Greed And Corruption Update

In General Interest by Jonathan Tasini0 Comments

   Today brings news of more greed wafting across the country, as well as a tiny step towards sweeping out the stalls soiled by corrupt politicians. The bad, though typical news, finds yet another payday for Wall Street banks and lawyers who will reap almost a billion dollars for cleaning up the mess of AIG:

Wall Street banks and lawyers could collect nearly $1 billion in fees from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and American International Group Inc. to help manage and break apart the insurer, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

That would represent one of Wall Street’s biggest paydays — four times the fees paid to break up AT&T Corp. in 1996, and nearly double those paid for Visa USA’s 2008 initial public offering, the largest U.S. IPO ever.

   Nice disincentive for these folks NOT to change the behavior that led to the financial debacle–why change when you can reap a ton of money? After all, it’s taxpayers who end up financing the corruption and mismanagement.

   But, there is some good news, as at least one corrupt elected official is headed for the slammer:

Former Representative William J. Jefferson was convicted Wednesday afternoon of using his office to try to enrich himself and relatives through a web of bribes and payoffs involving business ventures in Africa.

A federal court jury in Alexandria, Va., deliberated for five days before finding Mr. Jefferson, 62, a New Orleans Democrat who served in Congress for 18 years until being defeated in 2008, guilty of 11 of 16 counts of bribery, racketeering and money laundering. He was acquitted of obstruction of justice and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal to bribe foreign government officials.

Mr. Jefferson faces more than 20 years in prison under federal guidelines when he is sentenced on Oct. 30, prosecutors told The Associated Press. Prosecutors wanted Mr. Jefferson, 62, detained immediately after the verdict on grounds that his ties to Africa made him a flight risk, but Judge T. S. Ellis III allowed him to remain free on bond, citing his local ties.

   Long-time readers of this blog know that yours truly has had nothing nice to say about Jefferson (see here for example), largely because he was just one of 15 Democrats who sold out the workers of this country, and workers abroad, by voting for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). I can’t help but think that the same impulses that led a representative of the people to side with corporate interests on the CAFTA deal are very similar impulses to those that would lead someone to take bribes.


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