Former senior legal counsel at the World Bank turned whistleblower Karen Hudes talks about the corruption inside the World Bank and her personal saga to find out about it. She says a worldwide currency war is certain and NATO in jeopardy, if the wrongdoing isn’t finally addressed.
By Lars Schall
Karen Hudes studied law at Yale Law School (J.D.) and economics at the University of Amsterdam (M.Phil). She worked as a corporate and securities lawyer at a major New York law firm and for several years at the Export Import Bank of the US, before she became a senior counsel in the legal department of the World Bank (1986 – 2007). Her personal web site can be found here: http://www.kahudes.net.
Lars Schall: Dr. Hudes, let’s talk about the World Bank, which is often described as a “Bretton Woods organization,” since it was officially founded at the famous international conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944. However, the plan to establish this bank (and the International Monetary Fund) originated years before with the highly secretive “War and Peace Studies” that were conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the US State Department, while the money for the study came from the Rockefeller Foundation. (1) Given this background of being part of the “Grand Area” design and strategy for the post-war world order, isn’t the World Bank really a tool to exercise American hegemony?
Karen Hudes: I take issue with one part of that question – when you say, “American hegemony.” If you unbundle the political structure inside the United States, it’s not what you see is what you get. It’s not that the American citizens are the ones that are running the country. There is a very wealthy group that is secretly, through domination of the press, trying to keep the citizens in the United States in the dark. And so when you say a tool of “American hegemony,” the answer is it is a tool of hegemony but I would take the “American” out of the equation. What you saw in the last presidential election was massive amounts of foreign money coming in, in an attempt to influence voters. (2) That’s the group that I’m talking about and I would be very happy, as a sidebar at some point, to discuss who that group is, where they are, and what they’re doing. Because I didn’t know about that group when I started on my saga, but I found out about them later on. Now I try to tell them that they have to start behaving themselves. They are not above the law; they think they are, but they are subject to the law.
L.S.: Okay, then let us go straight down to the nitty-gritty: Can you name the individuals and institutions of that group?
K.H.: I’ll tell you what I can do; I can point you to a very good study that was done by three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, ranked as the best university in continental Europe. What they did was examine the interlocking ownership of the world’s 43,000 transnational corporations using mathematical modeling tools. Are you familiar with that study?
L.S.: Yes, I am. I believe you are referring to a study which showed basically that a small group respectively “super-entity” of 147 financial institutions and multinational corporations is pretty much in control of the world economy. (3)
K.H.: Yes, that’s right. So, it’s whoever is behind that group which is in control of 1 percent of the investments but that 1 percent through corporate interlocking directorships is now in control of 40 percent of the assets and 60 percent of the revenues of this set of 43,060 transnational companies. That’s who that group is. Now, do I know who the individuals behind that group are? They’re very good at secretly hiding, so I’m not going to hazard a guess. But once we get the legal machinery in place, we will find out in great detail who these individuals are, and they will be playing by the rules along with everybody else on this planet.
L.S.: Before we come back to that issue: How do you evaluate the World Bank’s track record in general?
K.H.: It’s a magnificent place that has been hijacked by that group, so you really can’t blame it for some of the terrible things that have happened. But some of the most talented people in the world end up there. In particular, the group of World Bank whistleblowers that I have been working with is a dream team. They are fabulous, and by working together we have succeeded in exposing what the “super-entity” of financial institutions was trying to take away from the people around the world behind their backs. I wouldn’t call it a “Coup d’État” because we have simply taken back what was rightfully ours.
So, the World Bank is a mixture which includes that group of whistleblowers. Their lives have been really, really severely damaged by the power of that group that was trying to prevent them from doing their jobs. When the World Bank renovated its headquarters in 1997, an architect/construction engineer tried to prevent a 70% cost overrun caused by mismanagement. Can you imagine, an organization that’s teaching everybody how to run projects has a cost-overrun of $220 million dollars over the estimates? Anyway, he warned that this project was going to have the overruns, and he was fired in gratitude. Where is this man now? He’s managing projects for China. Anyway, when we were mentioning him as a whistleblower, he said: “I don’t want this publicity; I’m not a whistleblower. I was simply doing my job as a professional project manager and architect.” But some people, their lives were just completely wrecked.
So that’s what the World Bank is: you’ve got 5 percent who are fighting for justice, you’ve got human resources secretly managed by the “super-entity” of financial institutions, and you’ve got everybody else in the middle taking cover where they can.
L.S.: Why should anybody care about the World Bank and its actions?
K.H.: It’s an institution at the very center of the world financial system owned by 188 countries. This institution can prevent a currency war and can also serve as a bridge when there is consensus about how to amend the functioning of the world financial system. It takes 50 years for an international institution to function. There is a simple convention that the Board of the World Bank will only vote up or down what is proposed by the President of the World Bank. When the Board tried to end that convention in 2009, the following day I was locked out of the World Bank’s headquarters.
In 1944 there were 44 countries at the Bretton Woods Conference; one of the Dutch delegates was a young lawyer named Aaron Broches, who later became the longest-serving general counsel of the World Bank. I wasn’t at the World Bank when Broches was general counsel, but I got to know him because I was interested in finding out about the history of the World Bank. Broches gave me the operation manual. He was there when Robert McNamara came to the World Bank as the president in 1968. Broches told me that’s when the World Bank really started to deteriorate. McNamara made the place much more corrupt than it had been before that. The World Bank was established by treaty that was negotiated by the 44 countries which came to the Bretton Woods conference. By now, the Bretton Woods treaties have been signed on to by 144 additional countries.
So, the reason people need to care about the World Bank is it is a fabulous tool. We couldn’t create it today; but we’ve inherited it, we’re standing on the shoulders of our predecessors, and it is the tool by which we are taking back the rule of law, and we’re proceeding actually further than it’s ever gone. People complain about international law, they say it’s not enforceable, it’s just wishful thinking; no. International law exists, and it goes from the very bottom of the system way up to the top. Because the groups that want to be free to dominate the place and not be subject to law, their game is over, finished. This is a sea-change.
L.S.: But isn’t the whole thing related to the financial crisis and the fact that those people who’ve committed crimes are not punished for their crimes – isn’t that an clear indication to the contrary?
K.H.: Yes, but just wait until we finish doing what we need to do, because when I talk about taking back the World Bank for the rule of law, we’re talking about the beginning of a different approach. International law was developed by Hugo Grotius, a Dutch lawyer, famous for his escape in a trunk from the castle of Loevestein in 1621 where he was imprisoned by the Calvinists. Grotius believed in freedom of the seas and combined ethics, politics and law.
He said: “It is fitting that those who have the leading place in an alliance should arrogate to themselves no privilege in relation to their own interests, but should make themselves conspicuous above the others through their careful management of the common interests.”(4)
Now here’s where it becomes really interesting. Bond holders are entitled to accurate financial statements from the World Bank under securities laws in every single jurisdiction where the bonds are held. The World Bank has issued $135 billion in bonds denominated in the world’s currencies; anyone who holds a World Bank bond can hold the World Bank accountable. And this means that anyone inside that organization with financial information has got the right to make sure that is correctly represented in the World Bank’s financials. If there’s an inaccuracy in the financial information, the correction must take place, and any person who reveals that inaccuracy must be protected and not retaliated against. This is now a requirement in the appropriations legislation for the US contribution to the World Bank capital increase. (5) If you buy a World Bank bond (and I did so), you are empowered to fight for international law as an individual.
So, we now have a mechanism for requiring transparency. Does every government want transparency? Of course not, that’s why it has taken me fifteen years so far. But that’s where we are now, with governments accountable to their people in a way that they weren’t before.
L.S.: You assume that a world-wide currency war is certain if the World Bank fails to adhere to the rule of law. How do you come to this conclusion?
K.H.: It’s a very important question. You can see definite signs of an impending currency war by the US government’s seven year delay in complying with Germany’s request to repatriate 300 tons of gold; the difficulty in obtaining gold for immediate delivery; Japan’s devaluation; and legislation in a dozen states to recognize gold and silver bullion as legal tender. I elaborated on this in a recent interview with gold and precious metals expert, Tekoa da Silva. (6)
I have been warning for nearly ten years that US’ failure to play by the rules at the World Bank would end in a currency war. I come to this conclusion because one of the things the World Bank is, is it’s a knowledge bank. You have very clever companies that have developed services that they would like to incorporate in World Bank projects. For example, I was working on a project in Ghana on a freedom of information law. The Ghanaians hired the Sentia Group, headed by Jacek Kugler, former Chair of the Department of Politics and Policy at Claremont Graduate University. He was President of International Studies Association (2004-5) and of the Peace Science Society (1995-6). He was also editor of International Interactions.
