Tag Archives: Russia

Look at Sweet Putin

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MDC wants to highlight the sweet Russian President Vladimir Putin, a dog lover, received a top breed puppy as a belated birthday gift on Wednesday from Turkmenistan’s president who is keen to recover lost Russian markets for Turkmen gas. Let’s remember, the United States President doesn’t own any animals or pets; actually does his horrid family quantify as animals ?

“We have a common friend – this is the world’s unique alabai dog. And today I brought this little alabai with me,” President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said before talks with Putin, pulling the pup out from a portable cage and holding it up by the scruff of its neck.

Putin, who marked his 65th birthday on Oct. 7, took the puppy, called Verny which means “faithful” in Russian, and kissed it in its forehead.

The alabai is a home-bred Turkmen variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog. Along with the handmade carpets and the ancient Akhal Teke breed of race horses, it is officially listed as part of Turkmenistan’s national heritage.

Happy Birthday Vlad !!

Rasputin to Putin

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One hundred years ago Rasputin the personal council to the Czar and Czarina was the trusted rudder of their ship and one of the causes of their downfall. What followed were years of revolution and eventually the emergence of Communism in Russia.

Lenin the head of this new Marxist philosophy and leader of USSR Russia discovered after years of practice that Communism was not the be all that it was intended to be. Lenin’s friend Armand Hammer from the United States and the friend of starving Russia shared his descriptive Russian experience while alive. What Hammer shared was that Lenin became disillusioned with communism and was restoring normal business relations with the West. But Lenin mysteriously died leaving Stalin in control. Armand Hammer pulled out his businesses from that Russia. However, since he fed the Russian people when they were starving, and helped them through a famine by selling them a million bushels of wheat for one million dollars, he was always regarded as a hero and maintained an apartment on Red Square throughout his life and a valuable friend to the Russian people.

The Mystic Rasputin was murdered almost one hundred years ago. That isn’t so long a time as not to know that history and how it affects the Russia we deal with today.

Taking the Ras out of Rasputin and we end up with Putin.

Knowing how President Ronald Reagan blew the American budget with our historic build up of our Military Forces in order to financially destroy the USSR in it’s competitive need to keep up was a strategic success with the end result no global nuclear holocaust. Whether one agrees with Reagan’s course of action or not, today America is still struggling with that debt The Russians are no longer that giant threat they once were to the planet as far as a nuclear holocaust has been avoided. Planet be damned the way the Russian economy is living on petroleum, gas, and coal to feed itself and advance itself in the modern world.

Reminding ourselves how young our democracy is and how even younger today’s Russian experiment is, would go along way in understanding how we got to this critical point in history.

Rasputin to Putin is the history lesson we are suffering. The poetic lyrical Russian people have suffered and yet act very Arian, when it comes to acceptance of other skin colors. The only place in the world is America, where we have almost learned to live with each other ethnically. Putins’ Russia is Rasputins’ Russia still awakening from centuries of serfdom and decades and communism.

The Caviar War

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While the oil rich Oligarchs from the East and the West dine on imported Caviar from Russia and Iran, the peasants drink Vodka and Beer here. It is not in the minds of an average American to have caviar as a staple in their diet.

Not so with the Oligarchs. Even if caviar is not on the menu, it is within the budget of the Oligarchs and the One Percenters.

This battle over Crimea and the fate of Ukraine cracks me up. After pilfering the billions of dollars from the Ukrainian treasury the Russian agent ex President Yanekovich is hiding in Russia and the Ukrainian money is gone.

Yanekovich may be eating caviar as the tears fall from his fattened face over the loss of his bank, but the little Ukrainian who was supporting his regime without consent like the average American citizen suffering the excesses of the last American Regime in Iraq and Afghanistan is left full of debt, stuck in low income and real inflation closer to 100%.

This Ukrainian battlefront has all the drippings of tiny black eggs, in gilded parlours. American dreams are vicarious likened to a fan thinking he is on the wooden floors of the NCAA finals. We love the dream as it clouds our suffering.

Watching as the Bush regime fattened coffers, by being the head of the Oligarchic America and watching as the continuous grabbing of natural resources funded our Oligarchs and their future generations has no end. Knowing all the time that people of conscious could not support or participate with that environmental end and having to live without and face being unplugged in a plugged in world and living with the hope that a Critical Mass of Humanity come together and create change that supports the whole planet is only possible with unfettered optimism. Breathing air in China or Moscow is a death warrant. The world has to contend with the mind that can live that way.

As the sleeping movements wait and give notice to the events that have choked futures, one can see the whole structure dying. Giant corporations lean and mean have left nothing for the Peasant both East and West. Petroleum like gluten had a hold on us.

Indentured to Caviar is not a sustainable future.

GOP = Grand OLIGARCH Party

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The Russians reacted to the Western European swing of the Ukrainian people by occupying the Crimean peninsula. The roots of this political and military behavior may be linked to the presidency of George W. Bush and his invasion of Iraq.

The poison pill delivery of an address by Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council on why America felt compelled to invade Iraq over Weapons of Mass Destruction was a complete falsehood. And that lie supported by the CIA and George Tenet the CIA director, who sat behind Secretary of State Powell at the UN during his proclamation, may have come back to roost on America and the world with this Russian invasion from that past American example.

Whether we like it or not we have sent ripples of horrible behavior throughout the world with our American policy under the instigation of the Neo-cons Political Agenda.

At one time America had the moral high ground but it has slipped away. It slipped when we failed to legitimately pursue the truth over the assassination of JFK. It slipped further with the cover-up Viet Nam undeclared war that until now was America’s longest war. We were the country that picked up the broken pieces of Indo-China from the French. We were in Laos, we were in Cambodia and we were in Viet Nam at various times during the Fifties and Sixties, and we were leaving finally under the Presidency of JFK until he was assassinated. President Johnson reversed Viet Nam’s destiny with troop escalations and the size and scope of the war after the phony Gulf of Tonkin lie.

Kennedy’s decision to remove ten thousand military advisors from Viet Nam was unpopular with the Neo-cons and many in the hierarchy of the military feeling it left the threat of Communism unchecked on that peninsula. The Indo-Chinese peninsula became irrelevant when Rubber was synthesized and the rubber tree was no longer needed in the production of tires for our military vehicles, etc. but that didn’t stop the fear of the domino affect of Communism. Communism was and still is a legitimate threat.

Communism failed miserably and continues to fail. But Communism left a shadow so great that it still rears its’ ugly little head in the form of Oligarchs not unlike our Koch Brothers influence over politics, the military, and Industrial complex.

These seats of Russian power were filled when the void of the collapse of the USSR left a grab what you can mentality. It was demonstrated in the global diamond market with illegally grabbed stores of diamonds that were pilfered, swiped from the State storehouses and put on the market, flooding and distorting a once stable industry not unlike the Blood Diamond problems. The scandal of gas pipelines to Europe through Ukraine territory, controlled by Oligarchs from Russia and Ukraine cloud out any hope of the people getting a piece of the pie.

The weakness of George W. Bush’s economy after futile war expenditures intended to de-fund the Social Security Safety Nets, left the West vulnerable to these Russian advances. With our financial crisis during 2008 came the Russians entrance into the affairs and control of ex USSR State Georgia by military intervention using similar excuses to invade as the Russians are using now.

Our American Oligarchs, the one percent are blessed. Many of these amazingly wealthy individuals and families are benevolent, charitable to a fault and employ many, giving work and fair wages, and wishes of abundance to these loyal employees and society in general. Money is given to support the arts and sciences and it is fair to have these monies given tax write off status. It is when the efforts of industry conflict with the wellbeing of man and life on this planet, especially with the use of oil and the way it is extracted, the cost to us all is driving our foreign policy and it is the only policy driving Russia.

Our Grand Oligarch Party is driving this insanity and it is an addiction that Senator Harry Reid recently described and everyone else already knew that the Oligarchs at least some of them are really hooked on Coke or being supported by Koch. The Grand Old Party no more the Grand Oligarch Party replaced it.

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Ukraine Ripping Apart

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It would take the wisdom of King Solomon to figure out the mess Ukraine is serving up. In Solomon’s myth, two women claim the same child as there’s. They are brought before Solomon and he suggests that the baby be split in half. One of the women agrees while the other says don’t split the child let the baby go with the other women. King Solomon realized the mother of the child wouldn’t have her baby hurt in any way.

Now we have the baby Ukraine. It is a new state, once considered the breadbasket of the USSR. It is a country torn like most of those ex soviet block countries. Leaders are corrupt, and the corruption is throughout the ruling estate.

