Thursday, February 13, 2020

IMF Confirms It Has Sought Somalia Help From Bangladesh and Others When Inner City Press Asks


By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post
NEW YORK CITY, Feb 13 – When the International Monetary Fund held its biweekly embargoed media briefing on February 13, Inner City Press submitted questions including on Somalia and Bangladesh, and on Egypt, see below.
  IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice read out Inner City Press Somalia question: "In Somalia, it is reported that "Bangladesh has agreed partially pay to the IMF as debt relief for Somalia under the HIPC Initiative. 'Bangladesh's international image would benefit from the grant,' said a finance ministry official... [MD] Georgieva wrote to FM AHM Mustafa Kamal, seeking SDR 0.70 million. " Is this true? Can you explain?"
  Rice explained that the IMF's board had met about Somalia the previous day, February 12, and that it expects to issue a press release later on February 13 in conjunction with the World Bank. He explained that not only Bangladesh is being asked - thankfully - but also others, to chip in and help. But will the public know which countries paid?
 On Egypt, Inner City Press asked, "   On Egypt, it is reported that the country is in talks with the IMF over a "non-financial structural reform program.. Now that the fiscal and the monetary reform has been done, we’re talking about structural reforms,” Tarek Amer said Tuesday at an energy conference in Cairo. Please elaborate and give the IMF's thinking." Rice said, among other things, that talks continue. Transcript to follow.
OJanuary 30, Inner City Press in connection with thee 9:30 am embargoed briefing submitted questions about Luanda Leaks, Cameroon and some other topics. On Luanda Leaks, Inner City Press asked, " On Luanda Leaks, what have been the IMF's findings and actions given the evidence that has come out in the growing scandal?This was emailed before 11 am:
    Luanda leaks     We do not comment on ongoing criminal investigations, trials and leaked documents.     Angola has a three-year EFF program with the IMF. As in other IMF programs, the fight against corruption is an important part of the program with Angola. This involves, inter alia, the strengthening of relevant legislation, such as working on an enhanced AML/CFT law, and other laws promoting stronger governance in public institutions. The effort also involves increased public transparency, for instance the timely publication of certified annual accounts by state-owned enterprises and increased use of the government’s electronic platform for procurement.   
Cameroon     The Executive Board has completed the fifth review of the arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility for Cameroon on January 22. For more details I would kindly suggest to consult our press release here
On November 7 Inner City Press asked: "On Equatorial Guinea, what is the status (and dollar volume) of the IMF's consideration of a program, and the weighing if at all on the length of time Obiang has been in power? "The loan, the amount of which has not been revealed, is scheduled to be considered by the IMF executive board in December."
 From the IMF's November 7 transcript, with video on page: "There's another question from Matthew, which I'll take on Equatorial Guinea, asking what's the status and the volume of the IMF's consideration of a program for Equatorial Guinea and the weighing, if at all, length of time that President Obiang has been in power. On that, I can say that just recently on October 21st, the Equatorial Guinea authorities and an IMF team reached staff level agreement on a three-year arrangement. Again, under the extended Fund facility, which is the more concessional arm of the IMF's lending. The authorities are working on an agreed set of measures that could allow the new program to be considered by the IMF's Executive Board in December. And Matthew had asked about the volume. We're looking at the program that could be supported by approximately $280 million.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Honduras Presidential Brother Tony Asks SDNY For Minimum 40 Year Sentence


