Showing posts with label corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corruption. Show all posts

Friday, 13 October 2017

Donald J. Trump: “Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!”

No matter how hard he tries US President Donald Trump just can't keep the Russia issue behind closed doors.

It keeps seeping out into the public domain via mainstream and social media.

Reuters, 5 October 2017:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The special counsel investigating whether Russia tried to sway the 2016 U.S. election has taken over FBI inquiries into a former British spy's dossier of allegations of Russian financial and personal links to President Donald Trump's campaign and associates, sources familiar with the inquiry told Reuters.

A report compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele identified Russian businessmen and others whom U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded are Russian intelligence officers or working on behalf of the Russian government.

A spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller declined comment. The FBI also declined comment.

Three sources with knowledge of Mueller's probe said his investigators have assumed control of multiple inquiries into allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election to benefit Trump, a Republican.

Russia has repeatedly denied any meddling in the election.

Two officials familiar with the investigations said that both Mueller's team and the Senate Intelligence Committee are seeking any evidence that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort or others who had financial dealings with Russia might have helped Kremlin intelligence agencies target email hacking and social media postings undermining Trump's election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

On Wednesday, the Senate panel's chairman Richard Burr told reporters that the issue of whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia remains an open question.

Prof. Seth Abramson, University of New Hampshire, 4 October 2017:
Trump's response is typical……

MEDIA MATTERS for America, 5 October 2017:

President Donald Trump urged Congress to begin investigations into the U.S. media, which he baselessly claimed was fabricating stories in order to damage his presidency, in a Thursday morning tweet with authoritarian overtones.

"Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!," the president tweeted just before 7 a.m. EST.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!

 28,38728,387 Replies  12,30112,301 Retweets 48,15748,157 likes

Trump's tweet came the morning after the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- which has been investigating what U.S. intelligence agencies have determined was a Russian propaganda effort aimed at disrupting the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor --confirmed those conclusions and warned that the Kremlin's effort to influence U.S. elections is ongoing. At a news conference detailing the progress of their investigation, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the committee's chairman, said that the issue of whether Trump's associates had colluded with Russia "is still open."

Trump has long been defensive about the question of whether Russia aided his election, and has termed the special counsel's investigation into whether his associates participated in that effort a "witch hunt." And his constant attempts to undermine and delegitimize the press are one of the rare throughlines in his chaotic administration. Critics have noted that this effort parallels those made by authoritarian leaders…..

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

In 1987 Australia the New South Wales state government exposed Donald J. Trump's "Mafia connections"

If the NSW Police Board in Australia knew of Donald J. Trump's "Mafia connections" (Confidential Minutes, p. 8,3. Police Board ii) in June 1987 it follows that so did the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia State Police, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and possibly Interpol - because NSW Police and/or the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would have likely approached one or all these sources when gathering intelligence. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

Water rorting continues in the Murray-Darling Basin aided and abetted by the NSW Nationals

And local government and commercial interests in the Murray-Darling Basin have the hide to cry that they are water deprived and should be allowed to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment until that coastal system is a pale shadow of its vibrant self.

The Guardian, 4 August 2017:

The New South Wales regional water minister, Niall Blair, has quietly granted himself the power to approve illegal floodplain works retrospectively.

A Wentworth Group scientist, Jamie Pittock, has accused the NSW government of actively undermining the Murray-Darling basin plan as revelations have continued about the state government’s management of the river system.

Since Four Corners report raised allegations of water theft and secret meetings between a senior NSW water bureaucrat and a small number of irrigators,Blair is under increasing pressure over his water responsibilities.

This followed Daily Telegraph reports that the Nationals MP had been urging his Liberal colleague, the environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, to change the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan retrospectively to favour large irrigators. He said the change was needed because of an error in the rules.

It has now come to light that Blair gazetted a Barwon-Darling valley floodplain management plan which gives him power to approve flood works built illegally even if they do not comply with requirements prior to the plan.

Under clause 39 of the new Barwon-Darling valley plan, a flood work that does not comply can be approved if “in the minister’s opinion” it is for an access road, a supply channel, a stock refuge or an infrastructure protection work
A spokesman for WaterNSW said three relevant applications from the Barwon-Darling region had been received since the change but none had yet been approved.

The NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham called on the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to remove the water portfolio from the National party after the regulation changes came to light.