Ukraine has the nuclear disaster Chernobyl as part of its’ territory, and Chernobyl is near the borders of Russia and Belarus. The vast territory surrounding Chernobyl is uninhabitable and the people of that region are dying or dead from the fallout. It was in 1986 that reactor number four while going through maintenance, exploded and that explosion was equivalent to two hundred Hiroshima atomic bombs. Chernobyl reactors have been encased in cement and are still highly radioactive so who wants to be responsible for that nuclear holocaust?

The shadow of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the Polish Solidarity uprising against Soviet Union domination, the beginning and end of the division of Germany, are historic remnants that are kicked up when the heavy boot of history reappears. Whether Russia acts colonially and takes back the Crimean Peninsula, which once was hers, or finds a modern resolution to maintain a presence in Crimea into the future and leaves Ukraine sovereign is the only solution. It will not be acceptable to have Russia act the bully and expect to have any role in the European Union. With Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and other world hot spots taking lots of Russian political energy Russia has limitations that will appear sooner than later.

The corruption demonstrated in Ukraine by a fleeing President is the template America faces around the world. Vast fortunes were spent on palatial estates instead of the people. As the East lifts itself out of the shadow of Russian domination under Communism, the transition has more often than not been about material possessions and greed by those that wrestled control. Ukraine has been given a chance to start over once more. Will it remain intact or be split apart as old Communists slowly fade away into the Siberian sunset?

Gold for Cash

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MDC says, if you’re a medalist at the Sochi Games, life is pretty good for you right now, with cash and a new car waiting for you.

Russia gave all of its gold medalists in the Sochi Games $120,000, plus a brand-new Mercedes GL SUV. This led to a bit of logistical leapfrogging with athletes like Julia Lipnitskaya, who is only 15 and not yet of legal driving age in Russia. (She got a personal driver to go along with the car.) Silver medalists got $76,000 and a Mercedes ML, and bronze medalists got $52,000 and a Mercedes GLK.

A total of 45 cars were distributed to gold medalists. Russia won a Sochi-leading total of 33 medals, including 13 golds. The cars were provided by the Russian Olympians Foundation, a consortium established by Russian businessmen in 2005. Russian athletes who won medals in the 2012 London Games received new Audis with personal drivers.

For comparison’s sake, the United States Olympic Committee pays its winners $25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze medal. Kazakhstan leads the medal payment rate at $250,000 for a gold, but has not had a gold medalist at the Winter Olympics in 20 years.

The Real Offshore Story

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MDC shares the 2.5 Million Secret Files Expose Offshore Tax Havens’ Global Impact.

Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy

A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.

The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.

They include American doctors and dentists and middle-class Greek villagers as well as families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives, international arms dealers and a sham-director-fronted company that the European Union has labeled as a cog in Iran’s nuclear-development program.

The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.

The records detail the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories.

The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization. The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.

To analyze the documents, ICIJ collaborated with reporters from The Guardian and the BBC in the U.K., Le Monde in France, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Germany, The Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and 31 other media partners around the world.

Eighty-six journalists from 46 countries used high-tech data crunching and shoe-leather reporting to sift through emails, account ledgers and other files covering nearly 30 years.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. This secret world has finally been revealed,” said Arthur Cockfield, a law professor and tax expert at Queen’s University in Canada, who reviewed some of the documents during an interview with the CBC. He said the documents remind him of the scene in the movie classic The Wizard of Oz in which “they pull back the curtain and you see the wizard operating this secret machine.”

Mobsters and Oligarchs

The vast flow of offshore money — legal and illegal, personal and corporate — can roil economies and pit nations against each other. Europe’s continuing financial crisis has been fueled by a Greek fiscal disaster exacerbated by offshore tax cheating and by a banking meltdown in the tiny tax haven of Cyprus, where local banks’ assets have been inflated by waves of cash from Russia.

Anti-corruption campaigners argue that offshore secrecy undermines law and order and forces average citizens to pay higher taxes to make up for revenues that vanish offshore. Studies have estimated that cross-border flows of global proceeds of financial crimes total between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion a year.

ICIJ’s 15-month investigation found that, alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive.

