President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Christopher Wray to take over James Comey’s job as Director of the FBI in a Tweet on June 7, the day before Comey’s much anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the Tweet, Trump called Wray a ‘man of impeccable credentials,’ which, undoubtedly, he is. He is also a man with a maze of conflicts of interests. It appears that someone has tried to scrub some of those conflicts from the official web site of the Justice Department. For example, try this Justice Department press release link, which now turns up a dead page. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pr/2004/02/2004_3631_FORMER_ENRON_CHIEF_E.htm Fortunately for our readers, Google has cached the press release which is dated February 19, 2004. The opening sentence includes all three names making headlines today – Comey, Wray and Robert Mueller, the newly appointed Special Counsel who will investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and the firing by President Trump of James Comey as FBI Director. At the time of this press release, the three men were attached at the hip as part of George W. Bush’s Corporate Fraud Taskforce. All three men are quoted in this press release, as follows: ‘This indictment marks an important milestone in the life of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force,’ said Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who heads the Task Force. ‘The indictment alleges that Jeffrey Skilling and other Enron executives concocted a massive, complex scheme to give shareholders and the investing public the false appearance of financial strength and security at a time when Enron was, in fact, failing. Our investigators were able to cut through the maze of paperwork and financial trickery to get to the bottom of the scheme and charge Skilling, once the top executive at Enron, with fraud and other crimes that contributed to Enron’s collapse.’
By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like. — Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 12, 2017
There may have been much more to the termination of US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, than meets the casual glance. According to Reuters, which cites a law enforcement source, two days before U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara was fired on Saturday, the high-profile New York prosecutor declined to take a call from President Donald Trump. Bharara reportedly contacted the DOJ for authorization to speak to the president on Thursday – one day before the DOJ announced it had requested all Obama-era attorneys to hand in their resignations. When he apparently did not receive it, Reuters adds that he called back the woman who had contacted him to say “he did not want to talk to Trump without the approval of his superiors.” As reported previously, Bharara – in his role as chief federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York – oversaw several notable corruption and white-collar criminal cases and prosecutions of terrorism suspects. He was one of 46 Obama administration holdovers who were asked to resign by the Justice Department on Friday.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 12, 2017.
Americans pay the price. Earlier this month, I posted two articles on Big Pharma, back to back. The first one was my classic approach: How PE Firms Are Flipping Drugs in Price-Gouging Scheme that Cannibalizes the Entire US Economy (with 109 great comments). The second one was coincidence. The digital ink wasn’t dry on the first article, when its was revealed that the Justice Department was getting antsy: ‘More than a Dozen’ Drugmakers under Criminal Investigation for Price-Fixing, Shares Plunge, after Getting Crushed All Year (56 great comments). But as always, there’s more to it. Here are some hard numbers from a different angle that shed a lot of light on how the industry works.
This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ November 25, 2016.
Rudy Giuliani is said to be under serious consideration by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the U. S. Department of Justice as Attorney General. There are a number of serious problems with Giuliani serving in this post, including his track record of stomping on the Bill of Rights and his employment as a law partner with Greenberg Traurig, a corporate law firm with a long history of lobbying for the U. S. Chamber of Commerce to weaken protections for the average citizen. During Rudy Giuliani’s two terms as Mayor of New York City, from 1993 through 2001, he was sued 30 times by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the state affiliate of the ACLU. Of those 30 lawsuits, the NYCLU won 27 of the cases. (See Editor’s note below on her own case that was successfully challenged in court against the Giuliani administration in 2001 by the NYCLU.) Giuliani had to be hauled into court by the NYCLU time and again due to his authoritarian attitude against free speech, freedom to assemble and protest. Giuliani’s NYPD even went so far as to outlaw protests on the steps of City Hall, a traditional venue for protests in New York City, leading City Council Members to charge him with functioning like a dictator. Removing peaceful protesters from the sidewalks in front of taxpayer-supported public buildings in New York City and herding them like cattle into metal pens in less visible areas was honed into an art form by Giuliani. In its 60th Anniversary Annual Report, the NYCLU characterized Giuliani’s reign as Mayor as follows:
The Department of Justice is so compromised with Lych at the head it is getting to be absurd. Peter J. Kadzik is the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Clearly, there is an internal war going on as I reported. Now that the FBI has over the 650,000 emails uncovered in Anthony Weiner’s notebook, which Huma Abedin failed to turnover to Congress claiming she had no idea how they got there, the US Justice Department announced it is now also joining the probe to dedicate all necessary resources to quickly clear Hillary, up pops the conflict of interest. In the letter to Congress, the DOJ persons to aid this investigation to clear Hillary by the election, is Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik who wrote to the House and Senate lawmakers.
