Stop Belgian bank investing in nuclear weapons


Banks and nuclear weapons

Translated from the Belgian peace movement today:

Dear activists

On Wednesday, 26 September, members of the Belgian Coalition against Nuclear Weapons will take action against the BNP Paribas Fortis bank in Brussels because of their investments in nuclear weapons.

The action will take place in Brussels at 12 noon (appointment at 11.30 am) and will last an hour. At the bank branch in Vooruitgangstraat 55, 1210 Sint-Joost-ten-Node. Place of appointment is at the roundabout where the King Albert 2 lane and the Simon Bolivarlaan intersect (if you leave the station with the stairs down and 200 meters in front of you). We will meet here at 11.30 am, action starts at 12 noon.

During the campaign we will address customers, passers-by and employees about the investments of BNP Paribas Fortis in nuclear weapons. Flyers are provided with the necessary explanation. Two people will be dressed as bankers (costume, top hat, big cigar) and there will also be a nuclear missile. We hope to attract even more attention in this way.

We cordially invite you to join us in our action.

If you are in possession of typical pink piggy banks, take them with you! In the campaign image we use a pink pig that spits out money / investments in nuclear weapons. A picture paints a thousand words.

Hopefully until Wednesday, September 26 in Brussels!

Biggest Danish bank’s money laundering scandal


This video says about itself:

Money Laundering Claims: Billions of Euros illegally moved via Estonia says Danske Bank

19 September 2018

The results have been released of an inquiry into one of Europe’s biggest money laundering scandals.

After similar scandals at many other banks, eg, at the very big HSBC

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Boss of Danish bank leaves in big money laundering scandal

The money laundering scandal at the largest bank in Denmark costs CEO Thomas Borgen his job. In the period 2007-2015, probably 200 billion euros in criminal money or money of unclear origin went through the bank offices in Estonia, including from Russia.

The bank says it is unable to provide an accurate estimate of the number of suspicious transactions and cash flows in Estonia. According to previous estimates, the bank is said to have made 1.5 billion euros by money laundering.

At that time, Borgen was head of the department responsible for, eg, the bank accounts in Estonia. Until 2015, non-Estonians were also welcome at the bank, mainly Russians, Moldovans and Azerbaijanis.

Breathtaking

According to an independent banking survey, in 2013 alone 80,000 transactions are said to have occurred for 30 billion dollars in potentially criminal money. “These are breathtaking amounts and numbers for such a small bank office, and when such sums flow through the bank, that raises questions”, says one of the researchers.

Deutsche Bank broke ties with Danske Bank in Estonia in 2015 because of concerns about the customer base. Deutsche Bank said they only felt safe about 10 percent of the customers. Especially the Moldovan customers looked suspect.

Whistleblower

For years, the bank did nothing with rumours about criminals using the bank. Only after reports by a whistleblower in 2013 did the bank start its own investigation into malpractice banking practices. However, that did not go deep and was not shared with the top level of the bank.

In 2014, a few measures were taken, but they were not very successful. For example, the Estonian banking activities did not go through the Danish IT systems and they were not covered by the anti-money laundering procedures of Danske Bank.

The Public Prosecution Service started a criminal investigation in August. The Danish regulator already said that Danske Bank risks getting a fine of 650 million euros. The bank also fears retaliatory measures by US regulators such as disconnection of US bank relations, so that Danske Bank will be excluded from the international financial network. Danske Bank itself does not have a banking license in the US. …

Recently, [Dutch bank] ING was also fined for money laundering by failing to comply with the control and compliance rules for customers and accounts. The bank had to pay 775 million euros and the responsible financial director Koos Timmermans resigned.

However, the CEO of ING, Ralph Hamers, is still the big boss.

Dutch ING bank helps Uzbek dictatorship’s money laundering


Islam Karimov and Hillary ClintonThis blog has paid attention before to Islam Karimov. This dictator of Uzbekistan, who died in September 2016, used to boil oppositionists alive. Nevertheless, when she was United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton considered Karimov her “friend”.

This blog has also paid attention to the Dutch ING bank. Especially when the ING Bank raised CEO Ralph Hamers‘ salary by more than half this year to over 3 million euros. While rank and file ING workers received a a 1.7 percent increase; not enough to keep up with inflation.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, about just one of many ING money laundering cases:

ING got a mega fine of 775 million euros, it was announced this morning. The bank received the fine because no action was taken, while customers laundered hundreds of millions of money. The Public Prosecution Service has been investigating that money laundering since February 2016. …

The telecom company and the Uzbek presidential daughter

The Russian telecom provider Vimpelcom paid a total of 55 million dollars in 2007 and 2011 from an ING account to Takilant, a letterbox company in Gibraltar.

The money eventually ended up with Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the then president of Uzbekistan. It was a bribe, with which Vimpelcom bought access to the Uzbek telecom market.

ING’s transaction monitoring system did not issue any money laundering warnings about the 2007 and 2011 transactions. In 2012, ING received signals that Takilant was related to Karimova and was being used for money laundering and corruption practices. Only in April 2015 ING reported the transactions to the authorities. And that was only after a journalist has asked the bank questions.

