Archive for June 26th, 2006

Forum offered credits to their clients to buy the stamps, although the plans also served for paying the mortgages -in Spain most people have mortgages-. Finance Minister, Pedro Solbes denied on March 17th, that these kind of credits had a “financial nature”, what would have risen the supervision from both Spanish Central Bank and the National Assets Market Commision (CNMV) and also the guarantees to the investors, who would have had a Deposit Fund. He had denied that cualification when the firms assured a yearly minimum interest of 5-6.5%, which was qualified by the experts of the Tax Bureau -dependant from the Financial and Economy Ministry- as a “financial activity“.

Wikipedia explains this much more clearly:

As with equity investment, investment in tangible goods is not protected by a mandatory warranty fund under Spanish law (available only to registered financial institutions, which allowed the victims of the earlier Banesto and Gescartera scandals to recover a small part of their assets). Such investment is overseen by the Consumption departments of the regional governments instead of the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores. Customers of Afinsa affected by the situation have formed several associations, as have customers of Forum.

As the majority owner of NASDAQ traded company Escala Group, the scandal deeply affected Escala’s share price, which plummeted more than 85% in the days after the arrests before recovering slightly.

They went up again after (103%) the Spanish authorities assured Escala was not affected.

The Times:

Investors were told they may not recover their money after the raids. Afinsa is not registered as a financial institution and is not subject to the same regulatory guidelines affecting other companies. Under Spanish law, Afinsa simply acts as an intermediary to buy investments for its clients.

As a result investors are not entitled to the same standard of protection as if they had bought shares or put their money in a bank.

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the Interior Minister, said yesterday the police operation was important and had been carried out with the co-operation of some of the alleged victims.

Feelings were running high among worried investors outside the companies’ offices. One investor, who gave his name as Felix, protested outside the offices of Fórum Filatélico in Madrid. He had looked forward to cashing in profits from his stamp investment when he retires in August. “My whole life is here,” he said. “Clearly I am nervous, but this is not the only reason. My wife is going to kill me. She wanted to take my money out of the company.” Another investor, called Roberto, said: “I have put a lot of money into this. This could ruin my life. I want my money back now.”

PP has accused the Government of leaving the affected unprotected. But Elena Salgado, Minister of Health and Consumption, has denied the consitution of a Fund, which was requested by PP and the affected, because “it would be unjust, because it would mean that the contributors ahould be ready to finance the haigher risk united to a higher interest rate these inversions have“. This proposal has been critisized hardly because of the conception of State that this happens to be based upon: a nanny State who provides about everything. The affected people have demonstrated in front of Central Offices of PSOE in Madrid.

More than 350.000 people are affected because of this fraud, who were eager to invest, as the rate was, in some cases between 14 and 16%, when the normal rates in other pension plans were 7,22%. The total compromised inversion was about the 10% of all the inversion in pensions plans at the end of 2005. The most affacted are people with very low income and self-workers, but the Government is going to give a very low payment for the affected people who are retired and do not have any other pension.

To pay the accumulated debt the Judges had to ask for help to determinate the real value of the stamps. But the operation is going to be difficult and if all the stamps they own are sold in the market, the price will fall completely as these two firms moved 80% of Spanish stamp’s market. Any of them determinated the value according to Edifil and Manfilsa’s catalogs. This has produced various abuses: Afinsa’s stamps have a value 10 times higher than the ones any other stamp collector would have payed for them.

The fact that the Financial Ministry had the proofs for the intervention of the societies 9 months ago and the proximity to the debate of the Statute of Catalonia and to the prosecution of 3 policeman for illegal detention of 2 PP militants -who had been accused of an inexistent aggression to Defense Minister Bono-made a lot of people guess this was not a mere “coincidence”. Although the Anti-Corruption prosecutor said that a lapse of 9 months is normal to ionvestigate this kind of cases, this margin was sufficient for Fórum to pick up 16.000 more investors. In the first report, the Tax Bureau pointed out that “the stamps were valued for more than 13 times its market value“. But the investigation went further to detect that the firms were destroying stamps for a total value of 5 million of euros and buying others for a much larger quantity than the ones accounted. Both are signs of a possible transfer of actives to foreign countries.

So the process for the liquidation of Afinsa has begun with the appointing of its administrators during this process. Afinsa’s ex-president and 3 of the members of the Management Council were freed.

And today it has begun the process for the liquidation of Fórum Filatélico, which has a financial hole of 2.700-3.400 millions of euros. The total compromises of the firm were between 3.500 and 4.200 millions of euros but its assets were only 410 millions. This is one of the causes of opposition to the provisional freedom of the ex-president of the company, Mr. Briones, now in prison, and other three members of the Mangement Council. They are accused of aggravated swindle, unloyal management, punishable bankruptcy, fraud against Public Treasury and money laundering -although it’s not clear this last one and they have risen the prohibition of the banks account’s disposal of several of the accused-.

The two of the have a “financial hole” of 4.166 euros, greater than the one discovered in Banesto in 1993.

The prosecutors have said that the firms were lying twice to the investors: first, when they were selling at prices much higher than real and then, by telling them, the rates came from a rise in their value, which was non-existent.

When Madrid is far the most affected city of all, Time.com choses Barcelona’s affected to finish its article with “I am ashamed to be Spanish“. As if Enron or Clearstream never existed eh???

And the Portuguese are worried about the scandal.

The bitter critics is for the Consumer’s Associations who did not make any move till today, when they are demanding the affected investors to affiliate themselves and, as a result to pay the respective fee.

Libertad Digital asks other questions. Among others:

  1. Why Socialist Minister Rubalcaba filtered this operation when the offices of the firms had not even begun?
  2. Why if the auditors alerted about some irregularities in Afinsa’s documents and the assurance firm Lloyds did not renew the insurance policy, no one raised the alarm about the stamps’ value?
  3. Can two societies like Afinsa and Fórum set up a swindle that last 25 years without any authority taking notice of it?
  4. How on earth a firm whose objective is to attract savings is under the control of the Health and Consumer Ministry.

There are other obscure things in this case: never has any Autonomous Community renounced to a exclusive competence of the granted to them by the Constitution. Well, in this case they have.

Last news are that Escala Group is going to sue Spanish Government for unjustified alarm.

More information: The Guardian, Fox News, Think Spain, Forbes.com, Cinco Días,

Blogs treating this:

  1. ZP no es bueno: Gestynsa, the auditor firm of Afinsa, is owned by Francisco Blázquez Ortiz, father of Jorge Blázquez, who works with Miguel Sebastian, Chief of Economical Office of Mr Zapatero’s Government. Mr. Blázquez pressured the Institute of Accountancy and Business Administration (ICAC, in Spanish) not to begin any process -administrative- against Gestynsa.
  2. Nescencia Necat: the post about the scandal by an affected of it. Compares this scandal with RUMASA, holding expropriated to its owner, Ruiz Mateos.


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ABC News:

Japan and the United States have agreed to deploy advanced Patriot interceptor missiles on U.S. bases in Japan for the first time, officials said Monday.

The agreement earlier this month came amid concerns that North Korea may be about to test-fire a long-range ballistic missile.

The U.S. plans to deploy the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles designed to intercept ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or aircraft as soon as possible, a Japanese Defense Agency spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with agency policy, said the sites and timing for the deployment have not yet been decided.

The plan was first reported Monday in Japan’s largest newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. It said the U.S. military would deploy three or four batteries of the surface-to-air missiles on the southern island of Okinawa by the end of the year and send 500-600 additional U.S. troops there.

BBC News:

The deployment would mark the first time the US has deployed surface-to-air missiles in Japan.

As part of ongoing diplomatic efforts to avert the North’s test launch, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon was due to visit China on Monday.

He said he would ask Beijing to play a constructive role to resolve the issue.

China is one of North Korea’s few remaining allies, and still has some influence in Pyongyang.

[…] These PAC-3 missiles are designed to intercept ballistic or missiles, as well as aircraft.

The missiles would be deployed on the southern island of Okinawa, according to a report in Japan’s largest newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

An additional 500-600 troops would also be deployed, the newspaper said.

Recently US Navy was succesful in intercepting a medium-range test missile (Read at Captain’s Quarters).