“This is disgraceful example of the National party giving away free water to their big irrigator mates,” Buckingham said. “Many of these areas are so flat that even a 10 to 20cm bank can divert a huge amount of water into an irrigation dam and away from natural waterways.

“It’s a massive gift of water to the big irrigators. If we want to recover the water in the future then taxpayer will have to hand over huge amounts of compensation for what were illegal constructions.”

A spokeswoman for Blair said the gazettal was a “significant legacy issue” required to create a process where unapproved works could be properly and transparently assessed. She said to be considered, works must not have been previously refused and would still need to be assessed under certain criteria.

“Supply channels are one of the types of existing works that clause 39 indicates that we will accept application for,” the spokeswoman said. “Just because they are existing, doesn’t mean that they will be approved, just that they can apply. This approach is being rolled out through all floodplain management plans.”

Pittock, an associate professor in the Fenner school of environment and society at the Australian National University, said the revelations showed NSW was systematically white-anting the Murray Darling plan.

“The ‘rule error’ and other questionable dealings between wealthy irrigators, government officials and politicians in NSW highlight how the intent of the basin plan can be frustrated by those hostile to its implementation at the state level,” he told Guardian Australia.

“Changes of regulations in NSW have allowed irrigators to take erstwhile environmental flows by allowing greater pump capacity and earlier extraction based on river heights such that commonwealth-purchased environmental water in Queensland in not ‘shepherded’ through New South Wales to the lower Murray.

“Consequently towns like Broken Hill, pastoralists and Aboriginal communities, as well as the environment, have been starved of water.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Trouble With Water: not a good look for the National Party of Australia

On 1 June 2017 former NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water (23 April 2014 - 2 April 2015) and current Nationals MP for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced that he will retire at the next state election in March 2019.

In the wake of the 24 July ABC “Four Corners” revelations of large-scale water theft under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Humphries has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by the Labor Opposition.

Hot on the heels of this program came another announcement on 31 July 2017.

Former NSW Minister for Primary Industries (3 April 2011 - 2 April 2015) with responsibility for lands & water and current Nationals MP for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced her retirement effective mid to late August 2017.

Hodgkinson denies any connection between her sudden retirement and those Four Corners revelations.

However it should be noted that it was on the joint watch of Humphries and Hodgkinson that the position of NSW Water Commissioner responsible for the overall management of the State’s surface water and groundwater resources was axed and the NSW Office of Water was reformed as part of the Dept. of Primary Industry maintaining overall responsibility for accepting and assessing applications to change water access licences and operating the Water Access Licence Register.

High volume water theft appears to have become easier on the watch of these two National Party politicians.

All that would be needed for a trifecta of retiring state politicians associated with water resource policy would be for the current NSW Minister for Primary Industry, Minister for Regional Water and Nationals MLC, Niall Blair, to announce an unexpected desire to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.

Any further scandal surrounding the management water resources in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin and this may well be a distinct possibility - or even more media coverage like this perhaps?

The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 2017:

A NATIONALS minister is pushing Cabinet colleagues to change irrigation laws to retrospectively justify a decision by his department to give a major political donor and cotton farmer more rights over the precious Barwon-Darling River.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair is behind a push to alter an element of the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan.

It comes after his department in 2016 overruled what it called “minor” error in the law to grant extra irrigation rights to Brewarrina cotton farmer Peter Harris.

A department briefing, seen by The Daily Telegraph, said the error was impacting on “some users wishing to trade between river sections covered by the plan”.

The briefing was written shortly after Mr Harris was given extra rights.

Mr Harris gave $10,000 to the National Party prior to the 2011 election in combined personal donations and those made by his company.

Its understood an internal Coalition fight has broken out between Mr Blair and current Water Minister Gabrielle Upton , who is resisting the changes. The revelations come as several inquiries have been launched into the alleged water theft on an industrial scale of precious resources across the basin…….

The Daily Telegraph has obtained another document showing that the retiring Ms Hodgkinson changed the water sharing plan to benefit irrigators after lobbying. She was water minister at the time.

In a 2012 letter to lobbyist and cotton farmer Ian Cole, Ms Hodgkinson wrote: “Following consideration of a number of WSP (water sharing plan) matter raised with me, I ­requested the Office of Water to make several amendments which I believe now present a fair and equitable outcome for all.”

The Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton's obvious reluctance may be due to her appreciation of a change in wind direction within the national electorate on the subject of Murray-Darling Basin water allocations.

