Thursday, December 08, 2011

Crime and the Law!

'I'm sorry... but I've got no idea where your money's gone': Jon Corzine apologises to MF Global clients with $1.2bn still missing
· Former N.J. governor's firm went bankrupt in October
· Concerned for customers, employees and investors
· Slammed for operating as if recession never happened
By Mark Duell
8th December 2011
Jon Corzine has admitted he has no idea where $1.2billion of missing customer’s money has gone since his brokerage firm collapsed.
The former chief of MF Global has apologised to customers, employees and investors, saying ‘their plight weighs on my mind every hour’.
But politicians and regulators have slammed the former New Jersey governor’s firm for operating as if the recession never happened.
‘I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date,’ he told the House Agriculture Committee.
‘Their plight weighs on my mind every day - every hour,’ the former U.S. senator said in 21 pages of remarks prepared for delivery on Thursday.
It is the first time Mr Corzine, 64, has spoken out since MF Global went bankrupt in October due to poor bets on European sovereign debt.
He resigned just days later and the search for the missing customer funds has sent reverberations through the farm belt and trading floors.
It has also attracted the attention of the FBI and federal prosecutors, with thousands of customers having their money frozen.
‘It appears to me that nobody has learned a thing from what's gone on here,’ said the Committee’s top Democrat, Collin Peterson.
‘Wall Street is operating as if 2008 never happened.’
A top executive of futures exchange operator CME Group said claimed Global misused hundreds of millions of dollars of customer funds.
In the strongest accusation yet against the bankrupt futures brokerage, the CME executive said MF Global moved the money to its own accounts.
The biggest U.S. futures exchange operator was a hands-on regulator of MF Global. Its executive chairman Terrence Duffy also gave prepared remarks.
‘Transfers of customer funds for the benefit of the firm constitute serious violations of our rules and of the Commodity Exchange Act,’ he said.
He said the brokerage admitted during a call with regulators that customer money was transferred out of segregation to the firm's own accounts.
The court-appointed trustee has estimated the shortfall of customer money at $1.2 billion, but CME has disputed that figure as being too high.
Mr Duffy indicated the shortfall was roughly half that amount. But neither MF Global nor any of its executives has been charged with wrongdoing.
Mr Corzine admitted in testimony that he mistakenly thought ‘investments in short-term European debt securities were prudent’.
But he added that his ‘involvement in the firm's clearing, settlement and payment mechanisms and accounting was limited’.
‘I was stunned when I was told on Sunday, October 30, 2011, that MF Global could not account for many hundreds of millions of dollars,’ he said.
Claim: Bill Clinton Collected $50K Per Month From MF Global
Editor’s Note: This latest report from the ‘How dare you’ department of Clinton criminal enterprises.
Neil W. McCabe
December 6, 2011
A former MF Global employee accused former president William J. Clinton of collecting $50,000 per month through his Teneo advisory firm in the months before the brokerage careened towards its Halloween filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Teneo was hired by MF Global’s former CEO Jon S. Corzine to improve his image and to enhance his connections with Clinton’s political family, said the employee, who asked that his name be withheld because he feared retribution.
“They were supposed to be helping Corzine improve his image as a CEO—I guess you can tell how that went,” he said. Corzine resigned as CEO and chairman November 4.
Before Corzine joined MF Global in May 2010, the firm was a smart and well-run commodities broker, a culture that was turned upside-down by his leadership style, he said.
“The traders would be shaking their heads,” he said. “They would come back to their desk and say, ‘Well, I thought we were going to do this—but Corzine would come by and do something else all by himself,’” he said.
The Teneo contract with MF Global lasted at least five months, he said. “The board cancelled it after Corzine resigned.”
The source, who is no longer associated with MF Global, said Teneo is a dual-track company with one side devoted to merchant and investment banking and the other side set up to provide image and strategy consulting services.
Clinton is the chairman of the company’s advisory board. His duties and compensation have not been released. The other member of the board is former British prime minister Tony Blair.
