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Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Last Empire: Protecting the Ponzi Scheme
The darkest form of evil always comes falsely packaged as something “good”…
The Faux News sponsored policy may well be “Pax Americana”, but the reality-based policy is the velvet fist known as “Might is Right”. Of course, everyone knows that, except for the self-delusional NeoCon psychopaths running around still pretending otherwise.
Simply put, the new myRA program put forward by Obama is at best a sucker’s deal… or worse, it’s a first step toward the nationalization of private retirement savings. (Note: If you haven’t yet heard of myRA, I’d strongly suggest you read this excellent overview by my colleague Dan Steinhart.)
Even before the new myRA program was announced, there had been whispers about the need for the US government to assume some risk for US retirement accounts. That’s code for forced conversion of private retirement assets into government bonds.
With foreigners not buying as many Treasuries and the Fed tapering, the US government has been searching for new buyers of its unwanted debt. And this is where the new myRA program comes in.
In short, it’s ostensibly a new way for people to save for retirement. Of course, you can only invest in government-approved investments—like Treasuries—which probably won’t even come close to keeping up with the real rate of inflation. It’s like Jim Grant says: “return-free risk.”
In reality, a myRA doesn’t really provide any significant new benefits over existing options. To me it just looks like a way for the US government to pass the hot potato on to unsuspecting Americans in exchange for their retirement savings.
The net effect is the funneling of more capital to Treasury securities and thus helping the US government finance itself.
You’d be much better off using a precious metals IRA to save for retirement than participating in the government’s latest Ponzi scheme.
There are other protective strategies as well, such as internationalizing your retirement savings into assets that are hard, if not impossible, to confiscate on a whim—like foreign real estate and physical gold held abroad. More on that below.
Retirement Savings Are Always Juicy Targets
As bad as it is to deceive naïve Americans into trading their hard-earned retirement savings for garbage (i.e., Treasury securities), the myRA program potentially represents something far worse… the first step toward the nationalization of existing private retirement accounts.
I believe myRA is a way to nudge the American people into gradually becoming more accustomed to government involvement in their private retirement savings.
It’s incorrect to assume nationalization couldn’t happen in the US or your home country. History shows us that it’s standard operating procedure for a government in dire financial straits.
To me it’s self-evident that most Western governments (including the US) have current debt loads and future spending commitments that all but guarantee that eventually—and likely someday soon—they will try to unscrupulously grab as much wealth as they can.
And retirement savings are a juicy target—low-hanging fruit for a desperate government.
Naturally, politicians will try to slickly sell the idea to the public as something “for their own good” or as “protection from market instability.” This is how similar programs were sold to skeptical publics in the past.
In reality, governments take these actions not to “reduce the risk” to your retirement savings or whatever propaganda they happen to come up with, but rather to obtain financing—by forcefully dumping their unwanted debt onto seniors and savers.
Below are several ways it has happened or could happen. Of course, there could always be some sort of new, creative proposal that was previously unthinkable. No matter the method, however, the end result is always the same—the siphoning off of purchasing power from your retirement savings.
New Contribution Mandate: The government could mandate, for example, that 50% of new contributions to private retirement accounts must consist of “safe,” government-approved investments, like Treasury securities.
Forced Conversions: This is where a government will forcibly convert existing assets held in retirement accounts into so-called “safer” assets, such as government bonds. For example, if the US government forcibly converted 20% of the estimated $20 trillion in retirement assets (401k plans, IRAs, defined benefit and contribution plans, etc.), it would net them $4 trillion. Not a bad score, considering the national debt is north of $17 trillion.
Special Taxes: The government could look into levying special taxes on distributions from retirement, especially those deemed to be “excessively large.”
In order to be more effective, forced conversations probably wouldn’t happen until after official capital controls have been instituted. Once in place, capital controls would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for you to avoid the wealth confiscation that is sure to follow… like a sheep that has just been penned in for a shearing.
Since FATCA and other regulatory burdens already amount to a soft form of capital controls, it’s absolutely essential that you start implementing protective measures now.
It’s like I have always said: internationalization is your ultimate insurance against the measures of a desperate government. In the case that the government makes a grab for retirement savings, it’s much better to be a year or two early rather than a minute too late.
Internationalize Your Retirement Savings
It’s much more difficult for the government to convert your retirement assets if they’re outside of its immediate reach. If you have a standard IRA from a large US financial institution, it would only take a decree from the US government and Poof!: your dividend-paying stocks and corporate bonds could instantly be transformed into government bonds.