Offshore Patrons Identified in the Documents Include:

Individuals and companies linked to Russia’s Magnitsky Affair, a tax fraud scandal that has strained U.S.-Russia relations and led to a ban on Americans adopting Russian orphans.
A Venezuelan deal maker accused of using offshore entities to bankroll a U.S.-based Ponzi scheme and funneling millions of dollars in bribes to a Venezuelan government official.
A corporate mogul who won billions of dollars in contracts amid Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s massive construction boom even as he served as a director of secrecy-shrouded offshore companies owned by the president’s daughters.
Indonesian billionaires with ties to the late dictator Suharto, who enriched a circle of elites during his decades in power.
The documents also provide possible new clues to crimes and money trails that have gone cold.

After learning ICIJ had identified the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, as a beneficiary of a British Virgin Islands (BVI) trust, Philippine officials said they were eager to find out whether any assets in the trust are part of the estimated $5 billion her father amassed through corruption.

Manotoc, a provincial governor in the Philippines, declined to answer a series of questions about the trust.

Politically Connected Wealth

The files obtained by ICIJ shine a light on the day-to-day tactics that offshore services firms and their clients use to keep offshore companies, trusts and their owners under cover.

Tony Merchant, one of Canada’s top class-action lawyers, took extra steps to maintain the privacy of aCook Islands trust that he’d stocked with more than $1 million in 1998, the documents show.

In a filing to Canadian tax authorities, Merchant checked “no” when asked if he had foreign assets of more than $100,000 in 1999, court records show.

Between 2002 and 2009, he often paid his fees to maintain the trust by sending thousands of dollars in cash and traveler’s checks stuffed into envelopes rather than using easier-to-trace bank checks or wire transfers, according to documents from the offshore services firm that oversaw the trust for him.

One file note warned the firm’s staffers that Merchant would “have a st[r]oke” if they tried to communicate with him by fax.

It is unclear whether his wife, Pana Merchant, a Canadian senator, declared her personal interest in the trust on annual financial disclosure forms.

Under legislative rules, she had to disclose every year to the Senate’s ethics commissioner that she was a beneficiary of the trust, but the information was confidential.

The Merchants declined requests for comment.

Other high profile names identified in the offshore data include the wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, and two top executives with Gazprom, the Russian government-owned corporate behemoth that is the world’s largest extractor of natural gas.

Shuvalov’s wife and the Gazprom officials had stakes in BVI companies, documents show. All three declined comment.

In a neighboring land, the deputy speaker of Mongolia’s Parliament said he was considering resigning from office after ICIJ questioned him about records showing he has an offshore company and a secret Swiss bank account.

“I shouldn’t have opened that account,” Bayartsogt Sangajav, who has also served as his country’s finance minister, said. “I probably should consider resigning from my position.”

Bayartsogt said his Swiss account at one point contained more than $1 million, but most of the money belonged to what he described as “business friends” he had joined in investing in international stocks.

He acknowledged that he hasn’t officially declared his BVI company or the Swiss account in Mongolia, but he said he didn’t avoid taxes because the investments didn’t produce income.

“I should have included the company in my declarations,” he said.

Wealthy Clients

The documents also show how the mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, art and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.

Spanish names include a baroness and famed art patron, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, who is identified in the documents using acompany in the Cook Islands to buy artwork through auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, including Van Gogh’s Water Mill at Gennep.

Her attorney acknowledged that she gains tax benefits by holding ownership of her art offshore, but stressed that she uses tax havens primarily because they give her “maximum flexibility” when she moves art from country to country.

Among nearly 4,000 American names is Denise Rich, a Grammy-nominated songwriter whose ex-husband was at the center of an American pardon scandal that erupted as President Bill Clinton left office.

A Congressional investigation found that Rich, who raised millions of dollars for Democratic politicians, played a key role in the campaign that persuaded Clinton to pardon her ex-spouse, Marc Rich, an oil trader who had been wanted in the U.S. on tax evasion and racketeering charges.

Records obtained by ICIJ show she had $144 million in April 2006 in a trust in the Cook Islands, a chain of coral atolls and volcanic outcroppings nearly 7,000 miles from her home at the time in Manhattan.

The trust’s holdings included a yacht called the Lady Joy, where Rich often entertained celebrities and raised money for charity.

Rich, who gave up her U.S. citizenship in 2011 and now maintains citizenship in Austria, did not reply to questions about her offshore trust.