Two of the three founding partners are very close to the former president and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton. They are Douglas J. Band, who is the former president’s counselor and has served on his personal staff since 1995 and Declan Kelly, who earned the “Hillraiser” status in the secretary’s 2008 run for president for bundling more than $100,000 for the campaign.
Another prominent member of the Clinton political family is Tom Shea. Shea is a senior vice president for Teneo Strategy and served as Corzine’s chief of staff, when Corzine was the governor of New Jersey.
Kelly sold his public relations firm Financial Dynamics in 2006 to FTI for $340 million, and stayed with that company until July 2009, when he joined the State Department as the Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland.
The source said, “Kelly was given a job they created out our whole cloth.” The job did not exist previously.
“He basically got to ride around developing a book of business, while he waited for his non-compete clause to run out,” he said.
Kelly and the former president traveled together networking and making introductions at international conferences and events, he said.
The Secretary of State also traveled with Kelly, including the October 2010 U.S. – Northern Ireland Economics Conference, which Kelly organized and at which the secretary was the featured speaker.
The secretary announced that she accepted Kelly’s resignation May 11.
Teneo landed its first major client June 1, when the Rockefeller Foundation gave Teneo a $3,447,150, six-month contract to help plan the foundation’s 2013 centennial.
The foundation is another member of the Clinton’s extended family. It gave Clinton its Lifetime Innovation Achievement Award July 27 and the foundation is listed as a between $1 to $5 million contributor to the William J. Clinton Foundation, along with several members of the Rockefeller family who are listed as individual contributors.
[In the preparation of this story, several emails and phone calls were placed to Teneo, MF Global and the State Department for comment. In each case, there was no response.]
Rod Blagojevich’s Day of Infamy!
Reuniting Blagojevich and Obama in a prison setting could do wonders to restore our faith in the rule of law and common sense!
John Lillpop
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
December 7, 2011 will always be remembered as the Day of Infamy for Chicago mobster Rod Blagojevich, whom a district judge has sentenced to prison for 14 years.
Which means that this corrupt snake is unlikely to have a Merry Christmas before the year 2026. Which is too damn soon for the fellow who put a “For Sale” sign on Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
As reported :
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel handed down the sentence on Wednesday, shortly after Blagojevich made a plea for leniency, following his conviction on 18 corruption counts.
Before the sentence and emotional Blagojevich told the judge: “I accept the people’s verdict, judge. They found me guilty and all I can say is I never wanted to hurt anyone … I would hope you can find some mercy.”
With any luck, Blagojevich may have a famous cell mate in the near future.
Indeed, the most notorious and evil thug from the streets of Chicago may join Blago if American voters use common sense and kick Barack Obama out of the White House in 2012.
A conservative Republican in the presidency and Republicans in solid control of the US House and Senate could investigate the high crimes and misdemeanors committed by Barack Obama.
There would no cause to impeach and remove Obama because we the people will accomplish that next November.
However, the full extent of Obama’s crimes should be documented for historians and should be pursued by a Republican Attorney General committed to the rule of law.
Reuniting Blagojevich and Obama in a prison setting could do wonders to restore our faith in the rule of law and common sense!
John W. Lillpop is a recovering liberal. “Clean and sober” since 1992 when last he voted for a Democrat. Pray for John: He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where people like Nancy Pelosi are actually considered normal!.
John can be reached at: 
Rod Blagojevich biography serves up meaty morsels
Eric Zorn
Monday, April 27, 2009
Among the little details I learned in reading "Pay to Play -- How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption Into a National Sideshow," was that, even as a working-class youth, the future governor of Illinois "refused to go to the local barber, instead traveling outside the neighborhood to a hair stylist."
He failed the bar exam on his first try, according to author Elizabeth Brackett, a correspondent for WTTW-Ch. 11's "Chicago Tonight." In 1988, he was a storefront lawyer whose mother was his receptionist when he met Patti Mell, the daughter of the powerful alderman who launched his political career.
Early on, Marge Mell, his late mother-in-law, had concerns about Blagojevich's "trustworthiness."