The model developed by Jacek Kugler is 90 to 95% accurate. (7) There are actually two models that I am relying upon. The published version is: “The War Presidency: Options Taken and Lost.” (8) This analysis holds that what the United States did in the Iraq war may have made some sense in the context of the regional problems, but it was absolutely suicide for the US to fly in the face of its major allies. If the corruption in the United States continues to jeopardize the US’ relationship with the NATO countries, (which we are now seeing in the refusal of the United States to comply with Germany’s request for repatriation of its gold), China would come way up very, very fast, but via a currency war that will force trade back to a barter system and disrupt the world economy on a scale that will make the great depression of the 1930’s and the recent world depression in 2008 pale by comparison.
I found out in the Ghana project using the Sentia stakeholder analytic tool that the reason that the freedom of information law was not being passed was because the German government, which was financing the project , wanted a perfect freedom of information law. It turned out that in Ghana the people who were opposed to the law had enough political power that they could prevent the law from being passed. Once the German government understood that there was no ownership in Ghana for a perfect law, the local version of the legislation passed.
I was fired illegally as a legal officer of the World Bank trying to keep the World Bank on track in the securities markets. I informed the US Congress that the World Bank was out of compliance on the capital markets, and was illegally fired in retaliation. So I thought I would be reinstated immediately. I didn’t understand that the single biggest impediment was the fact that that group that I was talking about, the one that’s dominating the capital markets, is also dominating the media. I didn’t realize how concentrated the media was in the United States.
In the last 20 years the number of owners of the media in the US has gone from 50 down to 5. So I couldn’t get my story out. (9) I can regale you about what happened with the National Press Club, which has been hoodwinking the American people by censoring important information. When we are finished ending the cover-up of corruption, the media will have admitted that it was certainly newsworthy when the governors, attorneys general and chief justices of the 50 states were involved in resolving this illegality. How can it be that the American people don’t know this now? That is why I’m so grateful to you for bringing my story to your readers.
L.S.: When did you come to the conclusion that a world-wide currency war is certain by using this game theory stakeholder analysis?
K.H.: In 2004 I asked Jacek Kugler whether he would model rule of law at the World Bank. This is the second model, and is consistent with the published model, because the World Bank is a microcosm of the world economy. The input to the model requires an assessment of where the stakeholders are on rule of law at the World Bank, how powerful they are, and also how important rule of law is for them. So for example, the president of a country may be powerful, but he’s got a lot on his plate, so that issue is not so important for him. Kugler refers to that as “salience”. The numbers as to how powerful the countries were is based on their shareholding in the World Bank; for instance the US has 16 percent. But I had to estimate how important rule of law was to the World Bank’s member countries, where they stood on the issue, and so on. However, where I guessed wrong was I didn’t understand the media. I thought the media was part of a solution; I didn’t understand that it was very much part of the problem.
In 2007 I warned the US Treasury Department that the model of rule of law at the World Bank was predicting that the US would lose the 66 year-old Gentlemen’s Agreement to appoint the president of the World Bank. (10) That is what happened in 2010. (11) The model started predicting that rule of law would prevail rather than a currency war as soon as the UK and European Parliaments published my testimony. (12)
L.S.: But is the loss of the Gentlemen’s Agreement actually something bad? I mean the US is just one country out of more than 188 in the World Bank?
K.H.: Let’s look closer at Hugo Grotius’ point: ‘If you’re at the top of the food chain in the world and you rule benevolently in everybody’s interest then this is a good thing. But once you stop doing that, you stop acting as a trustee for the world and you start acting for the interest of a small group whose interests are different from the whole, then it’s a bad thing. So, if the US had acted under the World Bank’s rules, and complied with the securities laws of the jurisdictions where World Bank’s bonds are held, the US could have kept its Gentlemen’s Agreement. It’s only when the US acts illegally and against the interests of the whole of the group that the Gentlemen’s Agreement needs to end.