The present Deputy Prime Minister and Australian Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is also in a somewhat precarious position – less to do with his manifest inadequacy as a federal minister and more to do with his stated motives for seeking to add the water ministry to his portfolio responsibilities.

Cartoonist David Rowe at Financial Review

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

And so the spotlight hovers over Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair......

When both the NSW Coalition Government (2 April 2015) and Federal Coalition Government (21 September 2015) gave a minister dual responsibility for agriculture and water one could almost hear the political train careening wildly in the distance.

Unfortunately two years later the people of Australia woke to discover that handing over responsibility for water in a complex major river system to two National Party MPs meant it was also a social, economic and environmental train wreck as well.

All the audits and investigations in the world will not unmake the disaster that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has become under Barnaby Joyce and Niall Blair unless the political will is there, however this is a good start.

"The Auditor-General will investigate how Barnaby Joyce's Dept is monitoring use of environmental water by NSW." [@Tony_Burke]

In an effort to wrest back control of the situation Prime Minister Turnbull has reportedly 
ordered the Murray Darling Basin Authority to conduct an allegedly ndependent basin-wide review into compliance with state-based regulations governing water use. The review report will be presented to the December 2017 Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

How is Trump faring under the weight of six separate investigations?

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential campaign since July 2016 and in December that year the U.S. Office Of National Intelligence began a review of Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections (report). 

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reportedly began an investigation into Russia’s potential meddling in the US election last year as well.

In January 2017 the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee began an ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election campaign.

By March 2017 the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism had commenced hearings in an investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”.

In addition to this it is reported that U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is investigating payments involving Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort and bank accounts in Cyprus related to money-laundering allegations and, that in April 2017 the Department of Defense Inspector General commenced an investigation to determine if Lieutenant General (Retired) Flynn accepted payments in violation of the Emoluments Clause, implementing laws, Defense regulations, including payments from Russian entities.

UPDATE 10.13am 18 May 2017- matters are moving fairly quickly and the U.S. Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has set a 9.30am 24 May 2017 hearing date to investigate if President Trump interfered in an FBI probe and, earlier today Associated Press reported:

7:30 p.m. [US Eastern Daylight Time, 17 May]
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller says he accepts the responsibility of being appointed as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election.
In a short statement, Mueller says, “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.”
His law firm, WilmerHale, says he resigned immediately upon his Wednesday appointment by the Justice Department. Spokespeople declined to comment further.
The appointment came amid a growing Democratic outcry for someone outside the Justice Department to handle the politically charged investigation.
It follows the revelation Tuesday that fired FBI Director James Comey wrote in a memo that Trump had asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. End of update.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s public reaction to these investigations has been confined to furious tweeting and disjointed justifications in the odd speech or interview. Although his peremptory sacking of three bureaucrats, New York Federal Prosecutor Bharara, Acting U.S. Attorney General Yates and FBI Director Comey, also appears related to the fact that the investigations are just not going away.

On 12 May 2017 a beleaguered Trump released this one-page letter from a law firm1 while once again tweeting that the story was fabricated. The letter has a narrow focus on transactions listed in his personal tax returns as it tries to avoid the elephant in the room:
1. MOSCOW, May 2, 2016: Morgan Lewis has been recognized by Chambers & Partners’ 2016 Chambers Europe guide as Russia Law Firm of the Year. The prestigious honor was announced at the publication’s recent annual awards dinner in London, where firms from 24 countries were recognized. See:

The Wall Street Journal reported on 12 May 2017:          
A unit of the U.S. Treasury Department that fights money laundering will provide financial records to an investigation by the Senate into possible ties between Russia and President Donald Trump and his associates, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Senate Intelligence Committee asked for the records from the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network late last month, the Journal cited the people as saying.
One person said the records were needed to decide whether there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 campaign, the Journal said.

Media outlets in Britain and the United States have also been hunting for information and been joined by a Dutch film company whose 1:22hr made-for-television documentary, The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump - Parts 1 & 2, became available on the Internet this month.

On 10 October 2016 Forbes published an article which featured one of the individuals found in that documentary:

Felix Sater is not a name that has come up much during the presidential campaign. That he has a colorful past is an understatement: The Russian-born Sater served a year in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a margarita glass during a bar fight, pleaded guilty to racketeering as part of a mafia-driven "pump-and-dump" stock fraud and then escaped jail time by becoming a highly valued government informant.