Another prominent American in the files who gave up his citizenship is a member of the Mellon dynasty, which started landmark companies such as Gulf Oil and Mellon Bank. James R. Mellon – an author of books about Abraham Lincoln and his family’s founding patriarch, Thomas Mellon – used four companies in the BVI and Lichtenstein to trade securities and transfer tens of millions of dollars among offshore bank accounts he controlled.

Like many offshore players, Mellon appears to have taken steps to distance himself from his offshore interests, the documents show. He often used third parties’ names as directors and shareholders of his companies rather than his own, a legal tool that owners of offshore entities often use to preserve anonymity.

Reached in Italy where lives part of the year, Mellon told ICIJ that, in fact, he used to own “a whole bunch” of offshore companies but has disposed of all of them. He said he set up the firms for “tax advantage” and liability reasons, as advised by his lawyer. “But I have never broken the tax law.”

Of the use of nominees, Mellon said that “that’s the way these firms are set up,” and added that it’s useful for people like him who travel a lot to have somebody else in charge of his businesses. “I just heard of a presidential candidate who had a lot of money in the Cayman Islands,” Mellon, now a British national, said, alluding to former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“Not everyone who owns offshores is a crook.”

Offshore Growth

The anonymity of the offshore world makes it difficult to track the flow of money. A study by James S. Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, estimates that wealthy individuals have $21 trillion to $32 trillion in private financial wealth tucked away in offshore havens — roughly equivalent to the size of the U.S. and Japanese economies combined.

Even as the world economy has stumbled, the offshore world has continued to grow, said Henry, who is a board member of the Tax Justice Network, an international research and advocacy group that is critical of offshore havens. His research shows, for example, that assets managed by the world’s 50 largest “private banks” — which often use offshore havens to serve their “high net worth” customers — grew from $5.4 trillion in 2005 to more than $12 trillion in 2010.

Henry and other critics argue that offshore secrecy has a corrosive effect on governments and legal systems, allowing crooked officials to loot national treasuries and providing cover to human smugglers, mobsters, animal poachers and other exploiters.

Offshore’s defenders counter that most offshore patrons are engaged in legitimate transactions. Offshore centers, they say, allow companies and individuals to diversify their investments, forge commercial alliances across national borders and do business in entrepreneur-friendly zones that eschew the heavy rules and red tape of the onshore world.

“Everything is much more geared toward business,” David Marchant, publisher of OffshoreAlert, an online news journal, said. “If you’re dishonest you can take advantage of that in a bad way. But if you’re honest you can take advantage of that in a good way.”

Much of ICIJ’s reporting focused on the work of two offshore firms, Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL), which have helped tens of thousands of people set up offshore companies and trusts and hard-to-trace bank accounts.

Regulators in the BVI found that CTL repeatedly violated the islands’ anti-money-laundering laws between 2003 and 2008 by failing to verify and record its clients’ identities and backgrounds. “This particular firm had systemic money laundering issues within their organization,” an official with the BVI’s Financial Services Commission said last year.

The documents show, for example, that CTL set up 31 companies in 2006 and 2007 for an individual later identified in U.K. court claims as a front man for Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh banking tycoon who has been accused of stealing $5 billion from one of the former Russian republic’s largest banks. Ablyazov denies wrongdoing.

Thomas Ward, a Canadian who co-founded CTL in 1994 and continues to work as a consultant to the firm, said CTL’s client-vetting procedures have been consistent with industry standards in the BVI, but that no amount of screening can ensure that firms such as CTL won’t be “duped by dishonest clients” or sign on “someone who appears, to all historical examination, to be honest” but “later turns to something dishonest.”

“It is wrong, though perhaps convenient, to demonize CTL as by far the major problem area,” Ward said in a written response to questions. “Rather I believe that CTL’s problems were, by and large, directly proportional to its market share.”

ICIJ’s review of TrustNet documents identified 30 American clients accused in lawsuits or criminal cases of fraud, money laundering or other serious financial misconduct. They include ex-Wall Street titans Paul Bilzerian, a corporate raider who was convicted of tax fraud and securities violations in 1989, and Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge fund manager who was sent to prison in 2011 in one of the biggest insider trading scandals in U.S. history.

TrustNet declined to answer a series of questions for this article.

