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The Sleeping Watchdog

Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor is giving us merely a few hours ago [update: yesterday 13 minutes before an idiot with a bulldozer went through the fiber optical cable] before the news on OPCW. So when we see “a special two-day session in late June in response to Britain’s call to hand the body new powers to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks“, what does that mean? You see, the setting is not complex, it should be smooth sailing, but is it?

Let’s take a look at the evidence, most of it from the Guardian. I raised issues which started as early as March 2018 with ‘The Red flags‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/27/the-red-flags/), we see no evidence on Russian handling, we see no evidence on the delivery, merely a rumour that ‘More than 130 people could have been exposed‘ (‘could’ being the operative word) and in the end, no fatalities, the target survived. Whilst a mere silenced 9mm solution from a person doing a favour for Russian businessman Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin would have done the trick with no fuss at all. And in Russia, you can’t even perceive the line of Russians hoping to be owed a favour by Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin. In addition, all these months later we still have not seen any conclusive evidence of ANY kind that it was a Russian state based event. Mere emotional speculations on ‘could’ ‘might be‘ as well as ‘expected‘. So where do we stand?

A little later in April, we see in the article ‘Evidence by candlelight‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/04/evidence-by-candlelight/), the mere conclusion ‘Porton Down experts unable to verify precise source of novichok‘, so not only could the experts not determine the source (the delivery device), it also gives weight to the lack of evidence that it was a Russian thing. Now, I am not saying that it was NOT Russia, we merely cannot prove that it was. In addition, I was able to find several references to a Russian case involving Ivan Kivelidi and Leonard Rink in 1995, whilst the so called humongous expert named Vil Mirzayanov stated ““You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”” I do not oppose that, because it sounds all reasonable and my extended brain cells on Chemical weapons have not been downloaded yet (I am still on my first coffee). Yet in all this the OPCW setting was in 2013: “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”“, I can accept that the OPCW is not fully up to speed, yet the information from 1995, 16 years earlier was the setting: ““In 1995, a Russian banking magnate called Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary died from organ failure after being poisoned with a military grade toxin found on an office telephone. A closed trial found that his business partner had obtained the substance via intermediaries from an employee of a state chemical research institute known as GosNIIOKhT, which was involved in the development of Novichoks“, which we got from the Standard (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-russia-nerve-agent-attack-spy-poisoning-sergei-skripal-salisbury-accusations-evidence-explanation-a8258911.html), so when you realise these settings, we need to realise that the OPCW is flawed on a few levels. It is not the statement “the OPCW has found its methods under attack from Russia and other supporters of the Syrian regime“, the mere fact that we see in regarding of Novichoks implies that the OPCW is a little out of their depth, their own documentation implies this clearly (as seen in the previous blog articles), I attached one of them in the article ‘Something for the Silver Screen?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/17/something-for-the-silver-screen/), so a mere three months ago, there has been several documents all out in the open that gives light to a flawed OPCW, so even as we accept ‘chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack‘, the fact that it did not result in fatalities gives us that it actually might be a non-state action, it might not be an action by any ‘friend’ of Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin or Igor Valentinovich Korobov. These people cannot smile, not even on their official photos. No sense of humour at all, and they tend to be the people who have a very non-complementary view on failure. So we are confronted not merely with the danger of Novichoks, or with the fact that it very likely in non-state hands. The fact that there is no defence, not the issue of the non-fatalities, but the fact that the source could not be determined, is the dangerous setting and even as we hold nothing against Porton Down, the 16 year gap shown by the OPCW implies that the experts relied on by places like Porton Down are not available, which changes the landscape by a lot and whilst many will wonder how that matters. That evidence could be seen as important when we reconsider the chemical attacks in Syria on 22nd August 2011, so not only did the US sit on their hands, it is now not entirely impossible that they did not have the skills at their disposal to get anything done. Even as a compound like Sarin is no longer really a mystery, the setting we saw then, gives us the other part. With the Associated Press giving us at the time “anonymous US intelligence officials as saying that the evidence presented in the report linking Assad to the attack was “not a slam dunk.”” Is one part, the fact that all the satellites looking there and there is no way to identify the actual culprit is an important part. You see we could accept that the Syrian government was behind this, but there is no evidence, no irrefutable fact was ever given. That implies that when it comes to delivery systems, there is a clear gap, not merely for Novichoks, making the entire setting a lot less useful. In this the website of the OPCW (at https://www.opcw.org/special-sections/syria-and-the-opcw/) is partial evidence. When we see “A total of 14 companies submitted bids to undertake this work and, following technical and commercial evaluation of the bids, the preferred bidders were announced on 14th February 2014. Contracts were signed with two companies – Ekokem Oy Ab from Finland, and Veolia Environmental Services Technical Solutions in the USA” in light of the timeline, implies that here was no real setting and one was implemented after Ghouta, I find that part debatable and not reassuring. In addition, the fact finding mission was not set up until 2014, this is an issue, because one should have been set up on the 23rd August 2011, even as nothing would have been available and the status would have been idle (for very valid reasons), the fact that the fact finding mission was not set up until 2014, gives light to even longer delays. In addition, we see a part that has no blame on the OPCW, the agreement “Decides further that the Secretariat shall: inspect not later than 30 days after the adoption of this decision, all facilities contained in the list referred to in paragraph 1(a) above;“, perfect legal (read: diplomacy driven) talk giving the user of those facilities 30 days to get rid of the evidence. Now, there is no blame on the OPCW in any way, yet were these places not monitored by satellites? Would the visibility of increased traffic and activities not given light to the possible culprit in this all? And when we look at the paragraph 1(a) part and we see: “the location of all of its chemical weapons, chemical weapons storage facilities, chemical weapons production facilities, including mixing and filling facilities, and chemical weapons research and development facilities, providing specific geographic coordinates;“, is there not the decent chance (if the Syrian government was involved, that ‘all locations‘ would be seen as ‘N-1‘, with the actual used fabrication location used conveniently missing from the list? #JustSaying

It seems to me that if this setting is to be more (professional is the wrong word) capable to be effective, a very different setting is required. You see, that setting becomes very astute when we realise that non-state actors are currently on the table, the danger that a lone wolf getting creative is every bit as important to the equation. the OPCW seems to be in a ‘after the fact‘ setting, whilst the intelligence community needs an expert that is supportive towards their own experts in a pro-active setting, not merely the data mining part, but the option to see flagged chemicals that could be part of a binary toxic setting, requires a different data scope and here we see the dangers when we realise that the ‘after the fact‘ setting with a 16 year gap missing the danger is something that is expensive and equally, useless would be the wrong word, but ‘effective’ it is not, too much evidence points at that. For that we need to see that their mission statement is to ‘implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in order to achieve the OPCW’s vision of a world that is free of chemical weapons and of the threat of their use‘, yet when we look at the CWC charter we see: ‘The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction‘, which requires a pro-active setting and that is definitely lacking from the OPCW, raising the issue whether their mandate is one of failure. That requires a very different scope, different budgets and above all a very different set of resources available to the OPCW, or whoever replaces the OPCW, because that part of the discussion is definitely not off the table for now. The Salisbury event and all the available data seems to point in that direction.

