Thursday, April 15, 2010

UK bans "third world debt" profiteering

The news. which was reported on the BBC Newsnight on 8 April, that Britain's parliament has banned so-called "vulture funds" sort of passed me by. Worth catching up with though and put at its most simply, and it really is this simple, this unscrupulous practice sees speculators buying up poor countries debt for pennies and then going to the UK, and other, mainly American, courts to sue for millions which they recover from the aid money that has been given to those countries, while, when necessary, giving a a nice whack of cash to the particular country's corrupt "leader" to keep him happy.

Of course, the move is certainly to be welcomed.  However, with the latest news being that campaigners have called on the United States, to follow the lead from the British parliament and outlaw "Third World Debt profiteering", it might be emphasised that for Westminster's initiative to be effective all other countries have to follow suit. Still, the good news is that in June 2009, the Democratic Congress Representative for California's 35th district, Maxine Waters, introduced the Stop VULTURE Funds Act H.R. 2932 although at the time of my writing this it is still with the House Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.

The fact that the Act is taking so long to become law might be normal in the United States, I really don't know. However, on reading Greg Palast on the subject of vulture funds the conclusion has to be that we might be hopeful but we shouldn't be smug, for as Mr Palast says, the people at the Debt Advisory International (DAI), which manages a number of vulture funds, are very generous to their lobbyists in Washington" and we all know that for every Maxine Waters there is probably at least one  little corrupt creature who is just as likely to accept a whack of cash as the "leaders" referred to  in the first paragraph. Indeed, that might answer Greg Palast's question as to why the legislation is taking so long and why the  politicians are cowering behind legislative locked doors? But then, of course, Greg knows this.

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