Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Khodorkovsky and the U.S. press


Interesting U.S. news coverage of the trial of  Russian billionaire Mikhairl Khordorkovsky.   He has been tried and convicted of corruption and the U.S. Department of State and U.S. press report this as evidence of the lack of a rule of law in Russia.
Well, that is half of the story.  What they don’t say is that Khordorkovsky really was a crook.  He stole at least $20 Billion from the Russian people.  In 2006 he was the 16th. richest person in the world- based upon his looting of the Russian oil giant Yukos Oil which he acquired by market manipulation and theft.  The resources were taken from the Russian people in the time of rapid transition to a market economy.
He was tried and found guilty of corruption and not paying taxes. 
It is true that he was not the only robber baron who stole these resources.  This is selective persecution.  There are at least 10 major oligarchs and up to a hundred minor oligarchs, but Khodorkovsky was the boldest, most blatant, and became the richest.  A nation with a troubled economy might not be able to take down an entire oligarchy.  That would be like having banks too big to fail.
Why is it wrong to prosecute him?
Now, lets compare this to the U.S. corruption creating the financial crisis of 2007- 2009 when some  $13 Trillion was looted from the U.S. economy by Wall Street financiers.  The CEO’s of the major firms are walking free – some had to pay fines
. Persons  with criminal responsibility like the Russian Oligarchs, among others,  would be Richard Marin, Jeffrey B. Lane, Mathew Tannin , Ralph Cioffie of Bear Stearn,  Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson, Lloyd C. Blankfein and David Vinear of Goldman Sachs,  Joseph Gassano, Maurice Greenberg, and Robert B. Willumstad, of AIG,  Daniel Mudd of Fannie Me, Angelo Mozilo of Country Wide. Yet these people are all walking around free.   They caused more pain, more unemployment, and more economic destruction than Khodorkovsky, but the U.S. press only talks about a small timer like Bernie Madoff.
I am not defending the Russian judicial system nor the press, however, the differences are notable.  Who is protecting the U.S. oligarchs?
See: The Oligarchs: Wealth, Power, and the New Russia.  David E. Hoffman.
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