Archive for the ‘Corruption Scandals’ Category

We knew for some time that this moment was coming, although perhaps he is going to be luckier that it seemed before.

THE judicial trail is closing in on France’s former president, Jacques Chirac. On Thursday July 19th a judge investigating a fake jobs scheme that allegedly benefited members of the ruling party (during Mr Chirac’s time as mayor of Paris) interviewed him as a “material witness”, meaning he was allowed to have a lawyer present and that he could, at a later stage, become the subject of a formal investigation.

The fake-jobs case is being led by Alain Philibeaux, a judge in Nanterre. Alain Juppé, Mr Chirac’s right-hand man when he was mayor from 1977-95, was convicted of political corruption in the same case in 2004. On Thursday Mr Chirac wrote in Le Monde that he was “ready to testify…in good faith”, and that he would tell investigators that the legality of party financing had been unclear for much of the time that he ran Paris. Mr Chirac may also have to testify in another case, led by Xavière Simeoni, a judge in Paris, also concerning fake jobs at the Paris town hall.

Mr Chirac’s presidential immunity expired in June and he faces a plethora of legal headaches. His lawyer, Jean Veil, argues that France’s constitution states that “The president of the republic shall incur no liability by reason of acts carried out in this official capacity.” In other words, Mr Chirac will co-operate with judicial investigations into periods before he became president in 1995, but not after. This decision, Mr Veil said, was “absolutely definitive”.

That leaves him open to questioning over the earlier fake-jobs case. But the claimed immunity would probably prevent his being mired in investigations into a controversial and messy plot known as the “Clearstream affair” which concerns alleged attempts to smear certain politicians by claiming (falsely) that they profited illegally from an arms deal in 1991.

Although Mr Chirac may avoid the Clearstream investigation his last prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, has not been so lucky. He has been summoned to meet two investigating judges on July 27th who may put him under formal investigation.

French political scandal | Jacques in the box | Economist.com

According to Le Monde, Chirac’s lawyer has said his statement has been a “calm and polite” one:

“Vous avez observé que c’est une audition qui dans la pratique judiciaire est relativement courte, elle s’est passée dans la sérénité, la courtoisie, a déclaré son avocat Me Jean Veil. L’ancien président de la République a été entendu en tant que “témoin assisté”, intermédiaire entre le mis en examen et le simple témoin. Ce statut permet à une personne d’être assistée de son avocat mais n’implique pas de poursuites.

 What did they expect? That Chirac was going to bite his nails? To shout at Judges? To insult them? Of course not, that would have been nearly as admitting he was responsible.

Le Monde also publishes an article written by Chirac, about the parties’ financing in France. Basically he considers that the political parties have adapted themselves to the evolution from a system where no regulation existed about their financing to another one in which it is ruled by law. He considers that, being the man who wanted to break with the past and who wanted to guarantee the transparency of the public accounts, the accusations against him are not very rational. He also points out that the cases in which someone has taken public money for personal interests, have been not very common and have ended punished for that.

Saint Jacques Chirac, then.

Of course, and I am Muhammad Ali. The fact that there are very few sentenced does not mean the corruption is not great. Normally the politicians -and in general all corrupt people- are bright enough -or their lawyers- not to leave trails or, if they do that, normally is so vague is practically impossible to detect them.

Related posts:

The last French scandal.

Miterrand let the Rwandan genocide happen because he feared Anglo-Saxon influence! -Clearstream investigation goes on.

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This is also a roundup, but a very important one -this is not funny at all-:

