Greek debt, Merrill Lynch buyout, & Killer Pills are Rip-offs
Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Big Pharma, deceivers all
Business ethics has become an oxymoron. Wall Street bonuses were up 17% to over $20 billion in 2009, thanks to the taxpayers bailing out the financiers. The federal government is failing its duty to the people. If people want political justice, they better demand economic justice. That is, demand a fair share of the commonwealth and an end to taxes on one’s useful efforts -- the two keystones of geonomics. We trim, blend, and append three 2010 articles, two from the BBC Feb 22, one on Goldman and the other on Bank of America, plus a third on corporate endangerment by Joel Hirschhorn.
by BBC and by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Goldman defends Greece debt swaps
A Goldman Sachs boss has defended the bank's 2001 debt-swap deal with Greece that may have allowed the country to mask its debt woes.
The debt-swap deal was legal at the time, but has since been prohibited.
Gerald Corrigan, chairman of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, the bank's holding company, said the deal was far from unique at the time.
Greece's Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou insisted last week that his country was not the only one using such financial arrangements back in 2001.
The complicated "currency swap" between Greece and Goldman Sachs is now being investigated by the European Union after it was discovered by the EU statistics agency Eurostat.
The EU has given Greece until the end of February to give details of how the deal affected its accounts.
Judge backs Bank of America's Merrill Lynch deal fine
A judge has conditionally approved Bank of America's $150m (£96.9m) settlement with the SEC, the US financial watchdog, linked to its purchase of Merrill Lynch.
The settlement is almost five times more than a $33m proposal which the judge rejected in September.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accepted the fine with BoA over civil charges it misled shareholders about Merrill's financial position.
Earlier this month, New York state officials began separate action against BoA and some of its former bosses.
The bank, former chief executive Kenneth Lewis, and former chief financial officer Joseph Price are accused of intentionally withholding details of huge losses Merrill was suffering from investors and taxpayers during the takeover of Merrill Lynch.
After the Merrill bailout, Bank of America needed and received $45bn (£28.5bn) in government funds.
Last month, Bank of America reported it had repaid the $45bn government bailout but incurred a loss of $5.2bn.
According to Bloomberg News: “Safety reviewers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urged the agency to take GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s diabetes drug Avandia off the market in 2008 because they said it was causing 500 additional heart attacks per month.” A month! The drug was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009, which implies many thousands of deaths to date.
Avandia is yet another drug that gets government approval but turns out to be lethal. Since May 2004, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, and four other drug companies have been mulcted over $7 billion, the largest criminal fines in American history. That is an amazing number, but in comparison to drug industry profits, merely a pittance.
Pfizer has been fined multiple times in the past 6 years for illegal promotion of their drugs. In its latest plea agreement last September, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion in fines and penalties for off-label promotion of Bextra. This settlement was the largest criminal fine in US history.
The dangerous corporate behavior continues with Avandia. The Senate Finance Committee, in a report and a letter to the FDA, revealed that the FDA itself estimated that the drug caused approximately 83,000 excess heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. “Americans have a right to know there are serious health risks associated with Avandia and GlaxoSmithKline had a responsibility to tell them. Patients trust drug companies with their health and their lives and GlaxoSmithKline abused that trust,” said Senator Max Baucus.
The Senate report details how the drug company thwarted efforts to reveal to the public and the medical community just how unsafe Avandia is. The report notes: “The totality of evidence suggests that GSK was aware of the possible cardiac risks associated with Avandia years before such evidence became public … Based on this knowledge, GSK had a duty to sufficiently warn patients and the FDA of its concerns in a timely manner. Instead, GSK executives intimidated independent physicians, focused on strategies to minimize findings that Avandia may increase cardiovascular risk, and sought ways to downplay findings that the rival drug ACTOS (pioglitazone) might reduce cardiovascular risk.”
The company continues to fight to keep its drug in the market.
Like other corporations, Toyota forgoes telling the truth and protecting their consumers. Toyota’s registered lobbyists include at least eight former officials from Congress and the executive branch and it employs former engineers and officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That regulatory agency failed to detect safety problems at Toyota.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied or angry about the federal government. Nearly 75% of independents feel this way. For government to win back trust, they could work in the public interest, especially protecting consumers from crime in the suites.
[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through delusionaldemocracy.com.]
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