Transparency International, a non-governmental organization, conducted a poll of 114,000 people in 107 countries on the problem of corruption.
More than 50 percent of the respondents said they believe that global corruption has gotten worse over the past two years.
According to the survey, a lack of ethics – dishonesty – is on the rise almost everywhere. Not surprisingly, “politics” was declared the most corrupt institution in 51 of the countries surveyed, but it has serious competition.
Banking is a major industry infected by corruption. Banks in Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and some other countries, were caught up in the crisis of 2008.
The Irish bank bailouts were the first to hit a European country. Leaked audio tapes and phone conversations of top officials at Anglo Irish Bank revealed that they lied to the government about their bank’s financial condition as the real estate bubble was about to burst. This made it more difficult for the government to respond effectively. The Irish bank bailout has cost Irish taxpayers and the European Union tens of billions of dollars, and Ireland is still in the throes of a severe recession. A similar crisis occurred in the United States, only on a much larger scale.
Without fully understanding the scope and nature of the problem, the U.S. government felt compelled to bailout Wall Street banks, which were deemed too big to fail. The bank bailout probably prevented the U.S. economy, and possibly the world economy, from collapsing into a second Great Depression. Our economy remains weak, and unemployment is too high.
It appears that a culture of greed and a lack of ethics are still alive on Wall Street. Recently, a prominent New York law firm took a survey of 250 Wall Street professionals from dozens of financial companies. The survey revealed that 23 percent of responders “had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.” Nearly 25 percent said that they would “engage in (unethical) insider trading to make $10 million if they could get away with it.” One-fourth of respondents also said that pay and bonus structures encourage employees to compromise ethical standards or break the law.
More worrisome, 17 percent of those surveyed expected “their leaders were likely to look the other way if they suspected a top performer engaged in (illegal) insider trading,” and “15 percent doubted that their leadership, upon learning of a top performer’s crime, would report it to authorities.” Overall, “28 percent of respondents felt that the financial services industry does not put the interests of clients first.” Despite these faults, Wall Street banks are getting bigger, and their profits are increasing.
The New York financial industry is operating the same way it did before the crisis of 2008. This shows that reform still is needed.
In order to avoid another bank crisis, Congress should pass a new Glass-Steagall Act, which separates traditional commercial banking from high-risk investment banking.
Most importantly, high moral values and accountability must be restored throughout our society; all of us should examine our conscience and rededicate ourselves to being honest in our dealings with others – especially those of us who are the leaders in politics and finance.
Anthony J. DiStefano spent 29 years in state and federal government, including working with the Ohio General Assembly, the U.S. House of Representatives and two executive agencies of the federal government.
Shell Corrib Corruption & Community Complaints
That these events go almost universally unreported by the Irish media is a great hindrance to that justice being secured, but your website’s ongoing work in exposing the wrongdoing of Shell and it’s agents worldwide is a vitally important one. Rest assured, the most recent events on the subject of the Corrib Gas project are being closely watched – and acted upon – by many people on the west coast of Ireland and beyond, and together we can expose the corruption that far too many are trying their best to ignore.
Corrib Corruption & Community Complaints
By JM (long-time Shell watcher)
Your recent posting on the Corrib controversy concludes with a point about Irish citizens apparently not raising a fuss over the whole situation, and the latest allegations/revelations in particular.
Living with the ongoing project, many in the local community have had cause to report a multitude of matters to various bodies and State agencies during the course of the last dozen years or so. There are two recurring themes in all such cases: (1) an abuse of process/standards by Shell and/or it’s agents, and (2) a total lack of action/accountability for Shell and/or the agents supposedly “responsible” for the abuse.
The complaints range from the relatively mild (poor consultation, breaches of pollution limits) right through to the atrocious (threats of rape and attempted murder) but the response is almost always the same… it’s someone else’s problem.
A few examples. When it was discovered that a diesel spill at the refinery site was leaking into the Bellanaboy river, the Environmental Protection Agency was contacted. After initially showing great concern and interest in the situation, on hearing the location was part of the Corrib Gas development the EPA immediately backtracked, and said it was a matter for Mayo County Council. When Mayo County Council were approached, no-one was available to investigate. The Gardai (police) then intervened and prevented people from taking water samples until the following day, after a hasty clean-up was initiated. No action was taken by MCC.
