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Moneygram admited Anti-Money Laundering violations …

United States Department of Justice on November 9, 2012
Moneygram International Inc. Admits Anti-Money Laundering and Wire Fraud Violations, Forfeits $100 Million in Deferred Prosecution

MoneyGram International Inc. – a global money services business headquartered in Dallas – has agreed to forfeit $100 million and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the Justice Department in which it admits to criminally aiding and abetting wire fraud and failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, as charged in an information filed today in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

According to court documents, MoneyGram was involved in mass marketing and consumer fraud phishing schemes, perpetrated by corrupt MoneyGram agents and others, that defrauded tens of thousands of victims in the United States.  MoneyGram also failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.  The Justice Department will return the forfeited funds to the victims of the fraud scheme through its Victim Asset Recovery Program.

“MoneyGram’s broken corporate culture led the company to privilege profits over everything else,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.  “MoneyGram knowingly turned a blind eye to scam artists and money launderers who used the company to perpetrate fraudulent schemes targeting the elderly and other vulnerable victims.  In addition to forfeiting $100 million, which will be used to compensate victims, MoneyGram must for the next five years retain a corporate monitor who will report regularly to the Justice Department.”

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The power of free market

Milton Friedman: The Power of the Market (Free To Choose – 1980) vol.1

America’s freedom and prosperity derive from the combination of the idea of human liberty in America’s Declaration of Independence with the idea of economic freedom in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Friedman explains how markets and voluntary exchange organize activity and enable people to improve their lives. He also explains the price system. Friedman visits Hong Kong, U.S. and Scotland.

Free To Choose: The Original 1980 TV Series
Free To Choose® is the ground-breaking PBS television series featuring Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize-winning economist. These programs, filmed on location around the world, have helped millions of people understand the close relationship between the ideas of human freedom and economic freedom. The interaction between those ideas has created in the U.S. the richest and freest society the world has ever known. Milton Friedman sees this success threatened by the tendency in the last few decades to assume that government intervention is the answer to all problems. In these programs, which first aired on January 11, 1980, Dr. Friedman focuses on basic principles. How do markets work? Why has socialism failed? Can government help economic development? The 1980 version consists of 10 one-hour programs.

Why states fail and how to rebuild them ?!

Reading of the day -> The Economist: Why states fail and how to rebuild them
What we can learn from countries that failed to build themselves?!

failed-state-001_

– Few things matter more than fixing failed states. Broadly defined, state failure provides “a general explanation for why poor countries are poor”. Life in a failed or failing state is short and harsh.

– Lawless regions, such as the badlands of Pakistan and Yemen, act as havens for terrorists.[…] In the most extreme form of state failure, in places like Somalia, the central government does not even control the capital city. In milder forms, as in Nigeria, the state is far from collapse but highly dysfunctional and unable to control all of its territory. Or, as in North Korea today or China under Mao Zedong, it controls all of its territory but governs in a way that makes everyone but a tiny elite much worse off.

– The key to understanding state failure is “institutions, institutions, institutions”.

– States are not wretched and unstable because of geography—if so, how to explain the success of landlocked Botswana? Nor is culture the main culprit: if so, South Koreans would not be more than 20 times richer than North Koreans. Some societies have “inclusive institutions that foster economic growth”; others have “extractive institutions that hamper it”.

The world’s newest country, South Sudan has received billions of dollars of aid and the advice of swarms of consultants since seceding from Sudan in 2011, but has failed to build any institutions worthy of the name. South Sudan failed to build institutions that transcended tribal loyalties or curbed the power of warlords. There are plenty of government buildings, including state ministries of education, culture and health. But none of them does much. Nowhere in South Sudan does the state do what it is supposed to.

The fighting becomes tribal because warlords recruit by stirring up ethnic tension so that their kinsmen will rally to them. This creates a vicious circle. Lacking protection from other institutions, people seek it from their own tribe. Rather than demand evenhanded government, they back tribal leaders, knowing that they will steal and hoping they will share the spoils with their kin.

– “The politics of the vast majority of societies throughout history has led, and still leads today, to extractive institutions.” These tend to last because they give rulers the resources to pay armies, bribe judges and rig elections to stay in power. These rulers adopt bad policies not because they are ignorant of good ones but on purpose. Letting your relatives embezzle is bad for the nation but great for your family finances.