He was also an important figure at Bayrock, a development company and key Trump real estate partner during the 2000s, notably with the Trump SoHo hotel-condominium in New York City, and has said under oath that he represented Trump in Russia and subsequently billed himself as a senior Trump advisor, with an office in Trump Tower…..
It wouldn't have taken much vetting to get the scoop on Sater. FORBES retained a highly regarded global-risk-assessment firm to conduct a background check, using only what was available to it in 2007--the year the Trump-Bayrock relationship was promoted. The investigative firm (it asked not to be named for fear of political repercussions) discovered many facts that we're revealing here and others that have come out before, including felony convictions and organized crime ties. Such due diligence on Sater could have been done for $5,000.

In April 2017 The Wall Street Journal reported that former Bayrock manager, USSR-born Sater and wealthy, Kazakhstan-born property developer and Bayrock principal Tevfik Arif are in a nasty legal dispute that has Sater suggesting he could publicize the other’s controversial past—and warning that the bad headlines could tarnish the president.

Trump is a former partner in certain relevant business ventures involving Bayrock, Arif and Sater - including Bayrock being an investor in Trump SoHo in 2005. Trump and unnamed co-defendents settled a case involving alleged fraud related to the sale of SoHo condos in 2011.

 In 2008 Donald Trump Jr publicly admitted these links to Russian financing:

And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble”.

In March 2017 in Richard Roe et al v United States et al a motion to intervene was lodged in an attempt to have the court unseal judicial records in part on the grounds:

 “To seek to vindicate the public’s right of access to the record in this proceeding, which includes documents critical to understanding a story of pressing political consequence: President Donald Trump’s connection to Felix H. Sater, who is well known as a conduit to Russian oligarchs and organized crime”.

So how is President Trump coping with information coming out of either these six U.S. investigations or civil court cases and the resultant media storm?

Trump is quoted as telling three Time magazine journalists that “I’m now consumed by news.” He is also various described in mainstream media as being frustrated, visibly angry or seething with rage, as well as complaining in a Fox News
interview of “a level of hostility that’s in­cred­ible, and it’s very unfair.”

Calls for Trump's impeachment are beginning to mount.

These are two of the matters Treasury has investigated previously with regard to Donald Trump.
United States Department of Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, media release, 6 March 2015:
WASHINGTON, DC – The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today imposed a $10 million civil money penalty against Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort (Trump Taj Mahal), for willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). In addition to the civil money penalty, the casino is required to conduct periodic external audits to examine its anti-money laundering (AML) BSA compliance program and provide those audit reports to FinCEN and the casino’s Board of Directors.
Trump Taj Mahal, a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, admitted to several willful BSA violations, including violations of AML program requirements, reporting obligations, and recordkeeping requirements. Trump Taj Mahal has a long history of prior, repeated BSA violations cited by examiners dating back to 2003. Additionally, in 1998, FinCEN assessed a $477,700 civil money penalty against Trump Taj Mahal for currency transaction reporting violations.
"Trump Taj Mahal received many warnings about its deficiencies," said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery. "Like all casinos in this country, Trump Taj Mahal has a duty to help protect our financial system from being exploited by criminals, terrorists, and other bad actors. Far from meeting these expectations, poor compliance practices, over many years, left the casino and our financial system unacceptably exposed."
Trump Taj Mahal admitted that it failed to implement and maintain an effective AML program; failed to report suspicious transactions; failed to properly file required currency transaction reports; and failed to keep appropriate records as required by the BSA. Notably, Trump Taj Mahal had ample notice of these deficiencies as many of the violations from 2012 and 2010 were discovered in previous examinations.
Director Shasky Calvery expressed her appreciation to the Internal Revenue Service, Small Business/Self-Employed Division, which performed the examinations of Trump Taj Mahal, for their contributions to the investigation and for their strong partnership with FinCEN. She also thanked the Commercial Litigation Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice for their assistance with this enforcement action.
Trump Taj Mahal petitioned for bankruptcy in September 2014. That bankruptcy remains pending. The Bankruptcy Court approved of Trump Taj Mahal’s settlement on March 4, 2015.
FinCEN seeks to protect the U.S. financial system from being exploited by illicit actors. Its efforts are focused on compromised financial institutions; third-party money launderers; transnational organized crime; terrorist and other security threats; significant fraud; and threats to cyber security. FinCEN has a broad array of enforcement authorities to target both domestic and foreign actors affecting the U.S. financial system.
FinCEN's mission is to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering and promote national security through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence and strategic use of financial authorities.

