Daily Archives: March 29, 2015

Ex-Barclays executive, businessman given jail terms in Italy for corruption

A former manager of Barclays in Italy Vittorio Maria De Stasio and businessman Aldo Bonaldi were sentenced to jail by a court in Milan on Friday on corruption charges.

De Stasio, who was sued by Barclays, was charged with facilitating loans to four companies owned by Bonaldi even after finding out the businessman was caught up in a case involving an 11-million-euro scam against the European Union.

The court heard De Stasio, who was Barclays’ chief executive for retail and business banking in Italy, received 150,000 euros in kickbacks paid into Swiss bank accounts after the loans were granted.

A judge sentenced the pair to two years and eight months each in prison. They have the right to appeal and will not go to jail until the appeals process is exhausted.

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Bloomberg Interview with Citigroup Whistleblower Richard Bowen…It’s Time to Act!

Last week I closed my appearance on Bloomberg TV by announcing a call for an investigation by Congress into the Congressional Commission cover-ups.

“So what’s the problem, Richard?” anchor Stephanie Ruhle, of Bloomberg Business  asked. I countered back, “the lack of prosecutions as a result of the financial wrongdoings during the financial crisis. And the lack of prosecutions does not indicate a lack of evidence, but may indicate a lack of effort. If Eric Holder is in fact sincere about pursuing this then he’ll call us whistleblowers; we know where the evidence is.”

From reading my posts, you know a lot of evidence has still not made it to the Department of Justice.  As I said on Bloomberg, “to date I’ve asked four different Assistant U.S. Attorneys if they’ve seen the evidence I submitted to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.” I asked each one if they had received a referral. The answers, no!


So, as I told Stephanie and her co-host, William Cohan, my concern is, did the Congressional Commission fulfill its legal mandate to investigate what happened and turn over the evidence I had submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ)?


Read More and See the Video



Michigan governor pardons key adviser in 2004 to 5-hour Energy megadonor for drunk driving conviction

A top adviser to 5-hour Energy founder Manoj Bhargava was given a rare pardon in 2014 by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, according to the Associated Press.

Snyder pardoned Alan Gocha Jr. in December following the Michigan parole board’s recommendation,  “one of only 11 pardons out of roughly 750 applications since the governor took office,” the AP reported.

Gocha, who received the pardon for a 2007 drunken-driving arrest, is a lawyer at the Oakland Law Group that works on behalf of the companies that oversee 5-hour Energy. He has held other positions at a Bhargava investment firm, ETC Capital, as well.

Snyder denied that politics had anything to do with Gocha’s pardon.

“He never contributed to my campaign, not had any financial connection at all,” Snyder told the AP.

As the Center for Public Integrity reported Thursday, companies associated with Bhargava have given more than $5.3 million since 2009 to help candidates running for state office nationwide.

In October 2013, ETC Capital gave $275,000 to the Republican Governors Association, then eight weeks later the governors’ association gave $276,000 to the Michigan Republican Party.

In August 2014, the investment company gave $2.5 million to the governors’ group, which paid $3.2 million on the same day to the media company it used to place ads backing Snyder. The RGA spent an estimated $7.4 million on adshelping Snyder, a Republican, win re-election in 2014.

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Citigroup’s Argentine Unit Suspended From Trading in Local Capital Market

BUENOS AIRES–Amid the battle between a small group of hedge funds and the Argentine government, Argentina on Friday suspended Citigroup’s local unit from trading in the country’s capital market after the bank made a deal with the hedge funds that have sued Argentina in a U.S. court.

Last week, Citi Argentina reached an agreement with the hedge funds and the court that allowed it to make interest payments to local bondholders. U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa had previously ruled that Citi couldn’t make the payments. His ruling put Citi in a legal bind, forcing it to choose between obeying a U.S. court order or Argentine law, which dictated that it make the payments.

The deal angered Argentina’s economy minister, Axel Kicillof, who said Citi chose to protect itself even though it knew that the interest payments wouldn’t actually reach the hands of bondholders. Mr. Kicillof said at a news conference later that Citi had behaved illegally.

