Klaus Kinski joins Roman Polanksi in the perv Hall of Shame

Friday, 11 January, 2013 0 Comments

“The terrible thing is that he once told me that it was completely natural, that fathers all over the world did that with their daughters.” So spoke Pola Kinski, elder daughter of the late actor Klaus Kinski, who starred in some of the most famous German films of the 1970s and early 1980s, directed by […]

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When Louis Met… Jimmy

Monday, 15 October, 2012 1 Comment

“The creepiest moment in the documentary occurs late at night when he thinks the camera is off, and he talks about the dancehall days. “I wouldn’t stand for any nonsense whatsoever. Ever, ever. I never threw anybody out. Tied them up and put them down in the bloody boiler house until I was ready for […]

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Crazy Castellón and unreal Ciudad Real

Thursday, 4 October, 2012

The mania that gripped Spain during the past decade is ideally illustrated by two empty airports: Castellón-Costa Azahar in the Valencia region, which was completed 18 months ago at a cost of €150 million but is still awaiting the landing of its maiden commercial flight, and Ciudad Real, south of Madrid, which cost €1.1 billion […]

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“There is a lot of crisis going on currently in Syria”

Monday, 16 July, 2012

The perpetrators of “advance fee fraud”, which is generally known as the “Nigerian 419 scam“, keep a close eye on international developments and never miss an opportunity to match their message to the crisis du jour. In this case, it’s the Syrian civil war and here’s the message that was delivered to the Rainy Day […]

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Those huge French Whales: Kerviel, Tourre and Bruno Iksil

Friday, 11 May, 2012

According to Société Générale, one of its traders, Jérôme Kerviel, engaged in unauthorized transactions in 2007 totaling as much as €49.9 billion, a figure higher than the bank’s total market capitalization. On 5 October 2010, a French court sentenced Kerviel to five years of prison, with two years suspended, full restitution of the $6.7 billion that was lost because of his speculation, and a permanent ban from working in financial services. Afterwards, the bank stated that the restitution was “symbolic”, and that it had no expectation the sum would be paid.

Talking of 2010, fans of high finance will also recall the multi-billion dollar accusations of fraud against Goldman Sachs for selling its clients toxic mortgage-backed securities that it had specifically designed to fail for the sole purpose of betting against them. Who got blamed for this scam? Fabrice Pierre Tourre. The fabulous Frenchman was the only person named when financial regulators charged the US investment bank with fraud.

Now it’s the turn of their compatriot Bruno Iksil to share the (dis)honour. Back on 6 April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Iksil, a trader at J.P. Morgan known in the market as the “London Whale”, had made large bets on credit derivatives. The bank said Iksil’s unit was meant to ‘hedge structural risks’. A week later, Bloomberg ran a story titled “JPMorgan’s London Whale Could Use New Nickname” that noted Iksil “had earned two unforgettable nicknames: (1) The London Whale, and (2) Voldemort, after the Harry Potter villain.” On the very same day, J.P. Morgan reported its first-quarter earnings and CFO Doug Braunstein said that the bank was “very comfortable” with the unit’s positions. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon called media coverage on the matter a “tempest in the teapot“. That’s a “tempête dans un verre d’eau“, by the way.

Yesterday, J.P. Morgan said it had taken $2 billion in losses so far in the second quarter related to the London Whale’s trading. Dimon called the strategy “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored.”
WSJ bottom line: “Asked what, in hindsight, he should have paid more attention to, Mr. Dimon deadpanned: ‘newspapers.'”

Cash Daddy in 419 land

Wednesday, 28 March, 2012

Of all the bizarre occurrences in these bizarre times, the recent address by Bertie Ahern, the former Prime Minister of Ireland, at an economic forum in Nigeria has to take the biscuit. That this discredited individual could trouser a reported €30,000 from the organizers of the Ogun State Investors’ Forum only amplifies what was spelled […]

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Incredible Ireland

Monday, 19 December, 2011

Three recent headlines from the Irish Times with explanations for those not fully acquainted with the functioning of a small 21st-century kleptocracy.

1. Nama fails to stop developer being paid €5,000 a week. Nama is shorthand for Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency, which was set up in the wake to the collapse of the country’s banks as a result of excessive lending to the property sector. The story centres on property developer Ray Grehan, who is being paid €5,000 a week [emphasis added] in living expenses.This, by the way, is the same Mr Grehan who owes Nama a total of €650 million [emphasis added again].

2. “Court hears of ‘incredible’ claims from Quinn’s wife“. Background: On 20 November, the Financial Times reported that a court in Belfast had declared Irish businessman Sean Quinn bankrupt with debts of €416 million. Now, according to the Irish Times, “The wife of bankrupt Sean Quinn is making ‘incredible’ claims she does not have to repay a €3 million bank loan because she is a homemaker unduly influenced by her husband. Mrs Quinn told the Commercial Court today she regularly signed documents he put in front of her without reading them.”

3. “Two payments of €190,000 to union cannot be traced“. The article refers to SIPTU, Ireland’s largest trade union, which spends a lot of its time berating something called “the private sector” for its greed, corruption and general evil nature.
Language note: The word “kleptocracy” comes from the Greek klepto-, from kleptes (thief) + –cracy (rule).