By Matthew Russell Lee, PatreonThread Video
Honduras - The Source - The Root - etc
SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 9 – During the trial that convicted Tony Hernandez, the brother of Honduras' president Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), on all four counts of guns and narcotics trafficking and false statements, the drug ledgers of one Nery Orlando López Sanabria a/k/a Magdaleno were used by the SDNY prosecutors.
  Here is an Inner City Press tweeted photo of notebook mentioning "JOH," in Spanish. Inner City Press has repeated asked the United Nations, in New York and Geneva, for comment. Dead silence.
 Now on February 9, Tony Hernandez through his lawyer Omar Malone has filed his sentencing submission, in advance of his February 24 sentencing, asking that he get the minimum: 40 years. More on Patreon here, including comparables and the filing.
It states in part: "On February 24, 2019, the day that Mr. Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced to a minimum of 40 years imprisonment, he will be 41years old. Therefore, if the Court sentences Mr. Hernandez to the minimum term of imprisonment allowed by law, Mr. Hernandez will be 81 years old before he would be released from prison and immediately deported back to Honduras. Mr. Hernandez was born in the Honduran department of Lempira and is the youngest of four children born to the legal union of Juan Hernandez Villanueva (deceased) and Maria Elvira Alvarado Castillo (76 years old). Mr. Hernandez grew up and has spent his entire life in Honduras. Despite the mischaracterization of Mr. Hernandez as no more than an international drug trafficker, Mr. Hernandez has served his country as a member of the military, pursued and obtained a law degree and managed his family’s small hotel as well as a farm gifted to him by his deceased father. Mr. Hernandez’ childhood and formative years after turning twelve years old were spent in a military boarding school and later as a lieutenant in the military. Mr. Hernandez learned the value of hard work from his family and pursued and engaged in a variety of legitimate vocations including law, business, farming and other agricultural endeavors. Nearly every letter of support (to be filed separately) and/or conversation with family and personal friends of Mr. Hernandez describe him as someone who is “kind,” “gentle,” “generous” and “respectful”. These are people who have known Case 1:15-cr-00379-PKC Document 128 Filed 02/09/20 Page 11 of 15 12 Mr. Hernandez for decades in some instances and describe the idea of him being involved with drug trafficking and/or violence as “totally out of character” for the person they know and love. The overwhelming support Mr. Hernandez has from family, friends and supporters back home cannot be understated. Mr. Hernandez’ history and characteristics are reflective a man who was not a bigshot international drug trafficker. To the contrary, Mr. Hernandez had a home mortgage, car notes, over-drafts on his bank accounts at times and the kind of financial challenges faced by working-class people--not large-scale drug traffickers. Mr. Hernandez worked legitimate jobs and provided financial support for his family and children derived therefrom. Indeed, up until the time of his arrest, Mr. Hernandez’ children and those closest to him relied on him for financial support and now his absence has logically made life more difficult for all of them." Inner City Press will have more on this.
A week after the Tony Hernandez verdict, Magdaleno was murdered in a supposedly maximum security prison in Santa Barbara, Honduras.
  The video are very troubling [WARNING] including the guards letting the killers in, here.
  UNSG Antonio Guterres refused all Press questions about Honduras during the trial and in the nine days since the verdict. On October 29 Inner City Press has asked: "what are the comments and actions of Guterres on the video taped killing of Nery Orlando López a/k/a Magdaleno Meza Fúnez, whose notebooks were used to convict Presidential brother Tony Hernandez in the SDNY court this month? Now Reinero Valle has, as Madgaleno had before his assassination, asked to be moved out of that El Pozo prison due to threats to silence him as a witness, so far without response to his lawyer Nazario Luque? Again, immediately provide the report / read-out of Guterres' four person panel sent to Honduras, and complete read out of his meeting with JOH." Now as of November 2, as Guterres presumptively uses El Chapo's money via JOH to visit strongmen leaders in Turkey and Thailand then, uncontested, waste money at his real home in Lisbon, nothing. Total corrupt.
This while Guterres' UN, despite its protestations and misuse of the concept, enable fake news in Honduras.
   On October 27 a publication in Honduras said the UN office of human rights has said nothing. But nothing had been emailed out to its press list, and nothing could be found on its website in Geneva - it turns out news it doesn't want anyone or at least not the drug funded dictators it answers to see it, it puts on obscure sub-sites, see below.
At 9 am on October 28 Geneva time Inner City Press in writing asked UN "High Commissioner for Human Rights" Michelle Bachelet and her spokesman Rupert Colville this: "Hello, this is a Press request for OHCHR / Bachelet comment on the murder, on video, in Honduras of 'Magdeleno' whose drug trafficking notebook were used in recent SDNY conviction of Presidential brother Tony Hernandez, a trial Inner City Press covered every day. See video of killing here.
   Specifically, it appears that the guards open the doors to the killer, who somehow had a gun inside a maximum security prison. The decedent had asked to be moved.
    Inner City Press while reporting on all this while banned from any entry of the UN for over 48[6] days is asking your Office because of reports in Honduras that your Office somehow, somewhere spoke on this - if so, where, and why was Inner City Press not sent the information given that it covers this issue and has submitted dozens of questions on it to SG Guterres, USG Melissa Fleming and Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, with no answer at all despite UN's statement to Special Rapporteur David Kaye that Inner City Press' written questions were being and would be answered, here. And see here.    Since Inner City Press and I have been excluded from OHCHR events in the UN by this no due process ban, please also explain why Commissioner Bachelet has said and done nothing about the UN Press ban, despite it being raised to her from Day 1 of her Administration.  On deadline,  Matthew Russell Lee, Esq., Inner City Press Past (and future?) Office at UN: Room S-303, UN HQ, NY NY 10017."
   Four days nothing. So did Bachelet, who is rarely at work, speak? More on Patreon here.
  Inner City Press which covered the trial daily has asked the UN for the comment of SG Antonio Guterres who met with JOH in September 2019 and did not even mention corruption, much less drug trafficking.
 On October 26 after the murder and release of the video, Inner City Press went to (try to) pose the question to Guterres. The response? Video here. Three UN security vehicles, and even a publicly funded NYPD detective, "protecting" Guterres who already wastes untold public funds on security. Disgusting. A protest has been called for, and is needed - @InnerCityPress response here.  More on Patreon here.
  This is all the more the case given the spotting of "UN" vehicles carrying JOH's soldiers near Tegucigalpa here. Inner City Press has noted that the UN uses JOH's troops in Western Sahara.
  Nor has Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric responded to request they belatedly release the report produce the report of the panel Guterres sent to Honduras to in essence back up JOH: Marcie Mersky, Ana Catalina Soberanis, Mirna Cuenta and Javier Cabreja about which Inner City Press asked at the 8 Feb 2018 noon briefing before it was roughed up and banned from the UN, 480 days now. We'll have more on this.
Inner City Press on October 18 asked the defendant's lawyer Omar Malone about this client's post arrest statement, the admitted murders by the cooperating witnesses, and upcoming sentencing submission. Video and answers here.
 The trial began with a bang on October 2 with the charge that already life imprisoned El Chapo Guzman gave the defendant $1 million for this brother, the president. On October 7, cooperating witness and former mayor Alexander Ardon described the meeting, with both El Chapo Guzman and Tony Hernandez present and the cash in plastic bags, see thread and see below.
The trial was before U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge P. Kevin Castel and Inner City Press was live tweeting it. See also Patreon here on the fast mention and shut-down of Nikki Haley's name.