NOTE: Trump Taj Mahal Associates, LLC ,Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc., Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings, L.P., Trump Plaza Associates, LLC, Trump Marina Associates, LLC, Trump Entertainment Resorts Development Company, LLC, TER Development Co., LLC, and TERH LP Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection on 9 September 2014 in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware (Bankr. Ct. Dist. Del. Case No. 11-12103 (KG.

United States Department of Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, media release, 28 January 1998:

The Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced today that Trump Taj Mahal Associates (TTMA) has paid a civil money penalty of $477,000 for failing to file reports required by the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). TTMA is located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it operates the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
The $477,000 settlement amount is for BSA violations which occurred at the casino from April 1990 through December 1991. The violations are based on failures to file Currency Transaction Report by Casino forms (CTRCs) within the time period prescribed by the BSA.TTMA was cited for these BSA violations as the result of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS)compliance examination.
Settlement of the final penalty amount was influenced by TTMA’s otherwise laudable BSA compliance programs and its cooperation with Treasury Department Officials during the casino’s IRS examination and final settlement of the matter with FinCEN.
During the 12 years that casinos have been required to comply with Treasury’s anti-money laundering requirements, the industry has experienced dramatic growth and expansion. Today, close to $500 billion a year is wagered at casinos in the United States.
In announcing the penalty, FinCEN’s Director Stanley E. Morris, indicated that BSA compliance by casinos is essential to Treasury’s efforts against money laundering and other types of financial crime. "It is Treasury’s intention to ensure that casinos -- including the ones located in the newer gaming jurisdictions -- are complying with Treasury’s preventive programs," Morris said. "Casinos are cash-intensive businesses, and many offer a wide variety of financial services, similar to banks. Without effective safeguards, they may be vulnerable to money laundering."
Director Morris also commended the IRS’s Examination unit in Mays Landing, NJ for its BSA examination of TTMA and its attention to BSA compliance by the casinos located in Atlantic City, NJ.
The BSA requires casinos and other financial institutions to file reports of cash transactions in excess of $10,000 and to institute preventive compliance programs to safeguard against abuse of its financial services by casino customers. The reporting and recordkeeping information required by the BSA are extremely useful to the government’s efforts in criminal, tax and regulatory investigations and proceedings.
Today’s penalty is the twelfth levied by Treasury against casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey (NJ). With this penalty, Treasury has collected almost $2.2 million in civil penalties against the 12 casinos in Atlantic City over the past five years.

Friday, 28 April 2017

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump

Reuters, 19 April 2017:

(Reuters) - A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.

Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin’s spokesman and the Russian institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents were central to the Obama administration's conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton's campaign, the current and former officials said.

“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Trump has said Russia’s activities had no impact on the outcome of the race. Ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference have so far produced no public evidence that Trump associates colluded with the Russian effort to change the outcome of the election.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Russia Today did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sputnik dismissed the assertions by the U.S. officials that it participated in a Kremlin campaign as an “absolute pack of lies.” “And by the way, it's not the first pack of lies we're hearing from 'sources in U.S. official circles'," the spokesperson said in an email.

Pro-Kremlin Bloggers…..

The report said Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets."…..

Cyber Attacks

Neither of the Russian institute documents mentioned the release of hacked Democratic Party emails to interfere with the U.S. election, according to four of the officials. The officials said the hacking was a covert intelligence operation run separately out of the Kremlin.

The overt propaganda and covert hacking efforts reinforced each other, according to the officials. Both Russia Today and Sputnik heavily promoted the release of the hacked Democratic Party emails, which often contained embarrassing details.

Five of the U.S. officials described the institute as the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank……..

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Adani Mining Pty Ltd: allegations of "black money" and environmental degradation

“The Indian government’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is currently investigating a number of Adani Group entities, including Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL), which is the ultimate holding company of Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent of the Carmichael Mine, for illegally overvaluing imports of coal and capital equipment in order to siphon funds offshore, a practice that creates “black money.” A detailed report from a reliable media source also indicates that for more than a decade the DRI has also been investigating Adani Group entities for tax evasion and money laundering whilst trading in diamonds.”  