  1. About the Guadalajara’s fire (in which there were killed 11 firefighters): “The report, 110 sheets, made by an expert engineer, considers that the tragedy was a a very grave chain of negligences. In 13 points, it summs up the errors and the lack of coordination, before, during and after the tragedy: from the lack of preventive measures to the lapse of time (16 minutes) to activate the first firefighters’ equipements. The document considers that the firefighting in the area is faulty, irregular and chaotic and asks why the victims were sent to an area, totally unknown for them, in the worst moment and with the worst weather conditions”.”Also, there are new tapes which have been realeased from June 17th 2005 -where the fire happened-, in which it is shown the lack of extintion measures, the existing lack of coordination and the time (more than 10 hours) that the victims’ relatives had to wait for some kind of official communication of what had happened”.
  2. You know I have been writing about the Spanish UN peacekeepers/soldiers killed in Lebanon. Well, Zapatero (Spanish PM) told the father of the of the soldiers in the funeral: “What a pity! He had gone to Lebanon to buy himself a car, hadn’t he?“. Imagine the expression of the father’s soldier. And imagine mine when I read it.smile_baringteeth
  3.  The ex-Delegate of the Government in Catalonia -Eduard Planells, who has now a wonderful job at National Telecommunications Commision– has been detained in an operation against the Russian Mob in Spain. Also Eduard Figuerola, the General  Subdirector of Industrial Policy of the Generalitat (Catalan Government) has been fired after been discovered he had child porn.. From El Cerrajero. Don’t know if the latter was caught in the last “Against child porn operation”.
  4. Multinational Merck is going to change Barcelona for Madrid as its social address. This has enraged the Catalan nationalists who consider that Spain “is much too centralised“. Hehehe, imagine for example: Health care: EVERY DAMNED PART of it is a competence of the Autonomous Community. Education is also a competence -mainly- of the Auonomous Community -so you can see in the text books things like “Castilla y León had a relationship with the Romans“, when Castilla y León is a kingdom in the Reconquest and during Roman dominion it was under the same province: Lusitania, of the three that Romans made here (the other were Tarraconensis and Baetica). The Generalitat has passed a law creating a self-Tax Agency which will make in not a very distant future, everything related to taxes. Yeah, of course, very centralised. The problem is that a lot of people is beginning to leave Catalonia thanks to the pressure of the nationalists. And that hurts.
  5. After the invention of the Little Red Star -that only thinking about it, makes me shiver-, the young Spanish Socialists ask for the legalization of the euthanasia and the vote at 16 years-old. About euthanasia, I’m totally opposed: it cannot be undone. About the vote at 16: if we have so many idiot voters, just have some more, totally influenced by the Education for Citizenship -anti-militar, pro-homosexual -in the worst sense of the world-, pro-Socialist, pro-Alliance of Civilizations, etc-.
  6. Vice-President De La Vega has asked MSM not to informe about what they know if it has something to do with ETA. Yeah, it’s much better to have everything under the blanket, specially if we consider that French PM Sarkozy already has the ETA-Spanish Government negotiation’s papers. Oh and if someone thinks he is going to be a good guy and denounce PM Zapatero for the contents of those papers, just read this post by Mike -really good blogger 😀 – and then think again. No, he is just going to use it in the EU negotiations against Zapatero… sooo, against Spain.
  7. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas: inquired on corruption charges. They -and other famous people- have created a lot of societies
  8. to whiten funds from dubious procedence.

    About Ibiza I will write later, it’s very grave what it’s happening after the fuel from “Don Pedro” -a ship- began polluting all the sea.

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Well, that is what the declassified French documents say:

The former French president François Mitterrand supported the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide despite clear warnings that mass killings of the Tutsi population were being orchestrated, according to declassified French documents.

The publication of the documents in today’s Le Monde for the first time confirms long-held suspicions against France. The previously secret diplomatic telegrams and government memos also suggest the late French president was obsessed with the danger of “Anglo-Saxon” influence gripping Rwanda. In three months from April 1994, at least a million Rwandans – mainly Tutsis – were systematically slaughtered in killings engineered by the Hutu regime to exterminate its ethnic rivals and repel the Uganda-trained Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

Barcepundit (English edition)

So, again, happens the same: how many MSM have published this in bold letters?

What would have happened if any other country -specially any Anglo-Saxon one- would have made this?

Also there’s the role played by Chirac in Iraq h/t Extreme Centre.org, persuading Saddam that he should not give the concessions which could have saved his regime. Saddam was sure that both the French -mainly- and the Russians were going to save him in the last hour. [My translation, original in French. If you understand French you MUST read it]. An excerpt:

The reality was that Chirac stabbed in the back of his allies, it was a treason to Iraqi people and all their hopes of development which are a common ground on every people going out of a dictatorship, that encouragement of the anti-Western feeling that nourrishes the terrorism (of which it is a vain hope that it would be only anti-American because thay can be separated) and that shameful anaesthesia of the democratic option -called cynical tyrannophilia– which should be considered as the real legacy of Chirac to history.

But Chirac, whose inmunity ended on June, 17th, 2007, is not the only one having bad times lately: French magistrates probing an alleged dirty tricks campaign have searched offices once used by the ex-prime minister, Dominique de Villepin in connection with the Clearstream scandal:

Mr de Villepin faces claims that he encouraged the leaking of papers which falsely implicated Mr Sarkozy in a bribery scandal, sources say.

Mr de Villepin has strenuously denied any involvement in the affair.

He has demanded to be declared an “assisted witness” in the inquiry, a move which would enhance his legal rights and give his lawyers access to police files.

He has curtailed a holiday to monitor the search.

A separate six-hour search of his home was conducted in Paris on Thursday.

Chirac’s silence

The alleged scandal is known as the Clearstream affair, after the Luxembourg clearing house in which Mr Sarkozy and other figures were falsely accused of holding secret accounts into which bribes were paid.

He was French foreign minister at the time of the alleged plot, but went on to become prime minister. The claims against him suggest he was hoping to scupper Mr Sarkozy’s presidential ambitions.