– But failed states are not doomed to stay that way. Even states that have collapsed completely can be rebuilt. Liberia and Sierra Leone were stalked by drug-addled child soldiers a decade and a half ago; now both are reasonably calm. The key is nearly always better leadership: think of how China changed after Mao died. Many bad rulers continue deliberately to adopt bad policies, but they can be—and often are—replaced with better ones.

Afghanistan case. Afghanistan’s president since 2014, Mr Ghani is a former academic and author of a book called “Fixing Failed States”. His TED talk on fixing broken states has been viewed 750,000 times. Now he is trying to put his own theories into practice.

Ben Bernanke at FOMC on November 2011

Chairman Bernanke at Press Conference of the Federal Open Market Committee, on November 2, 2011.

“Politics is politics, and the Federal Reserve tries to stay nonpartisan and out of those debates. I mean, our job is to do the best we can for the U.S. economy, to do what we can to promote our mandate of maximum employment and price stability, and although we must be accountable to the Congress over the longer term, in the short term, it’s very important that the Fed be free from political pressures. And therefore, we are going to make our decisions based on what’s good for the economy, and we’re not going to take any politics into account.”

“With respect to inequality, I think the best way to address inequality is to create jobs. It gives people opportunities. It gives people a chance to earn income, gain experience, and to ultimately earn more. But that’s an indirect approach; that’s really the only way the Fed can address inequality per se.”

“My best advice to Americans is to continue to live your lives, though, and to continue to think about your personal situation and try to make smart decisions based on your own financial position. Clearly, Americans are trying to improve their balance sheets; they’re trying to pay down debt. That’s, of course, important. At the same time, you want to make smart decisions,you want to make good investments, you want to budget properly. So financial literacy is a big part of this, and lack of financial literacy was one of the things that got us into this mess in the first place. So I would advise people to try to be smart about their finances. Unfortunately, we can’t disassociate ourselves from Europe; the things that are happening there do affect us, and that’s an unfortunate fact. I hope very much that the Europeans will find a set of solutions that will allow markets to calm down and take off some of the headwinds from the U.S. economy.”

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Economic Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science

Reading notesEconomic Rules, The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science by Dani Rodrik
Quotes that could give us some ideas and opinions about the economic models used by economists and why not, to motivate you to get more insights in this regard by reading a good book.

Real-world markets are imperfect, unlike those envisioned in economic models. Economic models assume the participation of rational actors, but people do not behave in a rational manner.

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Economics is a science because it employs the use of models. Economic models identify probabilities, regularities and tendencies.

“Economics is a social science, and society does not have fundamental laws – at least, not in quite the same way that nature does.”

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Looking for love?

Looking for love? Beware of romance scams!
What is the price of love?

Why A Woman Sent Online Lover She’s Never Met More Than $1.4 Million?!

Maurice Asola Fadola was sent to prison after targeting Western women with the scam and gaining their trust over several months. British women defrauded out of more than £800,000 by a conman in Ghana who romanced them on dating websites.

 

Other educational resources:
Fraudsters cash in by targeting people looking for love
Western Union fraud awareness

Trafficking in human beings in EU

TRENDS AND CHALLENGES IN ADDRESSING TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS IN THE EU

The trends in the statistical data for the period 2013-2014
– In total there were 15 846 ‘registered victims’ (both identified and presumed) of trafficking in the EU.
– Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is still the most widespread form (67 % of registered victims), followed by labour exploitation (21 % of registered victims). The
other 12% were registered as victims of trafficking for other forms of exploitation.
– Over three quarters of the registered victims were women (76 %).
– At least 15% of the registered victims were children.
65% of registered victims were EU citizens.
-The top five EU countries of citizenship for registered victims in 2013-2014 were Romania, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Poland. These are the same countries as for the years 2010-2012.
-The top five non-EU countries of citizenship were Nigeria, China, Albania, Vietnam and Morocco.
6 324 people had formal contact with the police or the criminal justice system in connection with the crime of trafficking in human beings.
– In total, 4 079 prosecutions and 3 129 convictions for trafficking in human beings were reported in the EU.

Report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings
Brussels, 19.5.2016