Obama TPP trade officials got hefty bonuses from Big Banks as “reward” for joining govt

I’m convinced the best investigative reporter in the country is Lee Fang. Witness the following.

TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement still in negotiation, is a NAFTA-like treaty — it will have the legal force of a treaty — that ties the hands of any government that signs it in their dealings with big money corporations (and small ones too).

It includes a NAFTA-style trade dispute court, also legally binding, in which corps can sue cities, states, counties and nations for lost future and potential profit resulting from, for example, environmental regulations, or anything else covered by the treaty.

In a literal sense, these trade agreements are the cornerstones and building blocks of international rule by corporations. NAFTA court trumps even the U.S. Supreme Court. Its judgments are not appealable; its judges aren’t elected; only Money talks in these carefully designed agreements.

Naturally, Money wants to own the process of writing them. TPP is being written now, and some of its proposed language would handcuff governments’ ability regulate banking, especially high-risk banking like the market in derivatives. Can you see the bribery opportunity coming? Can you say Citigroup or Bank of America?

Lee Fang writing in the Republic Report (my emphasis):

Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks

Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show.

Bribe corrupt politician

Corruption via Shutterstock

Stefan Selig, a Bank of America investment banker nominated to become the Under Secretary for International Trade at the Department of Commerce, received more than $9 million in bonus pay as he was nominated to join the administration in November. The bonus pay came in addition to the $5.1 million in incentive pay awarded to Selig last year.

Michael Froman, the current U.S. Trade Representative, received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left CitiGroup to join the Obama administration. Froman told Senate Finance Committee members last summer that he donated approximately 75 percent of the $2.25 million bonus he received for his work in 2008 to charity. CitiGroup also gave Froman a $2 million payment in connection to his holdings in two investment funds, which was awarded “in recognition of [Froman’s] service to Citi in various capacities since 1999.” …

Let’s see — Selig, $14 million. Froman, $6 million. Froman’s in office, but Selig is still awaiting Senate confirmation. I wonder if the millionaire Democrats in the Senate will see a conflict of interest at his confirmation hearing. Your best guess? (Mine too.)

Thank You Street, with the reward up front this time

Interesting how sometimes you get paid after you provide the service, and sometimes you get paid before. Either way, you’re paid for the service.

By the way, this totally trumps the $180,000 per year that Obama Energy liaison, Heather Zichal, is likely to get. Even though that will be for part-time work — sitting on the Board of the country’s biggest fracked gas exporter — she still has a little work to do.

Selig and Froman, they get theirs for existing, or for having existed, or being about to exist … in government. And that’s by design and out front. Fang again:

Many large corporations with a strong incentive to influence public policy award bonuses and other incentive pay to executives if they take jobs within the government. CitiGroup, for instance, provides an executive contract that awards additional retirement pay upon leaving to take a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, the Blackstone Group, Fannie Mae, Northern Trust, and Northrop Grumman are among the other firms that offer financial rewards upon retirement for government service.

Fee for service about to be rendered. How blatant is this? Very, I’d say.

There’s more in Fang’s great piece. I want to send you there rather than quote too much. The second half of his article contains further explanation of my “NAFTA-style court” comment. This really is as bad as you think it is — one-world-government scary — with Exxon and Goldman Sachs and Google and Pfizer running the show.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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