I said sources described an "avalanche of evidence" in case & barring obstruction they'd likely continue 2 push to try for an indictment" — Bret Baier (@BretBaier) November 2, 2016
It’s looking increasingly like there is an ongoing mutiny underway within the FBI as the Wall Street Journal is reporting that, according to “officials at multiple agencies”, FBI agents felt they had adequate evidence, including “secret recordings of a suspect talking about the Clinton Foundation”, to pursue an investigation of the Clinton Foundation but were repeatedly obstructed by officials at the Department of Justice. Secret recordings of a suspect talking about the Clinton Foundation fueled an internal battle between FBI agents who wanted to pursue the case and corruption prosecutors who viewed the statements as worthless hearsay, people familiar with the matter said. The roots of the dispute lie in a disagreement over the strength of the case, these people said, which broadly centered on whether Clinton Foundation contributors received favorable treatment from the State Department under Hillary Clinton. Senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t think much of the evidence, while investigators believed they had promising leads their bosses wouldn’t let them pursue, they said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 2, 2016.
With the FBI accused of pushing the Clinton campaign, which as recently as a week ago was seen as invincible as it stormed toward the November 8 presidential election, over the proverbial cliff, it was perhaps inevitable that in order to preserve the appearance of impartiality the Bureau would proceed with a probe of Trump’s own campaign. And, according to NBC which cited law enforcement and intelligence sources, it has done so by focusing on Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and specifically his foreign business connections. The news of the inquiry, which has not blossomed into a full-blown criminal investigation, emerges just days after FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure that his agency is examining a new batch of emails connected to an aide to Hillary Clinton. It also comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Comey’s revelation and asserted that Comey possesses “explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.” As a reminder, Manafort, who resigned as Donald Trump’s campaign manager in August, was previously an international political consultant. He became a liability for the Trump campaign amid reports of his involvement with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. One damaging New York Times story earlier this year alleged the party had earmarked more than $12 million in under-the-table cash payments, raising questions about whether Manafort had run afoul of U. S. lobbying laws that would he require he register as ‘foreign agent’ with the Justice Department.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 1, 2016.
Fresh proof the FBI’s Hillary email probe was a joke … Yet another surprise revelation suggests strongly that the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail mess was anything but a by-the-book investigation. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he learned only Friday that the Justice Department gave immunity deals to Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and two other aides. That brings to five the number of Clintonistas who got a pass in exchange for testimony and/or information. -New York Post The FBI’s erosion of reputation – taking place this very day and minute as a result of the Clinton email mess – could not have happened to a more deserving operation. For 75 years, the FBI has terrorized the American public with increasing vigor and brutality. Much of the FBI ‘crimes’ it focuses on – insider trading and the like – weren’t even thought to be criminal a few decades ago. It is increasingly clear that the drug-dealing prosecuted by the FBI takes place at the highest levels of America’s political office. Enough has been reported (certainly in the alternative media) about Clinton/Bush/CIA cocaine or heroin dealings to generate what may be a believable profile of these operations. When it comes to white collar banking crime, the American public is increasingly skeptical about the engine of the industry – central banks themselves.
Europe’s Competition Directorate commands the shock troops of the EU power structure. Ensconced in its fortress at Place Madou, it can dispatch swat teams on corporate dawn raids across Europe without a search warrant. It operates outside the normal judicial control that we take for granted in a developed democracy. The US Justice Department could never dream of acting in such a fashion. Known as ‘DG Comp’, it acts as judge, jury, and executioner, and can in effect impose fines large enough to constitute criminal sanctions, but without the due process protection of criminal law. It misused evidence so badly in pursuit of the US chipmaker Intel that the company alleged a violation of human rights. Apple is just the latest of the great US digital companies to face this Star Chamber. It has vowed to appeal the monster 13bn fine handed down from Brussels this week for violation of EU state aid rules, but the only recourse is the European Court of Justice. This is usually a forlorn ritual. The ECJ is a political body, the enforcer of the EU’s teleological doctrines. It ratifies executive power. We can mostly agree that Apple, Google, Starbucks, and others have gamed the international system, finding legal loopholes to whittle down their tax liabilities and enrich shareholders at the expense of society. It is such moral conduct that has driven wealth inequality to alarming levels, and provoked a potent backlash against globalisation.