 

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Vestal Virgins of Health

We tend to get nervous whenever Richard Branson gets mentioned. I am not sure why. You see (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/29/richard-branson-virgin-scoops-1bn-pounds-of-nhs-contracts), we see two parts. The first is “Richard Branson’s Virgin Care won a record £1bn of NHS contracts last year, as £3.1bn of health services were privatised“, the second is “Its growing role has prompted particular anger among anti-privatisation groups. It pays no tax in the UK and its ultimate parent company, Virgin Group Holdings Ltd, is based in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven“, my two issues here are ‘So what?‘ and ‘What did you expect would happen?‘ You see, the solution I had in mind is still not in the roll out and as such Richard has a few issues to deal with soon enough, but the larger extent is not the solution to get it on the rails, it is that both sides of the political isle have been sitting on their hands for over two years and the previous labour administration wasted 11 billion with no results to show. I have shown over half a dozen times in the last year alone that actions were needed and Richard saw options to fulfil the need, so as we read: “Privateers continue to win huge new NHS contracts“, we need to realise that the NHS can no longer make it happen and that the health care costs in the UK will go up, all largely due to politicians not seeing eye to eye on the solutions needed.

So when we now look at the need for the people we see that not only is the interpretation of the mess wrong, the issues that we saw last February (at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/28/labour-nhs-jeremy-corbyn-hospital-theresa-may) is still not improving. With “Labour’s failure to counter the right’s message has left more people blaming the NHS crisis on migrants and patients’ bad lifestyles than Tory underfunding or rising numbers of older people“, this too requires scrutiny, because the coffers are empty, all sides in the UK were impacted, so that includes the NHS. In addition, when we see “Whoever follows Corbyn will now find it ferociously hard to regain that lost NHS ground” we see that the message got lost in many ways, because it is about owning the issue and resolving it, not to win lost NHS grounds, because that is merely a conversation on things that are nice to have and the patients will still die as the ‘conversation‘ continues. It is largely too late for conversations, it is time for actual solutions. I am not of mind whether Virgin Care UK is the right step or not, but it is an ACTUAL step being made, which is every time better than merely talking to the press on how hard things are. The people in the UK have had a few years of that with no resolution into any real solution. So as the papers go on regarding the death of a bullied girl and eating disorder services, we seem to forget that the two extreme (yet not ignorable issues) are not the centre piece, it is brought as the outliers in the game that is actually larger and has a few other problems that are digging itself to the surface. So as we see the blame of neglect, we forget to ask the question in regard to “Becky Romero, 15, was let down by ‘gross NHS failures’ an inquest heard“, yet where were the parents? Where were HIS/HER responsibilities? And when we see “The troubled school girl was victim to more than a decade of bullying before her death earlier this year“, what EXACTLY did the school do in the end? It is not a secret that the service is massively underfunded, it is not an excuse, it does not clear the NHS of any blame, but it seems to me that the school had already massively failed this student, and where are they in the dock? Where are the parents in all this?

It seems to me that there is plenty of blame to go around and the NHS has been given the black card for a few times too many. If anything, we could state that Parliament itself might be seen as the guilty party as they had no funds available. The buck gets passed around and around and there has been way too much of that.

In my view it is time that the parents themselves are getting the responsibility to some degree. Now, this is not fair and there should be a better way, but should child care and child wellbeing not be with the parent? I know that there are exceptions, but it seems to me that there have been too many exceptions in too many places and ways and the NHS is no longer able to meet the challenges it faces. Changes will be needed in the immediate and even to the longer extent for now.

So is Virgin Care the solution?

As I stated before, there is no way to tell, but it is an active step in resolving issues, which is better than looking at it and whining about shortages to the media whilst no actual actions are taken, except for planning stages that cost thousands of pounds and merely result in a report. You see, it was only 2 weeks ago that we saw “One CCG – NHS Surrey Downs – accidentally disclosed in its October public finance papers that its liability over the case was £328,000“, in my view it was not an accident, or the mere fact that it might have been shows not merely a flaw, but a larger lack of competence in this regard. Like any firm it went to court after the firm was confronted with “a “serious flaws” in the way the contract was awarded“, yet the petition was all about Branson being rich and not bout the NHS chapters screwing up AGAIN, whilst also dragging its feet regarding confidential issues. So as we get misinformed on 2 million versus the Branson estimated wealth of 3.5 billion, whilst in the same setting forgets that the NHS bungled issues for a decade and as such they can no longer get things done and private options are all that remains, that is a business decision and as such, business decisions are a game that come with rules and regulations.

In all this there is a side that people seem to ignore. You see, if Virgin Care UK gets even as little as 10% of their contracts done, with passing grades, we see that a for profit organisation has been able to do what the NHS no longer could, showing that a harsh overhaul had been overdue for well over a decade. I showed part of that earlier this year in both ‘Choosing an inability‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/09/choosing-an-inability/) and ‘Healthy or Smart?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/02/10/healthy-or-smart/), two moments where we see the usage of funds that are debatable. Now, whether it should have been done is not the question, what is shown is that the NHS is so short of cash whilst the privatised versions are optionally now making a profit. Considering that Richard Branson is in it for the cash (to some extent), showing that it can be done is merely meat for the grinder showing that the NHS has a few more logistical flaws than any of us are realising. As such there is a clear chance that we need to ask a multitude of serious questions at the address of the NHS and not at the setting of Branson incorporated, that is the evidence we might be harshly confronted with at the end of 2018.

The fact that the people at large are starting to realise that harsher acts are needed are an initial first in resolving the issue. The fact that the Daily Mail reported on Drunk Tanks, an issue I raised in 2014 shows the additional part that the actions by the NHS have been too lacks and too slow, it could be the evidence that drove Richard Branson in entering the UK care field more energetically over the last 5 years.

 

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Let it (or them) die!

Harsh words that are befitting a slightly harsher world than we bargained for. Yesterday I had one of those ridiculous epiphany. In my view I saw some news regarding ICE and how it is so addictive and how it is costing healthcare 500 million. There is news all over the place in both the UK and Australia regarding the abuse of both drugs and alcohol. We seem to go out of our way to reward and support stupid people. Now when it comes to simple things like consumer protection it is one thing. A person can be misinformed and a person can be misled, for this we have consumer protection to give them additional protection. I have no issue with that, when a consumer loses out on a misrepresented or misled purchase, there should be protection. For the most, many shops will exchange and usually even refund. Yet at some point in this day and age, we need to make changes, we need to adjust. It is not by choice, it is out of necessity. You see, choices were made and politicians will need to be held to account. We need to show to all around us that going soft on corporations and going too soft on the people at large can no longer be supported. You see, it is the price you pay for making a choice.

What if we change the law? As per January 1st 2017 certain medical options fall away from adults. You see, from that date, what if we stop paying for treatment of drugs and alcohol abuse. A person can only get treatment if they pay fully and pay upfront. Without that, there will be no treatment and the drugs and drunk tanks are reintroduced. You see, as stated, we no longer have an option. How can we accept that our governments push us deeper and deeper into debt, unable to keep a proper balance whilst at the same time give more and more breaks for corporations to skim from the top and become more and more non tax accountable! Until we get the law properly to properly adjust certain parts in taxation, accountability and prosecution we no longer have an option. We stop to support certain acts of stupidity. If they die? Let them!

I see images of thousands of refugees, genuinely wanting a future for them and their family, not an extremist thought in sight, just to start a life and create a future for their children. How can we stop these people and keep on supporting junkies? At 7.35 billion mankind is not going extinct any day soon, so why bother with outrageous forms of support for someone so stupid to make such mistakes again and again. In my cruel view, let them die! Let the first 100 be a clear sign to people that drugs kill, there is no next, there is no after again and again. I truly believe that it will push the use of drugs down, when more and more people are confronted that someone they directly know, who had died from drug or alcohol abuse, these elements will soon diminish to a much lower amount. It will never go away, but it will go down to such an extent that people will seriously consider not taking drugs. You see, the drugs pusher will always come with the ‘once will not hurt‘, ‘once is fine, we all do it!‘ He/she lies to you! I and many of my friends never took drugs. And let’s look at the additional benefits this solution will bring. Hospital costs go down, healthcare support goes up, less pressure on support systems and as these people relishing freedom of choice die, their places open up to you me and the refugee. All those who want a real life, a new life or a better life.

This is about more than just booze and drugs. On January 23rd 2015 I wrote ‘The danger topic‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/23/the-danger-topic/), here we see the issue I raised almost a year ago. We see “At The Bruegal Institute in Brussels is not the only think-tank to believe the estimated €250bn cost of a Grexit, while covered by the bailout funds, would cripple the Eurozone and delay recovery for a decade we now see that the ECB is about to spend 1.1 trillion for bonds. When we see “The Frankfurt-based bank will use electronically created money to buy the bonds of Eurozone governments – quantitative easing – to try to boost confidence, push up inflation and drive down the value of the single currency, helping to increase exports and kick-start growth”“, yes the Italian Draghi had an idea to kick-start the economy. Now we see ‘ECB Day: markets tumble as Draghi disappoints investors‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/dec/03/ecb-stimulus-qe-negative-rates-mario-draghi-live#block-566070ebe4b073bf0735b3be). “But they may have a point. As Draghi pointed out – the Eurozone economy is growing, credit conditions are improving. QE is working, and they’ll keep doing it. Why bring out a bigger punchbowl?” and “The wave of selling rippled from Frankfurt and Paris to Madrid and Milan, as traders expressed disappointment that the ECB hadn’t expanded its QE programme, or hit the banks with tougher negative interest rates“. This is the problem for us. You see, investors expected more, they always expect more, which is why it would not work. In addition, their push could result in more spending and less and less control on that spending. I foresaw it almost a year ago, but as people ignored me and listened to these good weather forecasters on how the economy would grow, are now confronted with more and more bad news management. How the economy grew between 0.3% and 0.4%, so when we look at http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/eu/forecasts/2015_winter_forecast_en.htm, and we see a forecast that is written like “Growth this year is forecast to rise to 1.7% for the EU as a whole and to 1.3% for the euro area. In 2016, economic activity should grow by 2.1% and 1.9% respectively“, that 0.3% does not come close, and still these governments are living the gravy train, spending more and more and leaving the invoice for a next government who will borrow even more to deal with invoiced that cannot be dealt with. So how about taking away certain support. How about letting the people see in the street how the future is warped because the symbiotic relationship between nations and large corporations are no longer correctly honoured. Letting the system collapse is one option, letting the people die, so that those nurses can focus on nursing to true health, NHS systems on a global scale will have less and less costs and we can actually move forward.

We can no longer afford to be nice. If you doubt that, thank consider the title ‘Investors got ECB odds wrong but Draghi could pay hefty price‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2015/dec/03/investors-got-ecb-odds-wrong-but-draghi-could-pay-hefty-price), when we read “It’s hard to know who is most to blame: Mario Draghi, for leading investors up the garden path; or investors, for believing that the European Central Bank president’s talk of doing “what we must” equated to a firm promise of a bigger dose of quantitative easing“, in what way ‘bigger dose‘? We can’t even take care of the current dose and the investors want more and more and more. So, we need to think differently. When we get rid of a surplus population, more jobs, more rental places, less costs, which means lower debt options. The investors will go ‘Baahhhhh, humbug!‘, but only because greed is eternal and they require that extra cash.

When we start hitting governments a dollar for dollar (or pound for pound) option, the game will change and we will see additional false promises on how the economy will get sooo much better in 2017. I say, well, when those tax dollars come in, we can consider paying for certain treatments, only when those dollars (or pounds) are actually COLLECTED.

You know, I can already predict the answer, it will be some accounting stunt that allows for ‘spare change‘. If PriceWaterhouse Coopers comes with that option, you should ask how that worked out for Tesco, both them and the press will remains massively silent on either matter. So, we must change the game, as the players have changed the format of the game. We can’t change the players, but we can limit their actions, hence dropping services.

How inhumane is it? In equal measure I ask, how inhumane is it to leave a multi trillion debt to our children? Is Greece not a clear example, they will never escape the debt that previous governments left them, they will go through life blaming those not responsible, whilst not prosecuting those responsible, what kind of a future is that? At http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/greece-debt-crisis-athens-narrowly-passes-2016-austerity-budget-1532011 we see the title ‘Greece debt crisis: Athens narrowly passes 2016 austerity budget‘, you might think that this is good news, but so far all additional debts have been used to pay bills and pay for interest, Greece is not moving forward, which means that 5.7 billion in spending cuts is required, with one third of that as cuts towards the pensions, so the 10,000 not so poor Greeks are leaving, whilst leaving the rest to pay for an invoice no one in Greece can afford, it is not that far a thought that 2016/2017 will be the years when Greek youth, man and women will marry out of Greece so that they can have a future, reducing the future of Greece even further. Public debt will grow the coming year by another 8% towards 188% whilst unemployment will remain at 25%, so how is that any future? Statistica reported that the advantage of marrying a foreigner received 42% of the women and 33% of the men stating that ‘better education and social stability of the children‘ was received, only 2% for both gender relied on same religion, which could be a massive blow to Orthodox Greece. Whether this comes to pass is not possible to predict, but as options diminish, other solutions will be sought by those hardest hit, so is my leap of not caring for a collection of idiots that cannot accept responsibility such a massive leap? The Sydney Morning Herald reported in June (at http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/newtown-gets-busy-as-kings-cross-empties-20150619-ghseco.html): “According to NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research numbers analysed by Fairfax Media, in the 10 months from April 2013 to Jan 2014 there were 86 instances of alcohol-related attacks in Newtown. From February 2014 to the end of November there were 102 attacks, an increase of 18 per cent.  From January to March 2015 there were 34 assaults, compared to 27 in the same period the previous year“, so will the drunk tank be a solution? That remains to be seen, but I feel certain that the first hospital invoice to be paid upfront will definitely have an impact. As people get to pay $300 for alcohol treatment it will not go to bars, if they cannot pay, the drunk tank will be the route to take. How long until someone figures out that this lifestyle gets them killed? How about changing the lifestyle of binge drinking that has absolutely no positive impact other than a fake instilment of Ego?

We have tried all these soft labour solutions and none, I repeat none have worked. It is time that we employ different solutions.

I will be the first one to admit that it is as inhumane as it gets, but people are for the most massively stupid, especially when they are in groups, so as such less intelligent solutions must be considered. Perhaps it will work, perhaps not, but can we truly ignore the option? The cost for alcohol related abuse was $14.352b in 2010 (Australia, at http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/441-460/tandi454.html), yet, can an alternative be found? Yes, there is one other solution, how about on June 30th all Australian residents receive an additional tax invoice of $625. If over 80% pays it, we keep to the old system, if not we will try my option, dollar for dollar. If you are unwilling to pay one way, you get to pay another way. I reckon it will not take more than 3 months until 90% plus suddenly decides to pay that additional bill.

I prefer to let the debt die, not the people, but we are running out of options and those who should truly inform us are hiding behind experts who will treat us to carefully phrased denials, how is that leading to a solution? Yes, in this blog I phrased more questions than answers. I am pretty intelligent, yet a solution cannot be given until we make massive changes to the society we currently live in so that our children and our grandchildren will have any future. When you realise that we are getting to a point that it is proven, that making the life of a person negotiable is a lot less impossible than we ever thought, that will be the point that a push for massive legislative change is more likely than not to succeed, it is the one push big business cannot counter, some things can truly push a shadow over greed, we only have to be willing to push enough people into that shadow.

 

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Spelling fraud with a ‘T’

So, after we see the events in Tesco, which has taken its billions in toll from September 2014 onwards, we now learn that Japan has its own version of Tesco, which we read in ‘Toshiba boss quits over £780m accounting scandal‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/21/toshiba-boss-quits-hisao-tanaka-accounting-scandal).

Here it is not the meagre 263 million that Deloitte discovered would only be the tip of the Titanic sinker, in the case of Japan, it is three times the amount, which initially might beckon the question whether the fall out for Toshiba could be 9 times worse. Is it that simple?

The Guardian gives us the following “Tanaka and Sasaki knew about the profit overstatement and created a pressurised corporate culture that prompted business heads to manipulate figures to meet targets, the investigators found“, the other one is “Improper accounting at Toshiba included overstatements and booking profits early or pushing back the recording of losses or charges. Those actions often resulted in still higher targets being set for business divisions in the following period“.

These two are aimed at one side of a picture, but what some sales people will know is that this is already a disjointed part. Before I go into this, there is one more quote that needs to be mentioned. It is “Despite its shares losing almost a quarter of their value since the irregularities surfaced in April, it is still Japan’s 10th biggest company by market value. It was created by a merger in 1938 but its roots date back to 1875 and it was one of the companies that turned Japan into an industrial power“, so these irregularities have been part of something already for months, in addition, from an article one day earlier we get “The report said much of the improper accounting, stretching back to fiscal year 2008, was intentional and would have been difficult for auditors to detect“.

The last paragraph alone implies that like with Tesco, this system could not be done without massive ‘support’ from accountancy firms, moreover in all this, we have to wonder if anything will be achieved, especially as PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) seems to have fallen off the view of journalists, and as we have seen no news from the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) since December 2014, we can ask in equal measure, whether the now sparkly news on Toshiba will go anywhere at all. Is it not interesting that PwC added 64 new partners three weeks ago, they get all the limelight as we read “Luke Sayers, chief executive of PwC Australia, congratulated the new partners on their appointment, praising their outstanding professional expertise“, whilst at the same time we get “IOOF has hired accounting giant PwC to review its regulatory breach reporting policy and procedures within the firm’s research division“, whilst in all this, PwC should still be regarded as the number one problem, as for a long time Tesco’s ‘issues of monetary matters‘ ended up getting overstated by well over a quarter of a billion, and so far it seems that either the SFO is nowhere, it is hushed or it seems to pussyfoot around PwC as the PwC marketing engine goes on like there was never a glitch in their seamless sky to begin with.

Now it is important that the entire PwC issue hits the UK, so a global company like PwC should not get hindered by one rotten basket, especially as they have dozens of baskets. Yet as one basket was regarded to have gone ‘rotten through’, the fact that there remains a system of silence, gives way to ask the question why PwC should be trusted at all and in that light, in the case of Toshiba, how intensely damaged the accounting business has become, you see Tesco and if we go by the words of Sheldon Ray of the Financial times we see “non-GAAP earnings per share that were more than 100 per cent higher than its GAAP numbers in the last quarter. Another reported 2 cents a share non-GAAP profit vs $1.41 per share loss under GAAP in one quarter” (at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f07720d4-c9b1-11e4-b2ef-00144feab7de.html#axzz3gWXJGSSF), so how deep goes all this? This grows in light when we consider ‘Richard Bove on Fannie Mae’s Accounting Irregularities‘ (at http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/07/fannie-mae-accounting/). Not a number one source, yet consider the quote “The result of their work is a conspiracy theory concerning the government takeover of Fannie Mae in which the public has been lied to concerning Fannie Mae’s financial condition in 2008 and in subsequent years“, this is linked to the work by Adam Spittler CPA, MS, and Mike Ciklin JD, MBA, MRE. Spittler is a Senior Associate at KPMG and Ciklin is an investor in a number of start-up digitally based companies, so we see that there is at least some Gravitas with these people, now add to that the information from the Washington Times (at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/mar/11/fannie-mae-recklessness-risks-future-financial-cri/), where we see ‘Mortgage giant hired unqualified auditor with conflict of interest for critical position‘ and “Nearly seven years after it was bailed out from the housing market crash, mortgage giant Fannie Mae is still engaging in behaviour that could precipitate future financial crises and taxpayer losses, a government watchdog warns in a report to be released Wednesday“, which was an article from last March. Now, the fact that this is not ‘new’ news is not the issue, what is the issue is that there is an almost Global act of blatant disregard, leaving the people the feeling that accounting seems to be set to levels of intentional misrepresenting companies for the need of bonuses and the ‘Holy Dow’. The fact that the activity against such transgressions is seemingly kept of the table in these economic times will only grow stronger unrest.

Yet, is my view correct, is it not me that is in error? Let’s face it, One in the US, one in Japan and one in UK does not a conspiracy make, it does not reflect on some non-existing criminal empire based on the quill, ink and parchment (as accounting used to go in the old days). What is an issue is how on a global scale governments seem to act or not act is matter for discussion, yet in all this external forces have been at work too, let’s face it that the US in 2008 was a place of desperation, even as it is now still on the ‘to-be-regarded-as-bankrupt’ even governments will make weird leaps when they are pushed into a corner. In my view, the fact that the bulk of global accounting is pretty much in the hands of half a dozen accounting firms remains cause for alarm and PwC is in the thick of many events. Including the 40 million property scandal surrounding Xu Jiayin last march.

