Welcome to the weekly roundup of great articles, facts and figures. These are the weekly finds that made our eyes pop.
This week a flurry of events happened that were obscured by the tragedy in Japan.
Debtor's Prison is Back!
Supposedly abolished 1833, Debtor's Prison is back with a vengeance. Did you know you can go to jail over some unscrupulous creditor trying to collect from you? O'Reilly? How come we can't lock up unscrupulous creditors trying to collect on services not rendered or 80% interest rates? The Wall Street Journal:
Some lawmakers, judges and regulators are trying to rein in the U.S. debt-collection industry's use of arrest warrants to recoup money owed by borrowers who are behind on credit-card payments, auto loans and other bills.
More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can't or won't pay to be jailed. Judges have signed off on more than 5,000 such warrants since the start of 2010 in nine counties with a total population of 13.6 million people, according to a tally by The Wall Street Journal of filings in those counties. Nationwide figures aren't known because many courts don't keep track of warrants by alleged offense. In interviews, 20 judges across the nation said the number of borrowers threatened with arrest in their courtrooms has surged since the financial crisis began.
Arrest warrants generally can be issued if a borrower defies a court order to repay a debt or doesn't show up in court. Retailers, credit-card issuers, landlords and debt collectors are the most frequent seekers of such orders, according to court filings and interviews with judges and lawyers.
Judge Blocks Wisconsin Governor Walker's Anti-Union Law
Score one for the unions, seems the dead in the night Wisconsin GOP maneuverings weren't quite so legal. The Aassociated Press:
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed the lawsuit this week alleging the open meetings law was violated because 24 hours' notice wasn't given for a meeting of the special legislative committee convened to amend the bill.
Justice Department attorneys argued that notice on a bulletin board posted about two hours before the committee meeting was to start last Wednesday was sufficient under rules of the Senate.
The judge said DOJ couldn't show the committee was exempt from the 24-hour notice requirement. She said Ozanne could ultimately win the case and ordered Secretary of State Doug La Follette to hold off on publishing the law — the last step before it can take effect. La Follette had planned to publish the law on March 25.
There are more complaints being filed against Walker.
FDIC Suing WaMu Executives for $900 Million
Well, this might hurt. FDIC Suing WaMu Execs, their Wives for $900 million:
As you may have heard, the FDIC has sued three former Washington Mutual execs, including CEO Kerry Killinger, COO Stephen Rotella, and home loans president David Schneider, whose “extreme and historically unprecedented risks with WaMu’s held-for-investment home loans portfolio” resulted in the bank’s collapse (according to filing, the bank’s chief risk officer told Killinger WaMu’s “DNA” was missing “the risk chromosome,” a few weeks before it went into receivership, to which Killinger likely scoffed and called the guy a pussy). The regulator wants $900 million from the trio and they’re not the only ones Sheila Bair says better start cutting checks- Killinger and Rotella’s special lady friends (Linda and Esther) have been named in the suit as well.
The Wall Street Journal ferreted out the actual lawsuit and details. The best part is these executives hid their ill-gotten gains from creditors. That's not hard to do considering Delaware is a glorified tax haven.
Let the Legal Games Begin
It's no small wonder why there is so little real justice in this country these days. The courts are time consuming, bury people in paper and 6, 7 figure legal fees.
Check out this run out the clock move by a former Goldman Sachs CEO. He is suing the SEC over charges brought against him.
Rajat K. Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble who has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of leaking confidential information about those companies, on Friday sued the agency.
Mr. Gupta, 62, is accused of tipping Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group hedge fund manager now on trial on securities fraud and conspiracy charges, about Goldman’s and P.&G.’s earnings, as well as information about Warren E. Buffett’s $5 billion in investment in Goldman, just minutes after the board approved it.
Remember when IBM was a Technological Powerhouse?
Yet another chapter in the IBM tale of corruption, greed and destruction of a once American corporate jewel. IBM settles corruption and bribery charges:
The charges ding Big Blue's reputation at a time when the company is looking to countries like China, India and Brazil to fuel much of its growth. IBM's emerging market revenue rose 16% last year and accounted for more than a fifth of the company's $99.9 billion total.
As U.S. companies move more aggressively abroad, the federal government has been stepping up its pursuit of cases under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, levying large fines and bringing criminal charges against executives. The act outlaws corporations listed on U.S. stock exchanges from bribing foreign officials.
The SEC expanded its team of FCPA investigators about a year ago. The Justice Department, which can bring criminal charges, has beefed up its FCPA unit as well and last year carried out 22 FCPA enforcement actions against corporations. A Justice Department spokeswoman wouldn't comment on whether it was investigating.
The SEC complaint alleges that managers employed by an IBM subsidiary and joint venture in South Korea paid government officials the equivalent of $207,000 in cash bribes from 1998 to 2003 to secure the sale of mainframes and personal computers to the government.
Seems 10% of Chinese firms on U.S. stock exchanges are engaging in fraud. Tax Justice:
At least 10% of Chinese companies that have gone public on stock exchanges in the United States are engaged in fraud. The deals often involve establishing offshore holding companies in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Samoa or another offshore jurisdiction in order to conceal illegal conduct. The startling claim, following extensive research, was made to OffshoreAlert by Sharesleuth.com, an investigative news web-site.
Falsifying Nuclear Test Results
Bloomberg has an in-depth report on the history of the Nuclear Power industry in Japan.
The unfolding disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and underestimated earthquake risk in Japan’s atomic power industry.
The destruction caused by last week’s 9.0 earthquake and tsunami comes less than four years after a 6.8 quake shut the world’s biggest atomic plant, also run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. In 2002 and 2007, revelations the utility had faked repair records forced the resignation of the company’s chairman and president, and a three-week shutdown of all 17 of its reactors.
With almost no oil or gas reserves of its own, nuclear power has been a national priority for Japan since the end of World War II, a conflict the country fought partly to secure oil supplies. Japan has 54 operating nuclear reactors -- more than any other country except the U.S. and France -- to power its industries, pitting economic demands against safety concerns in the world’s most earthquake-prone country.
Top 10 Federal Reserve Flubs
CNN has gotten into the slideshow click game with the top 10 Federal Reserve screw ups. One of them is too big to fail.