Jacques Chirac’s lawyer says he will not work with investigators

Justice officials say some information key to the inquiry was allegedly retrieved from the laptop computer of a former military intelligence general.

The computer files were said to support claims that Mr de Villepin initiated a meeting that led to Mr Sarkozy being falsely accused of receiving money in relation to a controversial defence contract – the sale of French frigates to Taiwan in 1991.

More in Financial Times:

Mr de Villepin, who was not at home at the time of the raid, on Thursday rejected the “unfounded accusations” against him and denied blackening the name of any politician in the Clearstream affair. He said he would vigorously defend himself.

The Elysée palace said it had no comment to make on a judicial matter.

The convoluted Clearstream affair paralysed the government for weeks last year as the three most senior ministers traded accusations through the media.

While in office, Mr de Villepin was questioned as a witness for 17 hours. Investigating magistrates also questioned Michèle Alliot-Marie, defence minister at the time, who employed Gen Rondot. Ms Alliot-Marie has since succeeded Mr Sarkozy as interior minister.

At the time the affair was widely seen as part of a far bigger power struggle between Mr de Villepin and Mr Sarkozy over who would become presidential candidate of the neo-Gaullist right and succeed Jacques Chirac as president.

More in International Herald Tribune:

The police raid was the first time the home of a former head of the French government has been searched and suggested that the three-year-old Clearstream affair may be entering a combustible stage. The case is a knot of secret investigations and allegations of impropriety involving the financial clearinghouse Clearstream in Luxembourg.

[…] One of the suspects, Jean-Louis Gergorin, a former vice president of the defense consortium EADS, said last year that he had given the list to a magistrate. According to excerpts of the Rondot files quoted by several newspapers, he had written on his computer that he was told “Gergorin received instructions from Dominique de Villepin, which were themselves formulated by the president of the republic, to destabilize Nicolas Sarkozy.”

Villepin, who testified in the case in December, is expected to be summoned for questioning by the end of the month, a judicial source said. If the two suspects cited in the recovered computer files confirm Rondot’s account in scheduled testimony on July 17 and 18, Villepin could face charges of “complicity in calumnious denunciation.”

The former prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. He issued a statement Thursday night saying he never “sought to investigate or compromise any political personality in the Clearstream affair.” Four people have been charged in the case so far.

Dominique de Villepin, after the searches: “I have lived some moments that, as you can imagine, they have not been agreeable, but I have to say that truth will prevail”.

De Villepin could face charges for this affair.

Related news:

  1. Sarkozy is going to support Dominic Strauss-Kahn for the International Monetary Fund, after Rodrigo Rato’s departure.
  2. Michélle Alliot-Marie wants to improve the knowledge of imams in France. She wants to create a French Islam… What???
  3. French representatives are speaking with Russian ones about missile defence, after First Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov has menaced with installing new missile forces in Kaliningrad: This region, in other times called East Prussia, with capital in Königsberg, was German territory till the end of the WWII. It constitutes a very important site, strategically speaking, between Lithuania and Poland, in the middle of European Union.
  4. France is one of the five or six countries, which are objetives of the Islamic terrorists. Roland Jacquard, President of the International Watchdog of terrorism. Video in French.
  5. French Housing Minister, Christine Boutin, suggested last year Bush was behind Sept. 11 attacks. Asked in an interview last November, before she became minister, whether she thought Bush might be behind the attacks, Boutin says: “I think it is possible. I think it is possible.” Boutin backs her assertion by pointing to the large number of people who visit websites that challenge the official line over the September 11 strikes against U.S. cities. “I know that the websites that speak of this problem are websites that have the highest number of visits … And I tell myself that this expression of the masses and of the people cannot be without any truth.” Boutin’s office sought to play down the remarks, saying that later in the same interview she says: “I’m not telling you that I adhere to that position.”

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Original post in Spanish here

This campaign has some very important characteristics: corruption, violence against PP and appeasement of the Government to ETA, basically.

In Sevilla, PP has announced that it has been discovered that the Majorship, ruled by the Socialists, was sending by fax instructions to forge official receipts. The Major has said nothing about this.

PSOE has also been accused of corruption in the Malaya case, something which can give the Majorship directly to PP.

Precisely it was the Malaya case the one who could have given a heart attack to the nowadays Madrid’s Major and Pp candidate to the same post on May 27th elections Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón in a TV debate. In the middle of the debate, Miguel Sebastián, PSOE candidate to Major and before  that Director of the powerful Economic Office of the Presidency, showed him a photo of Montserrat Corulla, a very beautiful lawyer who has been accused of acting as “man of straw” in teh Malaya case and asked him if he had “something to do with someone related to this corruption net. As Ms. Corulla is very beautiful and it was rumoured that he had an affaire with Ruiz-Gallardón, the latter answered he was not going to answer about personal matters. Some people I have been speaking with consider that Sebastián wanted Ruiz-Gallardón to ask him about his homosexuality -and present him as an homophobe-, as it is rumoured that Sebastián is homosexual. Well, nowadays it looks like that is Sebastián the one who has something to do in the Malaya case. PP has already asked him for it.

From the Economic office of the Presidence, Sebastián&Co. prepared an assault on BBVA, using the old -and unethical- tactic of accusing its president, Francisco González, of having committed tax crime/administrative infraction, something which was denounced by Manuel Conthe, ex-president of CNMV (Spanish SEC). Anyway, is BBVA now free of the wrongdoings of the EOP? Looks like that it isn’t. And the benefits would be -again- for Italy and Mr. Prodi.

Even the Basque Nationalist Party that normally has not been involved in any corruption phenomenon, has a senator, Víctor Bravo, ex-director of Guipúzcoa Budget  Office, who has been accused of “diminishing” the debts some people had for not having taxes if they pay earlier and it was paid to him.  This has not been the first case in the last months that the Basque Nationalists are accused of corruption: some others (for example, Juan Ramón Ibarra o José María Bravo) were doing the same. The fact that the BNP has been ruling the Community in most part of the 30 years since democracy came could have been the cause for not having discovered more cases of corruption within this party.

But there are other tyoes of corruption appearing this days: Canarian Coalition  has denounced PSOE for a  fraudulent growth of the  electoral lists in the Canary Islands in the areas where the PSOE is ruling:

Coalición Canaria ha presentado una denuncia ante la Junta Electoral Provincial por el incremento fraudulento del censo electoral en municipios de La Gomera gobernados por el PSOE. Concretamente, en Vallehermoso CC ha detectado graves irregularidades al incrementarse el censo electoral, respecto al anterior de 2003, en barrios o calles ‘en los que apenas existen habitantes desde hace 25 años’.

The same thing looks like that has happened in Galicia and in Valencia. Just the same Venezuelan Bolivarian Chávez made in the past.

About agressions toPPthey have continued throughout these past days and nothing indicates they are going to stop:

17.05.07 Mataró (Barcelona). The PP office appears with the word “fachas” (fascists) in the walls and in the surroundings it could be read “go out of a worker’s quarter”.

19.05.07. Getafe (Madrid). Unkown people painting to the electoral posters and the main PP office in the city. -in this locality nº2 is Gica Craioveanu, a Romanian footballer-. The Pp candidate has already said that they are not going to stop working for change.

20.05.06. San Sebastián. A hundred pro-ETA intimidated, insulted and menaced the PP candidate to San Sebastián’s Major, María José Usandizaga, when she had finished an electoral act in the Olf Part of the city. She had to take refuge in a store because of the lack of Basque policemen in the area.

20.05.07. Torrelodones (Madrid). There are damages in PP billboards and posters and insulting paintings against PP in other publicity places..

20.05.07. Coslada (Madrid). A group of people throw stones to the PP electoral van. they also insulted them, calline them “fascists” and menaced them with “Hope that they put a bomb and kill you all”.

The last one has taken place today in Valencia -another explosive was set some days ago there too-. The Government has not condemned any of these acts which are totally against a normal democratic and peaceful behaviour.

But Granada’s PSOE has called the youths to a “macrobotellón” -that is, where people drink alcohol till they are so drunk that some of them even finish it with an alcohol coma [think that it is said like that…smile_omg]- against PP the night before the elections (the so-called reflection day). The prosecutor has already denounced the initiative.

Moving over to the terrorist subject, the Catalan terrorist group Terra Lliure, after TV3 -Catalan public TV- made a documentary nearly praising them has issued a death threat against Albert Ribera, 27-year-old and president of the new party Ciutadans de Cataluña (Catalonian citizens). The important thing here is that Terra Lliure had been a lot of years without appearing in the public scene -in fact, it was officialy dissolved in the 90’s-. Albert Rivera has said that he is not scared because of the threats.

The pro-ETA newspaper GARA has issued some fascicles in which they sum up how the negotiation with the Goverment has happened. And there are surprising -or not?- revelations.

It’s absolutely shameful to read that PSOE representant in the negotiations, Jesús Eguiguren (accused and convicted for hitting his wife, something which is striking being this a so-feminist self-called Government…) asked textually to the ETA terrorists: “Slow down please the degree of your menaces. Nwither PP nor socialists dissidents and never to women”. And he continues: “because that is, in the public opinion, horrible for us, who are helping you all that we can“. Just to sum up: someone who has been convincted for hitting his wife, asks the terrorists with the “please” before. Delicious, isn’t it. And coherent. My goodness, this man should be out of politics since the day he was convicted…

Even Gara has publishedthat a year ago the Government agree with them to close a “treaty” for the Basque country before July 31st this year.. And that Otegi -Batasuna’s president- is out of jail because of another agreement between PSOE and Batasuna– he was accused of praising terrorism-.

The revering position of this Government, that we could observe in Eguiguren, has produced a multiplication of support for the so-called izquierda abertzale [abertzale left] -they are nothing but the people who support ETA- and the agressions to politicians of all sort (also the Spanish Minister of Justice or Basque nationalist Party politicians) and in the classroom (more here). they have even interrupted a meeting at the Majorship of San Sebastián, ruled by the not-very-much-admired Odón Elorza, in favor of the dialogue with the terrorists.

Today ETA has also exploded a low explosive to a Socialist Candidate. Joseba Elola has pointed out that he is frightened but that never he had been threatened before by the abertzale.

Navarra is going to be the key in the process: if UPN (right) does not take the absolute majority (half and 1) of the total seats in the Autonomous Community, Navarra will -with 99% probability- be united with basques in the first step to the independence of both Communities. The problem is that Socialist base in Navarra are not speaking about this possibility. As a result of the tense situation and to increase that sensation, Navarra is full of anti-system groups today. Because they know the importance of the event.

In this climate is not surprising that the concentrations called by Foro de Ermua and another similar associations against negotiation were forbidden by the Government, for example in Madrid.

ETA has also announced that the bloody terrorist Josu Ternera will continue to be its representant in the negociation. The wife-hitter negotiating with the terrorist Spain’s future. Hmm, what a perspectivesmile_confused

It is also quite surprising the plittle coverage and attention MSM are giving to the Gallician independentist terrorism. Since Socialists and Galician nacionalists arrived to power last years attacks have increased with home-made devices planted in strategic places and with notes written in Galician-portuguese, a modality only spoken by Galician nationalists: 

Le cuentan a El Chivato que los incidentes violentos –en realidad, actos terroristas- protagonizados por independentistas se han incrementado desde la llegada a la Xunta de la coalición PSOE-BNG. El último hecho fue la bomba colocada en un polígono industrial de Lugo el pasado martes, día 15. Dato muy relevante: el artefacto estaba dirigido contra una constructora cuyo dueño fue político del Partido Popular.

Que se sepa, no se han escuchado palabras de condena de parte de Touriño, ni de Anxo Quintana, mucho más cuando no pocas juventudes del BNG se mezclan con ese tipo radicales. Un extraño caso de silencio a pesar de que la bomba estuvo colocada frente a un supermercado y pudo ocasionar “graves daños impredecibles” de no haber sido desactiva por los Tedax.

La reivindicación de la bomba apareció escrita en gallego-lusista, a pesar de lo cual los medios de comunicación han obviado la palabra “independentistas gallegos” al referirse a los autores del atentado. Muchos han preferido hablar de “unos desconocidos”, cuando ese idioma inexistente únicamente es utilizado por los independentistas.

The political leaders have not condemned these acts.

Everything is complicated by the march 11th bombings investigation, that shows that anything is very clear. The superior policeman in charge of the proofs derived from the explosions, Sánchez Manzano (more than 30 years in the force and the main actor in the polemic about the boric acid) did not keep the explosives properly.

It is not strange than that Zapatero was booed yesterday when visiting his granfather’s village -you know, the one killed by Franco, who was a double agent for both the republicans and the nationals in the war (more here, even when the Spanish Public TV does not show it. And it is not strange that Bilbao’s streets have been covered with posters against Zapatero and ETA terrorist De Juana saying: “25 víctimas do not at any more. ZP do not negotiate with our deads”. nor that the Wall Street journal alerts about the growing uneasiness because of … ZP.

related news:

  1. the relatives of the dead in Guadalajara’s fire insult Socialist President Barreda (Autonomous Community of Castilla-la Mancha).
  2. Spanish National Bank sells 80 tons of gold because of the deficit in the commercial trade with foreign countries.
  3. There is also a revolutión in Second Life, against ETA negotiation.

Related posts:

  1. Spanish Elections Watch 2007 (part 3): more violence and ANV.
  2. Spanish Elections Watch 2007 (part 2): agressions on PP members.
  3. Spanish Elections Watch 2007.
  4. Corrupsoe reloaded (part 2): Sebastián, socialist candidate to Madrid’s Majorship.
  5. Corrupsoe reloaded (part 1): Ibiza connection and Arenillas.

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From Time magazine:

Past scandals? Yes, Alemán has a few. In fact, he’s currently serving a 20-year jail sentence for embezzling and laundering some $100 million from the coffers of the second poorest nation in the hemisphere. Transparency International awarded him the dubious distinction of including him in its list of the World’s Ten Most Corrupt leaders of all time. (To his credit, he only ranked ninth, ahead of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, who stole a paltry $80 million.).
Popularity? Not really; Alemán consistently polls as the least popular public figure in Nicaragua.
Clean bill of health? Not exactly. At 61, Alemán is obese and reportedly in frail health, suffering from ten different chronic illnesses.
But none of that seems to deter Alemán’s revived presidential ambitions, nor does he appear too concerned about the legal provision that prevents prison inmates from running for office. Instead, Alemán is out on the road campaigning in old form, with more optimism than Orphan Annie, more money than Daddy Warbucks, more jolliness than Santa Clause and a political charisma that — pound for pound — rivals Bill Clinton. And in Nicaragua, that combination trumps reality.

