Vatican Bank Laundering Scandal

VATICAN CITY – This is no ordinary bank: The ATMs are in Latin. Priests use a private entrance. A life-size portrait of Pope Benedict XVI hangs on the wall.

Nevertheless, the Institute for Religious Works is a bank, and it’s under harsh new scrutiny in a case involving money-laundering allegations that led police to seize euro23 million ($30 million) in Vatican assets in September. Critics say the case shows that the “Vatican Bank” has never shed its penchant for secrecy and scandal.

The Vatican calls the seizure of assets a “misunderstanding” and expresses optimism it will be quickly cleared up. But court documents show that prosecutors say the Vatican Bank deliberately flouted anti-laundering laws “with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital.” The documents also reveal investigators’ suspicions that clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and Mafia.

The documents pinpoint two transactions that have not been reported: one in 2009 involving the use of a false name, and another in 2010 in which the Vatican Bank withdrew euro650,000 ($860,000) from an Italian bank account but ignored bank requests to disclose where the money was headed.

via Yahoo

Wikileaks “The Peoples” TSA

 

There was a time when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s voluntary surrender to the British authorities might have put an end to the crisis created by the Internet provocateur’s dissemination of tens of thousands of state secrets. But in the upside-down world of transnational crowdsourcing unleashed by WikiLeaks, in which thousands of activists around the globe can be rallied to defend and extend its work, Assange’s arrest is a win, not a loss, for his organization.

The asymmetrical info war initiated by the WikiLeaks dump of diplomatic cables is all about spectacle — the more Assange is set up by world powers, the more powerful his own movement becomes. “The field of battle is WikiLeaks,” wrote John Perry Barlow, a former Grateful Dead lyricist and founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the First Amendment advocacy group, in a message to his followers. “You are the troops.” WikiLeaks admiringly forwarded the post to 300,000 of its own followers. As the U.S. and other governments attempted to close down WikiLeaks over the past week, those “troops” have fought back. And so far, it doesn’t look like much of a contest. (Read TIME’s interview with Julian Assange.)

First, the U.S. government pushed WikiLeaks off the servers of Amazon, its U.S. host — thanks in part to an effort by the office of Senator Joe Lieberman, who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee. After the rogue site was pushed off a smaller, backup host in the U.S., it moved first to a Swiss domain, then to a simple numeric one. WikiLeaks has complained, and some news outlets have reported, about apparent hacker attacks against the website. The effect of all that pressure, however, was very much like cutting the head off the mythical Hydra. By Tuesday evening, WikiLeaks listed 507 Web addresses that it said were hosting the site worldwide.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2035817,00.html#ixzz17aGwioUM

Wikileaks-The Leak That Can’t Be Shut

“There are hundreds of mirrors of WikiLeaks now,” he said. “It’s a test for Internet censorship. Can governments take something off the Net? I think not. There are copies of the website everywhere.”

GENEVA – WikiLeaks’ elusive founder, his options dwindling, has turned to Switzerland’s credit, postal and Internet infrastructure to keep his online trove of U.S. State Department cables afloat.

Supporters say Julian Assange is considering seeking asylum in Switzerland. He told a Spanish newspaper that he faced “hundreds of death threats,” including some targeting his lawyers and children, aside from the pressure he is getting from prosecutors in the U.S. and other countries.

After a number of web companies dropped WikiLeaks, much of the site’s traffic was coming through the wikileaks.ch Web address Sunday. The address is controlled by the Swiss Pirate Party, a group that formed two years ago to campaign for freedom of information. The site’s main server in France went offline but it remained reachable through a Swedish server.

The site showed Assange had begun seeking donations to an account under his name through the Swiss postal system in Bern, the Swiss capital, while also using a Swiss-Icelandic credit card processing center and other accounts in Iceland and Germany. He lost a major source of revenue when the online payment service provider PayPal cut off the WikiLeaks account over the weekend.

Assange has been widely praised and criticized. Supporters view him as a savior of the media and free speech; critics vilify him for brazenly unleashing diplomatic secrets, as well as for earlier leaks involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Assange “a high-tech terrorist.” He told NBC’s “Meet the Press” he hopes Assange will be prosecuted for the “enormous damage” the disclosures have done to the country and to its relationship with its allies.

via Yahoo

Ron Paul: What we need is more WikiLeaks

Popular Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul is no stranger to breaking with his party, but in a recent television appearance the libertarian-leaning Rep. went even further than any member of Congress in defending whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

Speaking to Fox Business host Judge Napolitano on Thursday about recent revelations at the Federal Reserve, Paul’s typical candor showed through.

“What we need is more WikiLeaks about the Federal Reserve,” he said. “Can you imagine what it’d be like if we had every conversation in the last 10 years with our Federal Reserve people, the Federal Reserve chairman, with all the central bankers of the world and every agreement or quid-pro-quo they have? It would be massive. People would be so outraged.”

Paul, a longtime critic of the US Federal Reserve, is the incoming chairman of a House subcommittee on monetary policy. His most recent book, titled “End the Fed,” takes aim at central banks the world over, blaming fiat money systems and fractional reserve banking for the world’s increasingly volatile economies.

“In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth,” Paul insisted. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.

via Rawstory

Where in the World Is Julian Assange?

(Nov. 30) — Seemingly everyone wants a piece of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange this week, with Interpol, Sweden, the United States, Australia, Sarah Palin, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill O’Reilly joining the posse.

Palin says he should be hunted down “like al-Qaida.” O’Reilly calls him a “sleazebag.” Government officials want him tried for espionage, and Interpol is after him for alleged sex crimes. Others want him banned from the Internet.

Good luck with all of that. The 39-year-old recluse and self-described misfit — whose latest secret-documents dump comprises more than 250,000 diplomatic memos — has been on the lam for months.

Amid an escalating series of controversies, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been laying low recently and was last known to be in London.

So where is he? This month he’s apparently been in London, where he gave an interview to Forbes magazine, posted online this week after the chat was recorded at an undisclosed London apartment. The Australian native has cut and dyed his hair again to avoid detection, and promised that his site’s rage-inspiring and ongoing upload of U.S. State Department documents was only the beginning — of his latest controversy.

via AOL

Steal More With A Smile :)

Most of the 200 people who crowded into the East Stroudsburg University auditorium were too young to know Sam Antar as one of the masterminds behind the Crazy Eddie commercials that blanketed the Northeast for 17 years.

But they knew him as a mastermind of another kind: the man who helped pull off one of the most notable securities frauds in the history of retail.

Cousin to “Crazy Eddie” Antar, Sam Antar was the chief financial officer for Crazy Eddie — the consumer electronics chain that is remembered for predatory pricing and an iconic advertising campaign that featured its spokesman in a trademark turtleneck and blazer yelling “…his prices are INSAAANE!!!” through the TV.

For the criminal justice and accounting majors sitting in the audience last week, Sam Antar painted a vivid picture of what he called the “Antar crime family” filled with enough sex, violence and cash stuffed in ceiling tiles to make the Sopranos blush.

In his thick New York accent, the diminutive, middle-age Antar sought to impart the lesson that fueled the $100 million dollar scam: “You can steal more with a smile than you can with a gun.”

From his start in the stockroom in 1971, through decades of lying, cheating and stealing, to a spectacular end marked by a federal conviction on fraud charges, fractured family relationships and a destroyed public image, Antar sums up his colorful career this way:

“My only regret is that I got caught.”

via MorningCall