Posts Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs’

The Young Turks on Corporate Coup against Brazilian President

May 14, 2016

The leftist Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, has been impeached and removed from office on charges of corruption and breaking electoral rules on expenditure. In this piece from The Young Turks, their anchor, Cenk Uygur, argues strongly that the charges are merely a specious pretext for what is essentially a coup against the Left by Brazil’s rich and corporate elite.

Rousseff was in a coalition with a centrist party, led by Michel Temer. After her removal, Temer took over the reins of power. But unlike Rousseff, Temer is massively unpopular. In polls, he has a popularity rating of 1 per cent. Which is probably as low as you can get for someone in government. Even Jeremy Hunt hasn’t reached that nadir yet, though he’s still going. And he’s hardly Mr Clean either. Temer is embroiled in a series of massive corruption scandals, far more than Rousseff. However, he’s been put in place because the elites love him.

Uygur argues that the coup has been arranged by the country’s financial backers. The big corporate media has been running campaigns against Rousseff. Those investing in the country include Goldman Sachs and the IMF, who are now demanding that the Brazilian government embarks on a programme of austerity – meaning more welfare cuts and tax reform, which will no doubt mean that the tax burden is once more transferred away from the rich to the poor. Oh yes, and they also want greater ‘labour fluidity’, which is corporate-speak for cuts to workers’ rights to make it easier to sack people. This was also a big favourite of Bliar and Broon.

As for the substance of the allegations against Rousseff, Uygur states that there may well be something there. But she’s nowhere near as corrupt or as unpopular as Temer. He quotes the very conservative magazine, the Economist, as saying that the allegations are unwarranted. Even Temer himself scoffed at the idea that she should be impeached.

Uygur concludes that this is how the corporate elite and the rich move against left-wingers once they’re in power. As soon as they start doing things for the poor, they find some arrangement to remove them, and replace them with the people, who will do what they want.

It’s not hard to see the reflection of what’s going on in American politics in this as well. Bernie Sanders was massively more popular with ordinary voters than Shrillary, but Bernie was for the blue-collar Joes and Joannas and against the corporate elite that fund the political machine. So the superdelegates, the party heavyweights, whose votes count for many more than the ordinary Democrat voters, back Shrillery instead. Who doesn’t represent anyone except Wall St. You can also see the same machinations in the EU with the Troika and their demands for the austerity regime in Greece and Italy and so on. Or in Honduras, where the Corporate elite, including Shrillary, backed a military coup that overthrew the president, Manuel Zelaya. Why? Zelaya had made terrible attacks on western capitalism by providing the poor with a minimum wage, and free education and electricity, amongst other things. The country’s corporate elite and Shrillary couldn’t permit this, and so once again, America backed a coup. Brazil’s coup is different, because it’s basically a peaceful change of government personnel, rather than a military takeover. But it’s a coup, nonetheless.

It shows the power of the transnational corporate elites, and how much they really despise lower classes, genuine working people, and just how far they will go to keep them from power.

Private Eye on Libel Judges and their Connection to the Tories

March 15, 2016

In their issue for the 2nd – 15th May 2014, Private Eye ran a piece on the way several prominent judges had been allowed to judge a libel case by the Tories against the Sunday Times exposing a lobbying scandal, when those judges were either themselves members of the Conservative party, or had close family members who were.

In the Courts
It’s a Family Affair

How many judges on the libel bench have family connections to the Tory party, and why don’t they declare them when hearing political cases?

The Eye asks because the libel action by former Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas against the Sunday Times is unearthing a family tree of judges’ brothers and sons who work for, stand for or give money to the Conservative party.

Cruddas sued after he med Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, Sunday Times undercover reporters who were posing as agents of foreign financiers in 2012. The headline “Tory treasurer charges £250,000 to meet PM” followed their meeting.

Mr Justice Tugendhat hit the Sunday Times with a damning judgment. Blake had told the court she found it “quite shameful for the prime minister to tout himself to businesses who pay to have their photograph taken”. Tugendhat used her words to conclude that she had a motive to injure Cruddas.

The paper was guilty of libel and malicious falsehood for saying that Cruddas was a corrupt man, who offered opportunities to influence government policy through meetings with ministers in return for foreign donations, knowing that payment of the money would breach UK electoral law.