[…] Alemán’s self-confidence is stroked by a posse of yes-men who refer to him as their “maximum leader,” but his insurance is rooted in a secretive power-sharing pact he forged in 2001 with the nation’s leading powerbroker, President Daniel Ortega, in which the leaders agreed to divvy up power in state institutions.
In March, Alemán’s already loose conditions of house arrest were further relaxed to allow him the freedom to travel the country. And now that President Ortega needs opposition support for his government’s agenda, Alemán, who controls the second biggest legislative bloc in the National Assembly, is cashing in a few more chips. On April 19, Sandinista and Liberal lawmakers combined to pass a law reducing the prison term for money laundering to five years, which Alemán conveniently will complete next December.

Oh yeah, and the law is retroactive, meaning Alemán could now finish his soft sentence 15 years ahead of schedule and run for President in 2011. Free at Last! Free at Last!
But the hawkish Alemán, who speaks wistfully of the repressive days of the Somoza dictatorship (which Ortega overthrew as leader of the Sandinista insurgents), was never a typical prisoner. He has spent more of his jail sentence in a hospital bed recovering from a minor finger surgery (three months to be exact) than he spent behind bars. And now that full freedom appears to be just around the corner, he has valiantly cast aside concerns for his own health for the good of his party’s.

h/t Kate.




Nicaragua is also re-establishing ties with NKorea h/t Noisy Room.Net. Not very consistent with the desire of not following Venezuela’s radicalization.


Related posts: Nicaragua was with Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Haiti (host of the event) in the meeting where all of these counties announced that thy were retiring themselves from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund -except Haiti, that is-.

En español, aquí.

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Some months ago, I posted a summary of the AFINSA scandal. It was nothing more than a summary of what had happened. I did not have an opinion of the case, but I wanted to know what had happened.

Well, an affected from the case wrote a coment in which he copied he letter the affected people are going to send to EU. Just go here and read it (it’s in English). It is very interesting. So were there Government’s passivity and they acted because they have other problems to hide or just because it was necessary?

I have my own opinion, but I will prefer you all to comment on this. The volume of affected people and of money involved makes necessary this scandal does not fail into oblivion.

Hace unos meses escribí sobre el escándalo AFINSA. Un lector víctima del fraude que supusieron AFINSA y Fórum Filatélico escribió un comentario en el blog en el que reproducía la carta que los afectados habían mandado a Bruselas. En ella, los afectados hacen notar que ninguna de las dos empresas habían dejado de pagar sus obligaciones, pero que estas fueron inmediatamente suspendidas después de la intervención del Gobierno, la Agencia Tributaria y fuerzas policiales muy armadas.

También señalan que han acusado a las empresas por delitos muy graves tales como lavado de dinero, transferencia de dinero a paraísos fiscales, sellos falsos, mala administración, etc. pero que ninguno de estos delitos, aparentemente, fue detectado con anterioridad.

Asimismo, aluden a la campaña mediática que rodeó a la intervención: TV y medios afines al Gobierno estaban allí antes para informar sobre la intervención. Tanto los empleados como los clientes creyeron que se estaba buscando a etarras.

Señalan también la proximidad de la intervención con otros problemas “vergonzantes” para el Gobierno y los créditos a fondo perdido que han obtenido los socialistas para su campaña. También consideran que esta campaña ha beneficiado a los grandes bancos que no querían tanta competición por parte de otras inversiones mucho más lucrativas.

Critican a los administradores puestos por el Gobierno, que, mientras les dicen que las empresas están al borde de la quiebra, se han fijado unos salarios altísimos. También al Presidente del Gobierno español, Zapatero, de quien dicen que tiene sueños de grandeza y quién dijo a los afectados que tuvieran confianza. Y a Borrell y a Elena Salgado, que firmaron en el libro de honor. La actual ministra de Sanidad y Consumo, entonces Directora de Correos, escribió “para que los españoles ahorren más en sellos”.

Los afectados han intentado hablar con el Defensor del Pueblo europeo, pero su oficina les ha dicho que no atienden este tipo de problemas. Por eso, se dirigen a la Unión Europea como último recurso.

Así que ¿hubo pasividad del Gobierno y este actuó simplemente porque tenía otras cosas que tapar o bien porque no había más remedio? Yo tengo mi opinión, pero prefiero que digais las vuestras. Tanto el volumen de personas como de dinero implicado hace necesario que no caiga en el olvido.