After dozens of people were man-handled by Shell’s unidentifiable “security” workers on a public beach at Glengad (proposed offshore pipeline landfall) the Gardai were informed, but they refused to take statements of complaint and – when pressed – instead told people to contact the Private Security Authority. When the PSA were contacted they said they would only take action in the event of a criminal conviction secured by the Gardai. To date, no case has ever been taken by Gardai against security violence on the Corrib project towards members of the public (including hospitalisations) even when witnessed by Garda members.
When it was discovered that Shell had illegally installed and operated a septic tank discharging into a Special Area of Conservation at a compound in Rossport, Mayo County Council officials were informed, and a site inspection was arranged. In spite of the obvious physical evidence, MCC took no action.
When Shell workers used an excavator as a battering ram against neighbours preventing trespass onto private property in Pollathomas, Gardai committed criminal damage, trespass and multiple assaults on the public to force the workers through. Subsequent complaints to the Gardai, the Health & Safety Authority and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission were passed between those authorities and eventually all washed their hands of the affair. No action taken.
There are many other examples, such as Shell’s illegal drilling in a Special Area of Conservation (no sanctions); illegal road built through the same SAC (no prosecution); damage to and theft of fishing gear (no action taken); deliberate sinking of a trawler near offshore pipeline works (no investigation); EPA disallowing Oral Hearing questions as planning matters, then the planning authority (An Bord Pleanala) disallowing the same questions as EPA licensing matters; the list could go on and on.
There is what can perhaps best be described as a grotesque version of pass-the-parcel going on. Everyone knows that there is something unpleasant inside the box, but it keeps getting passed around in the knowledge that the music will never stop (at least, not while the current participants are in the room) and all the while Shell’s taboo Corrib project – and associated abuses – continue unchecked.
To say that people have lost faith in the authorities is a gross understatement, but in spite of all this complaints are still lodged and due process followed, and people still await justice.
That these events go almost universally unreported by the Irish media is a great hindrance to that justice being secured, but your website’s ongoing work in exposing the wrongdoing of Shell and it’s agents worldwide is a vitally important one.
Rest assured, the most recent events on the subject of the Corrib Gas project are being closely watched – and acted upon – by many people on the west coast of Ireland and beyond, and together we can expose the corruption that far too many are trying their best to ignore.
(long-time Shell watcher)
“OSSL management seems to be so disgusted by Shell management that they appear set on a self-destruct mission. The two main possibilities appear to be that they are either responsible for manufacturing forged documents as part of an attempt to put pressure on Shell, or have been drawn by Shell into a corruption conspiracy/scheme operated in Ireland on an industrial scale.”
JOHN DONOVAN EMAIL TO PRIVATE SECRETARY OF IRISH JUSTICE MINISTER, MR ALAN SHATTER
From: John Donovan <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Alleged Corruption of Irish Police Force
Date: 6 April 2013 16:38:12 GMT+01:00
To: INFO <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Mr Brennan
I do apologise for sending this further email but OSSL contacted me again this morning. As a result I have supplied three additional items of purported evidence that I have not seen before, that should be brought to the attention of Mr. Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice and Equality.
1. A copy of a purported testimonial letter about OSSL dated 8 August 2012 purportedly from Mr. Michiel Crothers, Managing Director of Shell E&P Ireland Limited.
2. A copy of a purported letter marked “Strictly Private & Confidential” dated 28 February 2011 from The OSSL Company to Garda Superintendent Mr. John Gilligan. The author was purportedly Mr. Desmond Kane. The letter, if authentic, discussed the purchase and delivery of festive gifts to the Garda and claims that the gifts were purchased by OSSL on behalf of Shell E&P Ireland. According to the purported letter: “At Shell’s insistence these gifts came with a high degree of confidentiality, which we have adhered to until this very day.”
3. A purported letter dated 5 May 2011 to Mr. Kane at The OSSL Company from Superintendent John Gilligan, which may be in response to the above OSSL letter.
I pointed out yesterday that although the allegations appear to be outlandish (and may be unfounded), Shell has a track record of giving improper gifts, including alcohol, to federal employees. I supplied the relevant official investigation report by The Office of The inspector General of the US Department of the Interior.
