White Collar Criminals

Conrad Black has been touting his most recent book here in the UK.  It is a book in which he is understandably critical of the US Justice System.  To those that do not know, Conrad Moffat Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, PC, OC, KCSG is a Canadian-born member of the House of Lords, an historian, a columnist and publisher, who was for a time the third-largest newspaper magnate in the world.  Black was also released from US prison in May this year after serving time for mail fraud and obstruction of justice. 

BP has also recently been levied a US$4.5 billion criminal fine for the Deep Water Horizon disaster.  This is the largest criminal fine in US corporate history as BP pled guilty to 11 criminal counts.  Furthermore, certain employees can still be charged.  So surreal to see the mighty BP humbled like this and there were even rumours that BP HQ was considering selling off its assets in Trinidad and Tobago to help pay for these fines.  But that is one thing about the very US Justice System that Conrad Black criticizes, regardless of how powerful someone is; if they are found guilty of the crime, they could still do the time.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the enquiry into CLICO is on the brink of collapse.  Former CEO, Canadian citizen Gene Dziadyk, has told the media that he is willing to tell everything to the police, in the wake of the criminal investigation into key executives of the former insurance giant.  Yet curiously, the Sir Anthony Colman commission established to investigate the circumstances surrounding a collapse that has cost Caribbean tax payers billions of dollars, has not invited him to testify?  Is it because he suggests that the ‘governing elites’ were complicit in its collapse?     

The media has reported that Dziadyk said, "I had written voluminous documents in my seven years at CLICO commenting on inappropriate and unlawful behaviour, including complicity by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, removing funds from the CLICO statutory fund, and warning of the impending disaster of operating CLICO in accordance with the 'capital appreciation business model' that I had consistently claimed was inappropriate for a financial institution, and the authorities have these documents."

In Trinidad and Tobago, one thing that unites everyone is the desire to create a better society, and one step in that direction is to deal with criminal activity.  No criminal activity has damaged the country more than white collar criminals.  One can argue that white collar criminals lie behind much of the blue collar activity, so clamping down on those hiding behind masks of ‘respectability’ is a prerequisite. In 50 years of Independence, the greatest act of violation remains Section / Clause 34 that robbed law abiding citizens of the opportunity to see those who are accused of such high-profile wrongdoing, answer for their alleged crimes.  Even the most loyal supporters of the present administration are either unable to defend the Clause 34 fiasco, or are themselves critical of the overt corruption and alleged abuse of Executive power that has made Clause 34 the stain on the country’s psyche that it is.   

At the same time, I think it is useful to put the Clico fiasco into a global context.  Here in the UK, the evidence suggests that Barclays and others manipulated LIBOR to boost trader’s profits and colluded with other banks for mutual benefit.  It is estimated that LIBOR is used to set an estimated $800 trillion-worth of financial instruments, affecting the price of everything from simple mortgages to interest-rate derivatives.  If banks were successful in manipulating LIBOR rates, one commentator suggests that this would be the biggest securities fraud in history affecting investors and borrowers around the world.  Yet at this point, it seems unlikely that anyone will go to prison for this. American Tax Singapore

I have to admit that I agree with the view of one blogger in the UK Guardian that it is frustrating that those who abuse power rarely go to jail in the UK as they do in the US.  My view is that if the political elites lack the ability or the will to prosecute the economic elites who abuse their positions, perhaps it is best to outsource this function to the American judicial system?  After all, outsourcing is the craze?  Every time I feel disillusioned about Section 34, I look at press clippings of one time billionaire, and American / Caribbean power broker Sir Allen Stanford in his orange jump-suit, I smile because I know that it is just a matter of time, before certain other rascals join him in matching attire.   

Despite our current challenges, I continue to have the audacity of hope that we will all enjoy a brighter tomorrow.  Read more on derrenjoseph.blogspot.com  


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