Capitalists & Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick

these are the early weeks of the pandemic, late April, early May 2020, really scary times, no vaccine, masks in short supply, our hospitals overrun. And this contractor, who I had found in federal purchasing data, had really come out of nowhere and had a really sizable deal that stood out. But in addition to that, he was supplying, supposedly, 6 million masks to the Veterans Administration, which oversees the largest hospital network in the country. So he had a pretty vital role in our pandemic response. And just sort of doing the due diligence, I wondered how he got this deal, and called him, and he ended up saying I could tag along on this private jet, and in doing so, over the course of maybe 72 hours, flying first to Georgia and then to Chicago, realized that he didn’t have any masks. He had claimed that they were, you know, bought out from under him. Next, he had a new line on masks. It involved some interesting characters. And slowly but surely, as I’m sort of observing this, I began to wonder if the whole thing was made up and if in fact he had conspired to defraud the federal government.

And, you know, we didn’t know everything then, but this was really crucial information that I felt the American public needed to know, so we reported what we knew. And that really set me off on more than a year of reporting, following around not just federal contractors but people who entered this space, sort of seeing the chaos cascading down from the federal government

— source | Apr 12, 2022

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Credit Suisse revelations

The leak of 30,000 bank accounts belonging to Credit Suisse has revealed the enormous wealth of dictators, criminals, officials and business tycoons involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption and other serious crimes. It confirms the financial parasitism, fraud and illegality that permeates the ruling elite in every capitalist country.

The revelations cover only a small proportion of the bank’s 1.5 million private clients and includes personal, shared and corporate bank accounts worth $108 billion. Nearly 200 accounts are worth more than $108 million, with a dozen or more worth billions. Some were opened in the 1940s, but more than two-thirds were opened after 2000. Many have since closed.

The investigation, known as Suisse Secrets, began with a leak by an anonymous whistleblower to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and was coordinated with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). It involved analyses by 160 journalists from media organisations around the world, including the Guardian, Le Monde, NDR, the

— source | Jean Shaoul | 27 Feb 2022

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Electoral Bonds Go on Sale Again, with no transparency

On December 30, 2021, the Union finance ministry announced that the 19th phase of the sale of electoral bonds will begin from January 1 and go on till January 10.

Politicians and rights activists have once again raised the grave concerns associated with anonymous funding through these bonds.

They have also questioned why the Supreme Court has so far not taken up the petitions which challenged the constitutional validity of this scheme.

The finance ministry’s statement said the sale of electoral bonds will take place at 29 authorised branches of State Bank of India. The bank has been authorised to issue and en-cash these bonds.

The ministry said the Union government notified the electoral bond scheme in 2018 and as per its provisions electoral bonds may be purchased by a person who is a citizen of India

— source | Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar | 31/Dec/2021

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French Journal Makes Fresh Claims of Dubious Contracts and False Invoices

French investigative journal Mediapart has made fresh claims that alleged bogus invoices were used that enabled French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation to pay at least 7.5 million euros in secret commissions to a middleman to help it secure the Rafale deal with India. Mediapart had reported in July that a French judge has been appointed to lead a “highly sensitive” judicial investigation into suspected corruption” and favouritism in the Rs 59,000-crore inter-governmental deal with India for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

The NDA government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016, to procure 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime. Government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government during the negotiations for the MMRCA.

— source | 08 Nov 2021

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Bolivia Requests Arrest of Añez Regime’s Economy Minister

Bolivia’s Special Anti-Crime Force (FELCC) requested the arrest of former Economy Minister Jose Luis Parada for the irregular contracting of a US$346 million loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez (2019-2020). On Aug. 28, Parada should have appeared before the Public Prosecutor’s Office to testify. Given that he never showed up, the FELCC sent a request for his arrest to Prosecutor Mauricio Jara, who is handling the matter. This case also implicates the former “Interim” president Añez and Guillermo Aponte, the former president of the Bolivian Central Bank (BCB). Previously, Carlos Schlink, the former Vice Minister of Finance, was detained. Bolivian Justice also announced that it will try Parada for unconstitutional offenses, anti-economic behavior, and breach of duty.

