by Richard Lawless
April 26, 2016
WHY THE U.S TREASURY WANTS TO SAVE PUERTO RICO
TEMECULA, Calif. -- It appears that the Treasury Department is deploying all its most trusted advisors in an all-out push to convince Congress to save Puerto Rico from a $73-billion bankruptcy - and for good reason.
You see, the Puerto Rico financial crisis surrounding its municipal bonds was started by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and two of his his associates, Stephen Campbell and Antonio Weiss. From 2006 through 2008, Secretary Lew was the Chief Operating Officer of Citibank, one of the first of many Wall Street Banks to sell these fraudulent bonds.
Lew's associates at Treasury, Campbell and Weiss, worked directly for Puerto Rico through Lazard Ltd. prior to coming to Treasury.
Their job was to repackage and sell these worthless municipal bonds after America's senior citizens had already lost about $30 billion by investing in them..
With the Obama Adminsitration coming to an end, think of the sign-on bonuses our Treasury officals will get if they are successful getting Congress to cover these losses with taxpayer dollars, mainly through proposed legislation that grants special bankruptcy rights and a prohibition on lawsuits.
Good for Wall Street, not so good for tax payers and senior citizens.
Heres the rub: In 2015, the Puerto Rican Senate held special hearings about its financial meltdown, and discovered both the ratings agencies and banks knew these municipal entities issuing the were technically bankrupt.
The committee called the heads of these entities and their CPA firms and received sworn testimony that them that knew they were technically bankrupt, but that a good credit rating could be purchased.
And, for the right fees, the Banks would sell these bonds to their investors. To add insult to injury, a number of finianical audits were conducted for the Securities Exchange Comission that confirmed the terrible state of these bond-issuing entities when they received investment-grade credit ratings.
Deputy Secretary Weiss and his cohorts at Treasury knew these bonds were unpayable but profited nicely by moving forward with them anyway. Now that they have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they are calling on their friends in Congress to bury this criminality under a pile of new taxpayer dollars. Congress is listening and is anxious to protect their friends on Wall Street.
With $30 billion dollars already lost, this enterprise makes the mythical Mafia look like the operators of a Brooklyn lemonade stand. If I were a betting man, I would bet that no one goes to jail and Washington makes it all go away.
Richard Lawless is a longtime investment manager and financial executive with a Master's Degree in International Finance from Troy University. Until August 2014, he was Chief of Operations for the National Security Agency Europe and Africa (USAFRICOM). Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.