Obviously, this is much harder for the government to do if your retirement assets are sufficiently internationalized.
For example, you can structure your IRA to invest in foreign real estate, open an offshore bank or brokerage account, own certain types of physical gold stored abroad, and invest in other foreign and nontraditional assets.
In my view, owning an apartment in Switzerland and some physical gold coins stored in asafe deposit box in Singapore beats the cookie-cutter mutual funds shoved down your throat by traditional IRA custodians any day.
If and when there’s some sort of decree to convert or otherwise confiscate the assets in your retirement account, your internationalized assets ensure that your savings won’t vanish at the stroke of a pen.
There are important details and a couple of restrictions that you’ll need to be aware of, but they amount to minor issues, especially when weighed against the risk of leaving your retirement savings within the immediate reach of a government desperate for cash.
After placing a juicy steak in front of a salivating German shepherd, it’s only a matter of time before he makes a grab for it. The US government with its $17 trillion debt load is the salivating German shepherd, and the $20 trillion in retirement savings is the juicy steak.
Internationalizing your IRA has always been a prudent and pragmatic thing to do. And now that the US government has now officially set its sights on retirement savings, it’s truly urgent.
You’ll find all the details on how it to get set up, along with trusted professionals who specialize in internationalizing IRAs in our Going Global publication.
JPMorgan, Madoff, And Why No One Dared Ask “The Cult” Any “Serious Questions As Long As The Performance Is Good” | Zero Hedge
As was well-known in advance, today JPMorgan entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ, whereby Jamie Dimon’s enterprise, where legal fees and litigation charges are no longer “non-recurring” items but a cost of doing business, paid $1.7 billion (non tax-deductible) to settle all criminal charges that it was aware well in advance that Madoff was a ponzi scheme and did nothing to alert authorities or the general public. What was less known is just how acutely JPM was aware of the developments at Madoff’s pyramid scheme, and that while apparently JPM was not convinced enough of Madoff’s criminality to alert regulators using “Suspicious Activity Reports”, it had seen enough to quietly reduce its exposure with the Ponzi from $369 million at the beginning of October 2008, or just after the Lehman collapse, to just $81 million at the time of Madoff’s arrest.
There is much more on the sequence of events in JPM’s realization that Madoff was a fraud (see filing below), but the punchline is the following extract from lengthy internal email in October 2008 by a JPM trading analyst that raised concerns about Madoff’s investment returns, and which explains why frauds are never caught until it is too late: “The October 16 Memo ended with the observation that: “[t]here are various elements in the story that could make us nervous,” including the fund managers “apparent fear of Madoff, where no one dares to ask any serious questions as long as the performance is good.… personnel at one feeder fund seem[ed] very defensive and almost scared of Madoff. They seem unwilling to ask him any difficult questions and seem to be considering his ‘interests’ before those of the investors. It’s almost a cult he seems to have fostered.”
And there you have the biggest failing of modern capital markets in a nutshell: nobody dares to ask any serious questions as long as the performance is good, and where there a cult-like following of the ringleader (see Central Banks). By the time the performance turns bad, and all the overdue questions are finally asked, it is always too late, and the cult blows up.
What is strangely missing in today’s action by the DOJ, which slams JPM (rightfully), is any mention of the SEC, you know – the regulators – those people whose job it was to catch Madoff in the act. Because while pocketing $1.7 billion from JPM may be an enjoyable exercise in populist propaganda for an administration that suddenly realizes it has created an unprecedented social class hatred schism and needs to punish bankers on a recurring, monthly basis, where is there any mention of the SEC’s fault for being completely oblivious to what JPM uncovered on its own? And yes, JPM did not alert the authorities, but at the end of the day its fiduciary obligations are first and foremost to its shareholders, which it executed, and not to a gullible public which opted for yet another “get rich quick” scheme, hoping foolishly that the SEC has some idea what it is doing.
Finally, we can’t help but wonder: when the current bubble to end all bubbles implodes, who will be punished for failing to point out that the emperor is naked, and that it is the cult of the Federal Reserve and its central bank peers around the globe, that have created the biggest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen?
For those curious about the details of how JPM succeeded in realizing what the SEC failed to grasp, despite numerous vocal warnings from Harry Markopolos, read on.
