The collusion between governments and big business has gone public. At the head of several governments, in important ministerial posts or at the presidency of the ECB, we find men and women who are part and parcel of the world of high finance, in particular former directors of Goldman Sachs. Certain high-profile politicians are rewarded with jobs in big banks once they have fulfilled their loyal service to Big Capital. This revolving-door complicity is not new; it has gained momentum and visibility and become more obvious and systematic than ever before.
The French Socialist Dominique Strauss-Kahn (‘DSK’), who was France’s economy and finance minister towards the end of the 1990s, then Managing Director of the IMF (2007-2011), from which he was compelled to resign, has been on the board of the Anatevka Group, now known as Leyne, Strauss-Kahn and Partners (LSK) since 2013, seeking to develop international investment banking activities. DSK is advisor to several foreign governments, including Serbia and South Sudan, and several corporations, such as the Russian Regional Development Bank, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the National Credit Bank and a consortium of Moroccan Banks. The group employs around one hundred people in several European countries (Luxembourg, Belgium, Israel, Monaco, Switzerland and Romania) and in tax havens. In March 2014 he launched the DSK Global Investment Fund, a hedge fund set up to speculate on the commodity markets and on interest-rates.1
On 23 October 2014, Thierry Leyne, DSK’s partner at the head of LSK, committed suicide in Tel Aviv. DSK announced “Thierry Leyne had set up a financial company that mostly did asset management. There was no investment bank activity, I was to create this branch around consultancy services mainly for governments, and secondarily for companies”. He added that Mr. Leyne “had taken on several excessive debts”, and had “a colourful reputation”. DSK said that he had been drawn to this business man, “that had a good track record for creating companies that were subsequently sold to major banks for very tidy sums”.
Asked by Agence France Press (AFP) if LSK had any ‘dirty money’, the former IMF boss replied “not to my knowledge”.2 Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as President of LSK just three days before Thierry Leyne died. On 3 October 2014 a court in Luxembourg had pronounced summary conviction of the LSK group, its subsidiary “Assya” and its major shareholder, Thierry Leyne who were ordered to pay €2 million to the insurance company “Bâloise-Vie Luxembourg”, that had claimed repayment of securities back in July 2014. In November 2014 LSK announced, through a brief press release, that it has suspended payments: “After the tragic death of Thierry Leyne, acting President, the LSK board have uncovered unknown liabilities that seriously aggravate the delicate LSK financial situation (…) The Board found that the new information called into question the continuation of the company LSK, whose credit is irreparably compromised. Consequently, it is decided to declare the suspension of payments”.3
On 7 November 2014, the commercial court of Luxembourg declared LSK to be bankrupt. DSK and Leyne had also wanted to create the DSK Global Fund, a Hedge Fund for currency markets, commodities and interest rates speculation.4 This fund intended to attract $2 billion from investors in emerging countries such as China.
This story is worthy of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, or even Costa-Gavras’ Capital, but this is not fiction. It all quietly happened in 2014 capitalism without much ado in the mainstream media.
Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of the UK, is also doing well. In 2013 his personal fortune was estimated at somewhere between £30 and £60 million, accumulated by trading. He directs a group of small companies that all have their head offices in the same five-storey building in Grosvenor Square, in London’s diplomatic district. A hundred or so people have their offices there, including an ex-director of Barclays Investment Bank, David Lyon, who runs Firerush Ventures, the financial branch of what has come to be known as ‘Tony Blair Inc.’ Among Blair’s collaborators are former managers from Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan. Tony Blair also sits on the international advisory board of said JP Morgan!5 Also, Tony Blair is doing excellent business with Saudi Arabia6 and has created several “philanthropic” funds!7 To top it all, he is now favourable to the European Union.8
Tim G et Robert R
On the other side of the pond, Tim Geithner, President Obama’s ex-Secretary of the Treasury, has been president of Warburg Pincus, a Wall Street investment bank, since 2013.
His predecessor Robert Rubin, ex-Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, joined Citigroup in 1999 after having abrogated the Glass-Steagall Act, thus enabling the creation of Citigroup. Between 1999 and 2008, Citigroup has paid him $166 million in different forms of remuneration.9
It is clear that the crossed interests between politics and finance are numerous and often very well rewarded.
(Translation: Mike Krolikowski, Christine Pagnoulle)
– Eric Toussaint, is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège. He is the President of CADTM Belgium (www.cadtm.org), and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the co-author, with Damien Millet of Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He is the author of many essays including one on Jacques de Groote entitled Procès d’un homme exemplaire (The Trial of an Exemplary Man), Al Dante, Marseille, 2013, and wrote with Damien Millet, AAA. Audit Annulation Autre politique (Audit, Abolition, Alternative Politics), Le Seuil, Paris, 2012.
1Financial Times, ‘Strauss-Kahn to launch fund’, 21 March 2014.
2See: Les Echos, « Affaire LSK : DSK charge son associé », 30 October 2014, http://www.lesechos.fr/finance-marches/gestion-actifs/0203900048430-dsk-jai-probablement-perdu-mon-investissement-dans-lsk-1059132.php?BTJptf2ykSdHzOjH.99 (French)
3Le Monde, "LSK, l’ancien fonds d’investissement de DSK, se déclare en cessation de paiements", publié le 5 November 2014, http://www.lemonde.fr/argent/article/2014/11/05/lsk-l-ancienne-societe-financiere-de-dsk-se-declare-en-cessation-de-paiements_4518706_1657007.html (French)
4Financial Times, « Strauss-Kahn to launch fund », 21 March 2014.
5Financial Times, ‘Fine dining for Dimon at the Palace’, 23-24 November 2014.
7See Tony Blair’s official website, in which his charitable endeavours are highlighted http://www.tonyblairoffice.org/
8See the interview for France Inter : http://www.franceinter.fr/emission-le-79-tony-blair-sortir-de-lunion-europeenne-ce-serait-un-desastre-pour-mon-pays (French)
9See Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint, La Crise, quelles crises ? (The Crisis: Which Crises?), Brussels: Aden, 2009, Chapter 4, pp. 58-59.