So, the Lords are also corrupt!

House of Lords

The House of Lords: Four Labour peers are under investigation.

Four members of the British House of Lords: Lord Taylor, Lord Snape, Lords Moonie and Truscott are currently under corruption investigation. They are alleged to have said that they would take thousands of pounds a year to work ‘behind the scenes’ on behalf of a fictitious Hong Kong businessman.

According to the Sunday Times, they were willing to amend laws in return for cash. The claims had brought shame on Parliament, brought the House ‘into disrepute in the eyes of the whole of the world,’ and mired the House “in a grim torrent of criticism about a culture of sleaze”.

As debate rages over whether the ‘Lords’ are being unduly influenced by outside interests, the Mail is further reporting that One in five Lords is undertaking consultancy work in a Parliamentary ‘cottage industry’ potentially worth millions.

It found that 145 peers out of 743 eligible to sit in the House of Lords are acting as ‘consultants’ or ‘advisers’ to outside interests. In addition, they are exploiting a Parliamentary loophole which says they do not even have to state how much they are earning.

These Lords could be breaking their own code of Conduct which makes clear that a peer ‘must never accept any financial inducement as an incentive or reward for exercising Parliamentary influence’. Anyone trying to amend proposed laws in return for cash would almost certainly be breaking it and could be liable to be charged for corruption.

Are you surprised? In the early 1990s, John Major’s government established a reputation for sleaze, incompetence and indiscipline. Moreover,  some UK Business men have long engaged in global 419.

Have you forgotten Robert Maxwell, who at one time owned Pergamom Press? Despite a Department of Trade and Industry investigation into Maxwell’s business that concluded that he is not a person who can be relied to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company.

Maxwell went on to buy the British Printing Corporation in 1980.He built up a publishing and media empire in the 1980s that eventually included Mirror Group of Newspapers, the US publisher Macmillan and the New York Daily News.

In spite of the 1971 DTI report, Maxwell received enthusiastic backing and funding from investment institutions and bankers. In November 1991, Maxwell drowned whilst cruising in the Canary Islands. Investigations after his death found that he had misappropriated about £900 million from the pension funds of his companies, using the money for his private use.

Trust the Americans to do it bigger and better; Bernard L. Madoff could turn out to be a legendary swindler for all time.

The claim on Mr. Madoff’s corporate Web site reads: “Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm’s hallmark.”Mr. Madoff reported phantom returns from supposed stock market plays, paying his investors off with cash invested by new pigeons.

While other 419ers might cheat people out of thousands or millions of dollars, the price tag of Mr. Madoff’s con game is a reported $50 billion! Even that spectacular estimate shouldn’t be trusted; it could be more because it comes from Mr. Madoff himself.

Mr. Madoff has done epic damage to investors large and small, all over the world. The victims range from leading Spanish, British and Japanese banks, to Hollywood‘s Steven Spielberg, to lots of far less exalted players — most pathetically the charities that believed his claim.

Madoff is obviously a skilled con man, a former chairman of the board of several companies, he enjoyed relationships with financiers, philanthropists and politicians the world over. By the time this is over, “Madoff scheme” may be the new name for mass financial fraud. In fact, the greatest 419 of all time!

America is notorious for corporate scandals. Have you forgotten the Enron scandal?In just 15 years, Enron grew from nowhere to be America‘s seventh largest company, employing 21,000 staff in more than 40 countries. But the firm’s success turned out to have involved an elaborate scam.

Enron lied about its profits and engaged in a range of shady dealings, including concealing debts so they didn’t show up in the company’s accounts. As the depth of the deception unfolded, investors and creditors retreated, forcing the firm into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2001. A chorus of investors, employees, pension holders and politicians were outraged that Enron’s failings were not spotted earlier as the US Justice Department charged several executives for fraud and money laundering.

The scandal also entered the political realm because of Enron’s close links with the White House. Enron provided millions of dollars to finance Mr Bush’s 2000 election campaign. Mr George Bush was a personal friend of Mr Lay, former chief executive and chairman but he was quick to distance himself from any involvement with the firm.