I now recall other corruption scandals involving Royal Dutch Shell.
The first is, in one respect, even closer in nature to the current allegations, in so far as Shell using a sub-contractor to bribe government officials of a host country – in this example, Nigeria.
Shell to pay $48m Nigerian bribe fine: Daily Telegraph 4 November 2010
These companies, including Shell, admitted they “approved of or condoned the payment of bribes on their behalf in Nigeria and falsely recorded the bribe payments made on their behalf as legitimate business expenses in their corporate books, records and accounts”.
SHELL IN BRIBERY FINE: Daily Express 6 November 2010
Shell must pay a $30million “criminal penalty” over charges it paid $2million to a sub-contractor “with the knowledge that some or all of the money” would be used to bribe Nigerian officials to allow equipment into the country without paying duty. Shell, which has not admitted guilt, must pay a further $18million to repay profits and interests.
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Cease and Desist Order: Shell Corruption in Nigeria
Royal Dutch Shell fulfilled a money-laundering role in the Al-Yamamah “oil for arm” corruption scandal that was being investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office until Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped in and terminated the investigation on spurious grounds of national security.
Executive Intelligence Review: Scandal of the Century Rocks British Crown and the City: June 22, 2007
The al-Yamamah deal: The Guardian: 7 June 2007
BAE lands arms deal for a new generation: The Telegraph: 19 August 2006
BAE rejects calls for fresh Saudi investigation: The Telegraph 3 February 2013
Shell’s involvement in the cited corruption scandals obviously does not mean that it is guilty of the allegations made by OSSL.
It does however mean that Shell has prior form.
The new alleged evidence can be viewed here (See Below)
OSSL management seems to be so disgusted by Shell management that they appear set on a self-destruct mission. The two main possibilities appear to be that they are either responsible for manufacturing forged documents as part of an attempt to put pressure on Shell, or have been drawn by Shell into a corruption conspiracy/scheme operated in Ireland on an industrial scale.
Shell’s partners in the Corrib Gas Project must be concerned that the lead partner, Shell, has allowed this matter to drag on.
Despite all the Irregularities listed below nobody has yet been sent to prison.
To put this in perspective almost 200 people were jailed in Ireland for not paying court fines relating to TV licences last year.
One rule for the rich and another for the poor
‘Bankers should be technicians and functionaries who serve the public and provide guaranteed stability. They should not be entrepreneurs, gamblers, who can count on public bailouts if their speculations turn to dust.’
The Guardian, Friday 1 March 2013
One of London’s most successful hedge fund managers, Patrick Degorce, has been forced to part with millions of pounds in tax after Revenue and Customs persuaded the courts to throw out a complex film
RTE – 1st March
Seán FitzPatrick facing 12 charges over financial irregularities. Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman and chief executive Seán FitzPatrick has been sent forward for trial on 12 charges in connection with alleged financial irregularities at the bank. He is accused of making false, misleading or deceptive statements in relation to millions of euro to the company’s auditors, Ernst and Young, over a six-year period. The amounts on the charges are €5.1m in 2002; €14m in 2003; €23m in 2004; €42.1m in 2005; €60.9m in 2006 and €139.8m in 2007.
Telegraph Saturday 02 March 2013
Ernst & Young to pay $123m to settle US tax shelter probe Ernst & Young has agreed to pay $123m to resolve a US federal investigation into its role developing and marketing tax shelters that helped its clients avoid more than $2bn in tax liabilities. As part of the settlement, announced by the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office, the accounting firm also entered into a non-prosecution agreement and admitted to the wrongful conduct of certain partners and employees. The settlement amount reflects the gross fees Ernst & Young earned developing and marketing four tax shelter products from 1999 to 2004, according to the nonprosecution agreement.
Telegraph Saturday 02 March 2013
Commodity giant Glencore under spotlight over Iran Glencore, the FTSE 100 commodity giant, supplied tonnes of raw material to an Iranian firm that supplied the country’s nuclear programme, it emerged. A Western intelligence report seen by Reuters described Glencore’s barter deal as a good way for Tehran to get around global financial restrictions imposed over its nuclear activities, although it did not say that Glencore violated sanctions.
