mercoledì 28 dicembre 2011

SEC Efforts To Find Hedge Fund Fraud

SEC Doubles Down On Its Efforts To Find Hedge Fund Fraud

Sec Hedge Fund
The Huffington Post    First Posted: 12/28/11 07:56 AM ET Updated: 12/28/11 07:56 AM ET
Memo to hedge fund managers: It's a bad time to try to overachieve. The Securities and Exchange Commission is cracking down on hedge fund fraud, and the first places they're looking are the firms thatseem to be doing a little too well.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the SEC has devised a method of sorting data that highlights hedge funds whose balance sheets never seem to suffer, no matter how rocky the market gets. The WSJ notes that the agency is trying to spot the next Bernie Madoff before he or she can defraud investors of billions of dollars, the way Madoff did with his Ponzi scheme. Already, the WSJ says, the SEC has initiated four civil-fraud lawsuits based on their data review system.
It's an auspicious time for the SEC to be seen bringing the hammer down on Wall Street scofflaws, because many have criticized the agency since the height of the financial crisis for not doing more to identify and prosecute financial malpractice.
In one such high-profile instance, Harry Markopolos, the fraud investigator who spent almost a decade building a case against Madoff's wealth management firm, told the House Financial Services Committee in 2009 that the SEC was "financially illiterate" and "captive to the industry it regulates."
The SEC has also taken heat for its failure to place a check on Lehman Brothers' heavy over-leveraging in the months before its collapse, and for waiting until 2005 to investigate the business practices of Texas billionaire Alan Stanford, even though the agency had begun to suspect the truth -- that Stanford was operating a sizable Ponzi scheme -- as early as 1997.
More recently, a report issued in November from the SEC's Office of Inspector General noted that the SEC had failed to investigate a tip about another unnamed hedge fund manager allegedly perpetrating "massive fraud."
Perhaps in response to these and other criticisms, late 2011 has been a proactive period for the SEC. The agency recently touted its redoubled efforts to stamp out insider trading, and earlier this month, it sued six former executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for securities fraud, claiming that the executives misrepresented the degree of their companies' exposure to risky subprime loans during the period preceding the financial crisis.

martedì 27 dicembre 2011

My Declaration of War on Christmas

My Declaration of War on Christmas 

by Greg Palast
Friday, December 23 2011

Click on the image to watch the segment
I don't usually watch Today or any American TV because my reports appear on the British Broadcasting Corporation, a network run by highly-educated America-haters. 

But there I was, last Friday, in this hotel room in Atlanta, a city pretending there's no Depression, chewing my complimentary morning donut, and Today is telling us about the "new face of American poverty." 

"More than 49 million Americans now live below the poverty line and a number of them like the family you're about to meet propelled into bankruptcy by a one-two punch of job loss and a catastrophic health crisis." 

Wow! US television finally grabs the Big Issue. 

This white suburban family called the Kleins have lost their home to eviction.  They're completely broke, because one of their kids got a tumor in her face.  They have no insurance so the $100,000-plus medical bills wiped them out. 

They live with neighbors and they hoped to at least get their kids a couple pair of underwear as a Christmas gift. 

But if you think America doesn't give a crap about the cancerous growth of poverty, just keep watching:  The Today reporter takes the white family to WalMart where the bubbly journalist gushes,  "The wonderful people of WalMart opened up their stores and their aisles and their hearts. The store is your oyster, Michelle!" 

Then some WalMartian PR person tells the bankrupt mom to address the issue of long-term unemployment, "Let's go shopping!" 

And you thought America was cold-hearted, just because the Republicans tried to block unemployment insurance this Christmas for three million families. 

On their free shopping spree, the Kleins got laptops and a Kindle, and a big-ass TV and all the good things that WalMart can provide. 

And if you think WalMart has shown how selfless and caring Americans are, just wait until you find out what the Today show is giving America's desperate poor: Simply the best-est gift ever . . . 

"We saved the best for last!" The reporter tells the Kleins that NBC is flying them to New York, "to be on theToday show, to be on our set with Matt Lauer and Ann Curry!" 

Matt and Ann! Both of them! Well, I bet they wouldn't do that in North Korea or Sweden!  Only in America! 

Mr. Klein is so happy he's meeting Ann that he doesn't seem care anymore that he lost his job at Ford Motor. He just has his family.  In some other family's house, of course. But that's a detail. 

And if you thought this was just some cheap publicity stunt by WalMart, dig this, Mr. Cynical:  WalMart is going to pay for all the Klein's medical bills for a full year!  And to pay for it, WalMart's 1.4 million employees will not have all their medical bills covered for the year. Now, that's generosity! 

(This heartwarming segment of the Today show about the Klein kids, by the way, is sponsored by--no points for guessing: WalMart.) 

But then I thought:  wait a minute. What about ObamaCare?  Once the plan is in place, no American can be denied insurance, even someone with a tumor in their face. 

Americans love to hate ObamaCare.  But isn't that more valuable to the Kleins than a TV screen with no house to put it in? 

Now, many of my friends will be surprised to hear me say this, as I've been quite skeptical about the accomplishments of the Pope of Hope.  But let's admit that Barack Obama tried to save the Kleins from medical-bill devastation, that he is trying to get them some unemployment insurance, trying (if on sketchy terms) to save the auto industry, all in the face of resistance of America's hatred of Socialist Government. 

Maybe we don't need Santa Claus.  Maybe we need Anti-Claus:  A skinny 'Muslim' from Kenya squirming down your chimney! 

America's problem seems to be that it can only be cruel 364 days a year.  Christmas is that time of year when the United States of Scrooge takes a vacation from heartless profiteering and the nasty joy Americans get, that "I'm-not-one-of-those-losers" frisson. 

Listen to Rick and Newt and Mitt and Michele and Ron and what you get is the Great American F***'em!  They lost their jobs?  F***'em!  Their kid has a tumor and they don't have health insurance?  F***'em

Unless, of course, it's Christmas and you have to look at the tumor on TV.  Then, it's like, Someone buy them a big-screen television so we don't feel bad

Santa's erstaz elf, Bill O'Reilly, keeps talking about the "War on Christmas."  Because one day a year he has to dress up in Good Will to All Men drag.  He can deck his halls with bags of bullshit make-believe kindness.

The rest of the year, he's jerking off while talking dirty to his horrified female producers and raking in millions from the yahoos who haven't lost their jobs yet

So that's it: for me, no more chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  My chestnuts have gone down with my Lehman bonds, anyway.  I'm declaring war on Christmas

Don't like that, O'Reilly?  Then eat my shorts - with cranberry sauce. 

Surgery for kids with cancer, a house to live in that's not a relatives' basement, and a job making something other than "financial products". . . These are rights, not gifts.  They don't come down the chimney, they come from a community that can set aside its bred-in-the-bone meanness for more than one day a year. 


And to all a good night. 

Merry, um, Festivus, from the Palast Investigative Team. 

Greg Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, released in the US and Canada by Penguin. 

You can read Vultures' Picnic, "Chapter 1: Goldfinger," or download it, at no charge: click here. 

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