February 26, 2016

“Government, I will lend you fresh money if you favor me with huge risk premiums” Does that not sound a bit corrupt?

Sir, Max Seddon and Laura Noonan write about the plans of Russia to issue its first sovereign bond since the US and Europe imposed sanctions on Moscow, and of some reactions of Washington to that. “Russian bond poses dilemma for bankers” February 26.

And in this respect: “The Treasury told the banks that while there was technically no ban against helping the Russian government raise money, the banks would have to be mindful of the fact that the money could be diverted into activities that were not consistent with US foreign policy.”

But what about the case of money that could be diverted into activities that was not consistent with Russian citizens’ interests? Is that irrelevant?

I ask because I am Venezuelan, and the government of my country has taken on loads of debt, something that clearly is not justifiable in the midst of an incredible oil boom. And all this odious credit/debt is now supposed to be repaid by all citizens who had absolutely nothing to do with how the loan proceeds were used, in much because of a big lack of transparent information.

And the financier’s of Venezuela have been quite aware that things in Venezuela were not fine and dandy. Among publicly notorious issues was that the government was selling oil to some countries a highly subsidized prices for its own political benefit; giving away gas to its own citizens for a value that exceeded all social spending put together; the existence of rampant corruption; and that its human right’s behavior was being questioned over an over again.

But the financiers loved the risk premiums, and so I ask:

In the case of a loan to an individual government official in return for a favor, there would be no doubt that it could be classified as an act of corruption, and the financier could be held liable in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

But, what about a loan that provides money to a whole government, in return of the favor of extravagant risk premiums, could that not also be classified as an act of corruption?

The world no doubt needs a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism (SDRM) but, if that is going to help the citizens of the world, which it primarily should do, that must begin by making clear the difference between bona-fide normal credits and odious credits.

@PerKurowski ©