— source | 30 Sep 2021

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Pandora Papers Massive Leak

I think the big picture finding is that this — we hav uncovered a system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. You know, you mentioned at the outset some of the — the video mentioned some of the big names. King Abdullah of Jordan, through a convoluted shell game, offshore shell game, bought mansions in Malibu. The prime minister of the Czech Republic secretly bought a château in France. And hundreds of other politicians besides. And I think that is really the big takeaway for us, at least, is that some of the people who are in a position to potentially stop offshore abuses are in fact themselves benefiting from this dark system, dark money system.

what we see here is jurisdiction shopping, right? Sort of an international game of arbitrage, where companies have built tremendous expertise in helping their clients find places to hide their money in secrecy and legally, quite legally. So, you know, a small jurisdiction — you know, the British Virgin Islands or the Seychelles. You know, these are jurisdictions where it’s possible to set up a company for a few hundred or few thousand dollars and not even disclose the fact that you are the actual owner of the company. You can set them up through front men, through what’s called nominee shareholders and directors. So, you know, this is in fact — it’s a legal system. I will say that some of what we just charted is also illegal money flowing through offshore, and so that’s sort of a different story. But, broadly speaking, yeah, the use of offshore shelters is legal.

— source | Oct 05, 2021

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Cognizant Reaches $95 Million Settlement With US Shareholders

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp has reached a $95 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit accusing the information technology services company of defrauding shareholders by concealing bribes to officials in India. A preliminary settlement of the proposed class action was filed on Tuesday with the federal court in Newark, New Jersey, and requires a judge’s approval. Shareholders accused Cognizant of failing to disclose payments made to obtain permits for facilities in “special economic zones,” including its Indian headquarters in Chennai, where it could enjoy tax and other benefits.

— source | 08/Sep/2021

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In 2019-20, BJP Got 76% of Total Electoral Bonds; Congress Got 9%

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received about three-fourths, or 76% of the electoral bonds sold in financial year 2019-20, NDTV reported, citing data from the Election Commission. The Congress got just 9% of the total bonds sold during the fiscal year. Electoral bonds worth Rs 3,355 crore were sold in 2019-20.

An electoral bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties. It is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India. The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice anonymously.

Of the Rs 3,355 crore worth of electoral bonds, the BJP received Rs 2,555 crore in 2019-20, a 75% increase from the Rs 1,450 crore it received in the previous year. The Congress received Rs 318 crore in 2019-20, a 17% decline from the previous year when it had received Rs 383 crore from electoral bonds.

According to the NDTV report, the saffron party alone has received 68% of the electoral bonds sold since inception till March 2020. Transparency activists and some political parties including Congress have repeatedly raised concerns over these ‘anonymous’ bonds, saying that they have “legalised corruption”.

— source | Aug. 21, 2021

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Exxon lobbyists paid the 6 Democrats named in sting video nearly $333,000

Exxon Mobil Corp. lobbyist Keith McCoy listed six Democrats the oil giant saw as key allies to push its legislative agenda in the Senate in a secretly recorded sting video Greenpeace UK published late last month. Today, Exxon Mobil funds trade associations that lobby against climate policies while offering a rhetorical contrast to oil giants that advocate for politically unpopular proposals unlikely to reach fruition in a bid to look like responsible actors. But a 2017 Ohio State University study indicates the donations have a measurable effect, particularly as they enter the five-figure range. For every $10,000 a lawmaker received from a major industrial polluter like Exxon Mobil, their probability of voting for pro-environmental legislation decreased by 2%, according to the study of donations between 1990 and 2010 published in the journal Environmental Politics. For Democrats, the effect of the donations was even stronger, reducing likelihood of a pro-environmental vote by 3%.

— source | Jul 16, 2021

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$13.5B Trust for California Fire Victims Funnels Funds to Lawyers & Consultants

Climate Profiteering:

As wildfires rage in California, we look now at the corporate profiteering off of those who lost their homes and loved ones to recent fires. A major investigation by the NPR and PBS station KQED in San Francisco found a special trust set up to distribute $13.5 billion to survivors of wildfires caused by PG&E, California’s largest utility company, instead spent lavishly on its own administration, while distributing almost nothing to the 70,000 fire victims. This includes victims of the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, many of whom continue to live in trailers. Those who profited while the fire victims waited for help include Wall Street bankers and prestigious law firms. KQED revealed the Fire Victim Trust is led by retired California Appeals Court Justice John Trotter, who billed $1,500 an hour for his work. The findings have prompted a bipartisan call from state lawmakers for the California attorney general to investigate.

this was a joint investigation that was done with us at KQED and with NPR’s California newsroom. And as you mentioned, PG&E is the largest utility in California. It’s actually the largest utility in the country, as well. And in the last half-decade, this utility has been responsible for causing several catastrophic wildfires. The worst took place in 2017 and 2018, but there are people who were affected by these fires all the way back to 2015. And so, after that last fire which you mentioned, the Camp Fire, which destroyed much of the town of Paradise — people might remember that. It killed at least 85 people, destroyed thousands of homes and left tens of thousands of people homeless. After that fire, PG&E chose to go into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And by doing that, they took all of these claims that people had against them, having lost their homes, having lost

— source | Jul 16, 2021

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