Africa & Beyond

American “Jobbers” And 4-1-9ners: Fact Or Fiction

I never knew white men play this game too. I was kind of “white men are clean and straight people”. I was also trapped in the illusion and chimera that white men are the most trustworthy of all human species, including the apes.

Let me believe that I’m not the only one locked in this box. I want to console myself with the fact that I have some disciples i.e. those who are in the same den of perception with me.

This game does not really involve much. Or does it? Maybe it does. I’m not a partaker in this game so I might not claim knowledge of all its aspects. But if I’m fielded in this kind of game by my coach, I think I’ll prove my mettle or if condition “becomes critical”, then I’ll roll the dice and dig in the mud. But I’m quite certain I’ll not given my strong orientation and also because of the fact that I know my roots.

It’s a game of conviction and bargaining. It’s a game of the masters. It’s a game of letters and evidence/s of past experience/s. You need to boost your resume to get the job. And your referees or gainers must include a past or present president of a country or a CEO of a global company. And you must be a citizen of the hyper-power of the world. In addition to your curriculum vitae, you must have a corporate office in the Washington D.C.

The gamesmen do not see what they are doing as illegal or criminal. After all, it’s a fixture. And all games have rules. Each opponent must abide by them or face certain penalties. So to the game masters, it is a level playing field and a free and fair one.

This game involves companies and countries. The companies are called “Vulture Funds”. And the countries must be a poor, indebted Third “Worlder”. The rule of the game is well spelt out and no party is expected to be delinquent or aberrant.

What these Vulture companies do is buy up the debts of poor countries at reduced or cheap price and turn around to ask for payments much higher than these countries were originally owing, and often taking these poor nations to court if they cannot afford to pay. Yeah! Business isn’t it? You may term it corporate business. Some may not see anything wrong and unlawful in it. No one coerced the other into appending the dotted lines. No one put an Uzi on someone neck to acquiesce to the deal. It was all sorted out fairly and squarely.

But let’s take it one at a time.

According to one Greg Palast in an interview granted to Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” (Democracy Now is a radio talk show program), “Five years ago, Gordon Brown told the United Nations that the vultures were perverse and immoral: “We particularly condemn the perversity where vulture funds purchase debt at a reduced price and make a profit from suing the debtor country to recover the full amount owed, a morally outrageous outcome.”

Yet today, the vultures are still demanding huge payoffs. One of them expects to win $40 million this week from Zambia. We thought we’d track him down. We set out on our vulture hunt by going to their natural habitat: Washington, D.C.”

It was in the light of the above strong statement by Gordon Brown that Greg Palast tracked one Michael Francis Sheenan who owns Debt Advisory International, which manages vulture companies run out of the British Virgin Islands, including one called Dongal which is suing Zambia foe $40 million, to a “wooded suburb” in Washington.

Setting the stage, therefore, Greg Palast had this to say”

“Here’s how the vultures got Zambia. In 1979, Romania lent them $15 million. By 1998, Zambia was broke, so Romania offered to write off the entire debt for just $3 million. But before the deal was final, a vulture swooped in, and somehow snatched Romania’s cheap offer for his own company.

Michael Sheehan and his associates are now suing Zambia, not for the $3 million they paid, but for the original debt, plus interest: $42 million. But even bigger money is to be made in the US courtrooms, where Sheehan and others are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars from several desperately poor nations.”

Let us look at another vulture company which Greg tracked down as well. He has this to say about Paul Singer and his company which sits on Pennsylvania Avenue:

Here they are feeding on poor nations all over the globe. 36th floor, Elliott Associates, home of billionaire Paul Singer. Singer practically invented the vulture fund. In 1996, he bought up some of Peru’s debt for $11 million, then threatened to bankrupt Peru if they didn’t give him $58 million. He got his $58 million. Then Singer bought some discounted debt from Congo Brazzaville for only about $10 million. His company then sued the Congo and turned the $10 million into $127 million. But that still wasn’t enough.

I’m right here, in fact, at 712 Fifth Avenue. OK, is there any time or any place where I can meet with Mr. Singer? Absolutely no way ever?

Singer’s company says the Congo government is corrupt and hid assets from creditors. Courts have agreed, allowing Singer to seek tripled damages under US racketeering law. They could get $400 million. Not bad for a $10 million bet. Congo was counting on George Bush to use his legal authority to stop Singer’s court action. That hasn’t happened. Paul Singer is the number one donor to George Bush and the Republican cause in New York City. In the run-up to the 2000 election, he gave them $300,000. In 2004, he gave them $1.2 million, including money for the so-called Swift Boat campaign, which smeared the war record of George Bush’s opponent. His spokesman told us, “We have nothing to hide. We just don’t do interviews.”

