Thursday, February 17, 2005

Washington's Mile High Club

There's that awful liberal elite with their lucrative professorships and top positions in fabulously wealthy non-governmental organisations and control of key information technologies like blogging. And there's that plain old elite with a lifestyle revealed by this damning story in Thursday's Washington Post. The story concerns detailed information that has been made available about the use of the "corporate" jet of Riggs Bank, a well-known DC Bank.

That would be the Riggs Bank that acted as banker for the corrupt assets of General Pinochet*, that handled money for some of the 9/11 hijackers, that helped the Saudi elite evade financial regulations even after 9/11, and was only too happy to facilitate the dictator of a corrupt oil-rich developing country which wasn't Iraq. So you'd think a bank with such a record would be shunned and ostracised by America's betters?

Not on your life. Company policy for the Gulfstream jet was that it only be used for corporate business, or for personal trips of top officials only, a taxable benefit. Instead it became the personal taxi and influence-peddling toy of chairman Joe Allbritton:

Sen. Ted Stevens (Republican-Alaska) and his wife, however, accompanied the Allbrittons on the plane in July 2003. Courtney Schikora Boone, Stevens's spokeswoman, said that the senator was going to California on official business and that Allbritton offered Stevens a ride ...

NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell was invited to join Allbritton and his wife on a flight from New York to Washington in December 2002.

Mitchell said Barbara B. Allbritton approached her "at the last minute" in the airport in New York while Mitchell was waiting for the Delta shuttle to Washington.

"Barbara said, 'We're flying back to D.C., would you like to go with us?' " recalled Mitchell, whose husband, Alan Greenspan, is chairman of the Federal Reserve, which regulates Riggs's holding company ...

Riggs's jet flew [George] Bush [Senior] in November 2000 to Washington from Houston to attend the 200th anniversary of the White House, Becker [GHWB spokeswoman] said. Two subsequent trips on the plane from Houston to Washington, in December of 2002 and 2003, were to transport the former president and his wife to Washington to join his son and other family members for the Christmas holiday at Camp David, she said.

We're not conspiracy theorists. But we see where they get their ideas from.

*UPDATE 26 Feb: Riggs settles a Spanish case arising from their concealment of Pinochet's assets. The usual "we thought we had a good case but we're paying $9m anyway" weasel statement from the bank.

No comments: