Greg PalastPalast reports from London on BBC NewsnightWed Jun 6, 2007 00:32Conyers Challenges Bush For G8 Action on Vultures
Palast reports from London on BBC Newsnight
Watch it tonight beginning 10:30pm GMT, 5:30pm EDT
Congressman John Conyers, still in the thick of his hearings on the firing of US Attorneys, is preparing a new target for investigation: Vultures.
We're not talking about the feathered birds of prey, but predators with allies in the White House and Swiss bank vaults full of untraceable currency. These speculators buy up the debt of the poorest nations on the planet for pennies on the dollar -- then use legal extortion or less-than-legal bribery to extract payments from these nations - payments equal to five, ten or twenty times what the vultures "invested."
Conyers has personally informed George Bush that he expects the President to join the other G8 leaders to put the vultures out of business. "I'm counting on the President to do the right thing," Conyers told BBC reporter Greg Palast. But if the President doesn't, Bush can expect another set of investigations and hearings on the Administration's inaction and ties to vultures.
Tonight Palast's BBC investigative team follows up on previous quarry: Michael Francis Sheehan, a.k.a. "Goldfinger." Goldfinger has already won $20 million from Zambia for a debt he "bought" for less than $4 million. How did he do that? We discovered that the deal was greased by payments to the former President of Zambia's "favourite charity". Could the Zambian President's "favourite charity" be himself?
BBC travels to the Boutique Basile in Geneva, Switzerland, where Zambia's charity-minded ex-president, Frederick Chiluba, bought one million dollars in finery, including 206 suits, 349 shirts, each monogrammed with his initials –- and each shirt costing as much as the average Zambian earns in a year. The diminutive despot also bought 72 pairs of shoes -- all with extra-high heels.
Still, the vulture "Goldfinger" is closing in on Zambia, demanding another $35 million -- while US law enforcement closes in on him -- and Conyers closes in on President Bush.
Who will win this high-stakes derby?
Watch the program tonight on BBC Newsnight, available worldwide at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/default.stm and later at
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