From U.S. v. JPMorgan Chase – Deferred Prosecution Agreement Packet, Exhibit C
October 2008: JPMC Concludes In A Report To U.K. Regulators That Madoff s Returns Are Probably Too Good To Be True
In mid-September 2008, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and growing concerns about counter-party risk, JPMCs Head of Global Equities directed investment bank personnel to substantially reduce JPMC’s exposure to hedge funds, which had increased following JPMCs March 2008 acquisition of Bear Stearns. This directive was reiterated by the Investment Bank Risk Committee on October 3, 2008. Acting at the direction of the Head of Global Equities, the Equity Exotics Desk began analyzing which hedge funds to reduce exposure to, including by directing the Desk’s due diligence analyst (the “Equity Exotics Analyst”) to scrutinize investments in various hedge funds, including the Madoff feeder funds. The Equity Exotics Analyst conducted this due diligence by, among other things, analyzing the reported strategy and returns of Madoff Securities, speaking to personnel at Madoff feeder funds and financial institutions administering Madoff feeder funds, and unsuccessfully seeking from the feeder funds and administrators documentary proof of the assets of Madoff Securities.
On October 16, 2008, the Equity Exotics Analyst wrote a lengthy e-mail to the head of the Equity Exotics Desk and others summarizing his conclusions (the “October 16 Memo”), The October 16 Memo described the inability of JPMC or the feeder funds to validate Madoff s trading activity or custody of assets. The October 16 Memo noted that the feeder funds were audited by major accounting firms, which had issued unqualified opinions for 2007, but questioned Madoff s “odd choice” of a small, unknown accounting firm. The October 16, 2008 Memo reported that personnel from one of the feeder funds “said they were reassured by the claim that FINRA and the SEC performed occasional audits of Madoff,” but that they “appear not to have seen any evidence of the reviews or findings,” The October 16 Memo also questioned the reliability of information provided by the feeder funds and the willingness of the feeder funds to obtain verifying information from Madoff. For example, the memo reported that personnel at one feeder fund “seem[ed] very defensive and almost scared of Madoff. They seem unwilling to ask him any difficult questions and seem to be considering his ‘interests’ before those of the investors. It’s almost a cult he seems to have fostered.” The Equity Exotics Analyst further wrote that there was both a “lack of transparency” into Madoff Securities and “a resistance on the part of Madoff to provide meaningful disclosure.”
The October 16 Memo ended with the observation that: “[t]here are various elements in the story that could make us nervous,” including the fund managers “apparent fear of Madoff, where no one dares to ask any serious questions as long as the performance is good.” The October 16 Memo concluded: “I could go on but we seem to be relying on Madoff s integrity (or the [feeder funds’] belief in Madoff s integrity) and the quality of the due diligence work (initial and ongoing) done by the custodians . . . to ensure that the assets actually exist and are properly custodied, If some[thing] were to happen with the funds, our recourse would be to the custodians and whether they had been negligent or grossly negligent.”
The Head of Due Diligence responded by complimenting the Equity Exotics Analyst on the October 16 Memo, making reference to other long-running fraud schemes, and suggesting in a joking manner that they should visit the Madoff Securities accountant’s office in New City, New York to make sure it was not a “car wash.”
* * *
JPMC’s Redemptions From Madoff Feeder Funds
On October 16, 2008 — the day of the October 16 Memo — an Equity Exotics employee requested by e-mail a “list of all external trades and the exact counterparty trade” for each of the Madoff-related feeder funds, noting that “[t]le list needs to be exhaustive as we may be terminating all of these trades and we cannot afford missing any.” The Equity Exotics Desk, which had already placed redemption orders for approximately $78 million from the Madoff feeder funds between October 1 and October 15, thereafter sought to redeem almost all of its remaining money in the Madoff feeder funds.
In addition to redeeming its positions in the Madoff feeder funds, JPMC sought, with the assistance of legal counsel, to cancel or otherwise unwind certain of the structured products issued related to the performance of the Madoff feeder funds. In an attempt to unwind these transactions, JPMC told the distributors of the Madoff notes that it was invoking a provision of the derivatives contract that enabled it to de-link the notes from the performance of the Madoff feeder funds if JPMC could not obtain satisfactory information about its investment. For example, in a letter dated October 27, 2008,JPMC warned that it would declare a “Lock-In Event” under the terms of the contract unless the recipient — a distributor that the Equity Exotics Analyst had spoken to as part of his due diligence underlying the October 16 Memo — could provide the identity of all of Madoff Securities’ options counterparties by 5:00 PM the following day.
