Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The legacy of corruption still threatens the Obama dream

Corruption has always fascinated me, but then I grew up in Sydney with its unapologetic culture of corruption. My current community didn’t escape either, and research I’ve just been doing on some local figures is proving incredibly far-reaching.

I was chasing up the story on a guy I only ever knew through other people here, an exile mob lawyer Harry Wainwright. I still don’t know just where Harry was in the entourage of ‘Old blue eyes’ before the IRS swooped. I do know that he was responsible for an unannounced Sinatra after a tantrum on a Sydney tour.

These were the Vietnam War days and Harry was associated with the development of Sydney as an R&R centre for US troops. That involved the supply of drugs, sex, entertainment and all the other underworld treats.

Australia was also ripe to provide other services to our American friends, like a lush garden for marijuana supply and an ideal funnel for transacting the opiate trade from the ‘Golden Triangle’. Aussie authorities were more than happy to accommodate these services.

Harry was just one of the shadowy figures in this representing US interests. The Nugan Hand Bank has long been believed to be an enterprise of the CIA, co-sponsors of the Golden Triangle activities. Nugan Hand were the bag men, the money launderers.

Even back then there was talk about the connection to Air America, the CIA air arm in South East Asia. I am not given to simply swallowing conspiracy theories and have waited many years for the suppressed evidence to break. I know that sounds CT, but we are seeing and ignoring constant revelations.

The Obama factor

Maybe that should be the Bush/Cheney/Halliburton et al factor. Australia has already found that the cabal, whatever the current makeup, will destroy a government if need be. Obama’s problem is most of his team have never been on the pad, unlike many in Congress. There is a high level of admittedly pragmatic idealism.

To the power hungry freaks who have bought the world to this current situation there is no acceptable qualification for idealism. Wanting a fair and equitable society is way beyond simple idealism, but the greedy bastards will not simply surrender.

None of our cherished policy aspirations are worth squat unless this new dream becomes a solid reality.


D.K. Raed said...

those mob lawyers sure get around. why, one is even the mayor of Las Vegas now (Oscar Goodman)!

I always heard that during Vietnam the single troops R&R'd in Australia or Thailand, while the married guys met up with their wives in Hawaii. I had NO IDEA Aust was also involved in the asian drug trade, but it makes sense (location, location, location).

Funny that the Nugan Hand Bank even had a formal fee schedule for "money laundering" (22%). Nothing like laying it out "on the line"!

Cart said...

“a formal fee schedule for "money laundering" (22%).Seems there was a formal default penalty as well - .30 caliber in Nugan’s case.
It was a wild old time in Sydney during that period, but we had no idea how wild till later.

D.K. Raed said...

yeah, a gun and a CIA business card ... jeez the trail that guy left behind!

abi said...

You're right - the greedy bastards won't simply surrender. And as long as Obama continues to provide them cover under the guise of "looking forward," there's no reason for them to surrender.

Cart said...

Abi, I'm researching more and posting less just now. Having achieved the first hurdle I think we really do need to focus on desired outcomes, like curtailing the greedy bastards.

lindsaylobe said...

Corruption has held a fascination for me; at my work place both here and overseas, in reading many stories about systematic failure of the NSW administration of justice. Earlier in my career I was confronted by endemic corrupt tendering processes both in government and the Leagues Club scene in Sydney which were very difficult to stamp out. On a less onerous note I was constantly perplexed by government purchasing officers openly abetting and encouraging schemes to promote payroll tax avoidance in order to save the government costs which meant tax paying tenders were uncompetitive. It took a lot of lobbying and many years before remedial action was finally taken. Having left Sydney for Melbourne to further my career I was hopeful employment in a new industry with a more conservative administration would be more straightforward but it was not to be.
Once again corruption raised its ugly head in the form of corrupt accounting to ensure private heath providers secured artificially inflated government rebates. This was the most satisfying outcome for me personally as once I went to the grass roots I received such tremendous support that it became just a matter of harnessing the troops and the scheme quickly collapsed as executive management very reluctantly allowed better sense and integrity to prevail. Later I was able to assist regulators seeking recovery of overpayments thus the industry prospered.
Overseas much earlier I was mildly involved in a decision to abandon all efforts of starting a new business when the only way foreword was through bribey and corruption. And so it continues. I am convinced the only sensible way forward is to have clear statements of intent in every organization to uphold integrity and to ensure internal auditors and Boards of directors, or Boards of management devote time and effort to eternal vigilance so that systems do not become corrupt.
Best wishes

Cart said...

Lindsay, the subject has fascinated me for years, the general lack of interest is even more fascinating. The barrier to any real reform, outlawing corrupt practices, is the people we elect to make laws. It seems it will never be in their interest to clean up our systems.
NSW is one of the most blatantly corrupt places I’ve known, Tasmania is a close second despite claims of innocence. But I‘ve still not located that nirvana devoid of officially sanctioned corruption.
I always hope that raising the issue and discussing it on every reasonable occasion might help to create a wider response. Well if it might if enough of us do it.