A spokesman for Citi declined to comment.

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What We Still Don’t Know About the Fed’s Leak Investigation

Last December, ProPublica reported that confidential information from the Federal Reserve Board committee that sets the nation’s monetary policy had been leaked to a private investor newsletter in 2012. This week, the Fed for the first time put out asummary of its investigation into the leak — one that raises new questions about how the matter was handled.

The leak has become a focus of bipartisan criticism in Congress because of concerns about the Fed’s internal controls and whether the leaked information, involving deliberations by the Federal Open Market Committee, could have provided an unfair advantage to investors who received the newsletter.

The Fed’s inspector general recently reopened what House Finance Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, described as a criminal investigation into the leak. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has said a key concern is whether the Fed’s initial investigation “was conducted appropriately.”

Questions prompted by the Fed’s summary are below. We put them to the Fed and its Inspector General, but both declined to comment.

Q. Why didn’t the Fed immediately refer the newsletter leak to the Securities and Exchange Commission or FBI, as it has done in previous cases?

In the past, the Fed has brought in outside agencies to investigate leaks. Not this time.

The Fed said its investigation of the leak began in early October 2012, lasted until mid-March 2013, and included interviews with about 60 individuals as well as review of emails and other communication. The inquiry, led by Fed General Counsel Scott Alvarez and board Secretary William English, looked not only at the leak to the newsletter, published by Medley Global Advisors, but also into information reported in an earlier story by The Wall Street Journal.

“Nearly everything” reported by Medley Global had appeared first in the Journal, according to the Fed’s summary of its own inquiry.

The summary said the Journal’s story was based on information from numerous Fed board members, reserve bank presidents and staffers but that any disclosures about confidential matters “appeared to be unintentional or careless” and did not involve details of monetary policy proposals or actions.

In contrast, “only a few Federal Reserve personnel covered in the review reported having contact” with Regina Schleiger, who wrote the Medley report. Alvarez was unable to determine who was responsible for the leaked information in the newsletter, according to the summary.

Outside agencies have investigated previous leaks at the Fed’s request. In 1996, a Reuters reporter quoted an unnamed senior Fed official in a story that identified the number of regional Fed presidents who wanted to raise a key interest rate. Then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan asked for FBI assistance.

In April 2013, a Fed congressional liaison mistakenly emailed a full draft of FOMC minutes a day early to 154 people, including Congressional staff, trade groups and banks. The Fed contacted the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to try and determine if any trading had taken place based on the minutes.

As Hensarling explained in a March 13 letter to Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen: “Anyone disclosing such information would be subject to possible criminal insider trading liability.”

In both earlier leak situations, once it was clear that a leak had taken place, outside agencies were immediately brought into the picture. Yet in the Medley leak, there’s no evidence that Alvarez considered doing so or reached out for consultation.

Q. How can the Fed conclude that the Wall Street Journal article and the Medley Global report contain nearly the same information?

A side-by-side comparison of the Journal’s story from Sept. 28 and Medley Global’s newsletter casts doubt on the contention that “nearly everything” in it had already appeared in the newspaper.

The Medley report was focused on what direction the open market committee was headed over the next few months based on discussions by the leadership. Schleiger’s “special report” was titled “December Bound,” and her predictions for what the Fed would do after the September meeting turned out to be accurate. The newspaper story was backward looking. It focused on then-Chairman Ben Bernanke’s efforts to corral members of the committee in the lead up to the meeting.

The Medley report had specifics that the Journal did not. Schleiger revealed that a new program of monthly Treasury purchases , to replace an expiring one, would be about $45 billion. The Medley newsletter also pinpointed the exact unemployment threshold favored by the leadership – 6.5 percent – at which the committee would consider initiating a tightening of monetary policy. Schleiger also included colorful details that few would know – like the fact that some monetary affairs staffers stayed up past midnight working on the policy proposals ahead of the meeting.

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Elizabeth Warren to Wall Street threats: It will not work


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has a blunt message for the big Wall Street banksthat may withhold campaign donations to Senate Democrats in hopes of quieting her calls to break up the banks.

“It will not work,” Warren said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post.