Anti-animal welfare bank’s ‘prize’ for misleading


This 2007 video is called Live Fast Die Young – the life of a meat chicken.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Rabobank wins Liegebeest election for ‘Growing a better world together’ ads

Rabobank is the winner of the Liegebeest

Literally: ‘lying beast’, a term of abuse for liars

election this year. With this election, [animal welfare organisation] Wakker Dier reveals misleading claims about animal welfare. The bank received half of the votes.

The TV campaign with the slogan Growing a better world together is about making the food sector more sustainable. “In reality, people are investing in broiler chickens, big farm sheds for processing animals industrially and fast food corporations”, says Wakker Dier. “Growing big farm sheds for processing animals industrially together does not make a better world.”

According to Wakker Dier, the bank invested 6.8 billion euros in meat giants such as KFC and McDonald’s between 2012 and 2017 and financed the Ukrainian chicken producer MHP, which processes 332 million chickens every year.

At the end of last year, the Advertising Code Commission warned the bank because of the same campaign. The bank went too far by promising a solution for hunger in the world. The ad was adjusted accordingly.

Dairy cows

Dairy corporation Campina finished in second place. Campina’s milk packaging states that their cows grow old sustainably while in practice most of the time they are already slaughtered, milked to exhaustion, before they are six years old. A “happy” dairy cow can grow at least 14 years old.

Animal feed manufacturer ECOstyle was third. The name suggests a biological quality brand, but their dog food contains broiler chicken and industrially processed pig, says Wakker Dier. Only the herbs are organic.

25,000 votes were cast. That is a record number, which according to Wakker Dier is due to “the lying advertising slogan” by Rabobank.

Adjusted

Supermarkets Albert Heijn and Jumbo were also nominated, but they adjusted the products for which they had been nominated before the election. Jumbo stopped selling live lobsters and Albert Heijn promised to remove the welfare claims about industrially processed ducks from the packages because they were not true. It is no longer said that the animals “live in luxury”.

According to Wakker Dier, misleading campaigns put the consumer on the wrong track and products that are more animal-friendly do not get a fair chance.

British Big Business-wars revolving door


This 2012 video from the USA says about itself:

CREW and Brave New Foundation have released Strategic Maneuvers, a new report and short film revealing the extent of the Pentagon’s revolving door phenomenon, in which retired high-ranking generals and admirals cash in on their years of military experience by taking lucrative jobs with the defense industry.

Read more here.

And it is not just the USA.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain:

Friday, July 20, 2018

The ever narrowing gap between money and war

SOLOMON HUGHES investigates the ‘business friendly’ reforms which have put banking, oil and management consultancy executives into positions of power in the MoD

WHO is in charge of our armed forces? Well, thanks to “business friendly” reforms, bankers, management consultants and oil firm executives are.

In 2010 the Tory-Lib Dem coalition created “Whitehall Boards” — groups of business executives who serve as “non-executive directors” of each department, including the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

These boards were created by then Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude in order “to make government operate in a more businesslike manner.”

This “businesslike” approach means bosses from the City and oil industry are partly in charge of our armed forces.

The “lead non-executive director” of the MoD, who has been in place since 2011, is Gerry Grimstone.

He is the chairman of Barclays Bank. A long standing “City” man, Grimstone has risen from being an investment banker at Schroders to the top job at Barclays, with time as the chairman of TheCityUK — one of the City of London’s lobbying organisations.

Marxists often say the state represents the capitalist class — in Marx’s words: “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

Some argue this is a slightly crude analysis. But not as crude as the head of one of the biggest British banks being a director of the MoD.

The Tories have collapsed the gap between capital and force and just put a banker in charge of the bombs.

When you start in the City of London, you often end in the Middle East.

Grimstone has another part time job. He is the board adviser to the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. This is the state bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE is a junior partner to Saudi Arabia in the vicious war on Yemen — they’ve provided fighter jets, and run a network of torture prisons in Southern Yemen.

Britain is helping the Saudi-UAE war on Yemen. British military advisers are helping the air war, and British weapons are being used to kill Yemenis.

At the same time, the banker on the board of the MoD is working with a UAE government bank. The gap between money and war is very narrow.

Grimstone is not the only businessperson on board. In January 2018 Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson made Simon Henry an MoD non-executive director.

Henry is also a banker — a non-executive director of Lloyds. He also came up through the oil business. He was a Shell executive director from 2009-2017.

Shell also plays an important role in the NATO military alliance. They make lots of profits providing warplanes with kerosine and tanks with petrol.

Critics often say British military adventures — like Iraq or Libya — are about trying to keep influence in oil producing regions. They use the slogan “no war for oil.” Now it turns out our war machines are directed by an oil executive.

Even more remarkably, Williamson is so keen on business that he has put a director of a firm owned by a foreign government on the MoD board.

Henry is also a director of Petrochina. This is an oil and gas firm owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation, which in turn is owned by the Chinese state.