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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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From ABC News:

President Bush won solid European support Wednesday for his handling of escalating nuclear crises with North Korea and Iran but was challenged over the Iraq war, the U.S. prison camp in Cuba and rising anti-American sentiment.

“That’s absurd,” Bush snapped at a news conference in response to an assertion that the United States was regarded as the biggest threat to global security. “We’ll defend ourselves but at the same time we’re actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy.

Unbidden, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel rose with an impassioned defense that seemed even to surprise the president.

I think it’s grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries,” Schuessel said. Europe would not enjoy peace and prosperity if not for U.S. help after World War II, he said.

That is true.

Roucaute says Gitmo is a necessity on the WoT. Bush has also agreed to talk about the World Trade Organization Agreement.

But the position of Europe -and of France in particular- is specially striking when our politicians are not attacking Chirac with the same violence as they are using with Bush. The difference is important because today some French have been condemned because of a coup d’état in Comores Islands, although NOT imprisoned because the sentence maintains they had the backing of Mr Chirac. You can go over and read Fausta’s blog or All Things Beautiful.

This is a blow for France because as Captain’s Ed says:

Chirac used just that pose to protect Saddam Hussein from an American invasion in the early months of 2003, attempting to shield France from the revelations of the Oil-For-Food scam as well as protect its corporate interests in Iraq. The French made quite a show about their disavowal of violence in the service of regime change, skipping over the sixteen unenforced UN Security Council resolutions that Saddam defiantly ignored. Now we find out that the French have no problems with military intervention for regime change, and only differ in the level of honesty involved.

France and Chirac owe an explanation of this episode. They won’t give one, but they owe it nonetheless.

I do not think they are going to give one at all.

As Fausta says:

France2 news last evening was totally silent on the Comoros story; instead, they had a long feature on the opening of the new Jacques Chirac museum (“his legacy to the nation”), officially named the Musée du Quai Branly. No, the museum doesn’t have an Oil-For-Food wing, a Clearstream room, or a lunch money cafeteria, but it is a “focus of accusation” since apparently many of the new museum`s artifacts, which include a large commission of Australian Aboriginal art in addition to a large African art collection, were obtained inappropriately.

Well, that is normal in French press….

I have to say this reminds me of another facts: the Ivory Coast ones. I remember how I was surprised about France shooting unarmed civilians and no MSM in Spain published anything about it. Of course, French MSM did not say anything and I think that it was not a world-wide hit.

No one of the anti-war moonbats said the least to this day about them being warmongers, about the necessity of subject to anti-genocide tribunals or something. Or have congratulated Bush for being called to help Ivorians at that time. French General Poncet has been punished for not telling their superiors about the suffocation of an Ivory Coast Man. In Spain this thing has not been published at all by the MSM. Some time ago I saw a video that was simply astonishing about how the shootings were made: people were just normally protesting surrounded by tanks and then, as someone in the crowd makes a movement and is suspected to have a gun, the French military shoots (you can see it in the link to freewillblog above, in the commentary section). While Ivorians think France is the problem, it is considered worldwide as the good guy.

And now it happens again with Comores.

But Chirac is not the only nervous one. Yesterday’s episode in French parliament proofs it:

French PM Dominique de Villepin has apologised for an angry outburst directed at the opposition Socialist leader in parliament on Tuesday.

He “regretted” the outburst and said he would like to take back his words.

Mr de Villepin had repeatedly accused Francois Hollande of cowardice after he criticised the PM’s handling of several major issues.

Senior Socialists reacted furiously, with some calling for his resignation and others threatening a walkout.

You can see by yourself the video here (in French).

This outburst came as a result of the problems regarding EADS and Airbus. The president Noel Forgeard has sold shares and stock-options for 2.5 million of euros and his son has done the same. This happened when the company was losing value to 3/4. This is even worsened by the construction of the new A-380, that suffers from an important delay. No Pasarán has also a post about the scandal.

Nevertheless, the popularity level of both Chirac and De Villepin has come up 3 points and they have 29% and 26% of favourable opinions. According to CSA, both are profiting from the Soccer World Cup.

Spanish Press does not report these two news very much. El Mundo says Villepin publicy asks for excuses for his hard attacks on the opposition’s chief. And El Pais titles the information “Villepin asks for excuses to the opposition’s chief after calling him a coward“. As you can see, not a very important coverage. About the condemned people from Comoros Islands, nothing is said.

Related posts: The last French scandal.

Sent to 123 beta Open Trackback weekend.