In the Fall of 2008, the amount of JPMC’s position in Madoff feeder funds fell from approximately $369 million at the beginning of October 2008 (which was down slightly from its high-water mark of $379 million, in July 2008) to approximately $81 million at the time of Madoff s arrest, on December 11, 2008 — a reduction of approximately $288 million, or approximately 80% of JPMC’s proprietary capital invested as a hedge in Madoff feeder funds. During the same period, JPMC spent approximately $19 million buying back Madoff-linked notes and approximately $55 million to unwind a swap transaction with a Madoff feeder fund that eliminated JPMC’s contractual obligation with respect to those structured products. When Madoff was arrested, JIPMC booked a loss of approximately $40 million, substantially less than the approximately $250 million it would have lost but for these transactions.
At the same time, the Equity Exotics Desk also held through the time of Madoff s arrest a gap note providing JPMC with $5 million in protection if the value of a Madoff feeder fund collapsed completely. In a November 28, 2008 e-mail, an Equity Exotics banker declined a third party’s request to buy this protective gap note from JPMC, and described the gap note as being “as of today. . . very valuable” to JPMC.
JP Morgan Pays $2 Billion to Avoid Prosecution for Its Involvement In Madoff Ponzi Scheme Washington’s Blog
JP Morgan: Ponzi Schemer
Bernie Madoff has said all along that JP Morgan knew about – and knowingly profited from – his Ponzi schemes.
So JP Morgan has agreed to pay the government $2 billion to avoid investigation and prosecution.
While this may sound like a lot of money, it is spare sofa change for a big bank like JP Morgan.
It’s not just the Madoff scheme.
Here are just some of the recent improprieties by big banks:
- Laundering money for terrorists (the HSBC employee who blew the whistle on the banks’ money laundering for terrorists and drug cartels says that the giant bank is still laundering money, saying: “The public needs to know that money is still being funneled through HSBC to directly buy guns and bullets to kill our soldiers …. Banks financing … terrorists affects every single American.” He also said: “It is disgusting that our banks are STILL financing terror on 9/11 2013“. And see this)
- Financing illegal arms deals, and funding the manufacture of cluster bombs (and see this and this) and other arms which are banned in most of the world
- Handling money for rogue military operations
- Laundering money for drug cartels. See this, this, this, this and this (indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis). A whistleblower said: “America is losing the drug war because our banks are [still] financing the cartels“, and “Banks financing drug cartels … affects every single American“. And see this.)
- Shaving money off of virtually every pension transaction they handled over the course of decades, stealing collectively billions of dollars from pensions worldwide. Details here, here, here, here, here,here, here, here, here, here, here and here
- Manipulating aluminum and copper prices
- Charging “storage fees” to store gold bullion … without even buying or storing any gold . And raiding allocated gold accounts
- Committing massive and pervasive fraud both when they initiated mortgage loans and when they foreclosed on them (and see this)
- Pledging the same mortgage multiple times to different buyers. See this, this, this, this and this. This would be like selling your car, and collecting money from 10 different buyers for the same car
- Cheating homeowners by gaming laws meant to protect people from unfair foreclosure
- Committing massive fraud in an $800 trillion dollar market which effects everything from mortgages, student loans, small business loans and city financing
- Manipulating the hundred trillion dollar derivatives market
- Engaging in insider trading of the most important financial information
- Pushing investments which they knew were terrible, and then betting against the same investments to make money for themselves. See this, this, this, this and this
- Engaging in unlawful “frontrunning” to manipulate markets. See this, this, this, this, this and this
- Manipulating corporate bonds through derivatives schemes
- Charging veterans unlawful mortgage fees
- Helping the richest to illegally hide assets
The executives of the big banks invariably pretend that the hanky-panky was only committed by a couple of low-level rogue employees. But studies show that most of the fraud is committed by management.
Indeed, one of the world’s top fraud experts – professor of law and economics, and former senior S&L regulator Bill Black – says that most financial fraud is “control fraud”, where the people who own the banks are the ones who implement systemic fraud. See this, this and this.
The failure to go after Wall Street executives for criminal fraud is the core cause of our sick economy.