    Here was the post arrest statement as initially put in to the jury, as uploaded to YouTube by Inner City Press, here. The case is US v. Diaz Morales, 15-cr-00379 (Castel).

Monday, February 3, 2020

SDNY Judge Deborah Batts Passes Away After Pathbreaking Career of Service From NYC to Ghana


By Matthew Russell Lee, PatreonBBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source
SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 3 – Path-breaking Judge Deborah A. Batts has passed away, Inner City Press has learned. Judge Batts had been hearing cases in her 24th floor courtroom in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York right until the end, see below.
   Judge Batts was nominated by President William J. Clinton in 1994 and was sworn in as a judge on June 23, 1994 by the Honorable Lawrence W. Pierce of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Judge Batts received her undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College in 1969 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1972 where she served on the editorial board of the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review. Upon graduation, she clerked for Judge Pierce, then a United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York.  In 1973, Judge Batts became an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in the litigation department. In 1979, she became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York in the Criminal Division. In 1984, Judge Batts joined the faculty at Fordham University School of Law; she became a tenured Associate Professor of Law in May, 1990. While at Fordham, Professor Batts taught Property, Legal Research and Writing, Federal Criminal Pre-Trial Procedure, Domestic Relations and an advanced Domestic Relations Seminar on Non-Traditional Families. Judge Batts resigned her tenure when she went on the bench in 1994, but continues to teach at Fordham as an Adjunct Professor.  From 1973 to the present, Judge Batts has been a member of various bar associations including The Bar Association of the City of New York, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York (LeGal). In addition, she has served on various committees of these associations as well as on the Boards of several educational institutions. Judge Batts was awarded an honorary degree by CUNY School of Law in 1998. She is currently a member of the CUNY School of Law Board of Visitors.  In 1990-91, she served as Special Associate Counsel of the Department of Investigation of the City of New York. From 1990 to 1994, Judge Batts was a Commissioner on the Law Revision Commission, State of New York.  In June, 2001, Judge Batts was a Team Member of the Crowley Program in International Human Rights’ Mission to Ghana, West Africa to observe the impact on the status of women in the area of inheritance of PNDCL 111, passed in 1985.  Rest in Peace.
  Inner City Press was covering the SDNY Magistrates Court on February 3 when it learned the sad news, from several sources in receipt of the news from the Chief Judge, and then confirmed it on another floor before this publication. Batts' passing follows that of also groundbreaking Judge Robert W. Sweet. His cases were re-assigned, as will be Judge Batts, including the second Michael Avenatti case in SDNY.
  A sample December 2019 proceeding: when Dejon Jackson appeared to plead guilty to and be sentenced on Violations of Supervised Release, the first time Judge Deborah A. Batts of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered that the VOSR specification against him be corrected.
    On December 17, there were still errors, including the date of the incident constituting a VOSR, attempted possession of a weapon in the third degree under New York State Penal Law, Section 110/265.02(1).
    Judge Batts admonished Probation, but agreed to take Dejon Jackson's guilty plea. The guideline sentence was eight to 14 months, and that is what Assistant US Attorney Kristy J. Greenberg pushed for.  
Jackson's lawyers, Marne L. Lenox and Peggy Cross-Goldenberg, Federal Defenders' Director of Training, urged four months, citing classes he has taken and completed in the last two months in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.   
AUSA Greenberg responded with a litany of violations in state custody including an altered razor.

   Judge Batts imposed a sentence of six months, conditioned on Jackson having no more disciplinary issues so that he can attend his sister's high school graduation. Call it the carrot and the stick. It was a personalized sentencing, as provided for under Section 3553a. The case is US v. Jackson, 11-cr-265 (Batts). Rest in peace.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

After 1st Day of Nike Trial US Urges Admission of Text Telling Avenatti Not To Go Public


