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OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH


Guest David Guyatt
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Guest David Guyatt

As curiosities go, geography isn’t always an exact science. Take for example, the still emerging funding scandal involving Gordon Brown and co. David Abrahams, the shifty property developer at the centre of this scandal hails from Newcastle.

He began his career at about the same time that Labour leader of the Newcastle City Council, T Dan Smith began his prison sentence for fraud and corruption.

The name of T Dan Smith, aka “Mr. Newcastle”, may not be immediately recognisable to many readers, but for oldies like me it is a name that still tolls the bell of familiarity. He was sentenced to six-years looking through prison bars was a BIG story in the 1960’s. His dodgy business with dodgy architect John Poulson, saw both men happily pay backhanders to all and sundry in the City Council in exchange for the green light on property developments.

Fortunately, the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was canny enough to rule out T Dan Smith for a cabinet post in his government following the 1964 election. Although Smith was certain he was to be made a Minister. One can only wonder what gave him such a hope? There was plenty of speculation at the time that tried to connect Smith to Wilson and his government.

Eventually, Smith’s story made it to television in the form of an excellent drama series broadcast in 1996 by BBC entitled: OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH.

David Abrahams is said to be a property tycoon and yet, according to some media reports, has virtually no assets and certainly does not live a luxurious lifestyle. This has prompted some political observers – notably in the Conservative Party - to wonder if he is a front man for others hiding behind him who are actually responsible for making the donations. Could this be possible?

With such a background, we might then turn to the recent Northern Rock banking crisis and ask is it rightfully a crisis or a more of a scandal?

You see, the not entirely exact science of geography comes into play when we learn that Northern Rock has the word “Northern” in its name for a purpose – that purpose being that it hails from Newcastle.

To round off the questions that linger, in my mind anyway, I merely note an episode circa 1970-1990’s of a little known cross-European consortium of major banks, industrial companies and other major players who systematically rigged the financial and commodity markets, making millions upon millions in the process. This little group was called “The Band of Seven” and included the Russian Trade Bank… at a time when the cold war was still very cold, even icy.

The participation of the Russian state owned bank working in harmonious relationship with six major European capitalist bank and industrial companies engaged in highly profitable market rigging activities, stands out as an example of the real world, rather than the perceived world that politics and politicians (and us as a result) inhabit and which is waved before our eyes to confuse us.

Other example of this harmonious relationship of apparent opposites can be seen in the way the west financed and did business with Hitler prior to and during WW11. It can also be seen in the way the west, throughout the cold war, financed and did business with the Russians throughout the cold war (Levinson’s “Vodka Cola” remains one of the most insightful books of this episode).

But I digress.

The band of 7 were UBS, SBC, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, Russia's Foreign Trade Bank in Zurich (the biggest player in gold bullion), Renault Finance and ENI. The central banks knew what was happening but since the Group of 7 could sometimes be of service to them, and especially since the 40% tangent continued to be paid to the "protection account" at UBS Lugano. The “protection account” ( a nice choice of words) were used to finance “the starving of the parties”… in other words the main political parties of Europe. One imagines that in exchange for this continuous funding stream (a set percentage of the rigged market profits were siphoned off to the protection account), the starving parties of Europe were content to turn a blind eye to the rigged markets manipulations and, were there a need to do so, would’ve stepped in to “protect” the “band” and their revenue stream.

Perhaps they would’ve even provided state assistance to one of the band of seven in the event it ran into serious financial trouble?

Furthermore, the UBS protection account activities received further insights from the Italian businessman, Florio Finorini (following a stint in prison). Monies “earned” from dealing in the rigged markets by the Band of 7 were often laundered through the Banque de Commerce et de Placement (BCP), Geneva, managed by the now infamous Dr. Alfred Hartmann who, coincidentally, was the Vice Chairman and General Manager of Rothschilds Bank A.G., and the vice president of the CIA connected Inter Maritime Bank. The BCP is also said to have played a part in the Iran-Contra affair. Hartmann was also a CIA asset of long standing. He later became a senior executive in BCCI, the bank that provided a full service to drug lords, gun-runners, terrorists, gangsters and the US and European intelligence community. BCCI also had the dubious distinction of corrupting members of both Houses of Parliament (and Congress) at a time when "brown-envelope" payments of cash of the Al Fayed variety had yet to hit media headlines.

Where Northern Rock and David Abraham’s fit into this picture, even supposing that they do, I have no idea. I mention it merely to demonstrate that the UK’s political parties are very likely to be no less involved in this sort of murkiness than elsewhere in the world.

And as we know, who pays the piper calls the tune.

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