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Canada: Organized Crooks' Playground

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:09 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1219
Location: Toronto
Canada is fast becoming the Nigeria of the North where a patchwork of hapless financial regulatory agencies compete with each other to see which one comes out more inept and useless. Criminal entrepreneurs can ply their trade here without fear of getting busted and, in the remote chance that they do, can rely on a forgiving legal system to give them a slap on the wrist and a get-out-of-jail free card.

A multi-part feature in the Toronto Star exposes the startling ineptness of the Ontario Securities Commission. Union members in Ontario whose pensions have been plundered over the past few decades can take heart that the OSC is the sister agency of Ontario's pension regulator, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

Why the OSC So Rarely Gets Its Man
White Collar Crime Team Fizzled

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SharynS
Post Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:42 pm

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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who knew eh. It's nice that white collar crime has the spotlight, about friggin' time. Interesting series in the run up to Conrad Black's sentencing.

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Elvis
Post Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:14 am

Joined: 01 Feb 2006
Posts: 661
Location: Toronto
RCMP fraud unit results 'disappointing'

Using the word 'disappointing' to describe the white collar crime division is so disappointing.

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SharynS
Post Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 3:00 am

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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Nice catch E, and the tsunami was upsetting.

The article is a long way from scathing/tough/condemnation but I'm still impressed. Disappoint and white collar crime in the same sentence in msm print ~ kudos!

On another note, according to insiders, conrad black is going to make a plea for leniency at his sentencing, he wants martha's pillow.

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:24 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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Location: Toronto
Here's the entire
Cory-Pilkington Report that you'll see referenced in some of these articles. Read it 'n weep. It's becoming more and more apparent to me now why pension-fleecing is so popular and lucrative here in Canada. The pension regulators make these OSC guys look like a crack team (or is that a team on crack?).

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SharynS
Post Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:06 am

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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Basically then, if you plan to "fleece" a fund or two in Canada, it's possible to calculate you're take home prior to committing the crime. The regulatory process is little more than a toll booth.

sum fleeced minus process toll (fine/settlement) = net profit.

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:02 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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Location: Toronto
Oh yeah. And your net profit is most likely to be the entire take less normal operational expenses and whatever percentage you may have to kick up (if you're project is part of a larger criminal enterprise). I doubt that fines enter into the calculation very often since the odds of getting busted are so remote to begin with.

This country is an organized criminals' happy hunting ground. I'm wondering if we should try to get the Americans interested. I mean there are already some well-documented cases of Canadian crooks relieving US citizens of their money and then scurrying back across the border to the comfort and safety of Canada's regulatory la-la land.

Check out this W5 segment about Affinity Fraud. It's about how a bunch of crooked Canucks fleeced some honest folk about of their life savings. There's a really illuminating interview with an OSC official who doesn't seem to know what enforcement powers the OSC has or why it doesn't use them.

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:44 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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Location: Toronto
Further to my post (above), here is an excerpt from the Affinity Fraud segment. Substitute "union members" for "church goers", and "union" for "church" and you have a model for the CCWIPP fleecing. We have a trusting group of victims, a front man (Ron Kelly), a trusted insider (Cliff Evans and his coterie of trained seals in the Board of Trustees) and the Mastermind. Who is the Mastermind? That's the only mystery left.
Quote:
Affinity Fraud is a scheme that has four main ingredients. Which mixed together, can produce the perfect crime. Ingredient Number One - a trusting group of victims. Because church goers are trusting by nature this group had been particularly hard hit.

The front man is the second ingredient, someone who acts as a salesman within the group.

Which brings us to the third essential ingredient--the trusted insider. Someone within the church who will vouch for "the front man" Without the insider, the Affinity Fraud often could never occur. Not just anyone can walk into a church and win people over. Sometime he's an accomplice, sometimes just a patsy.

And the final ingredient -- the master mind. The person who orchestrates the scheme and after the money is collected, generally spirits it offshore where it can't be found by authorities.


