Posts Tagged ‘ wall street ’

U.S. Attorney Sends a Message to Wall Street

By Benjamin Weiser and Peter Lattman for The New York Times

Every few days during the trial of Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group’s co-founder, Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, would quietly enter the courtroom and take a seat in the last row of the gallery.

From that unassuming vantage point, Mr. Bharara watched his colleagues try to persuade a jury to convict the former hedge fund titan of securities fraud and conspiracy.

The consistent presence of Mr. Bharara at the largest insider trading case in a generation — and the office’s resounding victory on Wednesday — signaled that the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan was back as the sheriff of Wall Street.

Over the last decade, the New York attorney general, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, the Manhattan district attorney and even the Justice Department in Washington angled for their share of financial fraud cases, an area traditionally dominated by the Southern District. For example, Eliot Spitzer grabbed headlines when he was New York attorney general by focusing on malfeasance at investment banks.

But Mr. Bharara has not-so-quietly reaffirmed his office’s leading role in pursuing corporate crime with this landmark insider trading case, which relied on aggressive prosecutorial methods and unprecedented tactics. For the first time, federal authorities used wiretaps to listen in on stock traders swapping illegal tips.

“What this case has done,” said Neil M. Barofsky, a former Southern District prosecutor who recently served as the special inspector general for the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, “goes well beyond simply putting a billionaire hedge fund manager behind bars.”

“The case will impact an entire industry,” Mr. Barofsky said. He said that Mr. Bharara “did more than just oversee and support the prosecution — he made sure that the target audience, traders on Wall Street, fully understood the extraordinary lengths that his office will go to discover these crimes, and that justice will be served.”

It has been 21 months since Mr. Bharara, 42, was appointed United States attorney by President Obama.

In that short tenure, his staff has ventured far beyond Wall Street, prosecuting some of the nation’s — and the world’s — most prominent defendants. Among them: Faisal Shahzad in the Times Square bomb plot; agents in a Russian spy ring; Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantánamo Bay detainee to be tried in the civilian system; Viktor Bout, a Russian accused of being an arms trafficker; a Somali man charged with piracy; and four men charged in a plot to bomb synagogues in the Bronx.

Not every case has gone smoothly. In Mr. Ghailani’s trial, the jury acquitted him of more than 280 counts of murder and conspiracy and convicting him of a single count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. Nonetheless, Mr. Ghailani received a life sentence.

Some academics and newspaper columnists have also criticized Mr. Bharara for not filing criminal charges against senior executives at the center of the financial crisis. Last week, when his office filed a civil mortgage-fraud lawsuit against Deutsche Bank, he said there was not enough evidence to justify a criminal complaint.

Mr. Bharara was an infant in 1970 when he came to the United States from India with his parents. He grew up in Eatontown, N.J., and earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law School.

After several years in private practice, including a stint at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in New York, Mr. Bharara became a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, handling organized crime, narcotics and securities fraud cases. In 2005, he became chief counsel to Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, leading a Congressional inquiry into the firings of United States attorneys.

Some lawyers have wondered aloud whether Mr. Bharara may have political aspirations like his predecessors, including former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who filled the post in the 1980s. As with Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Bharara is a charismatic figure who is comfortable in front of cameras, can talk tough and has a knack for the witty sound bite. At a news conference announcing Mr. Rajaratnam’s arrest, Mr. Bharara riffed off a famous line from the movie “Wall Street.”

“Greed, sometimes, is not good,” he said.

Unlike Mr. Giuliani, whose political ambitions seemed barely hidden while he led the prosecutor’s office, Mr. Bharara has told friends he has no interest in elected office.

“Everything about Preet’s record suggests that he’s a federal prosecutor for all the right reasons,” said Randy Mastro, a lawyer at Gibson Dunn and a former top deputy under Mayor Giuliani. “The best prosecutors are often those who don’t have political ambitions.”

Mr. Mastro, who overlapped for a time with Mr. Bharara at Gibson Dunn, added, “But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be drafted into running.” Ellen Davis, Mr. Bharara’s spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday: “Preet loves his job and has no desire to run for public office now or ever.”

Mr. Bharara has not commented publicly on the Rajaratnam verdict, other than a short statement in a news release. But in a series of speeches, he has explained his aggressive approach to corporate crime.

“When sophisticated business people begin to adopt the methods of common criminals, we have no choice but to treat them as such,” Mr. Bharara said weeks after revealing the use of wiretaps in building a case against Mr. Rajaratnam. “To use tough tactics in these circumstances is not being heavy-handed; it is being even-handed.” He has taken that approach in other areas of financial crime.

His office secured convictions in two high-profile criminal cases against bank executives accused of stealing proprietary computer code related to high-frequency trading businesses, including a case against a former programmer at Goldman Sachs. More recently, Mr. Bharara’s prosecutors charged the operators of three popular online poker sites with fraud and money laundering.

And Mr. Bharara continues to pursue insider trading cases. Over the last 18 months, his office has charged 47 individuals with insider trading crimes, 36 of whom have pleaded guilty or been convicted. At a recent news conference, he indicated there was more to come.

“I wish I could say we were just about finished, but sadly we are not.”

Cutting Hillary Clinton Some Slack

By Mosharraf Zaidi for The News International

Poor Americans. This is the fellow that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has to stand beside as she tries to squeeze more juice out of a Kerry-Lugar Bill that had its lifeblood squeezed out of it last year by the Pakistani establishment, when it first became US law. The frustration from that reaction still riles the Americans. So much so that Hillary Clinton, who is a role model and an inspiration, can’t seem to let go. On every trip she reproduces a Bin Laden outburst that is militarily and strategically irrelevant for the US, but that serves as an enduring cancerous tumour for America’s public diplomacy goals in Pakistan.

Still. Mrs Clinton needs to be cut some slack. Her tireless advocacy for health care around the world, and her enduring compassion for South Asians — Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Muslims, Hindus, men, children, and most of all, women — is singularly unique among either Democrats or Republicans.

The western media seems as fabulously smitten by Mrs Clinton as I am. The wires, the newspapers and the electronic media all reported Mrs Clinton’s announcement of the allocation of $500 million worth of projects as headline news, when really, it represents the fulfilment of only one-third of Kerry-Lugar-Berman’s sacred covenant with the Pakistani people. One of the most telling things about that covenant? It was signed by the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. It was, in short, a covenant between the US government and the American people, with the US government acting as a proxy for the Pakistani people.

Perhaps now Pakistanis can better understand the frustration of the John Kerrys, the Hillary Clintons and the Richard Holbrookes of the earth. Top US policymakers have fought for over two years to win the Kerry-Lugar Bill. Since then, two things have kept that money from flowing into Pakistan. The first is Mr Holbrooke’s decision to dispense with the Clintonian (Bill, not Hill) model of US aid disbursement through large contracting firms that Americans often refer to as Beltway Bandits. That decision, while long overdue, was rushed and was made in the wrong country, at the wrong time. American development assistance, which is not routed solely through USAID, but often through half a dozen different US departments (or ministries), has been in desperate need of an overhaul for years. But to attempt to reform the instrument of aid delivery in Pakistan, at the climax of Obama’s war in Afghanistan, has been a disastrous decision. The American international aid community is so removed and so distant from the mainstream of western assistance thinking (spearheaded by the OECD and captured in the Paris Declaration) that it doesn’t quite know how to deal with large sums of money without the Beltway Bandits. This has meant that the Kerry-Lugar money has been parked in Washington DC, with a clear destination, but no vehicle to take it there.

The second thing that has kept the Kerry-Lugar money from being spent is the government of Pakistan itself. Pakistan has no clarity whatsoever about what its development priorities are. It required the intervention of the military chief back in March to summon the federal secretaries to begin to articulate a wishlist of pet projects this government would like to see come to fruition. Indecision and the absence of any coherent development strategy within Pakistan have meant that the US government has had to try to figure out what Pakistan wants, kind of on its own. This may seem like comedy noire, but it’s really not funny at all.

The problem with Pakistani government today is that it doesn’t enjoy the competent stability it once used to through the bureaucracy. Today’s Pakistan’s bureaucracy, while made up of individually brilliant officers, is a collection of inward-looking dinosaurs that cannot see beyond their GOR houses, their I-8 plots and their post-retirement benefits. Those officers, in years past, used to be the eyes and ears of oft-changing governments that would seek the guidance of senior bureaucrats in the federal ministries and at the provincial headquarters. While there’s been no discernable change in the quality of governance that democratically elected politicians can render, there has been a severe nosedive in the quality of officers available to either the federal or provincial governments.

Part of the reason for the exodus of top-tier officers during the Musharraf era was the curtailment of powers of district managers, under decentralised local governments. But the decentralisation argument is a red-herring for a much more fundamental shift in Pakistani bureaucracy. While being a CSP or DMG officer was an instrument of social mobility in the 1970s or 1980s, it is now a barrier to the personal and professional growth of officers. Many of Pakistan’s brightest officers can afford to be well-paid UN, World Bank and IMF staffers. Many others can do even better at Wall Street and on Madison Avenue. Still others can be brilliant academics. Across the board, since 1999 we have seen exactly this. An exodus of top-shelf talent that might have been able to deal with rents, with incompetence, and with the heat, but not with the disrespect that the military and political class have for educated Pakistanis in the employ of the government of Pakistan.

So how does all this relate to Mrs Clinton’s troubles in Pakistan? Simple. No matter how democratically legitimate, when the blind lead the blind, there is a problem of vision. Pakistani politicians are so disconnected from any kind of global narrative that it will be a generation before we produce a Chidambaram, a Krishna or a Mukherjee that can win elections without the help of their gaddi (see: Shah Mehmood Qureshi), or the kindness of the Arbab Ghulam Rahims of the world (see: Shaukat Aziz). The nauseating outburst of the foreign minister on Friday was a demonstration that winning an election does not enable you to win an argument. In short, Pakistan’s current political class cannot muster politically legitimate actors that are also competent at statecraft.

Enter the advisory class. This is where the Husain Haqqanis, the Shaukat Tarins and the Dr Hafeez Shaikhs enter the fray. No fake degrees here. Only pedigree. Their problem is of an entirely different nature. They don’t have any stake in Pakistani politics — they enter as unknowns at the thaana kuthchehri and galli-mohalla level, and they leave as unknowns at the thaana kuthchehri and galli-mohalla level. They can talk about all the right kinds of reform, but they can’t deliver. More worryingly, their reform-speak is often deluded, because it is devoid of any political rigour. “Let’s clip military powers by marketing bold ideas in Washington DC, instead of Rawalpindi.” Well. We’ve seen how that has turned out. “Let’s raise taxes!” Sure. Because nobody else has ever thought of that! “Let’s improve education.” Sure. Because it takes genius to figure out that education is a problem. Advice that is anchored in Rubinomics and Bretton Woods theology has been failing Pakistan for the entire duration of Pakistan’s lifetime. This should hardly be a surprise. It never works anywhere.

And that is why Shah Mehmood Qureshi is wrong, again. Perceptions won’t change. $500 million worth of pet projects is a supremely sweet gesture. But even $500 billion worth of aid, delivered through Beltway Bandits, NGOs, budget support or otherwise can’t change the lives of Pakistanis. Only organic reform can achieve such noble goals. When the strategic dialogue in October picks up where this one leaves, Pakistan will still have no CT strategy, no development strategy, an inflated defence budget, no civil service reform, and no hate-speech legislation. All the money in the world can’t change that. And that’s not Hillary Clinton’s fault. That one’s on us.

BP Stands for Let’s Blame Palin for the Recklessness of “Drill Baby Drill!”

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

As the BP Oil Spill passes into its 61st day, I began to wonder what the BP in British Petroleum could also stand for. Here is a list of things that I and some friends have come up with that could be the abbreviation for BP.

BP= Bad Planning- The Bad Planning and lack of a coherent emergency response in the event of a rig collapse such as the one that caused the BP Oil Spill and has made a bad situation worse as the company, now still in charge 61 days after a disaster of their own causing, struggles to find a way to stop the leak.

BP= Barely Plugging- More than 6 weeks after the spill started, BP was able to attach a pipe to the well at the bottom of the ocean and is able to siphon 250,000 gallons a day (one tenth of what is estimated to be spilling into the Gulf each day). This clearly is not a solution as this is Barely Plugging the oil spill that continues to poison the ocean and all that live in and around it.

BP= Beach Pollution= See also Bathing Prohibited. The oil from the spill has caused Beach Pollution in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida. The loss of revenue by the towns and cities in these states that would normally welcome millions of tourists in the summer months is going to have a very damaging effect to many of these states already reeling from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

BP= Bankrupt Probably- Many experts are saying that BP will not be able to financially survive this disaster and most likely will go Bankrupt Probably. If that happens, will the American public foot the bill as we did for the Wall Street failure? One thing is for sure, the company is looking at a very bleak future both criminally and financially.

BP= Be Prepared- This disaster shows the lack of planning for events such as these and underscores the reason for oil companies as well as government agencies such as the Minerals Management Service to Be Prepared in the event of disasters such as this spill. A lack of an emergency plan both by BP and the government is also at fault for making this disaster as bad as it has been.

BP= Bad People- Are the executives at BP Bad People for being at the helm of a company that caused the greatest disaster in history and worse yet for calling the residents of the Gulf “Small People” and showing great indifference to the plight of the residents of the Gulf and to the American public?

BP= Barren Planet- The oil spill is causing irreparable damage to the environment and to the ecology of the ocean and its long term effects are unknown by scientists at this point. One thing is for sure, water is the source of all life on the planet and as we kill the ocean and all living creatures in it with this oil spill, we are guaranteeing ourselves future where life will be hard to sustain on a Barren Planet.

BP= Behemoth Plume- The oil spill has created a Behemoth Plume that is at least 15 miles wide and 3 miles long and growing. This plume is a dead zone with no oxygen and a place where no living creature can survive. As the oil continues to flow and goes unchecked the size of this plume grows and there are reports of second and third oil plumes now forming in the Gulf.

BP= Beyond Pathetic- 61 days and counting and the leak has not been stopped. This is beyond pathetic for BP, and the government’s oversight departments.

BP= Be Patient- How long can the people of the Gulf of Mexico as well as the American people wait for BP and the government to fix the spill and stop the oil leak, not to mention clean up the gulf? And is that even a possibility?

BP= Barely Progressing- 61 days into the oil spill and it seems we are Barely Progressing as oil continues to spill into the Gulf at alarming rates.

BP= Bad Publicity- No amount of new splashy television or print advertisements will replace the Bad Publicity that the company of BP has received. Rarely in the annals of corporate history has a company ever faced such a public relations nightmare as has BP and it will be interesting to see if it ever recovers from this or ends up going under, much like the rig.

BP= Big Problems- The BP Oil Spill is perhaps the biggest of the Big Problems facing the Obama administration and the American people. The economy can be eventually fixed, the housing prices will come back up, people will eventually get rehired, wars will eventually be won or lost and will come to an end, but an ecological and environmental disaster such as this spill we will never fully recover from as a planet.

BP= Birds Poisoned- Tens of thousands of Birds Poisoned as a result of the oil spill. Many birds and animals that are unique to the Gulf region are feared irreparably harmed due to the disaster.

BP= Black Plague- The oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and continuing to do so each day means that this spill has become the Black Plague of death not just to the people and the animals of the area, but indeed quite possibly for marine life and perhaps eventually for the planet as no one knows the true effects of this unprecedented disaster on the ecology of the planet.

BP= Broken Pipeline- The Broken Pipeline at the bottom of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spill as much as an estimated 1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons of oil a DAY into the ocean!

BP= Blood Pressure- Blood pressure was further raised for those living along the Gulf of Mexico as the administration imposed a ban on all new offshore oil drilling and exploration. This has caused many workers in the area who rely on this industry to feed their families, to be laid off by other oil companies as the government assesses the situation and the safety of offshore drilling.

BP= Boiling Point= The Americans affected by the oil spill that rely on the fishing, boating, and tourism in the area have long reached a Boling Point in their patience with BP and with the government’s response.

BP= Better Prosecute= Attorney General Eric Holder is assigned by President Obama to investigate the BP Oil Spill and into criminal charges against the company are now a certainty, especially given the deaths of 11 workers in the explosion that caused the Deepwater Horizon rig to collapse and start the spill on April 20.

