Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sad Story of Perhaps the Most Valuable Whistleblower of All Time, Bradley Birkenfeld, Who Started his Prison Sentence...

...just as the banker (who's the head of the US branch of the Swiss bank on which the whistle was blown) was teeing off in a foursome playing golf with the President.

Apparently, I've been out of the loop. By the classic internet game of "following the links" I stumbled into this story, which appears to be extremely important and sadly indicative of where this country is at and where it is going.

If you combine this story with that of Governor Don Siegelman (also in jail) and remember all Rove's Justice Department Attorneys who Obama has retained (Rove fired all the honest ones who wouldn't unfairly prosecute Democrats running for office) it make a very ugly picture of the US government today...

...oh, and one more tidbit...Where does Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the US, come down on all this? He recused himself—since he once worked on a case as a lawyer for UBS, the corrupt Swiss bank at the center of this story.

I got started on this winding road from this post at Cryptogon:

The Game That Goes On and On: a Swiss Bank, a President, and the Permanent Government

April 18th, 2010

Flashback: Backbone of Complex Networks of Corporations: The Flow of Control

Via: Smirking Chimp:

Last August, the presidential press corps followed Barack Obama and his family to Martha’s Vineyard for their brief vacation. The coverage focused on summery fare–a visit to an ice cream parlor, the books the president had brought along. Nearly everyone mentioned his few rounds of golf, including his swing, and the enthusiasm of onlookers. What caught my eye, though, was the makeup of his foursome. The president was joined by an old friend from Chicago; a young aide; and Robert Wolf, Chairman and CEO, UBS Group Americas. In a decidedly incurious piece, a New York Times reporter made light of Wolf’s presence:

“The president has told friends that to truly relax he prefers golfing with young aides…But he departed from that pattern Monday when he invited a top campaign contributor, Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank, to join him for 18 holes. Call it donor maintenance.”

Wolf, however, is hardly–as the Times suggested– just another donor. For one thing, he is a leading figure in an industry that almost brought down the entire financial system–and then was the recipient of astonishing government largesse. UBS, along with other banks, benefited directly from the backdoor bailout of the insurance giant AIG.

But UBS stands alone in one rather formidable respect–it was the defendant in the largest offshore tax evasion case in U.S. history, accused of helping wealthy Americans hide their income in secret offshore accounts. To settle a massive investigation, UBS forked over $780 million to the US treasury. This settlement came shortly before Wolf rounded out Obama’s golfing party. Given this rather problematical situation, why then would the President choose UBS’s Wolf of all people for this honor?

Wolf declined a request for an interview about his relationship with the President, so it was not possible to pose that question to him. This hardly matters, though, for the story goes far beyond Wolf and UBS. It involves Republicans as well as Democrats, the Bush Administration as well as Obama’s. More importantly, behind the trivialized golf outing on Martha’s Vineyard, lie the interests that increasingly set the course for every administration. And that now game the system so well that the rest of us–wherever we live in the world–are kept fighting for the scraps.

When most people criticize those aspects of government that seem most impervious to the democratic process, they cite the permanency and perceived self-interest of the mandarins of the Washington bureaucracy. But when it comes to real power, an ability to come out ahead no matter which party is in power, it’s hard to top certain financial institutions.

UBS is very much a part of that permanent government.

Research Credit: dagobaz

One Response to “The Game That Goes On and On: a Swiss Bank, a President, and the Permanent Government”

  1. anothershamus Says:

    Democracy Now had an interview with the whistle blower that told the gov. about the techniques of UBS hiding income overseas. The whistle blower is now in federal prison. The architects of the tax dodge are playing golf with Obama.


Along with that link, here are two more Democracy Now transcripts that tell the quite depressing and yet horribly revealing tale of Bradley Birkenfeld, whistleblower who enabled the US to reclaim billions in back taxes and is currently serving 40 months in jail on false charges for his trouble.

His tale, coincidentally, involved revealing to any US authority who would listen (and several wouldn't) the existence and mechanism behind thousands of secret Swiss bank accounts, used by US multimillionaires and billionaires, politicians, judges, whoever is rich and powerful in the US. No wonder he's in jail. . . .

And the holders of those secret accounts? All paid fines, all are free, and all the names are kept secret. Watch whistleblowers everywhere get the hint and never report anything again.

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