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Pearson
Post Posted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:38 pm

Joined: 03 Feb 2006
Posts: 1421
Location: Sun City AZ
This is a fascinating topic. We've had some of the religious investment scandals here in AZ. Massive monies given to folks who had ties to the church and it was nothing more than the old ponzi scheme. The boys went to prison in just the last year but they didn't recover anywhere near enough money to repay people.

You all know i have been a fan of the health and welfare and pension trust funds. I saw up close and personal how good they can be for workers. The problem is the bigger they get, the more the potential for abuse. In the US, oversight appears to be far more stringent than Canada.

Lets be honest, that oversight targets major abuses. The fact is investors can play games with monies and interest income that without due diligence by the trustees can run into the millions. Who gets to play with the piggie bank is always the question.

Money managers have relationships. They tie into folks that are handling hundreds of millions of dollars for the trust. Are there folks taking care of other folks? Are people in high places making sure kids, spouses and relatives are getting plum jobs? Is every decision made for the right reason, or are there decisions made based on favors owed or promises made?

We have seen just a glimpse of the lawsuit filed by the our newest poster John Brilley (and other ufcw presidents in CA) against the international. The international invested in hedge funds in the mid nineties when trust funds were making 25% profits...and they lost in the neighborhood of $75,000,000. The suit by Brilley et al netted the trust back $10,000,000; most likely their errors and omissions insurance.

Years later we find Doug Dority's daughter married one of the principal officers in the company. Who knows when that relationship began, but there most assuredly was an odor coming from the deal. The impact to the trust was staggering as the ufcw changed the plan requirements and stuck it to the new hires.

The real issue is trust, and when you have a proven track record of how greedy and piggish the boys can be, you quickly see why there is little or none from some of us.

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The Third Element
Post Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 4:55 am

Joined: 22 Feb 2006
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Now there's an eye opening parallel.

The Church and Organized Labour...

Opps, forgot this window was open, Church and organized Labour.. took me immediately off on a Googlgent (like a tangent, but different).

The similarities are staggering, right down to the corruption and misuse of trust. Unions could even be said to have their own Knights Templar and Inquisitions.

I guess I better crack "Holy Blood Holy Grail" and reread it from this new perspective.

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SharynS
Post Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:23 am

Joined: 28 Jan 2006
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Quote:
Unions could even be said to have their own Knights Templar and Inquisitions.
As could be said of any entity where greed can fester. Why is it that when a union organization is defrauded, the entire concept takes the wrap, but when a corporation is defrauded, the criminals are named?

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The Third Element
Post Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 5:48 am

Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 368
Well corporations are business entities responsible to their share holders and have be pariahs for so long that controls are in place.

Unions are just communal gatherings of like minded individuals with the purpose of bringing reform to their workplaces through collective action.

Now if unions were businesses that would be something else... lucky for all of us they're not eh? Rolling Eyes

Canada is the only country left that does not mandate financial reporting for unions. Can you believe that?!?!

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SharynS
Post Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 6:21 am

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Doesn't answer the question but you're spot on the legal boundaries 3E. It's a crime to defraud shareholders and not a crime to defraud "like minded individuals with the purpose of bringing reform to their workplaces through collective action". Ever wonder why that is?

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wm pasz
Post Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 2:43 am

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
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I think the problem is that unions-as-we-know-them (the institutionalized bureaucracies that require "certification" to represent groups of workers) are neither businesses nor groups of "like-minded individuals with the purpose of bringing reform to their workplaces through collective action".

The institutionalized "labour orgs" that supplanted all other types of labour organizations (including - and especially - those groups of like-minded individuals) in the mid-20th century are actually tools of the state whose real purpose was (and is, although to a much lesser extent) social control - that is, control of working people with a view to ensuring that we don't interfere with the a much-desired paradigm of workplace relations (master/servant).

This explanation occurred to me a recently as I was mulling over this and other uncharted threads and wondering about the sad state of affairs in the 21st century workplace (why oh why is everyone soooooo unhappy with their jobs?)