In 2003, during Blagojevich's first year as governor, Secretary of State Jesse White told him, "I've known [former Gov. George Ryan] for 30 years. He never lied to me once. You've lied to me 15 times in six months."
There's more, not all of it unflattering. The story of how, as a young assistant state's attorney assigned to a South Side police district, he befriended a 13-year-old shoeshine boy reflects well on him. So does Brackett's account of the pivotal role Blagojevich played in helping to free three American soldiers taken prisoner of war in Serbia in 1999.
Brackett conducted 30 interviews to find new and little-known material to weave into a story that's otherwise familiar to Illinois news junkies.
And while there's nothing startling or groundbreaking in this 236-page instant history coming soon from Chicago's Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, it provides the most comprehensive portrait yet of the confounding man who seems destined to remain in at least the local spotlight for several more years.
"Pay to Play" is the tale of a man with way more ambition than savvy, a man with limitless charisma yet few genuine people skills. A loner who craves the spotlight. A venal pol with a tragic inability to know the difference between a scheme and a plan.
The most telling new detail comes from Bob Arya, Blagojevich's senior adviser from 2006 to early 2008.
Arya, who confirmed Brackett's account in an interview Monday, said all major speeches needed the OK of a Washington consulting firm that was trying to position Blagojevich for a presidential run.
Arya said it was this consulting firm that inserted disastrously aggressive anti-business rhetoric into Blagojevich's 2007 budget address. In early drafts, the need for a new tax on gross business receipts was framed as an attempt to close loopholes and make the tax system more progressive, Arya said.
"But the consultants said he should turn the issue into big business against the little guy," Arya said. "So he tried to make businesses look nefarious when they were just following the law. All this did was inflame a lot of people whose support he needed."
Not a big deal, you might say. Confrontational politics and delusional ambition aren't crimes. The gross-receipts tax probably would have gone down to defeat no matter what.
But if true -- the ex-governor's PR firm offered no comment on Arya's story Monday -- this little detail, like the book in which we find it, is a key piece of the unfinished puzzle that is Rod Blagojevich.
Ex-advisor to panel: Order Blago to get psych evaluation
Arya's memo says Blagojevich is good dad, great guy but ineffective, emotionally unstable chief executive
Dave McKinney, Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief
January 8, 2009
SPRINGFIELD — When former Chicago television broadcaster Bob Arya joined Gov. Blagojevich's staff as a senior advisor in November 2006, the governor described him as “a real asset to my administration.”
But when Arya's run with Blagojevich came to an end, he had a story to tell — one of intense jealousies by the governor toward President-elect Barack Obama, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and others, a terrorized staff, and emotional instabilities that Arya said demonstrate the need for a psychological evaluation by the legislative panel weighing the governor's impeachment.
Not long after Arya assumed his $114,000-a-year position, Blagojevich confided in him his desire to one day reach the White House. When corruption allegations prevented that from happening, the governor's disdain for Obama seemed to grow.
“Rod dislikes Barack Obama because Barack is living the life Rod envisioned for himself,” Arya wrote in a nine-page memo he has shared with the House impeachment panel.
The document from the former reporter at CLTV outlines how Blagojevich’s profanity-laced outbursts caused his senior staff to blanch as they tried to deal with peculiar aspects of his personality.
“The governor's chosen method of communicating with most senior staff on virtually all matters was via speakerphone from his home,” Arya wrote.
“The governor's tone and tenor with respect to those interactions was violently unpredictable depending on time of day, his mood and the issue you were calling about,” Arya continued.
“Many staffers cringed at the notion of calling him and we were under strict orders to never let the phone ring more than three times.”
In fact, Arya said, the running joke among staffers used to Blagojevich's disdain for the office was that he should go “on a trade mission so he could be gone for a few months and things might actually get done.”
In one instance, Arya said he raised concerns about Blagojevich's frequent use of the state aircraft to go back and forth from Springfield — an issue the Chicago Sun-Times and other media dinged the governor on with regularity.
When Arya reminded Blagojevich that maybe he ought to opt for cheaper travel methods, the governor profanely defended his airborne perk: “F--- it, f--- them (the press). It comes with the job,” Arya quoted him as saying.
