[Editor’s Note: The following post is by Jim Karger, TDV Legal Correspondent]
"I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date. I do not know which accounts are unreconciled or whether the unreconciled accounts were or were not subject to the segregation rules." — John Corzine
Jon Corzine is a contemporary Richard Nixon: a low rent thief, liar, and American success story.
Corzine, you may recall, bet $6.3 billion on the wrong side of European sovereign debt, a wager his own risk department at MF Global told him was nuts, and a wager so big and so wrong that it wiped out the entire firm.
After the news hit the wire and blood hit the water MF's customers started jumping ship and that is when MF deliberately took customer money as its own to keep its head above water. It was too little, too late. The company filed for bankruptcy protection and Corzine resigned.
Over $1 billion in customer funds remain missing in action.
Depending on who you listen to, Corzine may have known the funds he ordered transferred were customer money. He certainly should have known and there is little dispute he has a serious gambling problem and that he destroyed the savings and lives of hundreds of investors and businesses.
Now, after 10 months of a pretend investigation, one that has not involved so much as an interview by the FBI of Corzine himself, federal prosecutors have decided they are not going to charge him with anything.
Nothing. Nada. Vaya con dios, amigo.
Such is the nature of justice in America's fast lane.
Plausible Deniability Retested
Taking a cue from Nixon's "plausible deniability" gambit, Corzine has reminded us of a few important political truths that every American should remember as they struggle to find a safe place for themselves and whatever money they have left:
1. Former CEOs of Goldman Sachs, like Goldman Sachs itself, are too big and too connected to fail, no matter how egregious their conduct. And, to make sure we all know that, in addition to giving Corzine a pass, the government also announced last week that they are ending an investigation into whether Goldman Sachs misled investors in a $1.3 billion sale of residential mortgage-backed securities in 2006, shortly before the housing crash. You may recall that Goldman was packaging this rancid financial trash so that one client (John Paulson) could short them, while simultaneously selling the other side of the deal to their own clients, conveniently failing to disclose that these instruments were specifically designed to fail.
2. Former US Senators won't be prosecuted for anything, ever, even if caught with underage boys on videotape. They know where too many bodies are hidden, as evidenced by the softballs a fourth grader could have handled when Corzine testified in Congressional hearings on what happened to the money.
3. Big-dollar supporters of any sitting President and his party are too important to lose to jail. Corzine was one of Obama's biggest campaign "bundlers", a way for the rich to gain direct access to a candidate by leaning on people inside their organizations to contribute far more than ostensibly they would have without implicit threats to do so.
Proven Techniques of Truth Suppression
Not wanting to bet the farm solely on his political connections, but needing to make sure the fix was in, Corzine used several of the time-tested "Thirteen Techniques of Truth Suppression", favorites of politicians and their owners who don't want to go to jail, which I estimate to be all of them.
In Corzine's case, he selected from the liar's list as if were a menu of fine wines, first using technique number nine:
“Come half-clean. This is also known as 'confession and avoidance' or 'taking the limited hang-out route.' This way, you create the impression of candor and honesty while you admit only to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal "mistakes.' This stratagem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken."
Corzine played this gambit well, even professionally, first suggesting that he knew nothing, a proposition so absurd that it fell apart like a cheap suit, then subtly implying that he actually was a moron, a gambler with a problem, too stupid to be held liable for anything, though not in those exact words. His prepared testimony was, in a word, disturbing: "I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date. I do not know which accounts are unreconciled or whether the unreconciled accounts were or were not subject to the segregation rules. Moreover, there were an extraordinary number of transactions during MF Global’s last few days, and I do not know, for example, whether there were operational errors at MF Global or elsewhere, or whether banks and counterparties have held onto funds that should rightfully have been returned to MF Global."
Yes, Corzine swore to all that with a straight face.
To make sure no stonewall was left unturned, Corzine borrowed from the crook's playbook once more, this time technique number ten: “Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable." This worked well when the big banks got behind Henry Paulson, another former Goldman Sachs CEO during the housing meltdown, as he explained not-so-patiently that we, the general public, were far too ignorant to ever understand what went wrong and so we should stop trying.
Matt Taibbi observed in his brilliant article in Rolling Stone:
"There’s been an intense effort at trying to convince the public that no crime has been committed. Whoever is handling MF Global’s P.R. . . . appears to have convinced the company’s officers to emphasize the word 'chaos' in describing the last days of the firm – as though $1.2 billion wasn’t intentionally stolen, per se, but simply lost in a kind of uncontrolled whirlwind of transactions that magically carried the money out of accounts off to worlds unknown."
No one with good sense professes to believe Corzine except those who matter, Congress, and federal prosecutors.
Finally, Corzine called on technique number twelve, “Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely," which was easy in this case since he was never interviewed by federal law enforcement, making their inability to prosecute true, albeit pathetic. The fact that MF Global was a client of Attorney General Eric Holder's, and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer’s, former law firm Covington & Burling, didn't hurt Corzine's chances either, and the all clear signal was given when Holder (an accomplished criminal in his own right) refused to appoint a Special Prosecutor.
Like Nixon, Corzine is a one man epidemic of deceit, a thug with the conscience of a rabid hyena, and like Nixon, he is not going to jail.
Not only is Corzine avoiding prosecution, but under the heading of "in your face, MF'er," he is going into business again. Doing what you ask? Handling the money of others, of course. Max Keiser summarized the situation best: "Corzine is considering opening a new hedge fund, though the notion that anyone — even a slack-jawed muppet happy to buy whatever Goldman‘s prop traders want to sell — would seed Corzine money so he can trade or steal it away seems absurd — rather like putting a child molester in charge of a day-care."