For quite a long time I had marvelled at the lack of regulation of unions in Canada. Until lately I've been content with the standard explanations for the lack of political will in this area. There seem to be about 4 of these:

1. That Canadian politicians don't want to alienate unions and their campaign-funding largesse.

2. That our politicians fear widespread backlash from workers if they are seen to be interfering in internal union affairs.

3. That they naively believe that unions really are "groups of like-minded individuals..." who can take care of their own internal issues.

4. That they simply don't understand how laws that are supposed to keep union leaders on the straight and narrow are misapplied by the LRB's and so, assume that the workers themselves are OK with the screwing over that they're getting.

While some or all of these rationalizations might explain the "hands off" posture of Liberal and NDP administrations towards union-member relations, what doesn't fit is the same "hands off" posture taken by their neo-con counterparts. Take for example the labour relations legislation amendments introduced by the Mike Harris Conservative regime in Ontario over two consecutive terms. Although there was a lot of howling by union leaders about the repeal of their predecessor (NDP's) labour law reforms, the introduction of mandatory representation votes, the publication of union leaders' salaries (those that exceeded 100K) and a law that required employers to post the process for decertification in their workplaces, these changes amounted to little more than tinkering and did not put unions at any significant disadvantage.

A far more effective strategy to bring the "union bosses" or "fat cats" (as Harris loved to call them)down to earth would have been to give existing DFR legislation some teeth, repeal laws that blocked union members' access to the courts, introduce legislation that required full disclosure of union financial information and provisions that would mandate meaningful democracy in unions - yet neither Harris nor any of his counterparts in other jurisdictions even thought about such things (and if he did, he kept his thoughts to himself - not something he was known for).

Certainly, Harris had no allegiances to union leaders and was not reliant on their campaign donations. He had no fear of a union backlash and seemed in fact to enjoy antagonizing union leaders. Any concerns about a general public uprising (if there ever were any) would have fizzled after the second union-sponsored "Days of Action" protest fizzled out. Neither he nor his circle of hardcore neo-con advisers could be accused of harbouring sentimental notions about collectives of like-minded whoevers and, as his circle included Toronto labour lawyer Guy Giorno, he would have had pretty good insight into how the OLRB operated.

Yet, Harris didn't go there and neither have any of his ideological soul mates when they rode to power with majority governments that weren't shy about ramming through truckloads of controversial legislation.

With the stroke of a pen it would have been so easy to redefine the Duty of Fair Representation, or to remove the dreaded "privative clause" that denies union members access to the courts or to pass regulations that would require one member one vote union elections. But it didn't happen. Why oh why?

Because the institutionalized unions still have a role to play in social control. Granted, it's not as extensive as it was 50 years ago and their reach only extends to a minority or workers within certain industries but there are a couple of reasons why maintaining this presence might be desirable to all but the most virulently anti-union ideologues at this juncture:

1. Maintaining order on the shop floor. This is the original reason for the rise of state-controlled unionism. Avoiding the economic upheaval that might come if the working stiffs ever took matters into their own hands. Several decades of "employee involvement" programming by employers have not made much difference in shop floor dissatisfaction (much of it rooted in the natural by-products of the master/slave thing so...better the devil you know than the one you don't.

2. Even though a large portion of Canadian workers are not unionized, the presence of the labour relations framework is acts as a subtle but effective barrier to their engaging in workplace dissent. How is this? Surely, the existence of the framework should encourage them to act collectively. Unhappy with your employer? Join a union, right? Workers should feel motivated to stand up and make their voices heard by virtue of all these labour laws that give them the right to join unions - no? Well, no. That's the problem. The framework itself has proven horribly ineffective for workers in traditionally non-union industries. There are a lot of reasons for this. Some have to do with the laws themselves (which make it virtually impossible for workers in multi-unit franchised operations, for instance, to unionize) and others have to do with the "master/slave" relationship between unions and union members that the framework tacitly supports. Whatever the reasons, people in the 70% non-unionized segment of the Canadian workforce are not joining unions - yet unionization is held out to be the only "legal" way in which they can engage in collective action in the workplace. Caught between a rock and a hard place, they do nothing much about their workplace problems beyond buying lottery tickets, changing jobs and trying to "cope" (translation: put up) with their dissatisfaction.