Major Reports, February 2017:

The Adani Brief
If it proceeds, the Adani Group’s Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project in the Galilee Basin in Queensland will be among the largest new coalmines in the world. The associated rail infrastructure and expansion of the coal export terminal at Port of Abbot Point adjacent to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area would facilitate the shipping of coal through the Great Barrier Reef’s waters from the Carmichael Mine.
The Adani Brief: What governments and financiers need to know about the Adani Group’s record overseas suggests that governments and private stakeholders should give serious consideration to:
* the Adani Group’s global legal compliance record which demonstrates numerous serious breaches with adverse consequences for the environment and local people; and
* the possibility that if this track record continues in Australia, then supporting the Adani Group’s Carmichael Mine and the Abbot Point Port may expose governments and private  
  stakeholders to reputational and financial risks.

Read The Adani Brief (PDF, 1.53MB)
Report/submission Type:  

Saturday, 11 February 2017

There would be a particularly nervous class of Australian investors right now - perhaps even Mr. Harbourside Mansion himself

The Guardian, 11 February 2017:

The founders of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal, were arrested in Panama City on Thursday as the country’s attorney general launched a probe into their alleged connections with Brazil’s sprawling Lava Jato corruption scandal.

Juergen Mossack and his colleague Ramon Fonseca, a former adviser to Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela, were taken into custody and transferred to police cells in the capital overnight for further questioning on Friday, their defence attorney Elías Solano was quoted telling reporters.

Panamanian prosecutors raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca on Thursday. In a press conference on Kenia Porcell, Panama’s attorney general, said she had information that identified Mossack Fonseca “allegedly as a criminal organisation that is dedicated to hiding money assets from suspicious origins”. 

She said the firm’s Brazilian representative had allegedly been instructed to conceal documents and to remove evidence of illegal activities related to the Lava Jato case.

“Put simply, the money comes from bribes, circulated via certain corporate entities to return bleached or washed to Panama,” said Porcell. She explained charges had been formulated against four individuals, including the Mossack Fonseca partners. 

Porcell thanked the authorities in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Switzerland and the United States for their part in a collaboration which she said began over a year ago.

The Panama Papers, which consist of millions of documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca and leaked in April 2016, provoked a global scandal after showing how the rich and powerful used offshore corporations to avoid paying taxes.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's merchant bank Turnbull & Partners received an estimated $3 million in 1995 and 1996 from the sales of shares held through offshore companies administered by notorious Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Turnbull & Partners received up to $7 million from share sales and advisory fees from Mr Turnbull's time as a director of a listed mining company, Star Mining, which had an interest in a Siberian gold deposit.

Documents obtained by The Australian Financial Review, which first revealed Mr Turnbull's link to a Mossack Fonseca company last month, show heavy selling of Star Mining shares by offshore companies in 1995 after a series of favourable decisions by Russian politicians and bureaucrats boosted the Star Mining share price.

One of the key figures who helped obtain Star's Siberian  mining leases, Ludmila Melnikoff, accuses Star director Ian MacNee, who died in 2008, of paying bribes of more than $US2 million to secure these decisions.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Former Queensland LNP politician found guilty of fraud

What started with this……

Hockings v Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association (Industrial Organization of Employers) [2014] QIRC 037
Hockings, John Norman
Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association (Industrial Organization of Employers)
Application to re-open proceedings
19 February 2014
12 and 26 April 2013
30 May 2013
Deputy President Bloomfield
1.  Matter No. RIO/2012/155 be re-opened on the Commission's own initiative.
2.  Orders in Matter No. RIO/2012/155, issued on 10 September 2012 and formalised on 5 December 2012, be vacated.
3.  Mr Scott and Mrs Emma Driscoll be referred to the Queensland Police Service for investigation.
4.  Mr  Scott Driscoll  be referred to the Speaker of Queensland Parliament for possibly misleading Parliament.
Ended with this…….

Brisbane Times, 25 November 2016:

Former Queensland politician Scott Driscoll has admitted to soliciting thousands of dollars in secret commissions and falsifying records during his term as the Member for Redcliffe.

Driscoll was expected to stand trial in the Brisbane District Court next week but on Friday pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including fraud.

The 41-year-old was released on bail and is due to be sentenced next year on March 6.

The former Liberal National Party MP won office in the Newman government's landslide in the March 2012 election victory.

Driscoll resigned in disgrace from State Parliament in November 2013for misleading the House about his financial interests and his role in the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association.

A year later, Driscoll was charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission for soliciting secret commissions worth at least $400,000 on behalf of the QRTSA from Wesfarmers and Woolworths in October 2012 while he was in office……

Driscoll did not speak to the media as he left the court with his wife Emma, who was sentenced in September to three years jail, wholly suspended, for multiple counts of falsifying a record and making a false declaration.