By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon ThreadBBC - Decrypt - LightRead - Honduras - Source
SDNY COURTHOUSE, Jan 30 –  When after three days of jury selection the trial of Michael Avenatti for allegedly extorting Nike began on January 29, Assistant US Attorney Robert Sobelman told the selected jurors that Avenatti was supposed to look out for the interests of his client, but he did not.
 Avenatti had a very modern weapon, Sobelman said: social media.  Inner City Press live-tweeted the proceedings, here, and will have more. More on Patreon here.
  Avenatti's lawyer Howard Srebnick in his longer opening followed up on that theme, even emphasizing that Avenatti has, or had, 800,000 followers on Twitter and could take on a titan like Nike. He mentioned Stormy Daniel but as ruled on by Judge Paul G. Gardephe before trial, did not name Colin Kaepernick.
   Overnight, AUSA Daniel Richenthal wrote to Judge Gardephe objecting to portions of Howard Srebnick's opening statement and arguing it opened the door to entry into evidence of two text messages from Auerbach to Avenatti:
"The Government respectfully writes with two requests in light of the defendant’s opening statement this afternoon.  First, the Government requests that the Court preclude the defendant from describing or making arguments based on the content of text messages between Jeffrey Auerbach and Gary Franklin, Sr., not seen by the defendant, unless (i) a witness testifies in a manner that is materially inconsistent with those messages, and (ii) the Court determines that a specific message may offered as a prior inconsistent statement.  Second, the Government requests that the Court rule that the defendant has opened the door to the admission of two text messages sent by Mr. Auerbach to the defendant."
  In the first of these March 25, 2019 messages, "Mr. Auerbach, in response to a Twitter post of the defendant prior to his arrest...  stated that the post was 'very upsetting' and that the defendant should “call me before going public in any way."
  One might expect Judge Gardephe to address this on January 30, as well as it seems hearing from a Nike lawyer. Watch this site.
   On January 29 the first witness was Scott Wilson who was a lawyer with Boies Schiller in March 2019 when Mark Geragos came calling saying Avenatti wanted a meeting directly with Nike.
   After some back and forth about meeting at Hudson Yards or Geragos' office on Fifth Avenue, the meeting was held. Wilson said Avenatti began by saying he had evidence of Nike paying the number one draft pick in the last NBA draft.  
Wilson quoted himself asking Avenatti, Are who was that?
    Assistant US Attorney Matthew Podolsky asked Wilson why he asked. 
 To throw Avenatti off, Wilson said. But apparently it didn't. Avenatti said Deandre Ayton and got back to the demands. Ulimately the FBI was called in to secretly record Avenatti. And the US Attorney's office never went after Nike, after jailing Adidas' Jim Gatto.

There's been discussion of subpoenas from the SEC, but as captioned "In Re Athletic Apparel" companies. Inner City Press live-tweeted the proceedings, here, and will have more. More on Patreon hereThe case is US v. Avenatti, 19-cr-373 (Gardephe).

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Otting Appalled By Community Reinvestment Act Questions Amid FOIA Complaints by Inner City Press


