistant to Roundup's chief ingredient glyphosate, causing farmers to use increasing amounts both of glyphosate and other weedkilling chemicals to try to control the so-called "superweeds." Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the environmental and health risks posed by GMO foods, click here.
Few countries blew up more spectacularly than Iceland in the 2008 financial crisis. The local stock market plunged 90 percent; unemployment rose ninefold; inflation shot to more than 18 percent; the country’s biggest banks all failed. Since then, Iceland has turned in a pretty impressive performance. It has repaid International Monetary Fund rescue loans ahead of schedule. Growth this year will be about 2.5 percent, better than most developed economies. Unemployment has fallen by half. Iceland’s approach was the polar opposite of the U.S. and Europe, which rescued their banks and did little to aid indebted homeowners. Nothing distinguishes Iceland as much as its aid to consumers. To homeowners with negative equity, the country offered write-offs that would wipe out debt above 110 percent of the property value. The government also provided means-tested subsidies to reduce mortgage-interest expenses: Those with lower earnings, less home equity and children were granted the most generous support. In June 2010, the nation’s Supreme Court gave debtors another break: Bank loans that were indexed to foreign currencies were declared illegal. Because the Icelandic krona plunged 80 percent during the crisis, the cost of repaying foreign debt more than doubled. The ruling let consumers repay the banks as if the loans were in krona. These policies helped consumers erase debt equal to 13 percent of Iceland’s $14 billion economy. Now, consumers have money to spend on other things.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion of most major governments with the financial sector whose profiteering contributed to the global economic crisis, click here.
The doctors prescribing ... drugs don't know they don't do what they're meant to. Nor do their patients. The manufacturers know full well, but they're not telling. Negative data goes missing, for all treatments, in all areas of science. The regulators and professional bodies we would reasonably expect to stamp out such practices have failed us. Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug's true effects. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion. In their 40 years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works ad hoc, from sales reps, colleagues and journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies â€“ often undisclosed â€“ and the journals are, too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are owned outright by one drug company.
Note: This is an edited extract from Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, by Ben Goldacre, published next week by Fourth Estate. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
The global pharmaceutical industry has racked up fines of more than $11bn in the past three years for criminal wrongdoing, including withholding safety data and promoting drugs for use beyond their licensed conditions. In all, 26 companies, including eight of the 10 top players in the global industry, have been found to be acting dishonestly. The scale of the wrongdoing, revealed for the first time, has undermined public and professional trust in the industry and is holding back clinical progress, according to two papers published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Leading lawyers have warned that the multibillion-dollar fines are not enough to change the industry's behaviour. The 26 firms are under "corporate integrity agreements", which are imposed in the US when healthcare wrongdoing is detected, and place the companies on notice for good behaviour for up to five years. The largest fine of $3bn, imposed on the UK-based company GlaxoSmith-Kline in July after it admitted three counts of criminal behaviour in the US courts, was the largest ever. But GSK is not alone â€“ nine other companies have had fines imposed, ranging from $420m on Novartis to $2.3bn on Pfizer since 2009, totalling over $11bn. Kevin Outterson, a lawyer at Boston University, says that despite the eye watering size of the fines they amount to a small proportion of the companies' total revenues and may be regarded as a "cost of doing business".
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on pharmaceutical corruption, click here.
The U.S. health care system squanders $750 billion a year — roughly 30 cents of every medical dollar — through unneeded care, byzantine paperwork, fraud and other waste, the influential Institute of Medicine [said] in a report. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are accusing each other of trying to slash Medicare and put seniors at risk. But the counter-intuitive finding from the report is that deep cuts are possible without rationing, and a leaner system may even produce better quality. More than 18 months in the making, the report identified six major areas of waste: unnecessary services ($210 billion annually); inefficient delivery of care ($130 billion); excess administrative costs ($190 billion); inflated prices ($105 billion); prevention failures ($55 billion), and fraud ($75 billion). Adjusting for some overlap among the categories, the panel settled on an estimate of $750 billion. The report makes ten recommendations, including payment reforms to reward quality results instead of reimbursing for each procedure, improving coordination among different kinds of service providers, leveraging technology to reinforce sound clinical decisions and educating patients to become more savvy consumers. The report’s main message for government is to accelerate payment reforms, said panel chair Dr. Mark Smith, president of the California HealthCare Foundation, a research group. For employers, it’s to move beyond cost shifts to workers and start demanding accountability from hospitals and major medical groups. For doctors, it means getting beyond the bubble of solo practice and collaborating with peers and other clinicians.