Blacklisted

The records obtained by ICIJ expose how offshore operatives help their customers weave elaborate financial structures that span countries, continents and hemispheres.

A Thai government official with links to an infamous African dictator used Singapore-based TrustNet to set up a secret company for herself in the BVI, the records show.

The Thai official, Nalinee “Joy” Taveesin, is currently Thailand’s international trade representative. She served as a cabinet minister for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra before stepping down last year.

Taveesin acquired her BVI company in August 2008. That was seven months after she’d been appointed an advisor to Thailand’s commerce minister — and three months before the U.S. Department of Treasury blacklisted her as a “crony” of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.

The Treasury Department froze her U.S. assets, accusing her of “secretly supporting the kleptocratic practices of one of Africa’s most corrupt regimes” through gem trafficking and other deals made on behalf of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and other powerful Zimbabweans.

Taveesin has said her relationship with the Mugabes is “strictly social” and that the U.S. blacklisting is a case of guilt by association. Through her secretary, Taveesin flatly denied that she owns the BVI company. ICIJ verified her ownership using TrustNet records that listed her and her brother as shareholders of the company and included the main address in Bangkok for her onshore business ventures.

Records obtained by ICIJ also reveal a secret company belonging to Muller Conrad “Billy” Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean businessman who was blacklisted by the U.S. for his ties to the Mugabe regime at the same time as Taveesin. The Treasury Department said Rautenbach has helped organize huge mining projects in Zimbabwe that “benefit a small number of corrupt senior officials.”

When CTL set Rautenbach up with a BVI company in 2006 he was a fugitive, fleeing fraud allegations in South Africa. The charges lodged personally against him were dismissed, but a South African company he controlled pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid a fine of roughly $4 million.

Rautenbach denies U.S. authorities’ allegations, contending that they made “significant factual and legal errors” in their blacklisting decision, his attorney, Ian Small Smith, said. Smith said Rautenbach’s BVI company was set up as “special purpose vehicle for investment in Moscow” and that it complied with all disclosure regulations. The company is no longer active.

‘One Stop Shop’

Offshore’s customers are served by a well-paid industry of middlemen, accountants, lawyers and banks that provide cover, set up financial structures and shuffle assets on their clients’ behalf.

Documents obtained by ICIJ show how two top Swiss banks, UBS and Clariden, worked with TrustNet to provide their customers with secrecy-shielded companies in the BVI and other offshore centers.

Clariden, owned by Credit Suisse, sought such high levels of confidentiality for some clients, the records show, that a TrustNet official described the bank’s request as “the Holy Grail” of offshore entities — a company so anonymous that police and regulators would be “met with a blank wall” if they tried to discover the owners’ identities.

Clariden declined to answer questions about its relationship with TrustNet.

“Because of Swiss banking secrecy laws, we are not allowed to provide any information about existing or supposed accountholders,” the bank said. “As a general rule, Credit Suisse and its related companies respect all the laws and regulations in the countries in which they are involved.”

A spokesperson for UBS said the bank applies “the highest international standards” to fight money laundering, and that TrustNet “is one of over 800 service providers globally which UBS clients choose to work with to provide for their wealth and succession planning needs. These service providers are also used by clients of other banks.”

TrustNet describes itself as a “one-stop shop” — its staff includes lawyers, accountants and other experts who can shape secrecy packages to fit the needs and net worths of its clients. These packages can be simple and cheap, such as a company chartered in the BVI. Or they can be sophisticated structures that weave together multiple layers of trusts, companies, foundations, insurance products and so-called “nominee” directors and shareholders.

When they create companies for their clients, offshore services firms often appoint faux directors and shareholders — proxies who serve as stand-ins when the real owners of companies don’t want their identities known. Thanks to the proliferation of proxy directors and shareholders, investigators tracking money laundering and other crimes often hit dead ends when they try to uncover who is really behind offshore companies.

An analysis by ICIJ, the BBC and The Guardian identified a cluster of 28 “sham directors” who served as the on-paper representatives of more than 21,000 companies between them, with individual directors representing as many 4,000 companies each.

Among the front men identified in the documents obtained by ICIJ is a U.K.-based operative who served as a director for a BVI company, Tamalaris Consolidated Limited, which the European Union has labeled as a front company for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line. The E.U., the U.N. and the U.S. have accused IRISL of aiding Iran’s nuclear-development program.

