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March 1, 2011 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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As Bloomberg's Treasurer Opposes Rating Banks, Chase & Goldman Slammed

By Matthew R. Lee

LOWER MANHATTAN, March 7 -- Even after the financial industry meltdown based on predatory lending, the Bloomberg administration in New York City on March 7 publicly opposed a proposal local law that would rate banks on community service before the City does business with them.

  Bloomberg's City Treasurer protested that “banks are heavily regulated,” despite the finding that lack of regulation allowed banks, many based in New York, to engage in Ponzi scheme like trading of predatory mortgages.

  Next, Bloomberg's Treasurer said that it would be hard to replace a bank if it were disqualified. First, given Community Reinvestment Act grade inflation at the federal and state level, disqualification of any large bank would seem sadly unlikely.

  Second, it emerged that the City has qualified 35 banks, ranging from small banks like Ridgewood Saving Bank up to Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and “Goldman Sachs Bank,” of which Council member Leroy G. Comrie asked, “I wonder why we are still doing business with them? I don't understand, I would use stronger language but it's Monday morning.”

  HSBC, it has been noted by Inner City Press, sold a stake to Liby's Gaddafi; Deutsche Bank is among the larger foreclosers, with little accountability. Citigroup's predatory lending arm CitiFinancial is so disgraced it has been renamed One Main and still can't be sold off.

  The Treasurer devolved into claiming that only two or three banks can do the City's business, although she didn't name them.

In hearing room, Al Vann et al listen to Bloomberg's Treasurer (c) MRLee

There was talk of layoffs in the Department of Finance, and of DoF's Commissioner being required to answer more questions on Thursday in “Emigrant Savings Bank, the Council's temporary chambers.”

  The bill was not slated for a vote at the hearing; there will be more on this, especially the national implications, represented on Monday by NCRC.

Council member Gale Brewer asked if the DoF's lobbyist would engage with national groups around the federal Community Reinvestment Act. “I don't know when CRA is up for renewal,” he replied.

As the hearing stretched on, more and more Council members came in, perhaps sensing Bloomberg's weakness, ranging from Joel Rivera and Helen Foster of The Bronx through Brad Lander to Lewis A. Fidler.

Member Fernando Cabrera said that last night he went to a “nice Mexican restaurant,” and found the Bloomberg administration's health ratings useful. “But it would confuse consumers” when applied to banks, Bloomberg's Treasurer said.

Al Vann and Domenic Recchia introduced the law, and Ricchia specifically denounced JPMorgan Chase as not being willing to modify loans in New York City. As Inner City Press came in to the drab hearing room, in 250 Broadway's 16th floor, another attendee asked, “Is this the hearing about Chase Bank?” Maybe.

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As JPM Chase Cuts Off UN Missions, US Says Bailed Out Banks Are Free

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 13, updated -- When JPMorgan Chase wrote to countries' Missions to the UN and told them accounts would be closed in March 2011, several countries complained, to the UN and to the “host country,” the United States.

Thursday US Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy came to the UN in New York to speak to countries' Ambassadors about Chase's move. Afterwards, Inner City Press asked Kennedy if he -- or Hillary Clinton or Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, both of whom Kennedy said were involved -- had spoke with JPMorgan Chase.

  "We have had discussions with the major banks," Kennedy answered, later confirming that yes, this included Chase. But what was the response of Chase, whose CEO Jaime Dimon is often rumored to be a line for an appointment by the Obama administration?

Kennedy told the press that “we cannot tell a bank what to do.” Inner City Press immediately asked, What about the banks which took bailouts and still owe TARP money to the US and its taxpayers? "Could the government use its leverage?"

  Kennedy said he was not “technically competent to get into that level of detail," and told Inner City Press to ask the Treasury Department official who had also come to the UN. Video on Inner City Press YouTube channel here.

While the US Mission later said this Treasury Deparment official was Mark Poncy of the Office of Strategic Policy, Poncy never came to speak to the Press.

Inner City Press asked Kennedy if he thought the UN should go forward and re-rent space inside the UN under its Capital Master Plan to JPMorgan Chase, when this bank was turning its back on Missions of the countries which make up the UN.

Ask the UN,” said Kennedy, who has responsibility at the State Department for Management, including at the UN. At the US Mission to the UN in New York, the Management position has remained with only an interim person, the genial but part time Professor Joseph Melrose.

At the UN's noon briefing, Inner City Press did ask Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN would give space to JPMorgan Chase in the Secretariat building when it re-opens.

Ask Chase,” Nesirky said. But Chase is already in talks with the UN as to which space to get in the repaired building -- not, apparently, the fourth floor space it previously had, but some other location.

Nesirky now said that he would not comment on negotiations. But is Chase's closing of UN Mission's accounts, Inner City Press asked, even part of the negotiations? Nesirky seemed to say he would look into this.

  JPMorgan Chase is not only interested in re-entering the Secretariat building when it re-opens: Chase also has a branch on the first floor of the DC-1 building which houses the UN Development Program. Many countries' Missions to the UN opened accounts at Chase because they were thus inside the UN. Will the UN allow this to continue?

At UN, Patrick Kennedy, spokesman Mark Kornblau & Joseph Melrose: where's Chase?

  After the meeting with Kennedy, Inner City Press asked Iran's Permanent Representative as he came out if he thought Chase should continue to remain in UN buildings. No, the Ambassador said, UN space should go to banks which will deal with UN Missions.

  He spoke of the UN Federal Credit Union -- currently embroiled in a dispute about the account of the UN Staff Union -- and was asked if the UN should withdraw its own funds from a bank which in effect redlines Missions, like Chase.

Egypt's Permanent Representative told the Press about “transfer fees” while Turkey's Deputy Permanent Representative shrugged that “there are Turkish banks in New York.”

   Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin, asked in front of the Security Council about JPMorgan Chase's move, laughed and said "the ruble is a very strong currency," when you have the ruble you don't need anything else. But the others? Watch this site.

Update of January 14, 2011: the following arrived:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 8:05 AM
Subject: Your questions on Chase Bank
To: Inner City Press

We can say the following in reply to your questions at the noon briefing:

Some ambassadors emerging from the US briefing about their accounts being shuttered think the UN should withdraw all its accounts with Chase. Has this been broached with the administration? Being weighed at all?

We understand that this was raised by one Member State delegate in the briefing with Ambassador Kennedy. The UN Secretariat has not been approached in this matter.

Will Chase open an office in the UN building after the CMP?

Under the CMP, the new UN building design includes space provision for banks. No agreements have been entered into with any banks for this space.

March 1, 2011 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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