Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It's systemically important that banks do business with dictators

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent story that works through some of the juicy stuff that is showing up the Libyan document trove.  Specifically, French investment bank Societe General made large payments to a Panama-registered vehicle (because it works so well for ships, after all) named Leinada, and no-one can figure out what exact services Leinada provided, but some doors in Libya certainly seemed to have opened as a result.

A little Googling reveals that similar documents have been floating around in the Arabic language media for some time, with occasional translations into English bringing them to more general attention.  So here's the excellent Zanga Zanga blog (the title plays off a ludicrous Gaddafi speech) with a further nugget in a post that also has a lot about SocGen --

At some point in 2008/2009 SIG [Saif al-Islam Gaddafi] was persuaded or otherwise came to the conviction that the acquisition by the LIA [Libyan Investment Authority] of a portfolio of media securities would be of some strategic value to Libya or himself. The intent was that such companies could then be persuaded to make JV [Joint Venture] investments in Libya or in any case report more favourably. Very active in this proposal were Mr. Alejandro Agag and Mr.Ignacio Munoz Alonso  of Addax Capital LLP. These put together a patently corrupt and incompetently documented proposal to set up an Irish fund (with only the LIA as investor) to purchase stock off the market in the likes of Pearson and News Corporation. The documentation and structure were substandard. The intent was that the LIA would invest $1 bn.

The late Celtic Tiger era.  Preferred light-touch home of dodgy investment vehicle for dictator's son to invest the people's oil money in Murdoch enterprises.  Then again, it looks like much of the financial sector in western Europe and the USA was on the take from Libya, big time, during this era.  Then, when things went pear-shaped, the same banks demanded, and got, bailouts from their home governments.  We might not have a SocGen to report on today if it wasn't for the AIG bailout.  One wonders if the same bailout made them any more subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act than they would be otherwise.

UPDATE 8 SEPTEMBER: Also from the "light touch" department, a New York judge has rejected HSBC's proposed settlement with investors in an Irish-based Madoff feeder fund.

No comments: