by ilene - November 23rd, 2010 12:57 am
I would be remiss in my duties as your favorite financial blogger if I didn’t supply you with a handy running linkfest of all the Insider Trading highlights.
A few firms in Connecticut were raided by the FBI today, two of them with ties to SAC. SAC has not been implicated in this story but the funds were spin-offs.
Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s breaking coverage of the raids: (WSJ)
Barry Ritholtz asks the question on everyone’s mind: Is it the Big Guy (Steve Cohen) who they’re actually after? (TBP)
Bess Levin at Dealbreaker is calling this story Insider Trading Festivus 2010. Obviously her coverage simply cannot be missed: (Dealbreaker)
I, of course, weighed in this weekend calling the whole "Expert Network" thing another Classic Wall Street Euphemism. (TRB)
Courtney Comstock with some background on Global Level and Diamondback, two of the raided firms. (Clusterstock)
As more hysterical headlines pop up on the story, I’ll simply add links below…
Doug Kass: "Based on my contacts, I believe that the soon-to-be-announced insider-trading indictments will be far-reaching and could even have the potential to be market-impactful, as the allegations will not only include some of the most prestigious hedge funds but will also allegations against some of the largest and most conservative mutual-fund companies, investment bankers and law firms." (TheStreet.com)
by ilene - July 22nd, 2010 1:41 am
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has spawned a national security "state-within-a-state" with essentially unlimited funding and support of America’s political machine. This National Security State has infected domestic policing and courts; it is both ubiquitous and completely unaccountable.
The Democrats and Republicans have enthusiastically joined hands to create a global police/national security state-within-a-state of unimaginable reach and power. Frequent contributor Michael Goodfellow sent me this investigative report, which I consider one of the most important of the decade: Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control (Washington Post).
Let’s go back briefly to September 1, 2001, before the 9/11 attack. The national security "assets" of the nation had all the information needed to stop the attack. The various agencies did not stop the attack because there was essentially zero coordination and data-sharing between the CIA, NSA and FBI.
This was laid out in the PBS program The Spy Factory.
Now the national security "assets" have metastasized into a gargantuan national security state-within-a-state--and the exact same problem not only exists, it has become even more intracable.
Now that the national security state (NSS) has become much larger and even more unwieldy, coordination, collaboration and data-sharing have been rendered essentially impossible. This report makes that absolutely clear.
Rather than fix the problem of coordinating our national security assets, the Federal government and its leaders have amplified the problem. At the same time, they have created a monster which is beyond the control of elected officials or the citizenry, a secretive state-within-a-state which protects itself behind the inpenetrable shield of "national security" and "need to know."
The national security state is the ultimate protected fiefdom. Cutting one dollar of funding would be instantly characterized as "weakening our fight against global terrorism," as would any limits on the NSS’s powers.
This is in effect a new arm of the "military-industrial complex" which dwarfs the power of the traditional military-industrial complex: "defense" contractors and the revolving door between the DoD (Department of Defense) and these Pentagon-dependent industrial corporations.
GWOT is the perfect defense for a state-within-a-state that is insatiable and beyond accountability. Even simple inquiries are quickly dismissed as "dangerous"--as if global terrorists would glean some useful information from knowing just how many hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent tracking them.
by ilene - June 11th, 2010 1:17 pm
Career criminal, master charmer Sam E. writes about his speaking engagement in Portland, where we met and I gathered material for part II of the No Redemption. The most fascinating aspect of Sam’s story is what his admissions teach us about human nature. But on a more practical level, understanding fraud and the techniques used to commit white collar crimes can give investors insight into the integrity of the companies they invest in. Companies built on fraud tend to implode under the weight of their own lies, eventually – can we find these companies early, before their business comes crashing down? (Stay tuned for part III) – Ilene
|Artwork by Marta Dahlig|
Last Friday, I was the key note speaker at the Oregon Health Care Fraud Working Group Training Seminar, sponsored by the United State Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. I explained to the group that while emphasis on effective oversight and internal controls are important factors in preventing or deterring white-collar crime, not enough emphasis is given to the underlying psychology used by white-collar criminals to prey on their victims and effectively commit their crimes.