Tugendhat did not declare that his son, Tom Tugendhat, was committed Conservative, who has been selected to stand in Tonbridge and Malling, one of the safest Tory seats in the country. Nor did the judge mention that his brother, Christopher Tugendhat, is a Conservative peer and former MP. Nor did he declare that Michael Ashcroft, the former Tory chairman and a prominent supporter of Cruddas, had hired him when he was still a barrister and praised Tugendhat as “arguably the greatest legal expert in the country on privacy”.

The Sunday Times applied for the right to appeal. In November last year, Lady Justice Sharp refused to allow the application. The Sunday Times pressed on and asked for a hearing. Lady Sharp was due to hear the case last month, but just before it began, word spread among journalists and lawyers of Tugendhat’s family connections.

The day before the hearing, Lady Sharp contacted the paper and said it may want to know that, like Tugendhat, she also had a brother who was a prominent Conservative.

And so she does. Richard Sharp is a former head of private equity for Goldman Sachs. He is on the board of a right-wing think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, which campaigns against a mansion tax for wealthy homeowners and in favour of zero-hours contracts for poor workers.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal estimated that Richard Sharp’s personal fortune was £90m. Sharp has personally donated tens of thousands to the Tory party and Tory politicians. Sharp has personally donated tens of thousands to the Tory party and Tory politicians. In 2007, he moved from Goldman Sachs to chair the lobbying and PR firm Huntsworth Plc, which also donates to the Tory party.

The chancellor, George Osborne, appointed Sharp to the Bank of England’s financial policy committee in 2013. Baroness Sarah Hogg was the Treasury’s representative at his interview. She is the wife of Douglas Hogg, a Tory MP, and was an adviser to Ken Clarke when he was Tory chancellor. Sharp is the first committee member in the Bank of England’s history to have been a party donor.

Richard Sharp and Dame Justice Sharp’s father was Eric Sharp, whom Keith Joseph, the then Conservative industry secretary, appointed as chairman of the newly privatised Cable and Wireless in 1980. The Thatcher government gave him a peerage in 1989.

Offering advice on when judges should stand down (“recuse themselves”) because of conflicts of interest, the appeal court said in 2006 that “if in any case there is real ground for doubt, that doubt should be resolved in favour of recusal”.

At the last minute, Sharp offered to stand down after she had already heard one appeal, an offer the Sunday Times gratefully acceped. Mr Justice Tugendhat never offered to stand down, and did not tell the Sunday Times about his family connections. No doubt he didn’t think he needed to under the law as it stands-which explains why many feel the law should be reviewed.

Instead of going before Sharp, the Sunday Times’ appeal was heard by Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Lord Justice Laws on 16th April. Laws said the Sunday Times had to persuade the court that Tugendhat “went wrong on the facts to a radical degree. That is a tall order on any view, and it is right to note that the trial judge in this case [Tugendhat] has a wealth of experience in the field of defamation.”

For all that, Laws found the Cruddas case “unusual and in some ways troubling”. There were “some singular features” about it.

It was clear that the journalists, posing as representatives of foreign financiers, made it plain their interest in approaching the respondent was entirely commercial, Laws said. He had “an uneasy sense” that Tugendhat might not, “despite his painstaking treatment of the case”, have confronted the realities of the exchanges between the journalists and Mr Cruddas.

The Eye’s artice states that the trial was continuing.

This article does indeed suggest that the Conservative party, or at least its individual members, are not above sitting in judgment in cases where there is a clear conflict of interest and their own political views may cause them to give an unjust judgment. This could be easily construed as another Tory attack on freedom of the press.

Apart from the libel case, there is also the matter of George Osborne’s appoint of a Conservative donor, Richard Sharp, to the committee of the Bank of England. If you’re looking for another parallel with Fascism, the Nazis set up vast corporations in order to control and ‘coordinate’ industry with Nazi policy. The boards included members of the Nazi party.

Hillary Clinton Sold Arms to Saudi War Criminals

February 27, 2016

Yesterday, Mike over at Vox Political put up a piece about Cameron’s visit to a BAE aircraft factory in Warton, Lancashire, in which he boasted about selling ‘brilliant things’ to Saudi Arabia. He felt this was a matter of pride. Mike pointed out that in fact it was a disgrace, as these weapons are being used by the Saudis to kill civilians in what the United Nations has described as possible war crimes.

