Thursday, 28 April 2011

US Presidents Grant and Clinton both appeared to endorse major frauds

This latest, vile little swindler, Abhay Gandhi, is just a symptom of a much more dangerous cancer which has been allowed first to gnaw its way (largely-undetected) into the USA, and is now being allowed to do the same thing in India. 
The Old Testament of the Bible contains many phrases which have passed into common usage. In Chapter One of the Book of Ecclesiastes we find: 
'What has been will be again and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.'
This piece of generalized wisdom is not strictly accurate in respect of fraud, since age-old frauds have evolved to keep one step ahead of victims, legislators and law enforcement agents. Having said that, the essential crime of stealing money by lying to people, never changes; whilst fraud victims, law enforcement agents and legislators never seem to evolve.
One particular type of fraud popularly-known as a 'Ponzi scheme' or 'pyramid scam' (but which should be more-accurately defined as a premeditated closed-market swindle) underwent a significant change in the USA immediately after WWII. This dangerous evolution (although clearly-identified by many honest, and intellectually rigorous, observers), has never been fully-recognized by less-than intellectually-rigorous, and/or dishonest, US regulators at the US Federal Trade Commission. Today, we have unsustainable pyramid scams, still camouflaged as 'investment opportunities,' and apparently sustainable pyramid scams, now camouflaged as 'business opportunities', but which have been insidiously designed to blame and silence their victims. However, in the end, no pyramid scam is sustainable, because what can be devised by a human mind can always be deconstructed by another one. Using their front group known as the 'Direct Selling Association', various 'business opportunity' frauds have managed to infiltate traditional American culture to a degree which makes the bosses all other organized crime groups look like a bunch of rank amateurs. When he was still in office, apparently in complete ignorance of reality, former US President Bill Clinton (a qualified attorney), made a shameful video promoting a form of major organized fraud  
It is my stated opinion that (given the lesson of history) any beneficiaries of major organized fraud judged to be of a sufficient scale to represent a significant threat to democracy and the rule of law, should not be treated as common thieves. It should never be forgotten that one of the main factors which helped the rapid rise of 'Nazism'in Germany was the 'Great (world economic) Depression' which was triggered by the Wall St. Crash of 1929, which itself was caused by massive political corruption and chronic regulatory failure in the USA. The Wall St. Crash led to the creation of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, but this huge federal government agency has lately taken the short-sighted approach that too much regulation is bad for business. A much more intelligent, and cost-effective, approach would be to try to recognize, and stop, 'investment' frauds, before they grow to titanic proportions. 
US regulators claim to understand 'investment' frauds, but they completely failed to investigate, let alone detect, Bernie Madoff; apparently, because his victims did not complain for decades. In the end, Madoff gave himself up to the FBI and confessed that he had been running a titanic Ponzi scheme without any external profits, and that he hadn't actually been investing his victims' money as he had pretended in many thousands of counterfeit 'account statements'. In the end, Madoff controlled assets of around $ one billion, but his company had liabilities of more than $50 billion. Many years previously, it would have been a simple matter for US regulators to have discovered what Madoff was doing, had they taken the trouble to look. Unfortunately, the lawyers at the SEC with the responsibilty to investigate 'investment' frauds in the USA, wouldn't know a Ponzi scheme if it fell on their heads. Indeed, 'investment' frauds were rife in the USA long-before Mr. Ponzi came on the scene in the 1920s or Mr. Madoff in the 1960s. Unfortunately, SEC lawyers have not been obliged to make any study of this ongoing historical phenomenon 
During the early 1880s a vile little swindler called Ferdinand Ward infiltrated the family of former US President Ulysses Grant, and created - along with the former President's son (a qualified attorney) a 'brokerage business' called 'Grant and Ward.' The former President invested all his own capital, $200 000, in his son's new venture and became a limited partner. In reality, the Grant family were naive and honest fellows, but Ferdinand Ward spread rumours to the contrary and attracted a large number of greedy 'investors' who believed that their money would be quickly multiplied by placing it only in companies about to receive vast and profitable US government contracts which the Grant family influenced. Ferdinand Ward also used the same story to borrow heavily from a bank. Ward simply took all this cash and invested it without any real knowledge and secretly made disastrous losses, but (like Ponzi and Bernie Madoff forty years and century later) he kept cool, paying his 'investors' fake 'dividends' and issuing fake 'account statements.' In this way, Ward kept attracting more funds. After almost three years without the slightest investigation, because there were no complaints (and because the former President and his son were his partners), the supply of fresh cash finally dried up and Ferdinand Ward tried to abscond. He was arrested, charged with, and convicted of theft and given ten years in prison. Ward's counterfeit 'brokerage business' was found to have less than $70 000 assets, but liabilities of almost $17 millions. The former President hadn't got the beginnings of clue what had been going on. Ward had even persuaded Ulysses Grant to borrow $150 000 on his behalf the day before he tried to abscond.  
David Brear (copyright 2011)
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