L.S.: Okay, I still don’t get it, and so make it plain, please: a) why do you think a world-wide currency war is certain by using this game theory stakeholder analysis? And b) please explain why NATO is in jeopardy – and maybe more important, give our readers some reasons why it would be a bad thing if NATO would break-up? Is NATO still a defense alliance?
I also spoke to Secretary Chuck Hagel on August 6, 2008 when he represented Nebraska as a Senator in the U.S. Congress, and I told him that this stakeholder analysis was predicting that the Gentlemen’s Agreement would end if the U.S. did not stop its hegemony at the World Bank and that “playing cat and mouse with these serious governance issues at the World Bank is also a security risk to the world order.” After Chuck Hagel became Secretary of Defense, I called up the Inspector General’s office in the Defense Department and said, “I happen to think that Secretary Hagel will be very interested to know about a problem that’s going to make him lose NATO.” And the next weekend I got a request from LinkedIn to contact the Defense Department’s project manager for their version of the stakeholder analysis. I am also in touch with NATO.
NATO is in jeopardy because of tensions with Germany and Europe over the corruption emanating from the “super-entity” that is trying to dominate the world economy. The stakeholder analysis is predicting that this corruption can be overcome through coalitions that demand the rule of law. Informed citizens demanding an end to the corruption will turn things around. I believe that the corruption in NATO, like the Bretton Woods institutions, can be overcome.
As a lawyer, I believe that institutions can be retrofitted, improved, and salvaged and that when cover-ups of corruption end it is possible to close the loopholes that permitted the corruption to exist. When I say that NATO will break up, I am referring to NATO as a proxy for the transatlantic alliance. Whether the accession of new countries to NATO has changed the character of NATO is a larger issue. As the corruption coming from the “super entity” of financial institutions we discussed earlier is tackled, many existing institutions will change. Lawyers prefer incremental change, and working within an existing institutional framework. The alternative is an approach like the French revolution. Is that preferable?
L.S.: Was corruption part of the decision to get rid of Paul Wolfowitz and Robert Zoellick as heads of the World Bank?
K.H.: Yes, of course. The Board of Executive Directors asked Paul Wolfowitz to leave for promptly giving a 35% pay raise to his significant other who was working for the World Bank when Wolfowitz assumed the presidency. That was just the tip of the iceberg; the corruption was systemic.(13)
L.S.: Well, related to Robert Zoellick I think this is not really clear to the public…
K.H.: No, of course not, that’s because the “super-entity” of financial institutions bought up the media. It was because of Robert Zoellick’s corruption that the World Bank’s Committee on Governance refused a second term to Robert Zoellick, and Senator Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the US Senate, told Zoellick that he was not going to be renominated for a second term as president of the World Bank by the United States. After Mitt Romney appointed Zoellick to head national security transition planning during the US presidential campaign, I tried without success to inform voters about the corruption problems. (13) CBS, which broadcast the presidential debates, knew about the corruption at the World Bank because they used my information to embarrass the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron during his interview on the David Letterman show on September 27, 2012. After my testimony in UK Parliament about corruption at the World Bank, the UK’s Minister of Development, Andrew Mitchell, was raked over the coals in the “plebgate affair.” (15) But CBS refused to ask a question on international corruption during the presidential debate.
L.S.: When did you personally became aware of improper practices at the World Bank?
K.H.: I learned of the corruption at the World Bank gradually: think of old Polaroid pictures that develop slowly. My understanding of the problem increased from working with other World Bank whistleblowers and seeing what happened after I disclosed corruption up the corporate ladder within the World Bank. So, the first thing that clearly jolted me was in 1997 when the Board at the World Bank said under the Strategic Compact, ‘We’ll contribute to the World Bank budget, but we’re putting a condition that we want to see improved management’. I was the representative of the Staff Association on the Drysdale Committee which was looking at Human Resources Reform under the Strategic Compact. At the end of the exercise I said, “You know, for reform in an organization, you need to have monitoring to see whether the reform has taken hold.” When my recommendation wasn’t incorporated, I was perplexed, and wondered, “Why don’t people want to monitor reform of human resources?”