In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski similarly marks out Hillary Clinton for criticism and opprobrium. Clinton, as Secretary of State, approved a $29.4 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia, which supplied them with American arms, including warplanes made by Boeing. These have been indiscriminately used by the Saudis in Yemen, to kill civilians as well as military targets. 2,800 civilians have been killed. Among the casualties have been rescue workers and taxi drivers, for example. The places hit have included three hospitals run by Medecins Sans Frontieres, a wedding hall, and a chamber of commerce. The Saudis aren’t targeting just Houthi rebels, but are actively engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Shi’a Muslims.

Clinton pushed very hard for the arms sales, and the reasons weren’t just because the Saudis were America’s allies. Both Boeing and Saudi Arabia made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and Boeing has also financially supported Hillary’s current presidential campaign. Kulinski states that Hillary’s probably the worst candidate, as she has multiple fronts for corruption. Donors can give directly to her campaign. She also raises money through her Super-PAC. Neither of these are particularly remarkable, as many other politicians have them. Bernie Sanders does not, to his credit, have a Super-PAC. Hillary has got an income through speech-making. He states that Clinton will give a speech to Goldman Sachs telling them they’re oppressed, take $675,000 for doing so, and then, of course, once she gets in the White House, of course she’s going to be returning the favour. She also has another income stream from the Clinton Foundation, which takes not only money from rich corporate donors, but also from other countries and governments around the world. Including what Kulinski describes, entirely justifiably, as ‘the Salafi terror state’.

He makes the point that the Saudis are indeed an Islamic fundamentalist terror state. They are very hard-line, fundamentalist Muslims, who share much of their interpretation of Islam with ISIS. And they have actively funded Islamist terrorism. Private emails leaked from when this deal was finalised in 2011 show Clinton and her supporters hailing the deal as ‘good news’ and ‘not a bad Christmas present’.

Kulinski therefore makes the excellent point that Hillary has no business whatsoever stating that ISIS is the major threat to America, when she has sold arms to Saudi Arabia, itself an oppressive Salafi regime, and which has funded terrorism, including 9/11.

TYT on Bernie Sanders Winning by Getting Funding from the People, Not Corporations

February 15, 2016

This is another fascinating and thought-provoking clip from The Young Turks on the other side of the Pond. Bernie Sanders, the ‘Democratic Socialist’ contender for the Democrat party’s presidential candidate, won the New Hampshire primary by 22 points. After his victory, Mr Sanders announced that he was going to New York to raise funds.

But he was not going to curry favour to the big corporations. Instead, he appealed to the American people to go directly to his website, and contribute to his election campaign fund. In a few hours, $6.4 million had been raised. Sanders’ campaign received 26,000 donations. The average amount of $34.

As Cenk Uygur points out, this is truly astonishing and confounds Conservative expectations utterly. They expect politicians, like Sanders’ rival, Hillary Clinton, to go to them. Clinton is a bog-standard Wall Street stooge, despite her pretensions to Progressive views. It’s been remarked that when she gave her speech on Saturday, she sounded like a Goldman Sachs executive, her remarks about the company were so glowing. But Sanders has raised $5 million more than her in January by going to the American people. Not corporations, but Mr and Mrs Ordinary Joe and Josephine America.

This is one of the reasons why Bernie should get in. Americans do not trust their politicians, because too many of them have been bought by the corporate donors. For example, something like 90 per cent of Americans support some form of gun control, including a plurality of people in the NRA. But you’d never know it, because the NRA is funded by the gun manufacturers, and who in turn fund politicos. And so when the question of gun legislation comes up, there’s a lot of shouting about the right to bear arms, and nothing gets done. And then someone else is shot and killed by a crim or rampaging loony.

And the dependence on corporate donations is killing American democracy. There’s a long article on it in Lobster, where they point out that because American politicians pursue the big corporate donors, they’ve neglected their grass roots supporters to the point where that’s withering. In some states there are only 2-3 activists. And Congress’ approval rating is abysmally low – only 15%. It was even at one point as low as 9%. Princeton University even issued a study declaring that America was not a democracy, but an oligarchy.

And it’s exactly the same over this side of the Atlantic as well. Since Bliar, politicians in the Labour party have also actively pursued wealthy donors, at the cost of their grassroots membership. Politicians are bought and sold by corporate donors and lobbyists. And the public know this, no matter how hard Cameron tries to make it seem that he’s actually doing something about it with specious lobbying and transparency bills, which actually stop charities from petitioning parliament while leaving the professional lobbyists unscathed.

