Saturday, January 1, 2011

Russia takes out a bankster

One of the great diplomatic rows of the dying 2010 was over the conviction of Mikhail Khodorkovsky for an assortment of charges related to the theft of Yukos Oil.  The idea that he could be anything BUT guilty strains credulity but wouldn't you know it, those bastions of western "democratic" legal traditions like England and USA act as if he is some sort of human rights hero being persecuted by a malevolent government.  I have even seen him compared to Solzhenitsyn (you cannot make this shit up.)

But why should it surprise anyone that the "liberal" Guardian of London (or the New York Times or the Washington Post) regularly runs puff pieces bemoaning the plight of poor, put-upon Mikhail?  The reason is because, unlike most of us living below an income of $100,000 (which means most of us), the folks who work at those publications actually BELIEVE that Khodorkovsky is an innocent man because they BELIEVE there are ways to legally seize such a fortune.

Now it is true that those other equally guilty Russian oligarchs, who stole their fortunes during the corruption of the Yeltsin years and are now living in London and New York, are spreading around enough PR money to influence the big papers and the State Department.  But this much more than cheap intellectual corruption, this is about shared values.  Don't think so?  Then explain why there have been virtually no indictments in USA and England, let alone convictions, of the the mega-thieves whose corruptions crashed the global economy in 2008.

Tell me the Predator Classes don't stick together.