So it really just boils down to fear of what might evolve if the institutionalized union and its strongmen leaders were to disappear. I don't think that our legislators actually think about it in those terms but I think it's more like a niggling fear in the backs of their minds. If we get rid of the current crop of state-backed enforcers of the workplace order, what will take their place? How will we ensure that they're on our side? It's too risky to leave to chance or to the people. Definitely we can't leave it to them.

A third and important consideration is the industry that the current paradigm and its institutionalized unions support: All those lawyers and their hangers-on who make a pile adjudicating and arbitrating and ensuring that the workplace parties are getting along and that the master/slave thing is still firmly entrenched in workplace culture. Who rules the world? Lawyers. Lawyers brought us the current paradigm and they're not about to let it go.

All of which brings us to the subject of this thread: Canada - Organized Crooks' Playground. From its beginnings in the late 1940's, the labour relations paradigm and its gatekeepers have been remarkably tolerant of organized crime. Canadian governments at every level have taken a hands off approach to mob involvement in unions and have even encouraged it (see the intriguing story of Hal Banks, a notorious American criminal for whom the Canadian government rolled out the red carpet in the 1950's with a view to ridding the Seafarer's Union of democrats and dissidents. Banks accomplished his mission through violence and intimidation and was hussled out of the country with the help of some friendly Members of Parliament when his exploits finally drew the heat).

To date this "live and let live" approach to the fleecing of union members by crooks of various shapes and sizes continues. Partly this is because of a general laissez faire approach to organized crooks by Canadian law enforcement but the experiences of union reformers who have asked for help from the long lazy arm of the law in recent years, are particularly stunning.

I'll never forget among the first union reformers that I met when I first got into this Internet shitdisturbing were a group of outraged Teamster members whose story we published on the MFD site. A number of members went to their local police services detachment (Peel Regional for those of you in the GTA who may be curious). The showed up with reports of pretty obvious kickbacks, payoffs and misuse of union funds. They had signed statements from union executive board members who admitted taking payoffs and engaging in schemes that basically took union funds and put them in the pockets of their sinister local president. According to one of the guys who went to the cop shop, the coppers were impressed but told them that an investigation would take upwards of 18 months and that they really didn't have the resources to follow up on this kind of thing. They recommended that the reformers hire a private investigator to gather evidence and turn it over to them. In the seven or so years that I've been at this, this still stands out as one of the most f-tarded things I've ever heard! (The reformers did just that though. They hired a PI who just happened to be an ex-copper with buddies on the Peel force. Things went nowhere in a hurry.)

Now, again, I don't think that there's a big nefarious plot here. I doubt that any of our MP's and MPP's are meeting with the chiefs of police or heads of pension regulatory agencies or LRB's and saying, "OK, you guys are gonna go easy on guys with see through socks and their union pals". But I do think that institutional priorities are communicated in many different ways - some overt and some very subtle. Similarly, institutional cultures that place a high value on the master/slave thing are, I think, more predisposed to supporting like-minded organizations whether their trade is legal or illegal and are more likely to take a dim view of freedom seeking workers.

Apologies for the length of this but I felt an urge..

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Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. You don't need anything else. - Malcolm X
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wm pasz
Post Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:27 pm

Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 1219
Location: Toronto
Here's another recent feature article about how the RCMP botched a sting operation where they enlisted the help of a notorious felon who, predictably, turned out to be a liability to them.

Are these guys total idiots! I mean, the news just gets worse and worse. Do they do anything right? No wonder we're being robbed, scammed and screwed over by an ever-growing army of crooks. This is so pathetic I can hardly stand it!

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Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it's against the oppressor. You don't need anything else. - Malcolm X
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