Jeremy Corbyn is doing something to reverse this trend. Under Corbyn, membership of the Labour party is actually going up. But you ain’t going to hear it from the corporate media, and especially not from the Beeb.

So, go, Corbyn and Bern! They’re the only people, who stand a chance of making Congress and parliament respectable and respected by ordinary people again.

From 2013: Private Eye on Complex Corporate Structure and Dodgy Accounting of Private Health Contractor

April 15, 2014

This is from the Eye’s edition for 22nd March – 4th April 2013.

NHS PLC

Broken Circle

Worrying symptoms of Enron-it is have broken out at groovy health company Circle Health which, in partnership with its staff, runs NHS facilities and a group of private hospitals.

Circle’s parent company, Circle Holdings plc, is owned largely by hedge funds, including Crispin Odey’s Odey Asset Management and Sir Paul Ruddock’s Lansdowne Partners, plu8s the offshore trusts of founder and ex-Goldman Sachs banker Ali Parsa. As 51 percent controller of the Circle Health group that now runs Hinchingbrooke NHS hospital trust in Cambridgeshire, as well as the Nottingham NHS treatment centre, it might be hoped that the company’s financial position is above board and fully understood.

Alas, corporate transparency is in even shorter supply than profits at the struggling firm, especially when it comes to financing what it describes as its “flagship” private hospital in Bath (which earns two-thirds of its income from the NHS). The hospital is owned not be Circle Health but by a Jersey company called Health Properties (Bath) Ltd, which leases the building back to Circle in the UK. Given its offshore status, the finances of this company are secret; but clues in Circle Holdings’ accounts suggest it has debts of around £40m (on some of which it has already defaulted), funding a hospital worth about £35m.

As the Bath hospital is very much part of Circle’s business, these amounts would ordinarily be “consolidated” in Circle Holdings’ balance sheet – increasing its overall debt figure. But this is where the “off balance sheet” trick comes in. Health Properties (Bath) Ltd is owned not just by the Circle group, which has 1,200 B shares in the company, but by two other companies as well; one called Health Estates Ltd, with 1,800 B shares, plus the European arm of Lehman Brothers (in, ahem, administration) with 100 A shares. This structure, says Circle, means it owns just 38.7 percent of the property company and can keep it off its books.

Closer scrutiny, however, shows that Health Estates Ltd (also a Jersey company) is managed by yet another company, Health Estates Managers Ltd (ditto), that is wholly owned by Circle. And when it comes to voiting on matters concerning Health Properties (Bath) Ltd, it has agreed to do whatever Circle tells it to. Since the A and B shareholders appoint equal numbers of the property company’s directors, this means control is nominally shared by Lehmans (in administration) and Circle. But in practice the Lehman administrators, Pricewaterhouse Coopoers, are unlikely to demur from Circle’s wishes, not least given their clear conflict of interest as Circle Holdings’ auditor with duties such as signing off the strange arrangement every year.

An accountancy rule known as SIC-12 says that if a company in substance controls what is known as a “special purpose entity”, such as Health Properties (Bath) Ltd, its results and its assets and liabilities should be consolidated in the holding company’s figures. Other indications that this ought to happen include where the special entity’s assets – such as a big hospital – is used for the wider group’s benefit, as it is here.

Circle Holdings’ latest figures show debts of around £55m. Adding in the Bath debt would take that towards the £100m, which would not look good as the loss-making company – from which Parsa recently departed – repeatedly goes cap in hand to the City to stay afloat while running vital health services. Nor would it be too reassuring for the taxpayer given its reliance on the firm.

MPs on the public accounts committee have already expressed concern over the Hinchingrooke deal, pointing out that “the NHS can never transfer the operational risk of running a hospital, leaving the taxpayer exposed should the franchise fail”. Handing hospitals to companies with offshore, off balance sheet property schemes might not have been the healthiest option.

This is of particular interest to people in the Bristol/ Bath area, as Circle Health’s hospital in Bath was opened last year with some fanfare. It was featured on the local news, if I remember correctly, and adverts for it have appeared in Bristol and, doubtless, some other areas. Yet the company is clearly saddled with massive debt, which it has attempted to hide through a complex off-shore corporate structure intended to keep it off the balance sheet. And it’s partly owned by Lehman Brothers, who were partly responsible for the financial crash in 2010. Given this history and background, it’s questionable that such a company should ever have been given control of NHS hospitals, regardless of the wider issues of the supposed superiority of private enterprise.