Absurd, yes, but true nonetheless and odds are he will raise millions, and if not become a high-priced political or financial consultant.
The Big Ugly Picture
Corzine is just another poster child for fraud and malfeasance at the highest levels, public and private. His photo is not alone on that wall of shame.
In the big picture, he is small potatoes. Other bigger players are being given passes for far more egregious crimes. JP Morgan, infamous manipulator of silver, stepped closer to the edge by losing $6 billion in a single trading loss. It's megalomaniacal CEO, Jamie Dimon, no stranger to truth suppression, expertly employed technique number four: “Knock down straw men. Deal only with the weakest aspect of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumors and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike." Dimon took full responsibility (for a nanosecond) before blaming it all on a straw man, a rogue trader who turned out to have all the authority he exercised. No one is going to jail. To the contrary, almost as a gift, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) dropped a four-year investigation (mainly held behind closed doors) into JP Morgan's obvious and rampant silver price manipulation just to show there were no hard feelings.
Still another shining example of "justice", as that term is now defined by the owners, is Barclay's Bank, believed to be a mastermind in the virtually incalculable LIBOR fraud. Its execs have skated criminal prosecution and the bank has paid a relatively meager $350 million fine for everyone to forget it ever happened, except its former CEO, Bob Diamond, who used technique number two: “Wax indignant. This is also known as the ‘how dare you?’ gambit…" after British Parliament observed the obvious—that he is an unmitigated filthy liar like all the rest.
And, then there is Standard Chartered who will pay a $340 million to settle charges that it illegally funneled hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran in violation of innumerable US and international sanctions. No criminal charges, mind you, just $340 million to take care of what amounted to a $250 billion conspiracy. Some might characterize that as a good investment.
Finally, it would be unfair to leave out Morgan Stanley, lead underwriter of the now infamous Facebook offering, who took a play from Goldman Sachs and the great Paulson short. They marketed Facebook stock to the unwitting while shorting it all the way down, making another $100 million.
It is not just about Corzine anymore. The pathology of cronyism is endemic and spreading.
Immoral Of The Story
So, what is the moral of this hideous little tale? What are the lessons for our children?
Perhaps we should sit them down and wax philosophical:
"Kids, you know the old saying that 'crime doesn't pay?' Well, that's bullshit. Crime pays and pays big unless you are poor and without political connections in which case you will likely join the American gulag and soon.
"And that rule about always telling the truth? How can I put this gently? That's bullshit, too. Liars, good ones, rise to the top of government and corporations. They are sociopaths by nature and have no empathy for anyone other than themselves. They are sick, but they are rich. You can make more money from five minutes knowing the right insider than you can from a lifetime of hard work.
"And, finally, about that Biblical 'suggestion' to 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you?' Well, that will get you a job selling printer cartridges at Best Buy or teaching yoga to the woo-woos if you are limber.
"No, my children, If you want to make it big in this world, smile, lie, follow the money, suck the ass of those on the fast train, step on the little people and fuck anyone who gets in your way.
"Make Daddy proud."
Jim Karger is a lawyer, and frequent contributor to The Dollar Vigilante, who has represented American businesses against incursions by government and labor unions for 30 years. In 2001, he left Dallas and moved to San Miguel de Allende in the high desert of central Mexico where he sought and found a freer and simpler life for he and his wife, Kelly, and their 10 dogs. Karger's website is www.crediblyconnect.com.
Let's turn our attention from that pig Corzine to another well-connected big player. George Souros is certainly rich. But we wouldn't call him a capitalist. He’s as big a fan of centralized economic planning and paper money as you can find. But he's made a goddawful amount of money making some good bets.
But even old George knows it’s time to get out of financial stocks and hedge his bets with gold. According to second quarter reports filed with the SEC Soros has sold about $50 million worth of the likes of JP Morgan, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile he’s bought $130 million worth of gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.
SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) is a gold ETF. Shares in the trust are backed by gold. Supposedly. There are many who point out that ownership of paper backed by gold isn’t quite the same thing as actual ownership of gold. In fact, some of those people would go so far as to sa that GLD will prove to be a scam. As TDV analyst Vin Maru notes, however:
“Ironically, we need GLD to continue its paper scams as it still legitimizes gold as an investible asset class. The more GLD grows and continues to gain attention, the stronger and longer this bull market will last in precious metal. As much as I realize that GLD is a scam and owning the physical is the prudent thing to do, we can not discount the need for GLD as a tool for hedging. There is no way the physical market can absorb demand coming from central banks, pension funds, sovereigns and the general investing public all at the same time, it would make gold reach sky high prices in very short order which would not be healthy for a strong and long gold bull market. Unfortunately, we need GLD and more gold ETFs around the world. There is way too much fiat paper floating around and much more coming, the physical market couldn’t absorb this amount of funny money coming into the physical sector..
“As much as I hate to say this….. GLD is a necessary evil for the longevity of this bull market. There are many more reason why we need more gold backed products, but using this ETF as a hedging tool is a very important one.”
Granted SPDR Gold Trust is only “paper” gold. But that won’t be a problem for Soros in his search for a hedge. While the average mook who buys paper gold in the form ETFs may find himself holding the bag in the end, we’re sure George has enough connections and prestige to sell his “paper” gold at real metal prices no matter what.
If you are NOT George Soros, however (and odds are that if you are reading this, you’re not), may we suggest that if you are looking to hedge against financial collapse with gold, do so by holding actual physical gold…But in this political climate you’d do well to put some, maybe most, of your gold outside the reach of your kleptocratic fasco-commie home nation-state. Your gold is about as safe inside your house or your US bank vault from the US government as Julian Assange is inside the Ecuadorian embassy.
Your gold in the US is this secure!
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Editor, The Dollar Vigilante