I have said many times that, "White-collar criminals consider your humanity as a weakness to be exploited in the execution of their crimes" and as the cold-blooded and ruthless criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I learned that you can steal far more with a smile than you can with a gun.
White-collar criminals use a combination of charm and deceit to achieve their objectives. The more likable and charming that I was as a criminal, the easier it was for me to successfully lie to my victims…
by ilene - June 10th, 2010 11:58 pm
Courtesy of Larry Doyle at Sense on Cents
As day follows night, financial fraud follows economic distress. God forbid people try to make an honest living as opposed to seizing opportunities to make a dishonest buck. This financial artifice is on display in the short sales of homes throughout our country.
Bloomberg highlights this fraudulent activity in reporting, Banks Face Short-Sale Fraud as Home ‘Flopping’ Schemes Spread:
Two Connecticut real estate agents found a way to profit in the U.S. housing bust: Buy low, sell fast. Their tactic was also illegal.
Sergio Natera and Anna McElaney are scheduled to be sentenced in Hartford’s federal court in August after pleading guilty to fraud. Their crime involved persuading lenders to approve the sale of homes for less than the balance owed — known as a short sale — without disclosing that there were better offers. They then flipped the houses for a profit.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the California Department of Real Estate and mortgage finance company Freddie Mac have warned that such schemes may be spreading after a plunge in values left homeowners owing more than their properties are worth. The scams threaten to deepen losses for lenders that are increasingly agreeing to short sales as an alternative to more costly foreclosures.
How and why might a lender agree to a sale at an exceptionally depressed price? Kickbacks and payoffs. To whom and from whom? Brokers or agents who have a buyer willing to pay more for the home. Bloomberg highlights how Uncle Sam has overlooked the potential for this fraudulent ‘flopping’:
An Obama administration effort to boost short sales may increase incentives for fraud, Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, wrote in an April 20 report to Congress. The government, through its Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program, that month began offering as much as $1,500 to servicers, $2,000 to investors and $3,000 to homeowners who close short sales.
“It appears that the program may lack necessary antifraud protections,” Barofsky wrote.
While the Bloomberg article focuses on payoffs to appraisers, it would seem the fraud embedded in payoffs and kickbacks likely runs far wider than that. Other likely recipients for these payoffs and kickbacks?
by ilene - May 26th, 2010 3:15 pm
Courtesy of Joshua M. Brown, The Reformed Broker
Insider trading busts are the Darwin Awards of the corporate world.
The Darwin Awards are based on people doing such stupid things to end up dead that the entire human race’s gene pool is better off for their demise. When you hear about corporate insiders emailing undercover FBI agents with insider information in this day and age, you can only shake your head and ponder the utterly pathetic intellects of the people involved.
From the Wall Street Journal:
A former Walt Disney Co. employee and a friend have been arrested for allegedly trying to sell early access to the company’s earnings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday.
Bonnie Hoxie, a former Disney employee, and her friend Yonni Sebbag were arrested by FBI agents in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the FBI said. They are expected to appear in federal court in Los Angeles later Wednesday.
Ms. Hoxie and her friend were allegedly trying to sell early access to the company’s second-quarter earnings report to hedge funds and investment companies, the FBI said. They have been charged with wire fraud, the FBI said.
As we hear more details about the investigation, I suspect there will be even more head-scratching over how it could be possible that these people haven’t learned better by now.
No shortcuts, Ms Hoxie. Enjoy your imprisonment.
Props to the FBI for taking this one down.
by ilene - April 24th, 2010 4:41 pm
Courtesy of David DeGraw, AmpedStatus Report
This report was originally released as a six-part series. The first part was published on February 15, 2010. The last part was published on February 27, 2010.
- I: Casualties of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage
- II: The Rise of the Economic Elite
- III: Exposing Our Enemy: Meet the Economic Elite
- IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
- V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
- VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won
> Download full report with graphics and links.
> Download printer-friendly version.
but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts
on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions
and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.”
– Michael Lind, To Have and to Have Not
It’s time for 99% of Americans to mobilize and aggressively move on common sense political reforms.
Yes, of course, we all have very strong differences of opinion on many issues. However, like our Founding Fathers before us, we must put aside our differences and unite to fight a common enemy.