By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon ThreadBBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR PFT
SOUTH BRONX / DC, Jan 29 –   The current US Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting belatedly took questions from House members on January 29 about his Community Reinvestment Act proposal - and quickly declared the questions "appalling."
   Otting began by insisting he will not provide any more than the 60 day comment period - this so that his proposal could avoid the Congressional Review Act. It went downhill from there. Fair Finance Watch live-tweeted thread here:
Otting begins by telling Rep Waters he will NOT extend the comment period.   The reason? As Inner City Press has reported, to avoid Congressional Review Act if/when Republicans lose the Senate
Otting used his five minutes to play up where he was born in Iowa, and to use his spouse. Now he says the Federal Reserve not signing on to his proposal is just Lael. That's not how the Federal Reserve Board works
Will Otting be asked about the counterfeit comments that went in to support his selling of OneWest to CIT? About his lawless denial of #FOIA requests and fee waiver requests since at OCC? To refusing public comment on 5/3 charter conversion, and Chinatown FSB?
 Now Rep Waters asks "given all of the work you did with OneWest Bank, you have never observed discrimination?"  Otting: My family has told me about it.  Waters: Today I'm telling you about it.
Now Rep McHenry starts by saying doesn't CRA need to be modernized since 1995?  But does that mean let Otting weaken it? As he already has, ignoring public comments? That's key here: CRA is enforced on public comments on merger applications and Otting buries those
 Rep Velasquez just asked Otting if he will share info with the Committee. Otting dodges, then says, "I'd come by your office, but not to the public."  Otting is also destroying FOIA compliance at OCC.  Rep Velasquez says, Let's subpoena it. And release to public? Rep Sherman tells Otting his refusal to extend the comment period show so much contempt including for the Committee that why should they listen to him on LIBOR? Why indeed.
Otting brags that OCC and FDIC control 85% of banking. But CRA is enforced on mergers, most of which have bank holding companies so the applications go to the Fed. And Otting just throws CRA comments into the garbage can, is our experience...
Rep. Scott tells Otting that "even Banks" are concerned about his proposal, that regulation cannot be "my way or the highway." Tells Otting he misrepresented the Federal Reserve's position, and skipped previous hearing. Asks, Why are you doing this? #OneWest
 Otting: "I find somewhat appalling some of the comments you have made to me... How many years do you want this to go on?" For what to go on - the already not strong enough CRA process? Or Otting's world of no-FOIA, no merger comments, retaliation and lawlessness?
 Otting has never visited the office of Rep Clay, tells him that the race discrimination issues he has raised are not relevant under the Community Reinvestment Act.  Oh.
Otting cashed out of his position with OneWest Bank in California by overseeing fake comments in favor its acquisition by the CIT Group.
   Then, emboldened, he devoted the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to weakening or destroying the Community Reinvestment Act which provides for the public process that he subverted with fake comments.
   Inner City Press, which along with CRC opposed the merger and then pursued a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents about Otting's fraud, soon found its and Fair Finance Watch's comments to the OCC being rejected, or ignored, or returned. 
  While Inner City Press' FOIA requests get fee waivers from the Federal Reserve and a range of agencies in the US and beyond, Otting's OCC suddenly started denying them, hindering access to the merger applications on which CRA is enforced.   
Otting is trying to push through this CRA-killing proposal on a short comment period, cognizant of the other CRA, the Congressioal Review Act. But it is obvious that even banks want more time.
On January 26, in advance of Otting's belated January 29 House of Representatives appearance, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted a formal comment, including: January 26, 2020  Re: Docket ID OCC-2018-0008 &  - total opposition to OCC/FDIC plan to weaken CRA 
To whom it may concern at the OCC and FDIC: On behalf of Fair Finance Watch, and Inner City Press, and in my personal capacity, this is a timely comment opposing the proposal by Comptroller Joseph Otting and the FDIC to weaken the CRA.
Enforcing the CRA including through commenting to the Federal Reserve and FDIC, and OCC under previous Comptrollers, the results have been new bank branches in the South Bronx, and lending and consumer protection commitments well beyond.  Some advocacy, from 2001, here;  2002 here (Wells Fargo);  jump cut to 2015, here (due to 5000 character restriction)  and more  
But since Otting became Comptroller, we have seen timely comments ignored, and been denied access to bank merger applications by a retaliatory imposition of FOIA fees. The Federal Reserve and other federal agencies, like the OCC pre-Otting, grant Inner City Press FOIA fee waivers. Under Otting, the OCC does not.
On Chinatown FSB, the OCC refused to consider a timely comment. The OCC unilaterally determined not to accept public comments on a major bank's charter conversion application, which it rubber stamped.  This has been rogue-like behavior. It is in keeping with our experience with Otting when, as head of One West, he oversaw false comments submitted to regulators to support One West's merger with CIT. People wrote it and said they had not commented; the regulators asked Otting's OneWest's counsel - and there the trail of evidence ends, for now. See, for the record (including the record on this timely request that Otting be recused and the proposal withdrawn), here.
  In 2020 we are aware of the OCC calling community groups looking to be able to say they didn't authorize their sign-ons. Well, we proudly signed onto NCRC's letter(s). And for now, in advance of Otting's January 29 House appearance, we re-affirm these views:   Under the NPRM, the definition of affordable housing is relaxed to include middle-income housing in high-cost areas. In addition, housing is assumed to be affordable if lower-income people can afford to pay the rent without verifying that lower-income people will be tenants. Essential infrastructure such as bridges is added as an activity eligible for community development but clearly estimating the benefit to LMI populations of such large-scale projects is difficult and likely to result in ratings inflation as well as diverting funding from community development directly in LMI communities...

Absurdly, the proposal would grant CRA credit for work on stadia, for example. The proposal must be withdrawn.  In short, we are totally opposed to Otting's and the FDIC's proposals and think for the reasons set forth above, including actions at OneWest and more recently trying to intimidate community groups, Otting must be recused and the proposal withdrawn. We will have further comments.  Matthew R Lee Fair Finance Watch (and Inner City Press) New York. Watch this site.