Senator David Norris' address to Seanad Eireann (the Irish Senate)

In Sept. 2007, fourteen months before Ireland's bank bailout, I resigned from my position as the Risk Manager of UniCredit Bank Ireland. I did that in order not to incriminate myself. I have spent the last 4 years seeking justice. On Feb. 23rd., 2010, I was fortunate to have Senator David Norris raise the matter in Seanad Eireann (the Irish Senate), and request a response from the Minister of Finance, Mr. Brian Lenihan. Senator Norris concluded by stating that:
"...there is ministerial responsibility in this matter. This is a grossly serious matter which has been reported to the Financial Regulator. A man has lost his job as a result. He honourably resigned. The degree of breach was 40 times the accepted margin. This is a disaster. If we are not prepared to face the issue and investigate it when it has been laid before the House, there is absolutely no hope for the financial system or its reputation worldwide...How can the Financial Regulator investigate himself? He was in breach of his responsibility."
In Nov. 2011, Emma Alberici, Europe correspondent for ABC TV, told my story as part of her documentary 'Going Rogue' which featured Nick Leeson and Sir John Vickers among other interviewees. It is ironic that at a time when the Irish tax-payer is bailing out un-secured bond holders, my story which occurred in Dublin, is deemed of interest to the Australian TV license payer. Please click on 'play video' on the following link:
VRT, Belgian state-TV, aired this interview with me on March 6th., 2013. My Interview begins in minute 27:
Het verdriet van Europa: Zeepbellen blazen (The sadness of Europe: Bursting bubbles)
VRT, Belgian state-TV, released extra footage of my interview on March 8th., 2013. (in English):

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

An Eerie Day in Dublin

A tale about an English Queen, American presidents, and us, the debt & mortgage laden Irish people:

Yesterday was a truly momentous occasion in our history as an independent Irish Republic - Queen Elisabeth II of the UK came to visit. She is the first British monarch to do so since we gained our independence in 1916. Today, Dublin was a place of eerie silence - for the sake of the safety of Her Majesty, we, the people of Dublin, were kept off the streets. MSNBC reports:
"Security has meant that the queen's motorcade has driven through empty streets – no throngs of waving spectators have been allowed. Only at Trinity College was there a chance for ordinary people to meet her: 250 students, faculty and staff chosen by lottery. According to participants, they made small talk, chatting about hometowns, majors and the like."

You see, once again, our very own authorities have decided to dispense with consideration for us, 'the people on the street', in order to accommodate the wishes of 'higher' and 'mightier' forces. This is a bit like forcing the IMF/ECB punitive bail-out down our throats to keep our new foreign masters happy, while we have hospitals and schools shut down. Brian Lenihan's (the Minister of Finance who sold our futures to the ECB/IMF) recent platitudes that he did so under duress, would be laughable, had he not made us and our great-great grandchildren pay for it in generations to come.

Queen Elisabeth did not land at our capitals' newly opened airport, one wonders why. I have it on good authority that her landing at the remote Baldonell airport was guarded by dozens of Irish army snipers, ready to pull the trigger should the Queen come into danger. So, you see, we have authorities and forces in this country who can make decisions and exercise authority - when it suits them.

When it suites them we have a fully functioning State which can protect those it regards as important enough to protect. Sadly neither you nor I nor any of the actual citizens of this country seem to be on the list of those worth protecting. 

King Sean of Anglo Irish Bank still waltzes through the golf courses of Ireland while the tax-payers throughout the Euro zone settle Ireland's bank bail-out bills. For those who wonder why, I would like to remind you of 'The Fitzpatrick Tapes' that we learned of last summer. The tapes that convinced us of Fitzpatrick's very comfortable relationship with our then Prime-Minister, Brian Cowen of Fianna Fail. This would be the same Fianna Fail whose ex-TD (member of Irish parliament) was the chairman of UniCredit Ireland at the time of my resignation. This was a 'comfortable' time for all concerned, not only was our chairman, Prof. B. Hillary, an ex-TD (see Village magazine article) for Fianna Fail. The Minister of Finance of the day, was Mr. Brian Cowen, who would later preside over the destruction of Ireland, not by a foreign invader, but by our own, freely elected, Irish government.

The Obamas, on the other hand, can expect to see more of us, Dubliners, on the streets when they land in Dublin next week. The Clintons often reflected on the warm welcomes we had given them. However, president Obama was the one who rushed 2,000 pages of bank bail-out legislation not long after he arrived in the White House. He is the fulfilment of every republican's wildest dreams. Bail-out the corrupt banks and throw people out of their homes for failing to deliver their side of the bargain, in the 'win-win' trap created by savvie bankers. 

"Goldman Sachs Misled Congress After Duping Clients, Levin Says" - stated Bloomberg/Newsweek last month.

Germany's best-performing bank, Deutsche Bank is mentioned in the congressional report as well, and not in the 'Good Guys' category.

I wonder will President Obama discuss with our Prime-Minister Kenny the unpleasant truth of companies operating 'on their watch' while contributing to the wealth of murderers like Muamar Ghaddaffi of Libya. Libya owns 7.5% of UniCredit. UniCredit owns Pioneer Investments - one of the oldest and biggest fund management companies in the USA. Perhaps it was not just Oil prices that President Obama was worried about when he took so long to support the people on Libya's streets who were fighting for democracy. Perhaps they need to teach the White House a lesson or two about democracy...

The good news? History does repeat itself, but we, humans, seem to be learning, albeit 
 s l o w l y .  Ghaddaffi's assets were eventually frozen under a UN resolution much faster than it took for the US authorities to stop Prescot Bush (the presidents' forefather) from financing the Nazi war machine well after the attack on Pearl Harbour:

How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power - The Guardian, September 2004. 

