Follow the yellow gold road…..

What a couple of days it’s been in the financial world. Allen Stanford, scammer extraordinaire, whereabouts still unknown, is now known to have contributed large sums of money to congressional recipients, to vote against a financial services antifraud bill that would have linked the databases of state and federal banking, securities and insurance regulators. The bill died in the Senate.

Biggest recipients of his cash?

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. ($45,900); Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. ($28,150); Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn. ($27,500); and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas ($19,700). Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, also received $41,375.

The full list is here and here.

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign fund received only $4600 and it was immediately donated, yesterday, to a Chicago charity, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But the other big story is the deal Swiss UBS Bank made with the feds. Accused of assisting U.S. citizens avoid income taxes, UBS Bank has agreed to lift the veil of secrecy and identify “certain” clients. This could be 17,000 of their 20,000 clients whose combined deposits are worth $20 billion dollars.

In July 2008,Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mi) was calling for them to clean up their act. According to The Consumerist Levin told ABC News “UBS’s banking license should be revoked until the bank “cleans up its act.”” He listed the following as what the bank does to conceal its clients names and assets.

* Code Names for Clients
* Pay Phones, not Business Phones
* Foreign Area Codes
* Undeclared Accounts
* Encrypted Computers
* Transfer Companies to Cover Tracks
* Foreign Shell Companies
* Fake Charitable Trusts
* Straw Man Settlors
* Captive Trustees
* Anonymous Wire Transfers
* Disguised Business Trips
* Counter-Surveillance Training
* Foreign Credit Cards
* Hold Mail
* Shred Files

Prepared by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, July 2008.

For the record, Levin took no money from Stanford or his PAC. I’ll bet he even pays his taxes – all of them. Can he be Treasury Secretary?

Reuters reports the deal with UBS goes like this:

Swiss bank UBS AG has agreed to a deal with the U.S. Justice Department that would let the bank avoid tax-violation charges in exchange for identifying some of its U.S. account holders and paying $780 million in fines.

Here are the key terms of the deal:

– UBS, under orders by Swiss market regulators, is to give the United States identities and account information of “certain” U.S. customers. Details are to be filed under seal with U.S. federal court and turned over as soon as the court accepts the agreement.

– UBS agrees to pay $780 million in fines, interest and penalties. This includes $200 million to be paid to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The remainder is to be paid to the Justice Department over 18 months, with options to pay early or extend the terms up to four years.

– UBS acknowledges that it helped U.S. taxpayers open accounts that concealed their identities from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. About 17,000 of 20,000 U.S. cross-border clients concealed their identities and the existence of their accounts, with $20 billion in assets, from the IRS, the Justice Department said.

Some of these clients are unindicted co-conspirators.

The business generated about $200 million a year in revenue for UBS from 2002 to 2007, it said.

– UBS agrees to quit providing cross-border banking services to U.S. clients with undeclared accounts.

– After 18 months, the U.S. government will recommend dismissal of charges against UBS providing it honors the terms of the agreement.

The Stanford saga, in the meantime, continues to rock the world of the wealthy.

Venezuela seized a local bank affiliated with the Stanford Group, after there was a rush to withdraw funds through online banking. According to Reuters,

Depositors withdrew cash using Internet banking services. The bank takes deposits and makes loans only in the OPEC nation’s local currency.

“Most depositors of Stanford Bank Venezuela are from the (highest) income classes. They move their funds on the Internet, and this allowed for a massive withdrawal that pushed the bank into a precarious state,” Finance Minister Ali Rodriguez told reporters.

“The authorities were forced to take the decision to intervene and there will be an immediate sale,” he added.

And in Antigua, the Associated Press reports that customers were turned away from the Stanford bank there, because its assets were frozen. Depositors were arriving by private jet to withdraw their cash and were panicking when they discovered they couldn’t. One man, who owned a software firm, complained that his life savings was in that bank.

Let me guess. There is no F.D.I.C. insurance in Antigua.

It would seem this is just the beginning (of the end?).

Wonder how many of our congresspeople have offshore accounts? We already know they have an aversion to paying taxes.

Wonder if Geithner has one?

But most of all, I wonder if anyone who is caught will go to jail, go directly to jail, not pass go, and not collect $200.

And second I would like to know, will their assets be seized?