Yet back we go to Japan, the land of yummy Sushi and as it seems shady bookkeeping. You see, there is no way to tell how deep Toshiba will get gutted, if Tesco is any form of indication, there will be a massive backlash, If 256 million leads to a well over 3 billion drop in value, what will it do to Toshiba? More important, with Japan so deep in debt, would it push Japan over the edge of bankruptcy? Let’s not forget that Japan hung over that Abyss a few times and the US seemed to have ‘intervened’ in favour of Japan in the past, in this case, that might not ever be an option again. For those who think that I overreact, think again. Tesco lost value factor 12. Now, we all agree that this is extremely unlikely to hit Toshiba to that degree, but what happens when stockholders walk out? Now consider that Toshiba is amongst the 10 largest Japanese companies with a global reach that equals IBM, that whilst Japan has a debt of $10 trillion, the fallout will hit Japan (again). To give view to the next part, I need to revisit a part I mentioned in the past. Let us take a look at the following example:

In week 10 a salesperson makes a sale, knowing it will not be a solution, during the next week that customer gets managed all over support and after a week, they escalate and communicate with the customer on solving it, a week after that the customer gets the apology that there is no solution, but that the customer will get a full refund, case closed.

Week 10 Sale made
Week 11  Support starts
Week 12 Escalation
Week 13 No resolution
Week 15 Refund

Now the part, the sale was made, in Week 13 no resolution, now we leave one quarter and go into the new quarter, the refund will not affect the sales person’s bonus, nor will the sales target be affected due to negative sale.

This is based on actual events, now think of the impact when this is not mere sales, but 1.2 billion in sales. Did this happen? I cannot state that all of the funds were done in that way, but consider the impact of increased sales and the people who enjoyed their bonuses from that (if that happens in Japan).

Consider the quote “blamed on management’s overzealous pursuit of profit“, which we get from the ABC article (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-21/toshiba-top-executives-quit-over-us12-billion-scandal/6637976). Now add to that the quote “underlings could not challenge powerful bosses who were intent on boosting profits at almost any cost“, so how was the profit boosted? You see, this is not just an auditing issue, when we look at these large companies and the way that sales are arranged and forecasted, consider the events involved. To name but a few

  1. Leads
  2. Contacts (the consequence of a lead)
  3. Forecasting (the consequence of contact and the push for sale)
  4. Sales registration (Scopus, Salesforce, SAP)
  5. Accounting
  6. Reporting

Six iterations of paper and electronic trails that had to handle 1.2 billion in virtual revenue to some extent. Even if the leads cycle was avoided (by going through existing customers), there are other divisions that needed to be aware of a large non existing sale. You see, twelve hundred million dollars makes for a massive amount of monitors, laptops and other items Toshiba makes. Even over time, flags should have been raised on several levels, so when I read “The report said much of the improper accounting, which stretched back to 2008, was intentional and would have been difficult for auditors to detect“, which implies that the intentional misdirection was done over 6 iterations, which means that the group involved was a bit larger than we read in the articles at present. More important, how well did the Auditors seek in this regard? Which now takes me back to the reference I made earlier regarding “PwC added 64 new partners“, so how good are these ‘senior’ players? Making someone a partner, so that they can be misdirected by a senior partner would be equally disturbing. The fact that Toshiba falls through just like Olympus did, in a place where these events are regarded as ‘shocking’ according to investigating lawyer Koichi Ueda does not make me any less nervous. How institutionalised is overstating revenues on a global scale? You see, this is happening a lot more than many realise and even though many are not found, it does not mean it is not happening next to your own place of business. Now we get back to the issue I raised regarding Fannie Mae. The fact that it is not unrealistic that the government looked the other way here is still a fact we must consider. More important, are the two parts not mentioned in any of this. The first is linked to the issue I reported on January 30th 2013 (yes over 2 years ago at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/01/30/time-for-another-collapse/) in my article ‘Time for another collapse‘, I questioned the way the Dow did not just recover, it did so whilst places all around us were remaining below par for a very long time after that. Now consider the following speculative theory:

What if places like Fannie Mae used the ‘leave one in’ approach. So there were mortgage packages and derivatives. So, we have four properties that are doing fine and we add one worthless one to the mix. The package deal as the salesperson states. So the buyer ends up with a ‘value’ and whilst one part is ‘given’ without value, that person has a good deal, now consider that this one place is no longer a lost place, it is no longer a write off. Over time the market would recover with less losses, so is this truly an action that is virtually impossible? Moreover, if such a thing truly happens, would it be fraud? How could an auditor ever find the event in the first place?

This now links back to Toshiba, not just in how you push up 1.2 billion, but how to get it passing the view of a ton of auditors. In the case of Tesco, I personally considered the involvement of PwC from the first moment the news came out, there it was a less murky place because as supermarket chain their product goes to Joe and Jolene Public. That is not the case with Toshiba. Not only are they global, but with a power plant division (including the one that makes you grow in the dark) as well as medical equipment (likely needed for previous mentioned division), Toshiba deals with consumers, corporations and governments, which on one side requires a lot more administration, but that administration would have the ability to go murky on an exponential level, which gives added value to the claim “difficult for auditors to detect” yet that gives option to two parts, is there a questionable level of administration, or are we confronted that the auditing partner in this case was a 28 year old recently promoted individual who now gets his/her first real large account?

Why these statements?

You see in all this, on a global scale, the law has failed. It fails because the rewards are just too good to pass up for those playing that game, the chance to get away with it and the option to keep at least a decent part of these earnings safe makes the option to do this again and again almost a certainty. The law has no bite and the corporations involved are too powerful to get smitten down, so this avenue will continue for a long time to come. In addition to this we ask what else is affected and why is there a tendency from the press to not keep these matters a lot more visible? Consider how much the Guardian and others reported in 2014, if you now Google ‘PwC Fraud SFO Tesco‘ we get nothing after December 22nd, what a Christmas present that is! What is funny that one other part showed up, which is Keith McCarthy, now director at PwC London, who was Chief Investigator with the UK Serious Fraud Office before that, so would it be mere speculation that the best way to avoid prison is to hire the police officer so you know where they will be looking? #JustAsking

I am only asking!

Anyway, with a wish for a better lifestyle, I will consider helping Toshiba to retrench their IP and Patents for a mere 0.4% of the value, now if I could only persuade my Law Professor to help me out, 0.3% for her and 0.1% for me, I should end up with enough to buy http://www.cooperbrouard.com/St-Peter-Port/Ridge-House-property/3835453 and retire in a relaxing way!

I agree that I could do better, but then I was never a greedy person, which is a failing the Toshiba executive clearly lacked.

 

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The price of soccer

This is how I see the issues as we see the mountain of ‘complaints’ in regards to Qatar 2022. The first part is seen on the BBC site (a http://www.bbc.com/news/world-31605149). Richard Scudamore is very disappointed, which is fair enough. My issue is with his statement: ‘if the integrity of a football league has to stop for 6-7 weeks‘. Is that truly the case? The integrity of a league does not diminish when they are out playing their best for their nation in a world cup. It shows that these people, with multi million pound incomes can set it all aside to play their best for their nation. That is the simple truth of it all. So is this about FIFA, UEFA? Or is it because of advertisers? You see, those 6-7 weeks advertisers will move to the world cup, they go to where THEIR visibility lies. I think that this is a side that the football managers forgot about. When they spread the visibility of Soccer, getting more and more nations, they forgot that new members are every bit as eager to promote their national side and we can safely say that the middle east has plenty of money to invest in new stadiums.