Warren has been a vocal advocate for reining in big banks that she says wield too much power in Washington after their recklessness triggered the 2008 financial meltdown.

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have discussed ways to soften Warren’s strong tone, Reuters reports, and representatives of some have raised the idea of cutting campaign donations to Democrats. Only Citigroup — a frequent target of Warren’s criticism — so far is publicly withholding money from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Cutting donations, Warren said, won’t end her demands.

“They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right,” Warren wrote. “… I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus … And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.”

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Note To Senator Warren: Citigroup Is Spying On You

Note to Senator Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA),: Citigroup (C) is spying on you.

The big New York-based bank — which barely survived the 2008 financial crisis — now has researchers monitoring comments and speeches made by the firebrand Massachusetts senator, focusing on her comments about financial regulation and the future of Citigroup, people inside the bank tell FOX Business.

The surveillance effort is being conducted by Citigroup’s marketing department, which is worried about possible reputation damage given Warren’s well known animus toward the big banks. It began after comments Warren made about Citigroup on the Senate floor in December of last year where the Democrat criticized Citigroup’s lobbying efforts to water down the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and called for Citigroup to be broken up.

Among other jabs at the bank, Warren said: “There’s a lot of talk coming from Citigroup about how Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect. Let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces.”

With that Citigroup’s marketing team launched a program to keep close tabs on Warren’s anti-bank attacks, and try and determine if it has caused any lasting damage to Citigroup’s brand. The bank is particularly concerned about the spill-over effect of Warren’s attacks as they spread through social media outlets like Twitter. Warren’s Dec. 12 Senate floor speech went viral on the Internet and was viewed more than 622,000 times on YouTube.

People inside the bank tell FOX Business it’s unclear if the damage from Warren’s broadsides is hurting Citigroup’s relationships with major clients.

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Here are three Google Earth screenshots of 400 National Way Simi Valley, CA, which refer to this story–WTF? BANK OF AMERICA AND FANNIE MAE SUPPOSEDLY HAVE THE SAME ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER:

Front view–no corporate names or even a name of the structure are visible…

LRM 400 National Way Front

But go around to the left side there’s Bank of America’s logo:

LRM 400 National Way Left side entrance

Same if you go around to the right side…

LRM 400 National Way Google Earth

No Fannie Mae logos are other indication that this is a Fannie Mae building are apparent from these screenshots.  Having looked around the perimeter of the building several times on Google Earth, it now strikes me that what I’m calling the “front” of the building is actually the side and that there is no entrance in the “front.”  The “front” is what faces the Ronald Reagan Freeway outside.  It now seems that the actual entrances are what I called the “left side” and…

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If we were to discover that a Mob boss shared the same address and phone number with a legitimate business–like a liquor store or some such—what would we say about that liquor store?  We’d say that the liquor store was a front company for the Mafia first and foremost, and a legitimate purveyor of spirits only secondarily.

That’s what essentially seems to be going on with Fannie Mae and Bank of America, who inexplicably use the same address–400 National Way Simi Valley, CA 93062-6298–and phone number on a 1099-A tax form I received.  But which is the front for which?  Not sure.  Here’s the form, with my personal info redacted:

LRM 1099 Redacted PNG copy

Or could it be that Bank of America and Fannie Mae merged and didn’t tell anyone?  Did Bank of America buy Fannie Mae or the other way around–and not tell anyone?  WTF is going on?  Apparently the “National Way” is…

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Goldman, JPMorgan Can’t Toss Aluminum Price-Fixing MDL

Law360, Los Angeles (March 26, 2015, 9:08 PM ET) — A New York federal judge on Thursday denied bids to toss multidistrict litigation accusing Goldman Sachs & Co., JPMorgan Securities PLC and others of antitrust violations for manipulating aluminum prices, ruling that plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim under the Sherman Act.

Metals buyers accused several financial services firms with commodities trading arms of working with metals storage warehouses to drive up aluminum prices by delaying the load-out of stored aluminum, in order to increase trading profits and warehouse revenue.

In a 62-page, multipronged opinion, U.S….

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