Up first, we have Mike Whitney explaining the Khodorkovsky case from the perspective of the rest of us.
Misjudging Putin
Khodorkovsky's Trip to the Slammer
By MIKE WHITNEY December 31, 2010
Vladimir Putin summed it up best when he said, "A thief should sit in jail." Right on. It doesn't matter if he is the richest man in the country or not. If he's done the crime, he's got to do the time. It's that simple.
On Wednesday, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos Oil was sentenced to 14 years in prison for embezzling and money laundering. Heads of state, human rights organisations, business leaders, and the entire western media have all protested on Khodorkovsky's behalf, but to no avail. Khodorkovsky will stay in prison where he belongs. Justice has prevailed. 
Khodorkovsky's problems began when he challenged an informal agreement with the Kremlin not to intervene in Russian politics. But the oil oligarch thought Putin was weak, so he strengthened his contacts in Washington and dumped money into parliamentary elections. He unwisely assumed that he could defy Putin and extend his tentacles into politics following the model of corporate control he saw in the United States, where the courts, the congress, the White House and the media are all in the pocket of big business. Only he misjudged Putin and ended up in the hoosegow.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
"Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested on a rented jet in Siberia Oct. 23, 2003, flown to Moscow and jailed on charges of fraud and tax evasion. Just over a year later, Yukos's main subsidiary had been sold at auction to a little-known Russian company that later sold it to the state oil company, OAO Rosneft.
Investors, who watched the market value of Yukos plunge from $40 billion to next to nothing in a matter of months, proved to have short memories. By the summer of 2006, they were lining up to buy stock in Rosneft's initial public offering. The company's main asset had belonged to Yukos."
And, according to Wikipedia:
"Khodorkovsky was charged with acting illegally in the privatisation process of the former state-owned mining and fertiliser company Apatit......In addition, prosecutors conducted an extensive investigation into Yukos for offences that went beyond the financial and tax-related charges. Reportedly there were three cases of murder and one of attempted murder linked to Yukos, if not Khodorkovsky himself....."
When a deep-pocket Robber Barron is charged with a crime, everyone comes to their aid, including "the Italian Parliament, the German Bundestag, and the U.S. House of Representatives". But Khodorkovsky is guilty. The Russian court got it right. The rest is just propaganda. more
And now the outrage from the Predator Class press via the BBC:
Oil tycoon Khodorkovsky guilty verdict attacked by US
The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow explains what happened in court
27 December 2010
The US and Germany have voiced serious concerns about a second guilty verdict against the jailed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man and considered a political threat to PM Vladimir Putin, was convicted at a new Moscow trial of embezzlement.
The White House said it was "deeply concerned" by the verdict, calling it a "selective application" of justice.
German FM Guido Westerwelle said the trial was "a step back".
The judge said Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev were guilty of stealing from their firm Yukos and laundering the proceeds.
Delivering the full verdict and sentence is expected to take several days.
Khodorkovsky's lawyers say the verdict was the result of official pressure, and have promised to appeal.
However, the chairman of the Russian lower house of parliament's Foreign Affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, dismissed these concerns.
"I understand perfectly well that this is a very spectacular case and many questions may arise. But I have to respect the decision by the court, as a loyal citizen of Russia," he said. more
Meanwhile, back in USA the mega-Predators flourish backed by lies that wouldn't fool a five-year-old.
Wall St's 10 Biggest Lies of 2010
AlterNet / By Les Leopold  December 29, 2010
What a great year for Wall Street: profits up, bonuses up and, best of all, criticism down, especially from Washington. Somehow Wall Street has much of America believing its lies and rationalizations. We're even beginning to forget that Wall Street is largely responsible for the economic mess we're in.
So before we're completely overtaken by financial Alzheimer's, let's revisit Wall Street's greatest fabrications for 2010. (For the full story, please see The Looting of America.)
1."Honest, we didn't do it!" 
Two years ago Wall Street's colossal greed crashed our economy. Our financial elites created and spewed highly leveraged toxic assets around the globe. These poisonous "innovations" pumped up the housing bubble and Wall Street grew insanely rich in the process. When it all burst, we learned that the big Wall Street institutions that had caused the crash were far too big to fail -- and too connected. High government officials came to their rescue with trillions in cash and guarantees -- underwritten, of course, by we taxpayers. Everyone knew this at the time. But if you asked just about anyone on "The Street" they denied all culpability and pointed the finger everywhere else: Fannie, Freddie, the Fed, the Community Reinvestment Act, tax deductions for home buying, bad regulations, not enough regulations, too many regulations, too much consumer debt, the rating agencies, the Chinese -- and on and on. Sadly, their blame-shifting strategy worked, bamboozling the media and people across the political spectrum. The GOP members of the Financial Crisis Commission are so drunk with this Kool-Aid that in their minority report, they refuse even to use the words "Wall Street" or "speculation" in assessing the causes of the crash. Hypocrites? Crooks? Morons? Take your pick. more
Which leads to the question:
Which of These Banks Was 2010's Most Shameless Corporate Outlaw?
by RJ Eskow | December 31, 2010 
Bankers. The red carpet's still being rolled out for them in Washington, but if there's a stain on it they'll pout for days. Jason Linkins documents the latest set of cheap white whines from very wealthy white men. (Discrimination lawsuits are a routine part of their legal troubles, too.) This time they're upset because nobody from the six largest banks in America was invited to the president's CEO Roundtable.
They're offended because they didn't meet with the president? From the looks of things they're lucky not to be meeting with the warden. Their collective rap sheet includes fraud, sex discrimination, collusion to bribe public officials... even laundering drug money for Mexican drug cartels. One of them is accused of ripping off some nuns! None of this criminal behavior has stopped them from sulking over a presidential slight. Let's review the record for these corporate malefactors, and then decide:
Which of these six banks was "America's Most Shameless Corporate Outlaw" in 2010? (I mean, really: Nuns?) more
And of course, a failure to stand up to the mega-Predators has serious costs to the real economy.
Congress Threatens to Sow the Seeds of Our Next Banking Crisis
William K. Black
Assoc. Professor, Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City; Sr. regulator during S&L debacle
Posted: December 20, 2010 09:29 AM
I wrote recently about the Bank of England sowing the seeds of their next banking crisis by deciding to reduce bank examinations. Spencer Bachus (R. Ala.), the incoming Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, told the Birmingham News: "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."
Ron Paul (R. Tex.), asked to comment on Bachus' statement, said: "I don't think we need regulators. We need law and order. We need people to fulfill their contracts. The market is a great regulator, and we've lost understanding and confidence that the market is probably a much stricter regulator."
These comments share several characteristics. First, they demonstrate that many people in positions of power have not only learned the necessary lessons from the ongoing crisis -- they have learned the worst possible lessons. Second, the comments reprise disastrous approaches that allowed the crisis to occur. Third, the comments represent the continuing triumph of ideology over facts. Fourth, the comments rely on false dichotomies that are the enemy of reasoning and good policy. more

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