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He flew into Egypt at the start of the trip which will also take him to Ghana, South Africa and four other countries.
Deals for oil, copper, timber and other resources are expected to be discussed. Chinese manufacturers are also seeking new markets, correspondents say.
Trade between China and Africa rose to $40bn (£22bn) last year.That total has quadrupled in the last five years.
Mr Wen will also visit Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Tanzania and Uganda during his visit.His trip comes at a time of growing Chinese interest in the continent.
But critics in the United States and Europe say Beijing is blocking international efforts to put pressure on what they call oppressive regimes in Sudan and Zimbabwe because of its desire for economic deals.

BBC NEWS | Africa |

It is curious he is not going to Sudan, where he has so many interests. Ehh, can it be because all Chinese interests are well protected in Sudan?


You can read also Luo Minatti's post on this subject (HT: No Pasarán)

UPDATE: Go over to Causes of Interest and read UN hears of mass Darfur Killings.

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The US government gave up to $1.4bn (£760m) in assistance to bogus victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, congressional inspectors say.The Federal Emergency Management Agency was tricked into funding hundreds of fraudulent schemes, the report said.Money was spent on American football tickets, a holiday, a divorce lawyer and a sex change operation, it said.The agency has acknowledged mistakes, but says it has only found evidence of fraud worth $16m (£8.6m).More than 1,300 people died when Hurricane Katrina swept across five states last August and more than three-quarters of New Orleans was flooded.Rita also wrought extensive damage after hitting Texas and Louisiana in late September.

BBC NEWS | Americas | ‘

I was shocked when I read this…

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The Save Fund of Bilbao-Vizcaya, known as Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa (BBK), concluded an agreement with PSOE to cancel the historical debt that it had with this Fund since 18 years ago. According to the agreement, the debt is cancelled, not having paid 21 million of euros.

With this agreement, PSOE has achieved not to pay BBK 10,3 million of euros, as a result of the interests yielded since, at least, 1988.

PSOE says that these agreeements are not favours given to them, but precisely the intention of the actual direction of the party to, at the end, discover a solution to debts not paid during decades.

But BBK is not the only Fund or Bank who has made these “agreements” with PSOE: La CAixa gave them 7.1 million of euros and Banco Santander at least 12 million of euros after 19 years without due payment. PSOE says these entities did not reclaim them because the knew they were going to be renegotiated.

La BBK perdona al PSOE 21 millones de euros tras cancelar una deuda impagada desde los 80 | elmundo.es

Renegotiated is not pardoned….

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From the Washington Post:

The Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on China’s military power, released this week, reveals that Beijing’s buildup has advanced well beyond what most analysts considered likely just 10 years ago. Some highlights: The new arsenal of the People’s Liberation Army includes more than 700 missiles deployed opposite Taiwan, a fleet of sophisticated diesel electric submarines, a growing nuclear submarine capability and advanced destroyers armed with lethal anti-ship cruise missiles. By making the potential cost of any U.S. intervention in the Taiwan Strait extraordinarily high, Beijing has accomplished its decade-long goal of establishing a credible military threat to Taiwan — as well as a deterrent to the United States. The question is, what next?

The report points to some answers. With a growing dependence on oil imported from the Middle East and Africa, Chinese strategists are talking about creating a blue-water navy to secure Beijing’s energy supply lines. The military may be reconsidering its nuclear “no-first-use policy” and examining ways to secure China’s territorial claims in the South China and East China seas. Simply stated, as China’s military power has grown, so too, it appears, have the strategic tasks that it may be assigned. This shouldn’t be surprising. Our own history teaches that as a nation’s power grows so do its ambitions.

So the country who jails protesters (HT Free Thoughts) and bloggers and do not respect Human Rights at all has a new arsenal … to secure its energy supply lines. And that “No more blood for oil”?


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Fistful of Euros writes about it:

Rondot made inquiries, consulting Lahoud, and concluded that the allegations were baseless. That was when things began to get weird, though, as the lists and a CD-ROM were sent anonymously to Renaud van Rumbeyke, the judge investigating the long-running urtext of French political corruption, the Taiwanese frigates affair. But the lists were not quite the same lists as those shown to General Rondot. Instead they included accounts in the thinly disguised name of Sarko, but also the Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the hard-right Alain Madelin, and the centre-left semi-gaullist Jean-Pierre Chevénément, as well as top Thales and EADS executives.

[…]It must have seemed a perfect opportunity to whack Sarko, destabilise the Left with a scandal that would worsen their coalition fighting, punish Madelin for straying from the Gaullist core of the Right and Chevénément for voting against the European Constitution (or something), eliminate obstacles to Forgeard’s elevation, and perhaps even get Van Rumbeyke off their case…literally.

UPDATE: From Adam Smith Institute Blog:

President Chirac declared that 2006 would be “a useful year for France.” He may be right, in that it seems to have discredited the government there. With France still licking its wounds from last year’s street conflagrations by the economically excluded, this year has seen the riots which saw off France’s very modest efforts at labour market reform. (Clue: it’s because the rioters always win that they always do it).

Awful… And even harder times are yet to come…

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