Back in London, in this courthouse, the government of Zambia alleges that Goldfinger paid a bribe, $2 million to the previous president of Zambia to make sure they’d collect. And we’ve obtained this email. It says that they’ll collect more money from Zambia in return for a donation to, quote, “the president’s favorite charity.” The president at the time was Frederick Chiluba. He’s now on trial on wide-ranging charges of corruption. As it happens, Goldfinger’s old lobbyists are also experts on bribery law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

This is the world we are living in. How can countries profess protection of poverty ridden countries by urging the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to pardon poor countries their debts, on the one hand, and cannot stop individuals from reaping off and rendering Third World countries useless by further deepening their debts. It is highly immoral and unlawful.

President George Bush can do something to stop this immoral behavior of these individuals and their companies. According to Greg Palast:

“Under US law, the President of the United States has the absolute power to stop any vulture fund from collecting money from a poor nation, under the US Constitution. It’s called the power of comity. The African nations are pleading with George Bush to stop his big donors from collecting. Now, what’s happening is, is that in the State of the Union, George Bush said we have to give debt relief to the poorest nations. The US taxpayers are putting up more than a billion dollars to write off the debts of the African nations, but what Bush isn’t saying is that he is then allowing that money to be captured by his biggest donors, like Paul Singer, so that the money for debt relief is not going to the African nations, where they’re desperately in need for, you know, funding for medicine for AIDS, for education, which is what it’s earmarked for. These guys are actually going into US courts and saying, “Give us the money.” Now, George Bush, again, has the absolute power, and the judges are waiting for him to write a note. They’re saying, “George Bush can ask us to dismiss this case in one minute, but we need something in writing from the White House.”

Now we can see why Washington is mute. You cannot thread the fountain of your life. The thinking is: if you distort your benefactor, your future

becomes bleak and begins to leak. So these vultures or scavengers become untouchables because they feed the source. It is unfortunate!

Other countries, especially Nigeria, should be aware of these people and their ludicrous offers. Moreover, Nigeria’s debt buy-over by Merrill-Lynch should be carefully scrutinized so that we don’t fall into any untoward, unpleasant and problematic trap.

So why are we flogging our countrymen who cash in on the greed of same “white people” to make a living? Inasmuch as I’m not buying their stock and bond I still have a strong settlement of thought or conviction that anyone who buys into their argument is himself or herself a fraudster. For you cannot tell me that you have money stuck in one place that was willed to a certain family and you need to pay that said money into a foreign account, that is mine, and the proceeds will be distributed 50-50. How do you expect me to buy into such shallow expression? Or the oil block stories etc. You need to read some of these mails from the fraudsters. They sound ludicrous and unconvincing. It takes a greedy individual to fall into their traps. More so, they have embassies where they can verify some of these claims but fail to do so.

Let’s look at it this way, if reverends can rubbish the pulpit, why not the congregation?

Look at what these “Vulture Funds” are doing to billions of people, because the people make up a country. Look at how they are impoverishing and extinguishing generations yet unborn. Look at why governments must wade in and stop this massacre of multitudes. These “Vulture Funds” CEO’s have everything going for them-good education, good government, employment opportunities, lovely environment yet they involve in dubious ventures. But our countrymen have good education but no job, they pay their taxes yet no roads and good hospitals, they work so hard but don’t have anything to show for it-can’t build a home, train their kids in school, pay taxi fare, eat a square meal etc. It’s so shameful this is happening in this century and in the country of the century and nothing is done to put a stop to it. Are these people or companies or their country saints or sinners?

Again, if I may ask, how can an individual or a company buy over a countries debt? Why can’t these countries negotiate the debt cancellation herself? Please, economist and smart people, help me out. I’m thinking of opening a “Vulture Fund” myself.

One Comment

  1. As you rightly said in the begining , you were not alone in the wrong perception that white men are next to angels but since i left nigeria four years ago and start dealing with people from various backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, it was a rude shock and eye opener for me .

    Corruption is a human problem not of race or color the only difference is the “modus operandi ” and the level, some countries it’s low while in others it’s higher due to many factors.

    America , Europe and Africa( leaders and politicians) are all corrupt but the difference is Africans steal from home and keep it abroad while America and Europe steal from abroad and keep it at home

    White House , #10 Downing Street, Elysee Palace, The Bundesrat and Krelim are where the world’s problems are conceived and executed.

    Hence the saying , the only thing white in the white house is the building .


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