One of the “most disturbing” on-the-job actions by the governor Arya said he saw involved a letter sent to the governor from a Kentucky nurse with Downstate roots who was seeking an expungement so she could obtain an Illinois nursing license. The woman had improperly dispensed medication to a patient in Kentucky but was allowed to retain her license there and couldn't get a license in Illinois, where she wanted to move to care for her dying father.
In her package to the governor was a letter from Sen. John Jones (R-Mt. Vernon), who had months earlier condemned the Blagojevich administration's failure to meet with a developer who was considering building a motorcycle plant in his district but later opted instead to build it in Atlanta.
Arya described how Blagojevich came into his office, saw his former chief of staff John Harris reading Jones' letter on behalf of the woman and took it from him to read. “After realizing it was written by a lawmaker that did not see eye to eye with the governor on some administration priorities, Rod took the letter and said, 'F--- him.' Then (he) cast the letter aside toward the garbage can.
“That was it. Her life would remain on hold and would not even receive fair consideration simply because Rod had an issue with the senator,” Arya said.
The person with whom Blagojevich may have had the biggest issue was House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). Arya said Blagojevich had told him prior to the start of his second term that he intended to set himself up for a White House run and take control of the state Democratic Party from Madigan, who is chairman.
“Rod let me and others know that the goal was to 'damage the Madigan brand.' This meant doing all we could to make the speaker look bad,” Arya wrote.
This included demands from Blagojevich to staff to write anti-Madigan letters to newspapers and to members of the General Assembly. Arya said he was requested by Harris to do research on Madigan's background for a biting proclamation Blagojevich wanted to sign recognizing the speaker's work.
“The goal of that proclamation was going to be to try and tie him directly to the massive growth in the pension deficit by virtue of pointing out when our obligation began, how it grew, the sweeteners Speaker Madigan supported,” Arya said.
Arya said he did the research but didn't draft a proclamation. However, in November 2007 he sent a memo to Harris and eventually the governor himself titled “Reality Check,” which proclaimed the anti-Madigan initiatives a complete failure that left the governor's 2007 legislative agenda in tatters.
In the memo, Arya compared Blagojevich — a former boxer — to a drunk in a bar. “When you come off a barstool, drunk and swinging widly, you are going to get your ass kicked. That is, in part, what happened this year,” Arya wrote.
He said the memo to the governor “went over like a lead balloon,” leading Blagojevich to curse him out. But Arya said Harris “agreed with me on every point” before noting that Blagojevich was the CEO and “what he says goes, got that?”
Arya also talked about the dismal relationship Blagojevich had with Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, whom “Rod never liked…and said as much a number of times.”
When Blagojevich proposed a multibillion-dollar gross receipts tax on businesses, which died a stunning legislative death in 2007, senior staffers wanted to consult with Quinn on the idea. Told of that, Blagojevich informed Arya: “Forget him, you want to talk to him, fine. I have nothing to say to him.”
When Quinn began publicly condemning the plan, Blagojevich “went ballistic. 'F--- him' was the response,'” Arya said.
“Once you cross Rod, in his mind, forget it. You are dead to him,” Arya said.
A similar icy relationship existed between Blagojevich and his former Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, who left in late 2006 to join a Wall Street investment firm after serving under the governor for the entirety of his first term. “Once Mr. Tusk decided to move on for family reasons, Rod forgot the previous four years and did not speak to him,” Arya said.
Arya declined comment beyond what he wrote in his memo to the impeachment panel, citing the possibility he might be called as a witness against Blagojevich during a possible trial in the Senate.
Looking back on his 23 months on the state payroll, which ended last October, Arya described Blagojevich as “a good father and a great guy to go to a ballgame with” but an ineffective, emotionally unstable chief executive.
“I would respectfully suggest this committee seek an independent psychological evaluation of the governor as part of this process,” Arya wrote to the impeachment panel. “I believe Rod, the committee and the people of this great state would benefit from such a move. It is clear to anyone who has been around him that there is ample cause for such an extraordinary request.”