It was reported that Mr Lay called two US cabinet officers before the company filed for bankruptcy. The US Treasury Department said they felt they were asked to help Enron last year by company president Lawrence Whalley. Enron executives also met Vice President Dick Cheney and his energy task force several times to discuss the administration’s energy plan. Much mudslinging was flowing.

The British political repercussions of the Enron collapse centred around whether Labour’s sponsorship from the company led to a change in government energy policy. Downing Street was quick to dismiss allegations that the UK government is “enveloped in sleaze” over its links with Enron. Opposition politicians suspected there had been an affair about cash-for-access.

In America they call it pay to play. That was the case with US governor of Illinois. Rod Blagojevich is accused of trying to use his authority as governor to appoint Obama’s Senate replacement to get cash or a lucrative job. He has just been impeached.

And how about the recent Conrad Black, the former media magnate who once controlled an empire stretching from Vancouver to Jerusalem, but was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the multimillion-dollar fraud at Hollinger International, the newspaper group he created and controlled.

The sentencing capped Lord Black’s rapid descent from one of the most powerful men in global media to white-collar criminal. During the trial, much was made of Lord Black’s flamboyant lifestyle, including the 60th birthday party he held for his wife, Barbara Amiel Black, at La Grenouille in New York in 2000. No expense was spared, with Michael Bloomberg, now the New York City’s mayor, and Donald Trump among the guests.

The criminal trial against Lord Black revealed a man who with his two co-defendants stole millions from the company through a scheme in which they disguised payments to themselves as “non-competition fees”.

Surely, when it come corrupt enrichment, Nigerians 419ers – whether of the government or the business world, cannot claim to be the sole masters of the universe.

But please, wipe that smug off your faces quick quick.When it comes to corrupt enrichment, Nigeria excels in its insidious and brazen nature. Looting in Nigeria is carried on with impunity, in-your-face, and blatantly.

In my article, The New EFCC V Ribadu and El Rufai, I noted that what is frighteningly sickening about Nigeria’s corruption is the extent to which we are willing to accommodate corruption. From the public comments of some Nigerians including some journalists, it appears as if it is acceptable for the rich and powerful to be corrupt.

On the contrary, In the House of Lords cases mentioned above, two of the four Labour peers at the centre of corruption allegations are making brazen attempt to save the four from being thrown out of the Lords, pointing out that no contract was signed and no money changed hands. Despite the fact that the only real ‘punishment’ available is for Lords to be ‘named and shamed’ in Parliament, The Mail is reporting that they have made public apologies in the House.

Moreover, a ‘swift and rigorous’ inquiry by the sub-committee on Lords Interests is already under way, while Scotland Yard is considering an official complaint of bribery made by LibDems.In a letter to acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, the LibDem spokesman said: ‘The law must apply to everybody regardless of whether they are within the political system or outside it and this is a particularly crucial allegation as it touches on the
honesty and integrity of the Parliamentary process.

Scotland Yard said the matter had been passed to the Specialist Crime Directorate, the squad which handles the highest-profile and most serious cases.

Gordon Brown also weighed into the affair. ‘These are very serious allegations,’ said the Prime Minister. ‘We’re determined to get to the bottom of what happened. Whatever action needs to be taken will be taken.

But in Nigeria, our own anti-corruption czar is herself accused of corrupt practices and nothing have happened. She has all but surrendered to corruption when she said that Fighting Corruption is a frustrating business.

In the United States, Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), a former member of the Halliburton group, has agreed to pay $402 million in fines to settle criminal charges that it conspired to bribe Nigerian officials to win work on a massive liquefied natural gas project in the country, according to court documents.

The Houston-based engineering company and government contractor is accused of one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and four counts of violating the act. The charges stem from allegations of a decade-long scheme in which KBR, through intermediaries, paid more than $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to land contracts to build a $6 billion gas liquefaction plant on Bonny Island.

Now, if it’s funny please don’t laugh. This act of corruption took place in Nigeria. It involved Nigerian politicians and contractors. But whereas the US is prosecuting the American culprits, their Nigerian counterparts are straddling the corridors of power.

Yes! While others fight our corruption cases, Nigeria is engaged in a “brain-shattering charade”.