‘Zone of Impunity’

International groups have been working for decades to limit tax cheating and corruption in the offshore world.

In the 1990s, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development began pushing offshore centers to reduce secrecy and get tougher on money laundering, but the effort ebbed in the 2000s. Another push against tax havens began when U.S. authorities took on UBS, forcing the Swiss bank to pay $780 million in 2009 to settle allegations that it had helped Americans dodge taxes. U.S. and German authorities have pressured banks and governments to share information about offshore clients and accounts and UK Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to use his leadership of the G8, a forum of the world’s richest nations, to help crack down on tax evasion and money laundering.

Promises like those have been met with skepticism, given the role played by key G8 members — the U.S., the U.K. and Russia — as sources and destinations of dirty money. Despite the new efforts, offshore remains a “zone of impunity” for anyone determined to commit financial crimes, said Jack Blum, a former U.S. Senate investigator who is now a lawyer specializing in money laundering and tax fraud cases.

“Periodically, the stench gets so bad somebody has to get out there and clap the lid on the garbage can and sit on it for a while,” Blum said. “There’s been some progress, but there’s a bloody long way to go.”

Source: Via ICIJ

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REAGANS’ Legacy, Afghanistan

 

When Ronald Reagan won the Presidency, Iran returned the hostages and we the American people befriended Saddam Hussein who began a war with Iran and our blessings.

At the same time Russia known as the USSR, went into American friendly Afghanistan after a coup that had the King flee and the Royal family murdered.  It took a few coups until the Russians planted themselves and the Taliban were born.

America was quick to support the Taliban and other factions that were fighting against the Russian Military might.  Eventually after the Russians were exposed to heroin and a drug culture, the constant retaliation of the Afghan people, and a world opposed to their invasion, the Russians pulled out, leaving a vacuum that the Taliban filled

American history is full of reparative actions after inept political decisions were carried out.  We are in Afghanistan repairing such history and it is in our best interest to understand how we got here.

Those same politicians are roaming around the Republican Party our inheritance from Richard Nixon.  Go figure.  And they want to have control of our destiny once again.

If just one were to speak the truth however, that truth really hurts their self-interests.

OCCUPY THE G8 NATO SUMMIT

 

MDC informs about the upcoming G8 Summit.

On May 19, Mayor 1% Emanuel will bring to Chicago military and civilian representatives of the 28-nation US-commanded and largely US-financed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and heads of state and finance ministers of the G-8 world economic powers.

They meet on behalf of the 1% of the world, the rich and the powerful, the bankers and generals. Their agenda is to continue to impose austerity, or poverty, by cutting social spending for workers and the poor to maintain profitability for the rich and to launch more wars to stop the rise of the poor nations of the Third World.

The people of this fine city do not want these summits. The mayor has his own agenda. In anticipation of widespread opposition to the war & poverty agenda of the NATOG8, Mayor Emanuel passed a set of first-amendment crushing ordinances, known as “Sit Down Shut Up”, to stifle the exercise of free speech and assembly during the summits. The mayor single-handedly gave himself the abililty to issue no-bid security contracts and deputize out-of-town law enforcement while imposing harsh restrictions on parades, marches and demonstrations.

But we will not be silenced. We will stand up to this corrupt system and say enough! Join Occupy Chicago, Coalition Against NATO/G8 (CANG8), the Midwest Antiwar Mobilization and many more as we gather in Chicago in May!

The Coalition Against NATO/G8 is a broad formation that includes labor unions, community groups, anti-war and international solidarity groups and faith based activists. From the CANG8 website:

  • Protest the NATO/G8 Summit on Saturday, May 19th, 2012!
  • Noon rally at Daley Plaza, then march to McCormick Place!
  • Join in a legal, permitted, family-friendly march and rally that will end within sight and sound of the summit at McCormick Place!

At the invitation of the White House, military and civilian representatives of the 28-nation US-commanded and largely US-financed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and heads of state and finance ministers of the G-8 world economic powers are meeting in Chicago, May 19-21, 2012. To that we say…

  • No to War and Austerity!
  • Money out of politics! Represent for the people, not the money!
  • No to NATO/G-8 Warmakers!
  • Jobs, Healthcare, Education, Pensions, Housing & the Environment, Not War!