March 2, 2013 Reuters –
Las Vegas Sands says “likely” violated U.S. corruption act March 2, 2013 4:39 PM ET Reuters) – Las Vegas Sands Corp said it “likely” violated the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlaws the bribery of foreign officials, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday. The filing marks the first disclosure by the casino operator, controlled by founder and billionaire Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, that is was under investigation.
Independant Thursday 5th March 2013
IBRC suing two Dubai firms in Quinn case TWO related companies based in Dubai are being sued by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) over their alleged involvement in an asset-stripping scheme by family members of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn. In the commercial court yesterday Judge Peter Kelly granted an application by IBRC to join Senat Legal and Senat FZC, both of Gold and Diamond Park, Dubai, and Michael Waechter, principal of Senat FZC, as co-defendants to the bank’s action against various members of the Quinn family. The judge noted IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace claimed the Senat parties played “a pivotal role” in the scheme to strip assets worth up to $500m from the Quinn family’s International Property Group (IPG). It is alleged the scheme was “masterminded by one or all” of the three, the judge said.
Irish Times Thursday, March 7, 2013
Microsoft fined €561m for limiting browser choice Shares in Microsoft dropped yesterday after the European Commission imposed a €561 million fine on the company for failing to implement a previous ruling obliging it to offer users a choice of internet browsers. It is the first time the commission has been forced to fine a company for non-compliance with agreed commitments. In 2009 a European antitrust investigation found that Microsoft was unfairly tying its internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating system, and ruled that the company must give users a choice of which internet browsers to use.
The Telegraph 8th Mar 2013
Pensioners being ‘ripped off’ by profit margins on annuities Retiring workers are being “ripped off” by financial companies making huge profit margins on annuities, campaigners have warned. A Telegraph investigation has raised concerns about the profits that insurance companies and other firms are making on annuities. Only one annuities provider, Standard Life, has disclosed its margins on annuities, revealing that it pockets almost 20p of every pound a customer pays for an annuity. Other firms refuse to reveal their margins, and experts warn that the industry is concealing large profits. Ros Altmann, a pensions campaigner, said: “These huge margins are outrageous.”
The Guardian, Monday 11 March 2013
All bets are off as online gambling group Intrade launches investigation
Irish company announces it is looking into possible ‘financial irregularities’ and has ‘immediately ceased’ its trading activity Online gambling group Intrade has ceased taking bets after launching an investigation into potential “financial irregularities”.
Irish TIMES 14 MARCH 2013
THE son of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn has provided statements of Russian bank accounts held by himself and other family members to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and is anxious to finally purge his contempt of court orders, the High Court heard today.
The Guardian, Friday 15 March 2013
US hedge fund SAC pays record fine to settle insider trading allegations SAC Capital, a hedge fund run by billionaire Steve Cohen, is to pay $600m (£397m), the biggest insider dealing fine in history
The Guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 March 2013
JP Morgan faced a barrage of criticism on Friday for it disastrous “London whale” trading loss as senators and the bank’s regulator accused its executives of believing they were too big to fail, ignoring warnings about the escalating losses and deliberately withholding information. At a hearing a day after it published a damning 300-page report on JP Morgan’s $6.2bn debacle, the Senate subcommittee on investigations hammered bank executives over the affair, while regulators flatly denied JP Morgan’s claims that it had kept them informed about the mounting losses.
The TELEGRAPH 19 Mar 2013
French Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac resigns after tax fraud probe
Cahuzac, a cabinet heavyweight, had been tasked with fighting tax evasion. He is now under investigation for holding a secret Swiss bank account. The resignation is an embarrassment and a blow to President François Hollande as his government seeks to redraft deficit reduction plans to maintain fiscal credibility with France’s euro zone partners. Mr Cahuzac was responsible for making drastic government spending cuts. He had repeatedly dismissed as “crazy” a report in December by French investigative news website Mediapart that he held an undisclosed account at the Swiss bank UBS until the start of 2010. “I have never had an account in Switzerland or any other place abroad,” he said at the time.