If the answer to the second question is yes, I would recommend to the Treasury Department and President Obama, that the assets seized from anyone in the financial industry caught up in these, or any future messes uncovered by the IRS and the FBI, be dumped into an account called the TARP Rebate Fund, which recoups the cash for the taxpayers, from the cheats and thieves who bought us this mess in the first place. (Oh, did I say bought, I meant brought – Freudian slip). And any congresspeople who return campaign contributions from any of these cheats, should also be dumped into this fund.

As a matter of fact, start with Geithner‘s payments, Daschle‘s Kellefer‘s and Solis‘. It would be a good start.

And any congress person who is found to have an offshore account in the UBS debacle, should be bounced from their office, forbidden from holding any public office anywhere in the U.S. or its territories, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

These people all need to do serious jail time. Nothing like seized assets and jail time to straighten up a class of people.

Is there a law against “betraying the public trust?” Because if there isn’t there should be.

Sentence: 20 to life in a Supermax prison. Enjoy. You built it.

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Most scams are run out of Texas and Florida….

What little people have known for years, apparently wealthy people are learning the hard way. If it seems to good to be true, and it is coming from Florida or Texas…..it is.

First was Madoff, who was running his pyramid scheme for 20 years until it recently fell apart, leaving in its wake West Palm Beach millionaires and a long list of people with cash to burn, selling their estate jewelery to make ends meet and now, Texas enters the financial scam scene.

Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, has been charged by the SEC in a civil complaint with “fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world,” said Rose Romero, regional director of the SEC’s office in Fort Worth, Texas, and reported by Reuters.

Stanford, who holds dual U.S.-Antigua citizenship, has dropped off the face of the earth and failed to respond to a subpoena. The SEC can’t understand it.

SIB, his company, oversees $50 billion in assets (this seems to be a magic number, Madoff was charged in a $50 billion fraud scheme).

Maybe the SEC doesn’t consider it worth their time to investigate, unless it amounts to enough money to warrant Barbuda and Antigua’s prime minister to consider the consequences “catastrophic.”

Stanford’s banks are based there and, according to Reuters, “he owns the country’s largest newspaper, heads a local commercial bank, is the biggest private employer, its top investor and is the first American to receive a knighthood from its government.”

He is accused of selling $8 billion in CD’s “by promising high return rates that exceed those available through true certificates of deposits offered by traditional banks.”

Reuters lists additional SEC allegations as the following:

— Stanford’s Antigua-based bank reported identical returns of 15.71 percent in 1995 and 1996, which the SEC called “improbable” and suspicious.

— Ninety percent of the offshore bank’s claimed investment portfolio was in a “black box” shielded from any independent oversight, and only Stanford and aide James Davis, also charged, knew details of the bulk of the portfolio.

— Stanford failed to cooperate with the SEC probe and continued to mislead investors by falsely saying the SEC had frozen accounts or the company had ordered a moratorium on CD redemptions.

— A major, unidentified clearing firm stopped processing wires to SIB for purchase of SIB-issued CDs after the clearing firm was unable to obtain information about the company’s financial condition.

— Stanford used false information to promote a mutual fund program separate from the CDs. The program grew to more than $1.2 billion from less than $10 million in 2004.

In Antigua, hundreds were lining up to get their money out, Panama regulators seized one of the Standford’s local affiliates, the local arm of its financial group pulled itself off of Columbia’s stock exchange, and Adolph Ogi, the former president of Switzerland, quit his post on the advisory board of Stanford Financial Group.

Despite all of this, Reuters states that “There were no signs of imminent criminal charges against Stanford, whose personal fortune was estimated by Forbes Magazine last year at $2.2 billion. A Justice Department spokesman would not confirm or deny the existence of a criminal investigation.”

I would think criminal charges would be a no-brainer, considering the amount of money involved, the 30,000 clients and the 131 countries in which he operated.

But no.

Why, you ask?

Because Reuters also reported this:

Stanford was also expanding his political reach, opening a Washington lobbying office about two years ago after buying the Washington Research Group, a policy study unit of Charles Schwab & Co, in 2005.

Stanford spent $2.8 million on lobbying in 2008, according to records accessed through the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions. His political action committee and employees donated about $2.4 million to parties and candidates for federal office since 1989.

Campaign finance reform won’t fix this, the only thing that will is term limits for Congress and supermax prisons for the influence purchasers.

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