Un Rendez-vous

2009/09/28

The rich are different than you and me

Filed under: finance — Tags: , , , , , — simonlecoeur @ 17:51

The estranged wife of a property millionaire who claims his £400m fortune has evaporated called today for him to “hear the clang of the prison gates” behind him after he failed to comply with a court order to explain where his money has gone.

Michelle Young, 45, accused her husband Scot of feigning mental illness to avoid providing a detailed account of the disappearance of his nine-figure portfolio of stockbroker belt mansions and other assets, which he says has collapsed to such an extent that rather than being a Rolls Royce-driving magnate he is now penniless and being pursued by creditors for £27m.

Lawyers for Mr Young, 47, admitted before a judge in London’s High Court that he was still unable to provide documentation to back up his claim to be broke despite being told at a hearing in June this year that he faced a six-month jail term unless he could provide the accounts to prove his financial collapse.

The court heard that that the tycoon, who has been described as a “fixer” for Russian oligarchs and counts several British billionaires as close friends, had suffered mental health problems which resulted in a week-long hospital stay after he had tried to go through his papers to provide the evidence of his demise.

David Balcombe QC, for Mrs Young, said the mother-of-two was now facing eviction from her luxury home in Regent’s Park because her husband had defaulted on the £10,000-a-month rent, even though she suspects he actually owns the property. Mr Young has also stopped paying the £36,000-a-year school fees for their children Scarlet, 16, and 14-year-old Sasha, the court heard.

Prior to his claimed downfall, Mr Young had prospered from his impeccable network of contacts, supposedly including Bill Clinton, to become a multi-millionaire. He sold one of his collection of high-value homes to Boris Berezovsky, the exiled Russian plutocrat, for £19m on the Wentworth Park Estate in Egham, Surrey.

The British tycoon, who said he could only afford to be represented at yesterday’s hearing thanks to a £50,000 loan from the restaurateur Richard Caring, owner of The Ivy, also counts the entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter and retailer Sir Philip Green among his close friends.

After meeting his wife in 1995, the couple settled down to a life of luxury, shuttling between their mansions in England and a yacht in Monaco. But after the marriage broke down in 2006, Mrs Young claims her husband’s wealth mysteriously vaporised within a matter of months.

Philip Marshall, for Mr Young, said he had apologised for his failings and promised to comply with the court order in the future but underlined he was sincere in his insistence that he was penniless. Adding that his client was “not wilfully in default” of the court, he said that the pursuit of his creditors meant that Mr Young was in reality worth “minus £27m”.

The case continues.

Tycoon seeks more time to explain missing millions

2009/09/10

English sense of “fair play”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — simonlecoeur @ 21:15

Rover executives ‘extracted £42m’

MG Rover collapsed with debts of £1bn
A report into the collapse of carmaker Rover will reveal that five executives took £42m in pay and pensions from the troubled firm, the BBC has learned.
The report by independent inspectors outlines how the five enriched themselves while the company was heading for insolvency.

It does not, however, accuse them of breaking the law.

The long-awaited report into the 2005 collapse of MG Rover will be released on Friday.

The independent probe has taken more than four years to complete and has cost the taxpayer about £16m.

‘Flabbergasted’
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has said it does not intend to launch a criminal investigation into the collapse, which saw about 6,500 people lose their jobs.
The four executives in control of MG Rover, the so-called Phoenix Four, have always denied any wrongdoing.

Former MG Rover chairman John Towers, ex-vice chairman Nick Stephenson, Peter Beale and John Edwards came in for criticism after the firm’s collapse when it was revealed that they had taken an estimated £40m in pay and pensions from the company.

Rover executives ‘extracted £42m’ (BBC)

2009/09/07

“Labor Day in a Kleptocracy”

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — simonlecoeur @ 10:04

Reagan-Cheney between 1980 and 2008 created a new American aristocracy, a small sliver of super-rich, who buy and sell legislators, create whole “news networks” to present far rightwing fantasies as “news,” have their lackeys invade and occupy whole countries, hold themselves above the law, falsify financial statements, and suffer little or no punishment for stealing billions from the pensions of “working families” (i.e. those of us about whom P.T. Barnum remarked, “one is born every minute”.) The Republican Party has come to represent these super-rich. Since .1% of the population couldn’t actually win elections, they ally with other groups in society. About two-thirds of evangelicals have joined up with them, about a third of Latinos, significant numbers of midwestern rural families, and obviously large numbers of white southerners. In some cases these are lower middle class people on the make, who want to hitch their wagons to the brightest stars in the sky. In others, they share with the super-rich various resentments of the federal government. This alliance of odd bedfellows (think of Paris Hilton married to Joe Sixpack) is what produces the wackiness of Republican Party politics and media. They can’t come out and say that they want the country run for the benefit of 300,000 multi-millionaires and billionaires (almost all of them white), so they say they are all in favor of guns, apple pie, Jay-sus and the Confederacy. Sometimes, as with Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, the pretense is so forced as to be implausible even to their minions. Clearly, racism and fear-mongering are also key irrational talking points for the plutocrats seeking support from the white lower middle class (though this route can backfire, as it did in 2008 when Republican fear-mongering about Latino immigration alienated most Latino voters and drove them into the arms of the Democrats.)…

Many of our corporations are essentially using us as garbage dumps for their unhealthy corporate food, creating a crisis of obesity that in turn is causing our bulging bellies to devour our brains and for men, to make it impossible for them to get it up. A government genuinely concerned with our welfare would outlaw anything but diet sodas. The unwillingness of our government to regulate this assault on our brain mass via our bellies is owed directly to the power of corporate lobbies that shape and even outright author legislation on such issues. (This paragraph is not meant to hurt the feelings of the victims of these policies; I’m saying you are victims– you have a right to expect your food to be healthy, and your government to care if it isn’t.) The super-rich are fattening us up, not for the kill, but for imbecility and impotence. At least we won’t remember to miss the fun…

I cannot entirely explain why the American super-rich are so much more heartless and stupid than their counterparts in Europe. In fact, they behave politically much more like Afghan and Pakistani big landlords, who pay their peasants a dollar a day and call in the army to put down any organized protests. In part, they have been offered an irresistible temptation by the destruction of organized labor; French workers wouldn’t put up with a tenth of the insults visited upon us by our overlords. But it is a dead end, even for the uber-rich. Healthy, educated workers will be key to American economic competition in the world in the coming century. Our super-rich and our politicians are hollowing the country out with their ponzi schemes and their Sparta strategy of projecting military force even as the country’s economic base in manufacturing and productivity sinks in comparison to rivals….

–Juan Cole

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