And experts say that all of the government’s excuses for failure to prosecute the individuals at the big Wall Street banks who committed fraud are totally bogus.
The big picture is simple:
- The big banks manipulate every market they touch
- Too much interconnectedness leads to financial instability
- The government has given the banks huge subsidies … which they are using for speculation and other things which don’t help the economy. In other words, propping up the big banks by throwing money at them doesn’t help the economy
- Top economists, financial experts and bankers say that the big banks are too large … and their very size is threatening the economy. They say we need to break up the big banks to stabilize the economy
- The big banks own the D.C. politicians … so Congress and the White House won’t do anything unless the people force change
Sudipta Sen was on the run when police arrested him on April 23 at Hotel Snow Land, a resort with views of the Himalayas in Sonamarg, India, about 2,700 kilometers northwest of his Kolkata base.
Sen’s Saradha Realty India Ltd., the anchor of an empire that took in small deposits and promised payouts of land, apartments or a refund of clients’ money with interest rates as high as 24 percent, was defaulting on thousands of deals. Employees of Sen’s media companies hadn’t gotten paychecks in months. As cash dried up, 1.74 million customers saw savings vanish, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its February issue.
The upheaval didn’t end with Saradha. Panicked depositors rushed to pull money from similar companies. Since April, more than 34 people have committed suicide, 13 of them Saradha agents and investors. A 50-year-old domestic helper south of Kolkata in Baruipur, one of many hubs of Sen’s activities, set herself ablaze after losing 30,000 rupees ($482).
Saradha Group, the parent of Saradha Realty, was among hundreds of unlicensed deposit-taking enterprises that serve India’s poor — and skirt regulators.
Clients scraped up as little as 100 rupees a month in a country where the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Database found just 35 percent of adults had a bank account and 8 percent borrowed through formal channels in 2011.
India requires such quasi-banks to register with state or federal authorities. Many don’t. Saradha and others avoid oversight by disguising themselves as real estate developers, goat farmers and emu raisers, says U.K. Sinha, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the nation’s capital markets regulator, known as SEBI.
Sen, chairman and managing director of Saradha Group, said he owned 160 companies. About 15 operated as real firms, Sen’s lawyer Samir Das says.
Unlawful deposit companies proliferate in India. Saradha took in at least $200 million based on preliminary figures, Sinha says. Actual numbers may be bigger, he says. Such firms have raised a total of more than $2 billion, Sinha estimates.
Sen has been jailed since his arrest. Police have filed 155 charge sheets, formal documents of accusation, against Sen, Das says. Sivaji Ghosh, additional director general of the West Bengal police’s criminal investigation department, said in mid-December he expects a special court that will handle all Saradha-related cases to be set up soon.
What makes Saradha’s collapse noteworthy is the turmoil it spread across six states, a territory the size of Spain in eastern India, where access to banks is limited.
Depositors protested and mobs ganged up on agents. Abhimanyu Nayak, who worked for another unregistered collection firm called Seashore Group, jumped in front of a train in Odisha state in May as investors hounded him for their cash.
Saradha and its aftermath hurt so many people that the government had to step in, says Pratip Kar, who served as SEBI’s executive director from 1992 to 2006 and now works as a World Bank consultant.
“Ponzi schemes like Saradha create widespread havoc, like a tsunami,” says Kar, describing ploys in which companies repay depositors with money from new investors. “When the shopkeeper and the household helper and the rickshaw pullers are robbed of their minuscule savings, it is painful.”
The Saradha fiasco sparked an overhaul of SEBI’s powers. The regulator has shut 15 companies and barred the owners from the capital markets. It’s investigating 20 more, Sinha says.
That’s a fraction of India’s fraudulent collection businesses, says Prithvi Haldea, chairman of researcher Prime Database in New Delhi.
“There are countless scams currently in operation in various sizes, shapes and forms,” he says. “Saradha led to a new law and that’s a good thing, but is it geared toward conquering all scams? Certainly not.”
In India, several regulators supervise banks and financial companies — creating gaps that scammers exploit. SEBI monitors so-called collective investment schemes, known as CISs, which typically deal with money pooled from customers.
SEBI, which had power to investigate but not enforce, can now search and seize property and recover wrongful gains, Sinha says. The government can also classify pools of more than 1 billion rupees as CISs and put them under SEBI’s purview. In the past, no threshold existed.
As for smaller scams outside SEBI’s radar, Sinha says, some states have passed a measure to protect depositors against unauthorized money raising. SEBI will share information with states, the corporate affairs ministry and the Reserve Bank of India to help fight fraud.
“We want to ensure nothing escapes,” Sinha says.
The reforms don’t go far enough, says Satyajit Das, author of a dozen books on financial risk, including “Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk.”
“The regulatory infrastructure doesn’t actually keep up with reality,” he says, adding that scammers will simply create dozens of small companies to avoid the 1 billion rupee threshold.
“The authorities need to accept that in the modern financial system, these quaint distinctions between banks, nonbanks and CISs are a complete waste of time,” he says. Das says India needs one powerful financial regulator.
Ajay Shah, an economist at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi, says hasty laws may not address the scope of a malfeasance.
“Laws are enacted as a knee-jerk response to an event and often poorly thought through,” he says, commenting about the government’s reactions to financial scandals. “Ponzi schemes like Saradha are a visible sign that the government’s strategy is fundamentally broken.”
Lax law enforcement and India’s slow judicial system aid fraudulent companies, says Prime Database’s Haldea, who is also an investor-protection activist with a website listing economic offenders.
“People assume that they will never be caught or will get off lightly,” he says. “Ultimately, the fear of law has to go down the throats of fraudsters.”
Financial scams are hurting India as it battles an economic slump. The central bank predicts growth will remain at 5 percent in the 12 months ending on March 31, the same pace as in the previous fiscal year and the slowest growth in a decade.
Harm to small investors undermines confidence in the financial system. When Indians lose cash, they put money into physical assets such as gold, which India imports, Shah says. That reduces household capital that powers the economy.
India raised the tax on gold imports three times in 2013 to curb demand and tackle a record $87.8 billion current-account deficit that weakened the rupee in August to an all-time low of 68.845 to the dollar.
“Beyond the actual dollars lost, these Ponzi schemes contaminate people’s confidence, and the financial markets become weak,” Shah says. “To have a comprehensive, vibrant economy, you need to have households that have confidence in an array of financial institutions and products, whether it’s a bank or mutual funds.”
Tuku Biswas lost her life savings to Saradha. Biswas, a sex worker in Kolkata’s Sonagachi neighborhood of multistory brothels, was 28 in 2012, when she discovered she had the HIV virus.
Determined to support her 11-year-old sister, Biswas deposited 7,500 rupees a month with Sen’s Saradha Tours & Travels Pvt. Biswas expected a lump sum of 131,250 rupees — including the promised 17 percent interest — by August 2013. When Saradha imploded in April, she got nothing.
“That money was my sister’s future,” she says. “All I want is my money back. I don’t know how long I have left to live.”
Saradha lured clients with an array of pitches. Saradha Realty took cash as an advance for properties that the company didn’t identify at the outset, according to an April 23 statement from SEBI.
Investors chose land, an apartment or a refund of their money with average interest of 12 to 24 percent at the end of the agreement. Saradha also took as little as 100 rupees a month for 12 to 60 months. Some investors put in 10,000 to 100,000 rupees for 15 to 120 months or lump sums for 12 to 168 months.
Sen documented his own downfall in an April 6 letter to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, four days before he fled Kolkata.
He said he made a costly foray into the media industry by acquiring television channels and newspapers in 2011. Close aides kept a major chunk of depositors’ money, he wrote. And marketing officials who recruited agents were illiterate, he said.
“They only understood money, women and wine,” Sen wrote.
Sen described his aspirations in the letter. “I never thought about my limitations,” he wrote.
“A few of my well-wishers cautioned that it is not possible to organize a big empire. But I did not hear anyone’s advice.”
Starting as a property agent in the 1990s, Sen became the owner of Saradha Construction Co. in West Bengal, according to local newspapers.
In July 2008, he established Saradha Realty as his deposit-taking business, hiring thousands of agents in four months. Saradha paid them about 30 percent of the cash they brought in — sparking a stampede for customers.
SEBI began questioning Sen’s business in 2010. He went on a takeover spree, his letter and corporate filings show.
He bought debt-ridden motorcycle assembler Global Automobiles Pvt. and kept 150 employees on the payroll, who pretended to work when people visited. The factory never produced a single motorcycle, former employee Lakhinder Ram says.
Sen denied to SEBI that he was running a collective investment scheme. He handed over 63 cartons of irrelevant information in 2012 to delay the regulator, according to SEBI’s statement.
In an April 1 letter, Sen again denied Saradha was running CISs, saying he was receiving money from sales and advance bookings with the help of brokers — a claim SEBI rejected.
Sen was with two associates when he was arrested in April, including Debjani Mukherjee, who joined Saradha Tours in 2008 and by 2011 was a director of 38 companies. As of early December, clients and employees had filed 390 so-called first information reports against Sen and his aides to police, which set criminal investigations in motion.
As officials dissect Sen’s enterprise aided by expanded powers, economist Shah says the lesson for India must extend beyond Saradha.
“Our entire approach to financial regulations today is completely wrong because it hurts the people and the economy,” he says.
Further Proof the Justice Department is Protecting JP Morgan from Criminal Prosecution | A Lightning War for Liberty
In what may be the least surprising article of 2013, we find out from Newsweek that the Department of Justice is going out of its way to protect the poor little babies at JP Morgan from criminal prosecution in the Bernie Madoff case. While we know all too well about the institutionalized practice of “Too Big to Jail” that dominates the current fraud system of so called “justice” in America, it is still of the utmost importance that we spread these stories far and wide. Amazingly, in this instance the DOJ is actively blocking the Treasury Inspector General from doing his job in order to protect the mega-bank.
Bernard Madoff’s principal bank, JPMorgan Chase, has for years obstructed federal bank examiners trying to ascertain what it knew about his gigantic Ponzi scheme, an official document obtained by Newsweek shows.
The Justice Department refused in September to back up Treasury inspector general staff who wanted a court order to enforce a subpoena, in effect shielding JPMorgan from law enforcement, the October 8 document shows.
The Justice Department told the Treasury Inspector General “that they were denying the request for enforcement of the subpoena,” which means officials “could not undertake further actions regarding this matter,” wrote Jason J. Metrick, the inspector general special-agent-in-charge.
The memo revealing that Justice protected JPMorgan from an obstruction complaint raises anew questions about how much the Obama administration has done to protect the big banks, whose lies about mortgage securities and other investments they sold sank the economy in 2008.
Only minor players have been prosecuted, in contrast with the more than 3,000 felony convictions the FBI says it obtained in the much smaller savings and loan scandals two decades ago.
The JPMorgan memos Justice declined to pursue are almost certain to show that years earlier the bank had grounds to suspect Madoff was running a fraud. A separate inquiry by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan is looking into JPMorgan, which may include what the 90 bank employees knew and when they knew it.
Banana Republic Justice.
Full article here.
Much has been said about the key aspect of the Ponzi scheme behind America’s welfare state (if not enough where it matters as the three living Fed Chairmen currently joke around during the Fed’s shindig on the central bank’s 100th anniversary), namely that all those who have paid in money to entitlements, are entitled to benefit from entitlement distributions in the future. On paper this is absolutely correct, and in an efficient market, without capital allocation distortions this would work (ignoring that a Ponzi scheme, is, by definition, a Ponzi scheme and is reliant on ever greater inflows of money and participants or, as some may call them, suckers). More importantly, this is also fair. Sadly, as recent experiments within the Obama administration and elsewhere, most notably France, when the entire developed world has hit “peak debt” levels, the fairness doctrine no longer works, especially if and when it is enforced upon a destitute population.
Since we don’t live in a paper world, one should be able to quantify the disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” when it comes to entitlements. This is precisely what Larry Kotlikoff did in August 2013 in “How the millennial generation will pay the price of Washington’s paralysis.” The results, charted, show what JPM’s Michael Cembalest has dubbed, accurately, “generational theft”, or the difference between how much excess some Americans will have received in government benefits (the older ones), compared to how great the funding deficit is for others – mostly young Americans, those who are about to graduated from college with record amounts of student loans (on average) and those yet unborn.
After you graduate, the US will be in the thick of the “generational theft” issue; here’s a heads-up on what this is all about. Generational accounting is an estimate of who benefits from and who pays for government programs. As shown in the first chart, the average person in the generation that turned 65 this year received $327 thousand dollars more in lifetime government benefits than they paid in Federal taxes. On the other hand, children born in the future (e.g., yours) will have a lifetime deficit on this basis of -$421 thousand dollars. If it sounds unfair, it is.
It seems that these days few things are fair. Which is perhaps why the rulers are desperate to do everything in their power to “enforce” their idea of fairness on everyone.