BP= Black Pelicans= Pictures of Black Pelicans and other animals as environmentalists worry that number of dead and affected animals is in the tens of thousands. The animal and sea creatures of the Gulf region are expected to be devastated for many years to come.

BP= Billions Paid- This stands for the billions and billions of dollars already paid by BP and the untold billions that will be paid by them in the future and possibly all of us tax payers if the company goes under and becomes bankrupt

BP= Barack’s Problem- This disaster has become President Barack Obama’s Katrina. But at least with hurricane Katrina, the calamity passed within hours and the government started the clean up and rescue, whereas with the BP Oil Spill this is a disaster that keeps on spewing and keeps on polluting as today is the 61st day the spill has continued to flow. How he has handled himself at the onset of this disaster and its continuation could be the defining moment of his presidency as this is squarely Barack’s Problem, unlike the economy, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which all he inherited.

BP=Bankruptcy Protection- See also bankruptcy probably. The amount of damages and compensation that BP will have to pay out in claims and also in penalties could wipe out the company and it may have to seek Bankruptcy Protection.

BP= Brand Problems- See also Bad Publicity. The BP brand has been damaged forever and no amount of advertisements will change the public image and Brand Problems that the spill has created for BP.

BP= Bleeding Planet- The unchecked, endless, and prolonged seepage of the thick crude oil into the ocean is causing death to millions of wildlife and is making earth a Bleeding Planet which one wonders whether we can survive this catastrophe.

BP= Bathing Prohibited- See also Beach Polluted, hence bathing prohibited. And if no beach visitors, no revenue for many states like Florida from tourists and many other places in and around the Gulf of Mexico that depend on the billions of revenue dollars from the fishing and tourism.

BP= Blame Palin- Probably one of the most poignant points of this article and one ignored by major media publications is that there is a correlation to the BP Oil Spill and Palin’s “Drill Baby Drill” slogan during the presidential campaign. Her proposals of allowing the oil drilling everywhere during the 2008 campaign, including in some of America’s most pristine places such as Alaska, galvanized the oil industry and revved them up into a “Gold Rush” mentality where short cuts were taken and oversight lost by the government in a greedy push for more oil saw sloppiness and Bad Planning cause the worst environmentalist disaster in history.

BP= Bye Planet- If the oil spill continues to go on and spill up to 2.5 million gallons into the ocean each day, how long before it engulfs all our oceans and kills a large portion of plant and animal life on the planet? Would that mean the end of the world when that happens?

So in conclusion, BP stands for The Black Plague, because of the Bad Planning,  now let’s Blame Palin, for the Beach Pollution casued by Broken Pipes, with Billions Paid, now it’s Beyond Pathetic, as we’re Barely Progressing, while Black Pelicans, become Barack’s Problem, and the Behomoth Plumes, mean bye Bye Planet!

President Obama caps Wall Street executives pay tied to bailout money.

With the US and much of the world in a deep recession,  perhaps  an economic depression, President Obama today ordered a cap on the pay of Wall Street executives working at banks and financial instutions that are receiving bailout money by the US government.  The ‘poor’ senior executives of these firms can now only make $500,000 a year as their top compensation due to the new restrictions imposed by the US Tresury.  This move comes after the American people were outraged that last year Wall Street handed out over $18 billion in bonuses to its employees as losses by these same firms required the US government to jump in and bail them out with a $700 billion financial industry bailout Congress created towards the end of 2008. Due to the economic situation in the US, it is high time that the leaders of these institutions that have been primarily responsible for much of the financial meltdown be held responsible and at the very least abstain from excessive payouts during this crisis. It is well understood that many conflicts around the world have deep socio-economic roots to them and the fixing of the global economy needs to begin where the worldwide meltdown started and that is at the heart of Wall Street in the USA.  We at Pakistanis for Peace commend President Obama in making the right decision on this matter and hope that his further efforts will help end this deep economic meltdown that the US and much of the world is experiencing.

This Finanical News Reported by Manzer Munir for www.Pakistanisforpeace.com

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