by Greg Palast
"Can't he make a living in a more reputable, less disgusting way, say, in child pornography?"
Randi Rhodes is asking you, Mr. Singer. And we're still waiting for the answer. [To hear the Palast/Rhodes report, click here .]
Paul Singer is a vulture. And a billionaire. And, with his underlings at Elliott Associates, the number one sugar-daddy donor to the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani, dropping $168,400 so far and, according to secret campaign documents, committed to raise $10 million for Rudolf the Great, Emperor of 9/11.
So who is this bird of prey Singer who holds Rudy in his beak?
Unlike feathered predators, Singer preys on the living. Singer figured out a way to siphon off funds intended for debt relief to some of the poorest countries in the world. Nice guy.
And by the way, I didn't come up with the moniker "vulture." Just about everyone, from the new Prime Minister of Britain to the World Bank, calls Singer and his ilk "vultures."
Here's how a vulture operation works. The vulture fund buys up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest -- sometimes more than ten times what they paid for it. Singer, for example, paid just $10 million for Congo Brazzaville's debt and is now suing for over $400 million.
Singer knew he'd turn a 1000%-plus profit on his $10 million investment with George Bush's help.
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Bush convinced the US Congress to forgive the money Congo owes the US taxpayer, but once the US taxpayer forgives Congo's debt, the vulture, Singer, swoops in with lawyers to claim, "Congo now has the money to pay ME."
But wait a minute - the debt money given up by US taxpayers wasn't supposed to go to Rudy's predator Singer. In fact, the US Constitution provides power to the President to stop vultures from suing a foreign country in a US court if the President states such a private lawsuit interferes with America's foreign policy.
Singer, by suing Congo for the taxpayer money meant for debt relief and medicine, is interfering with US foreign policy. Yet Bush has done nothing.
While the President has made big speeches about debt relief for Africa and has even had his picture taken with a Bono, he won't get in the way of Singer's talons. One wonders if the President is influenced by Mr. Singer's strong support for debt relief, that is, debt relief for the Republican Party. The world's top vulture has become top donor to the GOP in New York.
Singer's not alone. He's joined in tearing at the flesh of the Congo's poor by a Washington operator named Michael Francis Sheehan. Sheehan is also known as "Goldfinger."
Besides joining Singer in attacking Congo, Goldfinger has also taken a piece of the debt relief earmarked for AIDS medicine for Zambia. Goldfinger paid $4 million for the right to collect on Zambia's debt - and just won $22 million from Zambia in a UK court, half that nation's debt relief. Goldfinger was able to seize that money because, he boasts in an email, he secretly paid $2 million to the "favorite charity" of Zambia's president. (That former President, Frederick Chiluba, is now under arrest for taking bribes ... but Goldfinger can still collect his pound of flesh.)
Want to hear more about Rudy's and George's favorite financial predators? About Chiluba's taste in shoes (he spent one million dollars in a single shop)? About Goldfinger and the man who hold the mortgage on President Giuliani? Go here and listen up : Greg Palast with Randi Rhodes - hunting the Vultures.
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, ARMED MADHOUSE: From Baghdad to New Orleans -- Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Palast and his team are investigating the 'Vultures' for BBC Television Newsnight.