The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014). As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U. S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department. The 1938 U. S. foreign agents law is intended to track efforts of foreign government’s unofficial operatives in the United States. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The issue is that neither Paul Manafort, nor his deputy, Rick Gates, disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law. “There is no question that Gates and Manafort should have registered along with the lobbying firms,” said Joseph Sandler of Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, a Democratic-leaning Washington law firm that advises Republican and Democratic lobbyists.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 20, 2016.
The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014). As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U. S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department. The 1938 U. S. foreign agents law is intended to track efforts of foreign government’s unofficial operatives in the United States. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 20, 2016.
US health insurer Aetna already made waves earlier this week when it announced on Monday that it would exit 11 of 15 state exchanges in which it offers Obamacare plans as a result of mushrooming financial losses. While that move was largely expected due to the inherent flaws in Obamacare, today it surprised market watchers, and its shareholders, again by handing an ultimatum to the Department of Justice, and thus the US government, threatening it would immediately reduce its presence in the remaining Affordable Care Act exchanges and cancel a planned expansion, if its merger with Humana was blocked. Amusingly, the analysis of the announcement broke down firmly along party line: according to some, the previous decision to exit more than two-thirds of Obamacare exchanges was the first shot across the DOJ’s bow, coming a few weeks after the Department of Justice filed a suit to stop the Humana merger. Prominent Republicans, including Donald Trump’s campaign, said the move, which came after similar ones by other major insurers, reflected flaws of the ACA. Others, notably those with a more Democratic bent, including Elizabeth Warren, suggested that Aetna’s stance on the exchanges was affected by the Justice Department’s decision. ‘The health of the American people should not be used as bargaining chips to force the government to bend to one giant company’s will,’ she wrote in a Facebook post.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 17, 2016.
For an increasingly vocal group in this country – that sees ‘the establishment’ for what it is – it may not come as a total shock that CNN is reporting that The (Clinton-appointee-Loretta-Lynch-run) Department of Justice has “pushed back” against The FBI‘s desires to begin a probe to investigate whether there was a criminal conflict of interest with the State Department and the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s tenure. Officials from the FBI and Department of Justice met several months ago to discuss opening a public corruption case into the Clinton Foundation, a US official has told CNN… At the time, three field offices were in agreement an investigation should be launched after the FBI received notification from a bank of suspicious activity from a foreigner who had donated to the Clinton Foundation, according to the official. FBI officials wanted to investigate whether there was a criminal conflict of interest with the State Department and the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s tenure. Makes perfect sense right? But before we go on, as a gentle reminder – it was then President Bill Clinton that gave Loretta Lynch her big break, nominating her in 1999 to serve as US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York… “probably nothing”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 12, 2016.
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration announced Thursday it will seek to block two giant health care mergers, citing concerns that the deals could drive up health care premiums, undermine innovation and reduce competition. The Justice Department filed lawsuits challenging Anthem’s $48 billion acquisition of Cigna and Aetna’s $37 billion takeover of Humana, threatening to put an abrupt stop to the insurance industry’s rapid consolidation. Eleven states and the District of Columbia joined the attempt to block the Anthem deal, which would combine the nation’s second- and fourth-largest insurers. Eight states and D. C. joined the suit to block the Aetna deal, which would combine the third and fifth largest. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters the mergers would ‘drastically’ curb competition in the insurance industry, including by reducing the number of options for people who buy insurance on public exchanges. ‘If these mergers were to take place, the competition among these insurers that has pushed them to provide lower premiums, higher-quality care and better benefits would be eliminated,’ Lynch said. In a show of unity, Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna and Louisville-based Humana immediately issued a joint statement vowing to ‘vigorously’ contest the government’s suit, saying their deal would improve the quality of care and lower costs while increasing insurance options for many Medicare patients.