Part of me is just a little amazed that both FIFA and its members did not see this coming. It is a sports event! In a places where for all kinds of environmental reasons, the Olympics cannot be held there, is it such a surprise that they want to show off their nation by hosting the soccer World Cup event? That what followed is still to be regarded as an episode of comedy capers, for those too young to remember, see the intro here (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjZMfRwsuOM), see the man at the back, that could be Martin Ivens, you remember the Sunday Times claiming to have seen all those ‘millions of documents‘ reported by Reuters on July 28th 2014? I mention parts of what was claimed in ‘Sacking the Editor?’ on November 14th 2014 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/11/14/sacking-the-editor/), it could be regarded as evidence on just how much a paper tiger Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is. As mentioned before, if we go by the words of IPSO “We uphold the highest standards of journalism by monitoring and maintaining the standards set out in the Editors’ Code of Practice” than they should also be pre-emptive. Especially when allegations of corruption are being made.

Was there corruption? That question remains a valid one, but when we see “FIFA report into alleged corruption clears Qatar to host 2022 World Cup” (at http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/nov/13/fifa-report-alleged-corruption-qatar-2022-world-cup), the mention by the Sunday Times give way to bring a forced publication of that evidence, or be hit for damages. None of that seems to have happened. In addition, we see this in The Star (at http://www.thestar.com/sports/soccer/2015/02/24/fifa-deserves-red-card-for-the-debacle-that-is-qatar-world-cup-arthur.html) “FIFA judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, who sits on FIFA’s ethics committee, reviewed the report and released a 42-page summary to the public that stated the report cleared FIFA in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively“.

I am not denying the facts that are, but no one seems to show evidence, which is crucial. You see, as stated before, I think this is for the larger part about something else. If we go back to the statement ‘if the integrity of a football league has to stop for 6 – 7 weeks’, is that so? How about taking a 7 week break and prolonging the season that one time? I think that these soccer players, who are making tens of thousands a week, can work an extra 8 weeks that one time. If it is about the advertisers, than it is just bad luck. You see, many people have had enough of ‘enabling’ advertisers to the max, and if this costs them a little extra this once, than live with it. It is NOT about the advertisers, it is about the sport and everyone is very adamant not to mention that ‘A’ word, or ‘sponsors’ for that matter. Is it all an inconvenience? Yes, I reckon that is the case and this is also the consequence of broadening the membership list of soccer playing nations, there is a consequence at some point. So, yes, I do agree that Qatar was never the best place, but guess what, they did the dance, they went through the motions and they got the gig! Now all others will have to program around this for once, I think that the fact, that this had been running since 1888, implies that the sport could use a little exception and a little flexibility.

This does not take away the issues that play at FIFA, there are a few issues with the Russian part, especially the ‘the Russians claimed that all e-mails relating to their bid had been wiped from the computers they used, which were rented’, I mentioned that in a previous blog too, because such levels of incompetence should not be allowed anywhere. Yet, the full report of Garcia was never given to the public at large, which gives us a few extra issues, but then, the Sunday Times under Martin Ivens blowed a lot of hot air, but then did not release any evidence of in any shape, size or form. It seems to me that this is not a good thing either.

If we accept the star with their quote “But FIFA is so powerful, so unaccountable, that the inartfulness of the lies doesn’t matter” as well as “FIFA pushes slush piles of money to federations all over the world in the form of development grants, and that secures the necessary votes to keep Blatter in power“, that we have a massive problem. You see, I have been (to some extent) on the side of Qatar, because there were allegations from many, but NO ONE presented actual evidence and all these events played like this was all about big business not getting their way. I have an issue with that! In my view, if you love soccer and it is your life, that that is fine, but when we see these pushes whilst an average soccer player gets per week what most people get per quarter, that we can agree that those people get to suck it up a little and not whinge or whine like little bitches when they suddenly get an ‘adjusted’ calendar once per 4 years, the fact that this now happens for the first time ever, they can just shut up and take it, so this once they get to experience what most workers endure on a yearly basis.

On the other side, if there is a level of unaccountability from FIFA, that it makes equal sense for ALL members of FIFA to break with FIFA and create something new, to which ALL members of FIFA are to be excluded for a few decades. See how that solves issues. The reality is that Qatar 2022 might be the only deviant event (compared to all other world cups) as a lesson for future FIFA events, in that case FIFA will have learned a lesson, but perhaps we learn another lesson too. Perhaps that environment will only fuel a global desire for soccer and in that light, premiere leagues of all nations will have to consider that once every four years there could be a different light in how that year the league is played. It might be refreshing in so many ways that it will, for some, rekindle the true love for soccer. Let’s not forget in those 6-7 weeks those players do not represent their team, they represent their nation, is that not a great thing? It should be!

In that light we should also see the response BBC sport had “The former Manchester United and Everton defender added that he would be “licking my lips” if he was England boss Roy Hodgson because “we’ll have the freshest ever national team going to a World Cup”” (at http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/31610300), you see, it is not all bad, I reckon that soon we will see similar responses from coaches and players in The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.

Now consider the following quotes from the links used earlier: “The 2026 World Cup television rights in North America were awarded without a bid to Fox and Telemundo, who had complained about the Qatar schedule change, for which they hold the broadcast rights“, “Six European federations demanded Fifa clean up its act. Three top commercial backers, Coca-Cola, Adidas and McDonald’s, did so too” and “Of the 11 men who voted on 2018 and 2022 World Cups who are no longer on Fifa’s executive committee, only five provided answers to Garcia’s inquiry. Two could not be located at all“, it is clear that there are issues, especially when considering the part, ‘two could not be located at all’, is this for real? What, did that person go on a $600K cruise and there is no phone where these people are at (just one of a few options)? There is no question that there are issues on several sides, but there is still the matter of evidence, evidence that is either concealed or never found. The fact that the report was never released is also cause for concern, I do admit to that, but in law when we apply ‘is it more likely than not‘ can be just as easily applied to the large sponsors who see their return on invested revenue lessen to a small extent, taking into consideration that 2022 will be the first time (possibly the last time) that this happens brings for the question ‘why enable big business to this extent?‘ is a matter that is not and likely will not ever be answered, which is why, I currently remain on the side of Qatar. Sport is about the sport, whether it is local or nations playing, it is about the sport, not about the visibility of the sponsors. They get visibility because of sport, not the other way around. It is time big business learns that no matter what game they play, the sport itself remains untouchable, which also means that sometimes the game needs to be slightly more flexible. That part is also shown in regards to Fox and Telemundo, who complained about schedule change. Really? Complain now about an event 6 years away? If it is such an inconvenience, than give the 2022 rights to one of the free TV channels. I wonder how that channel will suddenly benefit from sponsors. If anything, this event shows me how corporate greed has been maximised within sports, an upsetting issue.

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Is it all Greek to you?

Let’s take a look at the issues!

First there is Bloomberg who on April 11th headlined ‘Greek Bond Sale Tops $4 Billion in Return to Markets’ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/greece-readies-bond-sale-as-athens-car-bomb-reminds-of-upheaval.html), a nation with 11 million have notched up their debt by hundreds of billions, no options at present to repay it and again they are allowed to push new bonds into the market.

My first issue: I want to see a list of names of people that allowed for this. There will be no excuse, no non-clarity; they are to be presented by a panel of economists explaining the rationale for this and it should be presented live! (I wonder how long it will be until we hear ‘carefully phrased denials on lack of clarity‘ in regards to who drove this).

I already gave my view on May 18th on my article ‘Are we getting played?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/05/18/are-we-getting-played/), where I stated: “The investor relies on information like credit ratings (from places like S&P and Moody for example) to make an assessment on how realistic the investment is. The fact that almost a month later the quote ‘Greek lenders are likely to face large losses over the next two years’ is seen, gives rise to the question whether any upgrade to the credit rating was valid“.

It seems clear to me that Greece is unable to manage its economy, its debts and its options to repay the debts. Can we please have a vote whether Greek economic affairs should as per January 1st 2015 be managed by either Germany or Turkey (Turkey is not that great an idea, that’s just me being mean)? It seems clear to me, for a long time now, that pouring money into a hole, whilst people keep digging themselves deeper will not result in any resolution. There has been clear evidence of gross negligence for over a decade; as such other measures will be required.

The Bloomberg article states: “Greece today took one more decisive step toward exiting the crisis,” Samaras said. “International markets are now expressing in the most undoubted way possible their confidence in the Greek economy”, I state that this is not the case, Greece is nothing more than an upgraded vulture option, todays information clearly sees this, let’s just be clear, this is just a little over 6 months AFTER that so called vote of confidence.

The second part we see with “The government and European Union predict that the Greek economy will expand 0.6 percent in 2014 after six consecutive years of contraction that has cost about a quarter of the nation’s economic output and sent the unemployment rate surging” I believe we are being intentionally misinformed here. If we look at http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/gdp-growth-annual, we see that this year Greece’s GDP annual growth rate is growing by 1.9%, a growth of 1.5% in a year, whilst this nation is in such disarray, such debts and such levels of unemployment, there is, what I see to be an intentional attempt to misinform people. The standards used are no longer applicable. With a little over 1 out of 4 without a job, this nation is a mess; numbers are withheld, or misrepresented, not unlike the entire Goldman Sachs issue in 2010. If you doubt my word against that of those economic ‘boffins’, then look at today’s news.

 

We see ‘Grexit fears send Greek bonds and shares sliding‘, which the Guardian stated 10 hours ago. The quote “The Greek stock market is plunging to new depths, after the prime minister issued dire warnings of chaos ahead if his party were ejected from power“, as well as “Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Thursday accused opposition SYRIZA of bringing back Grexit fears and sending a message to the markets not to lend to the country by declaring its sovereign debt unsustainable“. By the way, in my view, the debt was never sustainable. When we consider 300 billion, over 11 million, we see that every Greek needs to bring 27,300 to the table, one out of four has no job, so that costs extra, as well as bring the cost per working Greek now to a little over 33,000. If the average Greek brings home a little less than 10,000, you can see that they come up short by a lot. By the way at 5%, the interest to be brought in would be 20% of a Greek income, whilst at present Greece cannot even properly budget its nations. So, as we look at these numbers, can anyone explain how Greece considers its debt to be sustainable?

Those who allowed Greece to fall in this deep hole should be made public and named, and we are talking Greek names here. Someone signed up for unrealistic debts, misrepresented presentations and the Greek government presented it. The Greek people have a right to know who were behind this titanic blunder. The fact that Austerity measures are not kept and the system is not cleaned up only helps to make a case that Greece should not be allowed to continue to be part of the EEC, because at present they are not in a small measure, the risk, which they could now enable the Euro to collapse completely.

If we consider the reasoning of a quickened election by PM Samaras and the message “Athens exchange has now tumbled by 7%, meaning it has shed 20% of its value since Samaras decided to accelerate the presidential election to next week“, we should wonder why this change is now being made. There are conjectures in play too (partially by me at this point). When we consider another (non proven source, at http://www.zerohedge.com/category/tags/greece), we see ‘Greece Suffers Biggest 3-Day Crash In 27 Years‘, here we see the quote “Did we just get a glimpse of the ugly reality hiding behind the veil of status-quo-maintaining central-bank-sponsored manipulation?“, I have written similar thoughts, but mine were not founded on economic knowledge, just on the data I looked at. One response there was “Central bankers have lied to a false prosperity and zero interest rates as if there is no risk remaining“, which is in line of what I have noticed with economies all over the EEC, I call it ‘managed bad news‘, which seems more apt, but when we see a 20% crater in what is laughingly called ‘Greek valued bonds’, my euphemism of carefully cautious labelling can be thrown out of the front door and perhaps it should be called ‘intentional manipulation for the profit of a few‘. Proving that part takes a little more time, yet those behind the curtain will not be held to account in any way, shape or form and legislating these events seems to be a large ‘No No!’ as well.

So where to look?

Well, if we look at the news CNBC gave us on November 19th, we see “Yields this week have not reached the 9 percent level hit in mid-October when negative sentiment surrounding Greece spread to global markets. However, rising debt yields do highlight that the country’s economic woes are far from over, with a crucial deadline in early December looming large on the horizon” (at http://www.cnbc.com/id/102198319), we also see the following quote “The country managed to exit recession this year and post a positive gross domestic product (GDP) figure last week, but political wrangling has continued nonetheless“, so ‘manage to post a positive…‘, positive by what standards, as well as the part ‘managed’, managed how? Through manufacturing or through manufacturing the books (aka cooking them) with possible assistance from Goldman Sachs or a like-minded institution? The lack of clarity as well as the lack of clear numbers give pause to consider how bad an idea it was to let them back onto the bond market last April.

The final part we get from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2014/dec/11/russia-central-bank-interest-rate-hike-ecb-loans-live#block-54899bc7e4b09dc257b7f1fe), where we see “The 10-year Greek bond is now yielding over 9%, up from 8.7% last night. And the three year bond is now yielding more than 10%, as nervous investors demand a bigger premium for holding debt that matures sooner“, so from a mere 5% to almost 11%, doubling the dividends, is ‘sponsored manipulation‘ THAT far-fetched? I want to see names of those behind the curtains, they are no Wizard of Oz, they are what used to be called the ‘Gnomes of Zurich‘, yet in this day and age, they are virtual, and none of them reside in Zurich, that’s just too old school.

In the end where it their (and our) money, in the form of dividend going to?

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Price Waterfall Blooper

I am sad to say, I am sorry to report
we have not seen any fraud of this sort
not a win or a gain, but just sadness and pain
are the man plainly vain, they do not travel by train
it will not go to court, yet the profits fall short

as my profits progress to the basement below
as executives go, with no exit fee show
we will wonder awhile, what results they proclaim
as we now still decide, should we name, should we shame
where is the pee double you sea and its dough

So, yes, is this the beginning of arts, the limericks and the consequences of non-accountability?

You see, there is no doubt in my mind that the initial investigation is only the beginning for both Tesco and PwC. Whatever we may think, we can be certain that if Dave Lewis had NOT rung the bell, the mess would be a lot larger then it is at present. I think we should also ring the bell of honour for the whistle blower, because without it Christmas would have been the grimmest of experiences in the UK.

Let’s take a look to the last two days, when Deloitte got its report out (to some extent) as reported (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/23/tesco-profits-black-hole-bigger), we see a few things that do not add up.

  1. He dismissed the idea that fraud may have been involved in the accounting blunder: “Nobody gained financially as a consequence of the overstatement of performance.”“, is that so? You see, there are a few issues that we have; I will step over one of them because I prefer to tackle that part a little further down.
  2. Laurie McIlwee (former CFO) as well as Mike Iddon require closer scrutiny. Mike was a group finance director, planning, treasury and tax. When we see tax, we see a person who will dig, trying to find any cent that is deductible, as a good FD should be, and in 13 years at Tesco, he had not seen anything? Seems rather clumsy doesn’t it? The fact that the accounting hole is a little bigger (15 million is not much when you say it fast), also came with the knowledge from Deloitte that the hole was there for a longer while, so basically, the inflated 265 million, means an inflated payment of taxation, how is that ever a good idea?
  3. So consider Tesco, the size and scope of it. They lose a CFO and a FD, and all along NO ONE at Tesco, I state again, NO ONE seemed to offer to pick up the baton for those months? Even if it was at no extra pay and only for 3-4 months, 99% of the financial industry would be chomping at the bit to pick up the baton, so that they can add this to their resume, it gets even better. It is a win won for whomever picks it up, because if that person does well, then the value of that person goes up by a lot and his/her future, whether within or not with Tesco would be a few steps on the large corporate ladder, even with nothing to gain it ends up being a win/win.

Let’s just face it, I am nowhere near next in line to take command of the 591 Signals Unit at Digby, but if I get the chance because the current commander was on the list to become Air vice-marshal, I would get there running, even if I was still in my pyjamas and was holding only a toothbrush. No matter how well my performance would be, if I made it I would be eligible for a nice challenge at GCHQ, a seriously cool way to skip half a dozen steps on that ladder, now consider that NO ONE had these levels of ambition at Tesco? I truly believe that beside the whistle blower a few more had a clear picture that taking that seat from within would turn out to be nothing less than poisoning their career.

  1. He dismissed the idea that fraud may have been involved in the accounting blunder: “Nobody gained financially as a consequence of the overstatement of performance.”“, now we get to the issue that I have had since day 1.
  2. Consider that PwC had (a reported by the Guardian in an earlier blog) last year; PwC was paid £10.4m by Tesco for its auditing services and a further £3.6m for other consultancy work (a newer version at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/23/guardian-view-tesco-auditing-debacle-pwc-systemic-shambles). This article now shows the following quote: “At the very least, this is a very cosy and lucrative relationship“, which slightly debunks the statement of Dave Lewis via Deloitte regarding ‘Nobody gained financially’; it depends on ‘how’ we regard ‘gain’, when the alternative is losing revenue, remaining at status quo is clearly a gain.
  3. So as we see these two numbers, let’s do a little math, let’s say an auditor makes £65,000 a year (a little less usually), so we now see that the annual fee gives us 153 auditors for a year and an additional 46 auditors for the consultancy for a year, that gives us 199 people going over the books, checking it all. No one saw anything? Now, the reality is not exactly like this, but considering that PwC is one of the big 4, we now have a clear case for some serious questions for 25% of all the large audited companies in the UK, how much taxation was not collected, how many large bonuses and incomes were honoured in such a symbiotic incestuous relationship? No wonder George Osborne has such a hard time, the deck seems to be seriously stacked against him.
  4. There is one more thought that comes to mind, but this one is, as I will happily admit, based on shallow grounds. This was all found by Deloitte in a little over a month, mainly because they knew WHERE to look. But, it is entirely plausible that the whistle-blower just knew about that one thing, what else is there and what has not been found yet?

This is important for two reasons. The first is that it then debunks the statement from Lewis, likely via Deloitte who said ‘He dismissed the idea that fraud may have been involved’, I am not convinced! It took Deloitte to find the obvious over the period of a month. We can consider that the fact brought by a whistle-blower gives weight to intently hiding, if not than this person would have stepped forward internally and the old crowd would have solved it, that did not happen. It is not unlikely that those involved hoped for a quick brush under the carpet, this circus was unlikely anything they ever desired. What was signed off on, by the equivalent of 199 auditors remains a serious issue.

This part we can see in the Guardian quote “The making up of the profits figures was not in a report signed off by PwC. That happened in August – three months after PwC had given the supermarket chain’s figures a clean bill of health. Even then, it noted that there was something potentially funny with the numbers, and expressly warned about “the risk of manipulation” – but allowed them to pass anyway“, so something potentially funny does not warrant digging? Let’s not forget they had the equivalent of 199 people for the year, so plenty of digging resources. If we add the following “It is one of the primary ways in which investors, business partners and regulators can tell the true state of the company they are dealing with“, so not only is there a link to possible fraud, the implied length of this gives reason to suspect intentional misdirection towards investors, which makes the news releases all over the papers on class actions against Tesco a plausible worry for some time to come.

It becomes a much finer point of debate when we consider the following abstract ‘Misreporting in our model covers all actions, whether legal or illegal, that enable managers of firms with low value to make statements that mimic those made by firms with high value. We show that even managers who cannot sell their shares in the short-term might misreport in order to improve the terms under which their company would be able to raise capital for new projects or acquisitions‘ (at http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/bebchuk/pdfs/2003.Bebchuk-Bargill.Misreporting.pdf). It comes from a paper by Oren Bar-Gill and Lucian Bebchuk, published at Harvard in 2003.

Now we add what they wrote on page 21 “3.4 Creating Opportunities to Misreport, at T=1 managers decide how much to invest in creating opportunities to misreport earnings. The equilibrium level of this investment decision is characterized in the following proposition“. after that it becomes increasingly mathematical, but behold, the initial text ‘whether legal or illegal’, so if the old Tesco gang focussed on ‘legal’, was that the reason they needed to pay an additional 3 million in consultancy (a clear and admitted assumption on my side), yet is that really too weird a thought? Let’s face it PwC signed off on books containing an additional quarter of a billion, which took some time to create.

I know that incestuous is all about keeping it in the family, but the fact that this could possible all be legal is just a little too hard to swallow.

Could it be that both Corporate Law and Taxation Law within the Commonwealth are in dire need of an overhaul? Some might say that it could be an idea to do this before Christmas, to them I say “Bah! Humbug!“, Monday the 5th of January 2015 will be soon enough. It will give Lord Blackwell, Lord Goodhart, Baroness Goudie and Lord Haskel something to look forward to as some might be enjoying a large roast with potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and thick gravy. The Rt Hon Lord Millett has done more than his share in his long career and his Lordship, as right honourably retired can enjoy a second helping of Christmas plum pudding with custard (unless his lordship prefers the challenge of making corporations a little more accountable then the currently seem to be). I would, as blogger Lawlordtobe be happy to lend a helping hand, but I never studied economy or taxation laws, so I would only get in the way, yet I remain available for assistance if need be. I do reckon that the members of the House of Lords who are members of the Joint Committee on Tax Law Rewrite Bills should consider their calendars, especially if the investigation turns out that the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) will be unable to press any criminal charges, to me and likely to all it should be clear that such levels of orchestration must be addressed!

 

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