Note: The US spends far more on health care than most other developed countries which provide health care to all of their citizens. The US system is driven by profits. For more on this, click here.
When the Justice Department recently closed its criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs, it became all but certain that no major American banks or their top executives would ever face criminal charges for their role in the financial crisis. Justice officials and even President Obama have defended the lack of prosecutions, saying that even though greed and other moral lapses were evident in the run-up to the crisis, the conduct was not necessarily illegal. But that characterization of the financial industry's actions has always defied common sense - and all the more so now that a fuller picture is emerging of the range of banks' reckless and lawless activities, including interest-rate rigging, money laundering, securities fraud and excessive speculation. The financial crisis, fomented over years by big banks and presided over by executives, involved reckless lending, heedless securitizations, exorbitant paydays and illusory profits, all of which led to government bailouts and economic calamity. Is it plausible that none of that broke the law and that none of the people in positions of power and authority knew what was going on? The statute of limitations, generally five years for securities fraud and most other federal offenses, is running out, precluding the possibility of bringing many new suits dating from the bubble years. The result is a public perception that the big banks and their leaders will never have to answer fully for the crisis. The shameless pursuit of Wall Street campaign donations by both political parties strengthens this perception, and further undermines confidence in the rule of law.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the collusion between government and the big banks, click here.
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." - Thomas Jefferson, 1816. When Thomas Jefferson spoke those words, banks were local and very small compared with the financial behemoths of today. Banks are more dangerous now than in Jefferson's time, and they are totally out of control. During the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt referred to banks as the "money changers in the temple of our civilization," and little has been done since. It is well past the time that people on Wall Street live by the rule of law - not just pay fines - and some executives go to jail for their conduct. In 2008, the much-publicized Troubled Assets Relief Program bailed out banks and Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion with taxpayer money. While the banks were bailed out of the trouble they caused, they continued to pay out enormous executive bonuses with taxpayers' money in multimillion-dollar year-end gifts. JPMorgan received $25 billion from the government in 2008 and gave out nearly $9 billion in bonus money that year. When the derivative-driven housing market collapsed in 2008, Citigroup and Bank of America, the major banks in that market, and eight other top Wall Street firms got $1.2 trillion in then-secret loans of taxpayer money from the Federal Reserve. The Fed even went to court in an attempt to hide the identities of those banks from the public. Regulating the banks and bringing the rule of law to Wall Street banks is necessary now. Sending a few Wall Street banksters to jail would stop some of the abuse as well.
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Money laundering. Price fixing. Bid rigging. Securities fraud. Talking about the mob? No, unfortunately. Wall Street. These days, the business sections of newspapers read like rap sheets. GE Capital, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Wells Fargo and Bank of America tied to a bid-rigging scheme to bilk cities and towns out of interest earnings. ING Direct, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank facing charges of money laundering. Barclays caught manipulating a key interest rate, costing savers and investors dearly, with a raft of other big banks also under investigation. Not to speak of the unprecedented wrongdoing that precipitated the financial crisis of 2008. Yet, it's clear that the unrepentant and the unreformed are still all too present within our banking system. A June survey of 500 senior financial services executives in the United States and Britain turned up stunning results. Some 24 percent said that they believed that financial services professionals may need to engage in illegal or unethical conduct to succeed, 26 percent said that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, and 16 percent said they would engage in insider trading if they could get away with it. That too much of Wall Street remains unchanged is not surprising. Simply stated, the banks and their leaders have paid no real economic, legal or political price for their wrongdoing and thus have not felt compelled to change.
Note: The author of this article, Phil Angelides, is a former state treasurer of California and the chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the corrupt relationship between government and the financial sector, click here.
Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment has caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests. Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident. By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes. Six months later, they again collected adults from the 10 sites and found that butterflies from the Fukushima area showed a mutation rate more than double that of those found sooner after the accident. The team concluded that this higher rate of mutation came from eating contaminated food, but also from mutations of the parents' genetic material that was passed on to the next generation, even though these mutations were not evident in the previous generations' adult butterflies. The findings from their new research show that the radionuclides released from the accident had led to novel, severely abnormal development, and that the mutations to the butterflies' genetic material [were] still affecting the insects, even after the residual radiation in the environment had decayed away. "This study is important and overwhelming in its implications for both the human and biological communities living in Fukushima," explained University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau, who studies the impacts of radiation on animals and plants.
Who's buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, among others. And they're doing much of it in secret. It's a perfect storm - the combination of three waves that are about to drown government as we know it. The first is the greatest concentration of wealth in America in more than a century. The 400 richest Americans are richer than the bottom 150 million Americans put together. The trend started 30 years ago, and it's related to globalization and technological changes that have stymied wage growth for most people, "trickle-down economics," ... tax cuts and the steady decline in the bargaining power of organized labor. The second is the wave of unlimited political contributions, courtesy of ... one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 ruling that held that corporations are people under the First Amendment, [meaning] that virtually any billionaire can contribute as much to a political campaign as he wants. The third is complete secrecy about who's contributing how much to whom. Political fronts posing as charitable, nonprofit "social welfare" organizations ... don't have to disclose their donors. As a result, outfits like the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS are taking in hundreds of millions from corporations that don't even tell their own shareholders what political payments they're making. Separately, any one of these three would be bad enough. Put the three together, and our democracy is being sold down the drain.
Note: The author of this article, Robert Reich, is a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former U.S. secretary of labor, and author of the newly released Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It.
A whistleblower suit against Merck, filed back in 2010 by two former employees, [accused] the drugmaker of overstating the effectiveness of its mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine. The scientists claim Merck defrauded the U.S. government by causing it to purchase an estimated four million doses of mislabeled and misbranded MMR vaccine per year for at least a decade, and helped ignite two recent mumps outbreaks that the allegedly ineffective vaccine was intended to prevent in the first place. “As the single largest purchaser of childhood vaccines (accounting for more than 50 percent of all vaccine purchasers), the United States is by far the largest financial victim of Merck’s fraud. Specifically, the suit claims Merck manipulated the results of clinical trials beginning in the late 1990s so as to be able to report that the combined mumps vaccine ... is 95 percent effective, in an effort to maintain its exclusive license to manufacture it. However, instead of reformulating the vaccine whose declining efficacy Merck itself has acknowledged, the company reportedly launched a complicated scheme to adjust its testing technique so that it would yield the desired potency results. While the Justice Department has refused to rule on the case after conducting its own two-year investigation, the allegations ... offer an extremely damaging view into the inner process of a company accused of misleading both regulators and consumers about a vital medical product.
Former Citigroup Chairman & CEO Sanford I. Weill, the man who invented the financial supermarket, called for the breakup of big banks in an interview on CNBC Wednesday. “What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail,” Weill told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He added: “If they want to hedge what they’re doing with their investments, let them do it in a way that’s going to be mark-to-market so they’re never going to be hit.” He essentially called for the return of the Glass–Steagall Act, which imposed banking reforms that split banks from other financial institutions such as insurance companies. He said banks should be split off entirely from investment banks, and they should operate with a leverage ratio of 12 times to 15 times of what they have on their balance sheets. Banks should also be completely transparent, Weill said, with everything on balance sheet. “There should be no such thing as off balance sheet,” he said.
Note: For deeply revealing and reliable major media reports on corruption and criminality in the operations and regulation of the financial sector, click here.
The world's super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy. James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has conducted groundbreaking new research for the Tax Justice Network campaign group – sifting through data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private sector analysts to construct an alarming picture that shows capital flooding out of countries across the world and disappearing into the cracks in the financial system. "This offshore economy is large enough to have a major impact on estimates of inequality of wealth and income; on estimates of national income and debt ratios; and – most importantly – to have very significant negative impacts on the domestic tax bases of 'source' countries," Henry says. John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network [commented] "Inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people. This new data shows the exact opposite has happened: for three decades extraordinary wealth has been cascading into the offshore accounts of a tiny number of super-rich." In total, 10 million individuals around the world hold assets offshore, according to Henry's analysis; but almost half of the minimum estimate of $21tn – $9.8tn – is owned by just 92,000 people.