A rigged system of justice that protects elites was a constant theme under President Obama’s former U. S. Attorney General at the Justice Department, Eric Holder, who failed to prosecute a single Wall Street bank executive over the epic corruption that led to the financial collapse in 2008. Now, President Obama’s newest head of the Justice Department, Loretta Lynch, has come under withering criticism for conducting a private meeting with former President Bill Clinton on her government plane at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport while his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is under an active criminal investigation by her office for transmitting classified government material over her private email server while Secretary of State in the Obama administration. President Obama’s two terms have been filled with personnel from the Bill Clinton presidency, leading to the appearance of continuity government between the two camps. The current U. S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1999 during his Presidency to head the U. S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, where she worked until 2001. According to her official bio, she joined the corporate law firm, Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) in 2002 and remained there until January 2010 when President Obama nominated Lynch to once again head the U. S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York. The American Lawyer reported in 2008 that while Lynch was employed as a partner at Hogan & Hartson, a tax attorney at that firm, Howard Topaz, handled the Clintons’ tax returns since at least 2004. According to the article, the law firm was also a major contributor to Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns.
Yesterday’s mystery meeting on the tarmac between former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch has now been clarified. Obviously, it wasn’t a social visit as Lynch publicly claimed, but an arrangement clarifying how the powerful Clinton dynasty would be kept above the law in the face of heated publicly scrutiny as Hillary Clinton seeks the presidency. Instead, the Justice Department filed a motion that would keep from release thousands of emails potentially exposing conflicts of interest on the part of the Clinton Foundation and overlapping state department officials, such as Hillary’s chief of staff Huma Abedin.
This post was published at shtfplan on June 30th, 2016.
Yesterday, speaking before a rally audience in Rhode Island, Donald Trump called the coordination of election strategy between presidential candidates Senator Ted Cruz and Governor John Kasich ‘collusion.’ (See video clip below.) He then made the following off the wall statement: ‘If you collude in business, or if you collude in the stock market, they put you in jail.’ That statement is profoundly important on multiple levels. For one, it raises the question of just how closely Donald Trump has followed the serial crimes of Wall Street and the Justice Department’s failure to deliver jail time. Despite holding a degree from the Wharton School, perhaps Trump thumbs through the real estate section of the New York Times and skips over the Wall Street news. Maybe Trump is entrenched in an illusion that it’s his charisma and star quality that is responsible for his meteoric rise in the primary races rather than a citizenry outraged that one percenters on Wall Street created the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression through fraud, deceit, cooked books, and yes, lots of collusion, and not oneof the executives of these firms has seen the inside of the Hoosegow. A retired, veteran trial lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission, James Kidney, is one such outraged citizen. In April 2014, Kidney set off pandemonium inside the SEC by giving an interview with Bloomberg News and releasing the full text of his March 27 retirement speech. In the speech, Kidney excoriated the SEC’s leadership for policing ‘the broken windows on the street level’ while ignoring the ‘penthouse floors.’ Kidney linked the demoralization at the agency to its revolving door to Wall Street since the most talented and ambitious ‘see no place to go in the agency and eventually decide they are just going to get their own ticket to a law firm or corporate job punched.’ (Retirement Remarks of SEC Attorney, James Kidney (Full Text)
New York State has the toughest financial fraud law in the country. Under New York’s 1921 Martin Act, the State Attorney General’s office can bring both criminal or civil charges. Despite that important fact, no CEO or CFO or key executive of any major Wall Street bank has been prosecuted by the New York State Attorney General for their role in the 2008 crash – which crippled the U. S. economy and has left the nation with GDP growth of two percent or less ever since. Despite the Martin Act’s unique anti-fraud statutes, Wall Street banks have been churning out serial new crimes since the 2008 crash, proving that both Justice Department prosecutors in Washington and timid prosecutors in New York are failing miserably at their jobs in deterring Wall Street crime. What power brokers in New York do best is flood presidential campaigns with money and then fill key cabinet posts with cronies who understand how the game is played between New York and Washington. President Obama nominated Jack Lew to be his Treasury Secretary, despite the fact that he had been Chief Operating Officer of the very unit of Citigroup that crashed the bank. After the bank received the largest taxpayer bailout in U. S. history, Lew was given a $940,000 departing bonus from the insolvent bank because his employment contract at Citigroup guaranteed it as long as Lew accepted ‘a full time high level position with the United States Government or a regulatory body.’ In other words, the serially charged Citigroup needed to add another regulator’s name to its speed dial to Washington. The Treasury Secretary’s post gained even more clout after Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation in 2010. Under the new law, the Treasury Secretary would chair the newly created Financial Stability Oversight Council, consisting of every major regulator of Wall Street.