Petrochina is the business arm of the Chinese government’s own oil industry.

Another Shell man sits on the MoD board, just to underline the links between oil and war. Paul Skinner was group managing director of Shell, as well as chairman of Rio Tinto, an international mining firm.

Now he sits on the MoD board. Skinner also sits on one of the boards of accountants and management consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The fourth MoD director, Danuta Grey, also has links to the world of management consultancy. She is the chair of the Advisory Board of Accenture Ireland.

There are two basic features of the armed forces run by the MoD. First, they have very expensive, often overpriced weapons ready for war, especially in the Middle East.

Second, the “poor bloody infantry” — the troops and sailors — are often treated badly. The big money is spent on the weapons systems; the people expected to carry or use the weapons get crap housing and poor pay.

The appointment of banking, oil and management consultancy executives to the MoD board fits in perfectly with this culture.

The City and oil bosses like the idea of having weapons to “project power” in the same areas they have investments. They also have lots of practice in treating the people at the top well and the people at the bottom very badly.

Dutch big business-armed forces revolving door: here.

Dutch banks help palm oil destruction


This 2017 Dutch Friends of Earth film is about a monkey in a rain forest; and how a palm oil corporation destroys its life.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw, 2 July 2018:

Dutch banks finance abuses in the palm oil sector

ABN Amro, Rabobank and ING are structurally involved in land grabbing, illegal deforestation and forced labour in the palm oil sector, reports Dutch Friends of the Earth.

Over the past eight years, the banks have been linked to 118 cases of wrongdoing on palm oil plantations of fourteen producers. With their money, tropical rainforest is cut down and land is stolen from local communities. That is in a black book that the environmental organization is publishing today.

With the report ‘Draw the Line’, about the role of Dutch banks in this risk sector, Friends of the Earth wants to show that the banks can not dismiss the abuses as incidents.

The Draw the Line report in English: here.

This 29 June 2018 Dutch Friends of the Earth video is about how Dutch banks invest savings of Dutch people in destructive palm oil business.

These abuses are in Liberia, Sumatra in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Trump’s tax cuts for Big Banking


This video from the USA says about itself:

Republican Tax Cuts Are Saving Banks BILLIONS

22 April 2018

Turns out the people benefiting the most from Trump’s tax cuts are the big banks! WOW!!! The former head of the Federal Reserve is now doing specter for money! Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and Nomi Prins, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“Two people familiar with the events hosted by investment bank Jefferies, including the evening gathering with its chief executive Richard Handler and billionaire investors Carl Icahn and Daniel Loeb, said it was billed as Yellen’s first such engagement since leaving the Fed two months ago.

In a brief telephone interview, Yellen, who ran the U.S. central bank the last four years, confirmed she was paid and said she revealed no confidential information. ”I talked about the economy and general perspectives on monetary policy,” she told Reuters late on Wednesday, declining to say how much she earned or to provide more details.”

Read more here.

Part of Trump tax bill bonanza for the wealthy. Apple hands out $102 billion to shareholders: here.

BANKING BONANZA Congress has passed a bill that rolls back regulations adopted after the 2008 financial crisis, weakening consumer protection and “slightly” increasing the risk of another banking collapse. [HuffPost]

The Federal Reserve Board, the principal US bank regulator, approved plans Wednesday to loosen restrictions on high-risk trading conducted by the major banks, after intensive pressure by Wall Street and the Trump administration: here.

Economic crisis, but not for banking fat cats


Bankers, cartoon

Dutch Van Lanschot bank proposes to increase the salary of its CEO Karl Guha by 20% to 1.5 million euros. The proposal for the three other top fat cats is a 25% increase to over a million.

The bank defends this, saying that at other Big Businesses fat cats get more than at Van Lanschot. However, Dutch NOS TV and daily De Volkskrant point out today that the corporations to which Van Lanschot compares itself to justify the pay rise are far bigger, with much more money and many more workers than Van Lanschot.

And I am not even talking about rank and file banking workers at Van Lanschot and elsewhere who get very small pay rises, not enough to keep up with inflation.

All this after the pay rise news at Unilever and ING bank multinational corporations.

Britain: Shareholders at 7 biggest outsourcing companies see dividends rise by two thirds: here.

The Directorate-General responsible for banking and financial regulation at the European Commission, DG FISMA, has a revolving door problem. One third of the people who occupied top positions in the Directorate‑General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union during the period 2008-2017 – following the onset of the financial crisis – either came from the financial industry or went there after their time at the Commission: here.

Big Business fat cats and racism


This Dutch tweet was inspired by the news today that the CEO of the ING bank, Ralph Hamers, is getting a million euro, 50%, pay rise per year; while rank and file ING bank workers get 1.7%.

It says (translated):

A banker, a worker and a hungry refugee are at a bar drinking coffee. On the bar is a plate with ten cookies.

The banker grabs nine cookies. When the hungry refugee moves his hand towards the last cookie, the banker whispers to the worker: ‘Look out, that refugee wants to eat your cookie!’