The global bank HSBC has been used by Mexican drug cartels looking to get cash back into the United States, by Saudi Arabian banks that needed access to dollars despite their terrorist ties and by Iranians who wanted to circumvent United States sanctions, a Senate report says. The 335-page report released [on July 16] also says that executives at HSBC and regulators at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ignored warning signs and failed to stop the illegal behavior at many points between 2001 and 2010. The problems at HSBC, Europe's largest financial institution, [are] indicators of a broader problem of illegal money flowing through international financial institutions into the United States. The report on HSBC is the latest of several scandals that have recently rocked global banks and highlighted the inability of regulators to catch what is claimed to be widespread wrongdoing in the financial industry. The British bank Barclays recently admitted that its traders tried to manipulate a crucial global interest rate, and multiple major banks are under investigation. JPMorgan Chase disclosed last week that its employees may have tried to hide trades that are likely to cost the bank billions of dollars. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has come under particularly harsh criticism for showing too much deference to the banks it regulates.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on regulatory and financial corruption and criminality, click here. For our highly revealing Banking Corruption Information Center, click here.
Once more the big banks are exposed in systematic fraudulent activity. When Barclays agreed to a $450 million fine for trying to rig the Libor, its CEO offered the classic excuse: Everyone does it. Once more the question remains: Will CEOs and CFOs, as well as traders, be prosecuted? Or will they depart with their multimillion dollar rewards intact, leaving shareholders to pay the tab for the hundreds of millions in fines? The Barclays settlement exposed that traders colluded to try to fix the Libor rate. This is the rate used as the basis for exotic derivatives as well as mortgages, credit card and personal loan rates. Almost everyone is affected. Fixing the rate even a few hundredths of a percentage point could make Barclays millions on any single day — money taken out of the pockets of consumers and investors. Once more the banks were rigging the rules; once more their customers were their mark. The collusion was systematic and routine. Investigations are underway not only in the United Kingdom but also in the United States, Canada and the European Union. Those named in the probes are all the usual suspects: JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, UBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, UBS and others. This wasn’t rogue trading, ... it was more like a cartel. The Economist writes that what has been revealed here is “the rotten heart of finance,” a “culture of casual dishonesty.”
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The Libor scandal has confirmed what many of us have known for some time: There is something smelly in the London financial world and the stench is now overwhelming. The Financial Services Authority report [made it] clear just how widespread, how blatant was the fixing of the benchmark interest rate Libor and Euribor by Barclays. Brazen is the only word for it. The emails and phone calls reveal that on dozens of occasions those who stood to gain by the decisions asked for favors (and got them) from those who helped set the interest rates. And all the time the world believed Libor was somehow a barometer of what banks were lending to each other. It wasn't. It was the rate at which a bank was prepared to corrupt the money markets for its own narrow, venal gain. It is the way the traders, the rate submitters -- everyone involved in this cesspit -- [were] running to do wrong which makes it so egregious. With one or two feeble exceptions, no one ever seemed to stop and say "this is against the rules." Or, heaven forbid, "this is wrong." I have no doubt that Barclays wasn't the only one up to this. The FSA report makes it clear that other traders were putting pressure on their rate setters too. Libor and its cousin Euribor are the rates used to determine hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of highly specialized financial contracts called derivatives. Businesses and household loans are set by this benchmark. It is the backbone of the financial world and now it has been proven to be bent and crooked.
Note: For an incredibly incisive interview between Eliot Spitzer, Matt Taibbi, and a top banking expert on how the LIBOR scandal undermines the integrity of all banking, click here. For astounding news on the $700 trillion derivatives bubble, click here. For a treasure trove of reliable reports on the criminality and corruption within the financial and banking industries, click here.
The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry [has] concluded. The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami. That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. “It was a profoundly man-made disaster — that could and should have been foreseen and prevented,” said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission’s chairman, in the report’s introduction. “And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” The 641-page report criticized Tepco as being too quick to dismiss earthquake damage as a cause of the fuel meltdowns at three of the plant’s six reactors, which overheated when the site lost power. Tepco has contended that the plant withstood the earthquake that rocked eastern Japan, instead placing blame for the disaster on what some experts have called a “once in a millennium” tsunami that followed.
Note: For lots more from reliable major media articles on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
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