RTE Wednesday, 20 March 2013
Representatives of the special liquidator of IBRC served papers on three former directors of Irish Nationwide last night. It is understood the legal action relates to their stewardship of the building society. Papers were served on former directors Terence Cooney and Stan Purcell, and former chairman Michael Walsh. It is understood that it is intended that papers will be served on former managing director Michael Fingleton and another former director David Brophy.
RTE 27TH March
Britain’s financial services regulator has fined insurer Prudential £30m and censured its chief executive over its handling of a failed bid to acquire rival AIA in 2010. The UK’s Financial Services Authority fine concerned Prudential’s plans to acquire AIA, the Asian subsidiary of AIG. The bid eventually collapsed after both parties failed to agree on a price. The FSA said Prudential did not inform it of the deal – even though they held a detailed meeting only weeks before news of the deal emerged. The FSA also censured CEO Tidjane Thiam, for playing a significant part in the decision not to contact the regulator. The regulator said the deal’s size would have been the biggest in the UK and could have affected confidence in the country’s financial system.
The Guardian, Thursday 28 March
Royal Bank of Scotland is being sued for misleading investors during its £12bn emergency fundraising in 2008, in a landmark joint claim brought by Dutch bank ING and pension funds for British coal miners.
Here is a list of of the items I noted in the month of Jan 2013.
Ask yourself how ethical or trustworthy is business today.
(1)The Irish Times – Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Steel plant pollution and bribery scandal engulfs Italians
The basic accusation levelled at the Riva family is that, over a 17-year period, pollution from its Taranto plant has poisoned not only Ilva workers and local people but also the entire eco-system of the surrounding region. The company is also accused of bribing local officials
Guardian.co.uk, Sunday 6 January 2013 14.09 GMT
France shaken by fresh scandal over weight-loss drug linked to deaths
Drug company boss faces manslaughter investigation as victims complain of delays in compensation
Telegraph Mon 7th Jan
Rolls in China bribery allegations
Aerospace engine maker Rolls Royce is facing allegations it bribed a Chinese airline executive to secure deals worth a total of $2bn (£1.24bn), according to reports.
Telegraph 7th jan
Rothschild demands action from Bumi director
Financier Nat Rothschild has told Bumi’s senior independent director Sir Julian Horn-Smith he must take action over the alleged financial misdemeanours at the coal miner or consider quitting the board.
(5) Telegraph 9th Jan
UBS fires eighteen over Libor-rigging scandal
Just eighteen UBS staff were sacked over the Libor-rigging scandal that saw the bank hand over $1.5bn (£940m) to regulators, the second-largest fine ever paid by a bank.
(6) Telegraph 9th of Jan
Foxconn reviews China deals as it probes bribe claims
Apple’s technology provider Foxconn has revealed it could pull acquisitions in China over allegations its managers in the country solicited bribes from local suppliers.
As well as suffering from a string of suicides Foxconn was also exposed last year as employing children as young as 14 on its assembly lines.
Wednesday 09 January 2013 Daily Telegraph
Former HBOS managers charged in £35m fraud investigation
Two former senior managers at HBOS were among eight people charged on Tuesday night in connection with an alleged £35m fraud.
(8) The Telegraph 9th Jan
US Interior Department launches probe into Shell’s Arctic oil drilling
The US Interior Department has launched a “high-level” review of Shell’s mishap-hit 2012 Arctic drilling campaign, throwing the company’s plans to explore for oil in the region further into doubt.
Daily Mail-20 th Jan
Exposed: The regime of fear inside Barclay s – and how the boss lied and shredded the evidence
British executive at £184bn broking arm hid damning report on bullying
Intimidated staff forced to flout rules in pursuit of ‘revenue at all costs’
Huge blow to Barclay’s reputation as new CEO struggles to relaunch bank
(10) The Independent
The Swiss food giant Nestlé was ordered to pay SFr 27,000 (£18,700) compensation after being found liable in a civil case over the secret infiltration of an activist group that had campaigned against it.
A court ruled last week in favour of anti-globalisation group Attac, following revelations that Nestlé had hired the Swiss security company Securitas AG to infiltrate its meetings.
A spokesman for Nestlé noted the judge’s decision “with disappointment” and reiterated “that incitement to infiltration is against Nestlé’s corporate business principles”.
Tomorrow: Can you Trust big business? Walmart And Company Bribing Their Way Through Latin America –