That is Barack Obama last summer playing golf with the Chairman and CEO of UBS, Robert Wolf.
Obama invited Wolf to play golf while vacationing at Martha's Vineyard.
That Obama himself invited Wolf to play golf matters for a number of reasons.
The most obvious, of course, is that a president playing golf with a financial CEO is not exactly the CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN jive Obama and his propaganda meisters who spin for him sold during the 2008 election season.
The second is that the bank Wolf heads, UBS, had just settled the largest offshore tax evasion case in U.S. history, admitting to fraud and paying $780 million dollars to the U.S. treasury, a few months before Obama invited Wolf to play 18 holes.
The third reason is that UBS had just been charged by the New Hampshire securities regulator for "dishonest and unethical" practices in selling notes from the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, causing New Hampshire investors $2.5 million in losses. Those charges came before the golf game with President Accountability on Martha's Vineyard. Just as Goldman Sachs was selling toxic crap to investors without telling them it was crap and betting against it (and was just charged by the SEC with fraud for those actions), UBS was selling garbage and conning its customers and making billions off the deals.
Since that golf game, UBS, along with JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank, have been charged with fraud linked to the sale of derivatives to the city of Milan. Here are the details of the Milan case. Notice how similar they sound to the allegations made by New Hampshire state officials or the details of the SEC case against the Goldman Sachs VP charged with fraud on Friday:
Prosecutor Robledo alleges the London units of the four banks misled Milan on the economic advantage of a financing package that included the swaps and that they earned 101 million euros in hidden fees.
He also claims the banks violated U.K. securities rules by failing to inform Milan in writing that for the swap deal the city was a counterparty to the lenders rather than a customer. Banks abiding by the rules of the Financial Services Authority are required to shield customers from conflicts of interest and provide them with clear and fair information that isn’t misleading.
Officials for the FSA in London didn’t have an immediate comment.
The prosecutor, who seized assets from the banks equal to their share of the alleged profit, is claiming JPMorgan charged about 45 million euros in commissions that were hidden from the municipality, while Deutsche Bank made about 25 million euros, Depfa Bank earned 21 million euros and UBS made 10 million euros, court documents show.
So Obama invited the guy who runs a bank that knowingly defrauded customers, admitted to running fraudulent tax havens for rich people to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and just in general is a sleazy entity to play golf with him and have a nice photo op at Martha's Vineyard.
Did Obama invite him in order to lecture him about the bank's sleazy and/or criminal activities and warn him to run the bank on the up-and-up or the feds would come down on UBS with all their might?
Doubtful - that shit eating smile on President Accountability's face doesn't look like he's either about to or already has given a dressing down to UBS's Wolf.
Rather that smile says "Look at us - we're pals!!! Sure, I talked some jive about going after UBS and their offshore tax haven business when I was senator, but now that I'm president I see things a whole new way."
And Juan Gonzalez explained in Friday's Daily News just why that might be:
A former banker who blew the whistle on thousands of secret bank accounts rich Americans held at Swiss giant UBS claimed Thursday some U.S. politicians also kept off-shore accounts with the bank.
"We had an office in Washington that we all referred to as the PEP office - for 'Politically Exposed People,'" Bradley Birkenfeld said.
He was speaking by phone - on tax day, no less - from Schuylkill County federal prison in Pennsylvania, where he is serving a 40-month sentence for his role in the tax evasion scheme.
"Only top managers from the bank knew the names of the political clients," Birkenfeld said.
Executives from the bank's U.S. subsidiary, UBS America, he added, helped promote those off-shore accounts through a New York "referral desk" that steered U.S. clients to their Swiss colleagues, and through dozens of high society events that the U.S. subsidiary often sponsored.
Who are the politicians who had offshore tax havens with UBS? Was Obama one of them? You wouldn't think MR. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN would have an offshore tax haven with his golfing buddy's bank after he spent part of his Senate career railing against UBS and offshore tax havens, but then again, you never know. It would be fun to get the names on that UBS list, but it is of course doubtful that it will ever happen. I suspect bodies would turn up in landfills before we ever get the names of the politicians on that list (I am happy to be wrong, of course.)
The Obama administration, btw, is making sure that the UBS whistleblower is the only UBS official doing jail time. No other charges have been brought against any higher-ups at UBS. Birkenfeld's lawyers are filing a clemency petition for their client, saying that if not for Birkenfeld's testimony, the government never would have gotten UBS to admit to fraud and pay $780 million in fines. But until Obama decides on whether to grant clemency or not, Birkenfeld remains in jail.
Nice message for other potential whistleblowers in the financial industry, yes? If you did some of the crime, but your higher-ups approved of or even directed you to do it, you WILL do the time, they will NOT.
That has been the message from the Goldman Sachs case too. Just a mid-level VP at Goldman has been charged with fraud while the higher-ups who made billions go free.
The people at these financial institutions stole billions from municipalities, pension funds, and mom and pop investors and are getting away with all of it. They took billions from the federal government bailout programs and continue to get 0% interest loans from President Accountability and Helicopter Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve, adding billions if not a trillion to the federal deficit and debt, then have the chutzpah to decry government debt levels and claim that we cannot fund pensions, Social Security or Medicare.
Of course we can't - between the trillions we spend on American Empire and the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the billions in lost revenue from tax shore havens and legalized loopholes that corporations and wealthy people use to pay the lowest level of taxes in decades, how could we?
And Obama is happy to start a commission to look at ways to take care of the deficit problem. Of course the overseas wars and the money paid to keep the Empire going are not on the docket to get cut. Just Social Security, Medicare and other "entitlement" programs.
Meanwhile the real entitlement programs for the wealthiest and most powerful in the country continue unabated.
Not one person who caused the near financial collapse the past few years has been held accountable for their fraudulent activities and crimes.
Instead they have been rewarded with bonuses, bail-outs and golf games with the president.
As President Accountability said about Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon
“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”
Savvy businessmen? More like crooks who have gotten away with it all even as a peon or two below them and one whistleblower do the time for the crimes of the century.
Might that be because the president and the other politicians in Washington are benefiting almost as much from the quid pro quo relationship between the government in D.C. and the real permanent government on Wall Street as the financial industry is?