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Dear Committee: Main Street Says Look at Pensions
Gretchen Morgenson – (New York Times) – November 12, 2011 – The so-called supercommittee in Congress has until Nov. 23 to find more than a trillion dollars of new savings in the federal budget.
Here’s one idea: Stop reimbursing the costs of pensions and other retirement benefits at huge, and hugely profitable, defense contractors. Over 10 years, such a move could save an estimated $30 billion — the amount by which these pensions are collectively underfunded. (That figure could change, depending on pension performance.)
True, that might seem like a drop in the bucket, given that the committee’s 12 members are trying to save $1.2 trillion over all. But examining this longstanding practice seems worthy in lean times.
The government also promises to help defense companies shore up their pension funds when they become underfunded. Many of these funds have lost money in recent years in declining financial markets or on bad investments, so the bill for taxpayers has been growing.
Point Blank settles with DOJ for $1 million – court filing
Point Blank Solutions, Inc. (otc-bb:PBSO), a leader in the field of protective body armor, today announced that Point Blank Body Armor, the Company’s wholly owned subsidiary, has received multiple orders totaling approximately $30 million for the production of Outer Tactical Vest (“OTV”) ballistic panel kits and related ballistic components. Products produced by the Company will be used to support U.S. Military and Government operations and the Company expects to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2011. ~October 5, 2011 – Point Blank Solutions, Press Release
(Reuters) – October 25, 2011 – Point Blank, the bankrupt body armor company, has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a civil suit lodged last year by the Department of Justice, according to court documents filed on Monday.
Point Blank, whose chief executive officer David Brooks was convicted of cheating his company out of $200 million, supplies body armor to the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies. The company was formerly known as DHB Industries.
Three tax counts were separated from the other charges he was convicted of, including insider-trading, fraud and obstruction of justice. He has asked for a new trial on those charges.
“We are channeling our efforts into the other counts,” Brooks’s lawyer Gerald L. Shargel said in a phone interview today.
~ Ex-Point Blank Chief to Plead to Tax Charges, Lawyer Says – Bloomberg August 9, 2011
Former Point Blank Solutions Chief Brooks Pleads Guilty to Tax Charges
Thom Weidlich – (Bloomberg) – August 10, 2011 – David Brooks, the Point Blank Solutions Inc. (PBSOQ) founder convicted by a jury last year of committing a $185 million fraud and looting the military contractor, pleaded guilty to tax charges.
Brooks entered the plea today in federal court in Central Islip, New York, according to Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn.
Brooks, 56, a former chief executive officer, and former Chief Operating Officer Sandra Hatfield were convicted last September in Central Islip on charges of insider trading, fraud and obstruction of justice. Point Blank, which makes body armor for the military and police, filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2010. The company was formerly called DHB Industries Inc.
“We’re going to now turn our attention to the remaining issues of the case — forfeiture, Read the remainder of this entry »
FOIA Friday: Inside Look at Formation of Gov’t Response to Press Inquiry about Human Trafficking
Nick Schwellenbach – (POGO) – June 3, 2011
This week’s document(s): internal U.S. government emails regarding allegations of human trafficking
Originating agency: Army and Air Force Exchange Service
An article in the latest issue of The New Yorker details the perils many “third country nationals”–mostly South Asians and Africans–face when working for U.S. government-funded contractors and subcontractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The article tells the tale largely through the experiences of two Fijian women–Lydia and Vinnie–who worked for a foreign-owned subcontractor for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Under the auspices of AAFES, commercial stores, hair salons, movie theaters and other operations are conducted on military bases.
According to The New Yorker article, the Fijian women faced an array of abuses, such as being lured to Iraq under false pretenses (they believed they were going elsewhere in the Middle East and would be paid far more than they actually were), onerous work hours (12 hours a day for 7 days a week), oppressive contractual terms signed under duress, and, for one of the women, sexual assault by one of her supervisors. (Click HERE for article)
British spies swap cupcake recipes into al-Qaida magazine
Laura Rozen – (The Envoy) – June 3, 2011 – Readers of al-Qaida’s “Inspire” magazine got a tasty surprise thanks to British intelligence operatives: recipes, courtesy of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” for mini cupcakes.
Finding Secrets in the U.S. Defense Budget and a KBR Hat
…Looking for rendition sites in Kabul, Paglen recalls how once, when driving down a forgotten road, he got caught in a goat traffic jam. The goatherd sported a baseball cap marked KBR, short for Kellogg Brown & Root, the notorious private military contracting company… - David Cotner (LA Weekly)
Revelations in BAE Saudi case prompt inquiry call
Christopher Hope and Stephen Swinford – (The Telegraph) – March 12, 2011 – A senior MP has demanded a parliamentary inquiry into Britain’s £43 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia after a leaked US diplomatic cable disclosed the full case against BAE Systems, the defence contractor.
The Serious Fraud Office dropped the investigation in December 2006, after intense diplomatic pressure from the Saudis. BAE was fined by US authorities last year after it admitted a relatively minor charge of making false statements. It faced no action in Britain over the Saudi allegations and until now the full details of the case have been kept secret.
However, a US cable given to the WikiLeaks website and obtained by The Daily Telegraph discloses the strength of the investigators’ case. Written four months after the collapse of the investigation, it shows the SFO had evidence that:
BAE paid £73 million to a Saudi prince who had “influence” over the Al-Yamamah defence contract and that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe another “very senior Saudi official” received payments;
The contractor was being covertly investigated by the SFO for carrying out a “potential fraud” against a government department;
BAE allegedly circumvented anti-bribery laws by making “substantial payments” to overseas agents employed by the Saudi government.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, then British ambassador in Riyadh and now a BAE Systems’ director, “had a profound effect” on the decision by Robert Wardle, then SFO director, to end the investigation. (Click HERE for article)
DoD Proposes Anti-Fraud Wall Art For Contractors
Joe Palazzolo – (WSJ Blogs) – March 11, 2011 – If you see fraud, say something.
That’s the message the Defense Department wants to convey in contractors’ offices around the globe, anyway.
The department proposed a rule in Friday’s Federal Register that would require defense contractors to prominently display Defense Department fraud hotline posters in common work areas.
As it stands, contractors with their own ethics programs that include hotline posters are exempt from having to display the Defense Department’s version.
But the department’s inspector general has determined that the exemption could diminish “the means by which fraud, waste, and abuse can be reported under the protection of federal whistleblower protection laws,” the proposal says.
The inspector general is also revising the agency’s fraud hotline poster to inform contractor employees of their whistleblower protections.
The public comment period on the proposed rule closes on May 10. (Click HERE for article)
U.S. prosecution of leakers could chill whistle-blowers
Chuck Raasch – (USA Today) – WASHINGTON – March 11, 2011 – Despite the Obama administration’s promise to increase openness and transparency, the Justice Department is stepping up prosecution of those who leak classified information, a move that critics say will have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers who are essential to keeping government in check.