UPDATE: The Dumb Ox links to two important news about this issue:

UPDATE 2: From Occidentality, an article from NYT about North Korean defectors -with its rational critic, we all now how is the NYT-:

[…] for much of her life she at least enjoyed an open media, and had the opportunity to see more than the apparatchiks had previously allowed. In fact, she learned some of her English from MTV. The North Koreans stumbling into the light of the South had few such opportunities, and it is remarkable that any manage the transition at all.

To hear North Koreans tell it, South Korea is bewildering precisely because it is at once familiar and alien. The South and North share a common language, but in half a century of division, South Koreans have adopted so many foreign words that the newcomers spend hours learning the language spoken in the South.

“Only after 10 years did I understand how the South Korean society works,” said Lee Joon Ho, 41, who arrived in South Korea in 1993, before the current wave of defectors.

UPDATE 3: Occidentality posts an interview with Mr. Chang, author of Nuclear Showdown: N. Korea takes on the world:

Where does China figure in all this? Is it losing control over North Korea?

It’s very possible that China and North Korea are in on this together. And essentially what they’re doing is this: Kim Jong-il will create a crisis, and China will ‘step in and solve it’.

You think it’s a bit of a charade?

You can’t discount the possibility that it is a very big charade. Over the long term, China is trying to use North Korea to keep Japan and the US off balance. But for the China too, it’s a losing game. Because over the long term, China is losing control over North Korea.

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According to on-line newspaper El Confidencial Digital, the last operation of Spanish Judge Grande-Marlaska and French Judge Le Vert, against the extortion net of ETA, is going to provoke dificulties to ETA and its “surroundings” –I should say this is good-. ETA needs a lot of money, because it has to pay the leaders, the assassins and the detained and imprisoned members but also to the rest of the people who live of the terrorist band.

So the Government is searching for a solution to give the quantities that ETA needs to survive. [I say, NOT WITH MY MONEY].

So in the contact phase, someone from ETA said Mr Zapatero: “President, the ETA problem is solutioned with some few measures. But do not forget that this band needs money to survive. And we will have to camouflage the millions of euros that we need for this people to have means to live, because they do not know but to live of the extorsion“.

Well, just do not maintain them and let them disappear. They should learn to live as all the other people in this country. Peacefully and reasonably.

Julen Madariaga, the historical leader of ETA, the man who founded it and also detained by Grande-Marlaska, said: “We have a problem of survival. With 20 or 22 millions of euros till the end of 2007 we can try to go on living, because at our age, we cannot even have a job“.

This is the most despicable shameless person I have ever read. So as you cannot maintain yourself, you are asking for 20 or 22 millions of euros to the “oppresive State”, and to the same society who has lived throughout more than 30 years havng to cope with your murders! If you do not have money to live, go to charity and see if they can give you something. But of course, for a “manager” of ETA -that is the way he defines himself, as if ETA was a dolls’ firm-, this must be a difficult stage, eh?

[NOTE: El Confidencial Digital was the first paper who wrote about a policeman tipping ETA, something which is now under judicial investigation].

So the leader of the Basque Socialists, Patxi López -he had to change his name because his is really “Francisco”, but that did not sound enough nationalist 😦 – has said that “the dialogue with ETA must begun, even without PP” -that is good: PP is not going to take part in this mascherade- because “Zapatero has done everything required to sum up PP support and its about time to continue with this. I hope, though, that PP will finish by addind themselves to it“.

Zapatero by the way is going to ask this same week for the parliamentary support for beginning the dialogue with ETA terrorists. It is probable he will ask for it in the next parliamentary session on Wednesday. Vice-President, De la Vega, has said “the Government will fulfill all the compromises he has with all the political forces and will continue working with all the Democrats for the future “peace process”“.

So can we consider Batasuna as a political force? Mr Zapatero is trying to legalize it. If he has a compromise with Batasuna he has one with ETA, because Batasuna is the political wing of ETA.

Of course, Mr Zapatero has said that he is looking for a great political agreement, who will involve all the plurality of Euskadi. So the Constitution of 1978 is not valid, isn’t it? It’s curious that only Batsuna and ETA are not represented AFTER Batsuna was illegalised for praising the violence…

Judge Grande-Marlaska continues with the investigation of the extortion net by interviewing the businessmen who payed the “revolutionary tax”. They are accused of a crime of collaboration with armed band. The judge has also decreed freedom without fine, but with weekly appearences in court for Ignacio Aristizábal Aguirre.He also ordered inconditional prison for Jean Pierre Harocarene, aka “Txampiñón”, and José Carmelo Luquín, for alleged integration in armed band -that is, terrorist band-. Guess who are critizicing him? Nationalists and socialists.

I read the other day who was Harocarene, an anchorman of Cadena Ser -one of the MSM from leftist holding PRISA- and is terrifying really. Written by one of the councilman of Irún, Spanish-Basque city where the family of Harocarene lives, a letter tells about him that he shouted once and again “Gora ETA” -that is: “Long live to ETA”- and that he was related with ETA in his youth. And she continues:

But everyone can evolution and here people thinks: well, this is very unoffensive. I remember that in the bar his father owned in Benobia a Civil Guard was killed in the early 80’s and it was said they have informed the band where to find him.

And I remember also when Borja Sémper presented himself to Basque MP, he was terribly beaten in the street. The “youths” intended to kill him that way, but Borja was defended by some of his family who lived there. When one of his cousing entered the Harocarene’s bar to ask him to call the police, because if not Borja was going to be killed, he just said “Fuck him”.

We are asked now by PSOE to forget and to be generous, because if not we are vengeful and rancourous. More than we have already been? We have believed that the people would change and maintained a normal relationship. But we are informed at last that we have done all this to aid financially to your murderers for them to be succesful (Borja has survived to 3 frustrated attempts, and I have been alerted by the National Police that they were after me and have survived to the frustrated terrorist attack in Zarauz).

The National Court judges tomorrow ETA terrorist Celaya for the murder of a taxi driver 30 years ago. You know, taxi drivers in Spain are soooooooooooo important in the “repression of the State”, you have to kill them to finish it. Oh, what a bunch of idiots are the foreign journalists, such as the Christian Science Monitor -Raid on ETA shadows peace process with terror group-, Euronews – ETA puts pressure on Spanish government over talks-, Nouvel Observateur -ETA wants to negotiate peace-, etc. They do not see but the slogan “we have been fighting against Franco and for democracy“. Well, then why they have been killing people AFTER Franco’s death? And peace? Peace can only be built on justice.

Le Monde published on June 23rd a note saying “ETA wants to involve Paris in the political process” –take note: they do not call here “peace process”, but “political process”-. We have known that for some time. And it’s very important what the French policial forces say:

[They] remember the truce of 1998, which let ETA rebuild their killing power. “From a geopolitical point of view, ETA is in a war with France sice 40 years ago, but its priority was Spain. [that is, as Spanish people were killed, they were “freedom fighters” and we were not very interested, but now that they are menacing us directly, uuhuhuh, then we are much more interested.. .] The truce does not prevent them for rearming [ and they are going to use our taxes to pay them…]. And with the punishment’s reduction most of their activists will be out by 2010 [note: they are activists, not terrorists]

I beg your pardon, but I can only say Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

But it is even worse what the French leader of Batasuna says. I copy it:

“Là-bas, les discussions n’ont pas commencé il y a deux mois mais il y a deux ans, remarque Peio Etcheverry-Ainchart, porte-parole de l’organisation Abertzaleen Batasuna. La légalisation de Batasuna, la sortie des prisonniers gravement malades ou en fin de peine, le regroupement des autres, tout cela est déjà ficelé. Le vrai pas inédit serait l’évocation de l’autodétermination.”

Translation: “There, the discussions have not begun 2 months ago, but 2 years ago. The legalization of Batasuna, the exit of the ill prisoners or the ones just at the end of their punishment, the reagroupment of the prisoners, all of that is already tied up. The true step will be the evocation of the self-determination”.

So no compromises, eh? You’re no more than a bunch of liars.

The State of Justice in Spain, by Spanish cartoonist Mingote.

Lastly we have to congratulate the Catholic Church for the election of José Ignacio Munilla Aguirre, Basque priest, for Bishop of Palencia. He has distinguish himself in the fight against ETA terrorists, preaching in masses “corpore in sepulto” -that is, for people who are just going to be buried- for the ETA victims. Those are good news for all Spanish Catholic people. Just as me.

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