"While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war...

There was nothing illegal in doing business with the Thyssens throughout the 1930s and many of America's best-known business names invested heavily in the German economic recovery. However, everything changed after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Even then it could be argued that BBH was within its rights continuing business relations with the Thyssens until the end of 1941 as the US was still technically neutral until the attack on Pearl Harbor. The trouble started on July 30 1942 when the New York Herald-Tribune ran an article entitled "Hitler's Angel Has $3m in US Bank". UBC's huge gold purchases had raised suspicions that the bank was in fact a "secret nest egg" hidden in New York for Thyssen and other Nazi bigwigs. The Alien Property Commission (APC) launched an investigation.
There is no dispute over the fact that the US government seized a string of assets controlled by BBH - including UBC and SAC - in the autumn of 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy act. What is in dispute is if Harriman, Walker and Bush did more than own these companies on paper."

President Obama, your consideration for your people is touching, you are right up there with our own politicians. This recent quote from the Chicago Tribune says it all: 
"As President Barack Obama flies Monday to Chicago for a midday speech on health-care reform, the round trip on Air Force One will run about $236,000, according to government estimates of the operating costs for one of the top symbols, and perks, of the presidency. But that does not include such expenses as Secret Service protection, motorcades and helicopter transports.
The cost of Air Force One recently made national news after a backup aircraft that sometimes carries the president made a controversial, low-altitude flight over New York City as part of a government photo opportunity, panicking workers and prompting complaints from local officials. That flight cost more than $300,000, according to Air Force estimates.

Obama's air travel made news again when he and First Lady Michelle Obama traded the big bird for a much smaller Air Force jet made by Gulfstream for a recent Saturday evening "date night" in New York City. It was a lower class of service, apparently allowed because of the brevity of the trip

I would like to close this late-night rant with a beautiful poem sent to me by a reader in Florida. It is a paraphrasing of Pslam 23, updated for 1934/5:
Mr. Roosevelt is my shepeherd
I am in want
He maketh me to lie down on park benches
He leadeth me beside the still factories
He disturbuth my soul
He leadeth me in the paths of destruction for his party's sake
I anticipate no recovery
For he is with me
His policies and diplomacies - they frighten me
He prepareth a reduction in my salary and
In the presence of my enemies
He appointeth me small income with taxes
And my expense runneth over
Surely unemplyment and poverty shall follow me
All the days of my life
And I shall dwell in a mortgaged house forever.

Good night/morning,

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A peek into one of the deepest little cesspits in Europe - Golem XIV's blog today

A squib from Bloomberg, quoting the German Newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung,

"Munich prosecutors plan to file embezzlement charges against all members of Bayerische Landesbank’s former board...."
Having the words "all former members" and "embezzlement charges" in the same sentence just makes my day. Ever since the worlds' banks told us they were suddenly short of liquidity, the authorities who were supposed to oversee them, have been even shorter on balls than the banks were on cash. In fact regulators in several countries appeared to have had theirs removed almost as a requirement for getting the job.

So the Bloomberg headline is a thing to behold. The only other thing the article says is that Beyerishe LB lost 3.7 billion euros as a result of acquiring, in 2007, the Austrian bank, Hypo Alpe Adria. Which economy of reporting covers over a manhole which leads down into what is one of the deepest little cesspits in Europe. I say 'one of' because only a congenital regulator would imagine that Beyerishe is the only entrance into the sewer of European banking that ran a river of financial and political corruption, money laundering and dangerously shady arms deals from Croatia and Serbia to Austria, Bavaria, Italy and on to Ireland. 

And lest it seem that the taste for Austrian banks was limited to some axis of corrupt Mitteleuropa imbeciles let's not forget Anglo Irish also had its own Austrian subsidiary. A subsidiary which, thanks to Kathleen Barrington's work, we know had in it 600 million in cash deposits which Anglo sold for just 141 million to Valartis bank which needed a loan of 24 million euros in order to make the purchase. A loan Valartis got from...Anglo.  Hmmm!

My question is if any other authorities or regulators will feel emboldened and feel they too can belatedly start questioning the bankers they are supposed to regulate. I know questions have been asked in the Austrian parliament. Will they be taken further than mere questions?  Will someone in Austria have the moral rectitude to lift the lid on their sewer and see where it leads? Will the German's pressure them to do so or force them to do the opposite if it looks like some of the dirt has ended up in German banks being bailed out by German tax payers?

And what about the Irish?  So far the Irish regulator has been a stand out disgrace.  When Senator Norris tried manfully to read the list of Anglo's bond holders which I wrote about, in to the public and parliamentary record he was shut up.

"The names are Aberdeen Asset Management (London) Limited, AGICAM, Aktia Asset Management, Aletti Gestielle SGR, AllianceBernstein (UK) Limited, Allianz Global Investors France, AmpegaGerling Investment, Anima SGR..."
was as far as he got before he was interrupted and told what he had to say was not relevant. He continued anyway adding, "One Swiss bondholder owns 40% of the bonds and will get millions of euro from us.." at which point the debate was terminated.

There is a trail of disturbing facts, like crumbs of dry excrement, running from bank to bank, country to country.  All it would take is courage and honesty to follow the trail.

So many of the details of the dishonesty and bottom feeding are already known but scattered in different countries, that it cries out for a prosecutor with Europe wide powers and authority to be charged with joining the dots.  Will it happen? Of course not. We will have do it ourselves - with the courageous help of the few honest men and women such as WhistleblowerIRL who have spoken up and who may just give others the courage to do the same.