Yesterday Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown sent a letter to U. S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, asking him to investigate potential U. S. involvement in the money laundering issues recently exposed by the leak of the Panama papers from the law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The Senators told Lew: ‘The Justice Department is reportedly reviewing this matter to determine whether there may be ‘high-level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the U. S. financial system.’ But, as the primary agency charged with protecting the integrity of the U. S. financial system and enforcing our laws against money laundering and terrorist financing, we strongly urge the Treasury Department to conduct its own inquiry into Mossack Fonseca’s activities and its clients.’ According to journalists who have seen the documents that were leaked by an unknown source, there were 617 ‘banks, law firms, accountants, company incorporators and other middlemen’ operating in the United States that are implicated by the document leak in terms of helping clients conceal their assets. Unfortunately, Senators Warren and Brown appear to have short memories. Otherwise, U. S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would be the last person that comes to mind to conduct an investigation to protect ‘the integrity of the U. S. financial system.’ How Lew was confirmed by the U. S. Senate for U. S. Treasury Secretary remains an open mystery at Wall Street On Parade. Lew had previously worked as an executive for the very division of Citigroup that blew up the bank during the 2008 financial crisis and cost taxpayers the largest bank bailout in U. S. history. When Lew left his executive position at Citigroup at the end of 2008 and joined Hillary Clinton’s State Department as Deputy Secretary of State, he retained an investment in Citigroup Venture Capital International (CVCI), a $7 billion private equity fund which was housed in the Cayman Islands at the infamous Ugland House. According to a previous Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Ugland House is home to 18,857 corporations. In 2009, President Obama called it either ‘the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world.’
In a feeble public relations move, Bill Dudley, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and FINRA, the self-regulatory body on Wall Street, are making noises about cleaning up the culture on Wall Street. It’s always dangerous to make any predictions when it comes to Wall Street but in this case we can confidently predict that when it comes to the New York Fed and FINRA, the only possible impact they could have on the culture is to make it worse. The New York Fed didn’t see a problem for Bill Dudley’s spouse to collect $190,000 a year in deferred compensation from JPMorgan Chase while the New York Fed served as the bank’s main regulator. The New York Fed didn’t see a problem for Citigroup’s CEO, Sandy Weill, or JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, to sit on its Board of Directors as their banks embarked on a serial reign of abuses against the investing public. In 2013, Carmen Segarra, a lawyer and former Bank Examiner at the New York Fed, filed a lawsuit alleging that Relationship Managers at the New York Fed obstructed her investigation of Goldman Sachs and attempted to bully her into changing her negative findings. When Segarra refused, she was fired by the New York Fed according to the lawsuit. Segarra later produced internal tape recordings backing up the toothless regulation of Goldman by the New York Fed. In 2012, Wall Street On Parade reported on how a Barclays’ bank employee revealed to a Senior Financial Economist at the New York Fed that his bank was not ‘posting um, an honest Libor.’ (Libor is the benchmark interest rate used to set the rates for trillions of dollars of financial products around the globe.) That conversation provided an early window into one of the biggest cartel frauds in history. The conversation occurred in April 2008 and yet no one at the New York Fed saw any reason to alert the U. S. Justice Department that a key interest rate benchmark was being rigged. The New York Fed epitomizes failing up. Timothy Geithner was the President of the New York Fed from November 17, 2003 right through the buildup of unprecedented leverage and toxic subprime assets on Wall Street. He continued in the position until 2009, despite failing to foresee the impending crash or the systemic corruption. As a reward for his negligence as a regulator, President Obama appointed him to become the U. S. Treasury Secretary in 2009, where he proceeded to oversee an unprecedented taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.