We called in Alberto Bazzan, a human resources manager from IBM. After about a year, Alberto came to me — this was when Jim Wolfensohn was the President of the World Bank — and said “Karen, it’s not working, I don’t get to see Jim Wolfensohn very often but whenever I do, if I tell him somebody should be promoted, that person gets fired. If I tell him that somebody should be fired, that person gets promoted.” Alberto also said, “I don’t know how much longer I’m going to last,” and sure enough; he got fired too.
L.S.: You also became aware of irregularities in connection with a bank in the Philippines. Please elaborate on this.
K.H.: At the end of the East Asia financial crisis in 1999, the World Bank had a ‘structural adjustment loan’ in the Philippines. In structural adjustment loans, the World Bank finances government reform policies rather than goods and services. In corrupt regimes these loans are controversial because the reforms are not owned by the country, and the proceeds do not end up in government treasuries. So, what happened in the privatization of Philippines National Bank (PNB) was the man who owned Philippine Airlines, which was in default to PNB, ended up buying the government shares in PNB. The investment advisor said, ‘You know, depositors aren’t going to like that PNB is being managed by a borrower in default. This is a real problem’.
I went to the World Bank’s country director for the Philippines and told him what the investment advisors said; that the man who owned Philippine Airlines had broken the securities laws in the Philippines by failing to disclose his acquisition of more than 10% of PNB’s shares. I told the World Bank’s Country Director in the Philippines to warn the government the World Bank could not disburse the rest of the structural adjustment loan. I wrote the letter. It said, ‘Dear Philippines Government, you’re not going to get the money, you’re not complying with the conditions’. I said, ‘could you please sign this letter and send it to the government’. Instead, I was reassigned. There was another condition in the loan requiring the Philippines’ laws on banking supervision to be improved, and those laws were never passed after I was reassigned. So I went to the legal department, and I said, ‘You can’t reassign lawyers who are doing their jobs.”
I live on the same street as Larry Summers, and my kid was in the same elementary class as Larry Summers’ kid. When this nonsense with the human resources reform happened, I complained to Larry Summers at a PTA meeting. I said, “The World Bank is not being managed right: when we try to correct the mismanagement, the wrong people get fired; what’s going on here?” There was going to be a new general counsel, and a friend of mine told me that there wasa good candidate. So, I told this to Larry Summers. After this man came in as the World Bank’s General Counsel, I asked him, ‘Why are you reassigning me when I’m doing my job’.
So after I was reassigned in the Philippines, I told the Executive Director who represented the Dutch government on the Board what was going on, and the two of us had a meeting with Jim Wolfensohn. At the meeting we said, ‘This idiot who you hired as General Counsel is leading to corruption in the Philippines, you’ve got to do something about this’. Jim Wolfensohn’s response was to put me on probation.
I went to the decision meeting when it came time to disburse the Philippines loan and told the Vice President for the East Asia Region, “The conditions haven’t been met for disbursement.’ And of course, that vice president knew that I was going to go back up to the Board, so he had to cancel the loan for $200 million. There was a matching loan from Japan which was also cancelled. The depositors in the Philippines got nervous with a defaulted borrower in control of PNB, and there was a run on the bank. The Philippines Deposit Insurance Corporation had to bail out PNB with a $500 million loan. The President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada, was ultimately impeached in 2001, and in 2007 an anti-corruption court in the Philippines convicted Estrada of plunder and confiscated cash and properties worth $29 million.
When the World Bank’s Evaluation Department told the World Bank’s Board of Directors that the World Bank’s supervision performance on the structural adjustment loan for the Philippines’ financial sector had been satisfactory, I said that the Evaluation Department was misinforming the Board. The World Bank never ended its misinformation to the Board on the Philippines financial sector adjustment loan. That was the kernel of the cover-up, which kept on mushrooming.
L.S.: Why were you fired ultimately in 2007?
KH: I was fired illegally in retaliation for informing the US Congress about the cover-up on the Philippines. In 2006 I was a candidate for the World Bank’s General Counsel position. During my interview, I told the Executive Search firm about the failed human resources reforms and the internal control lapses. Executive Search firms for the general counsel position of companies with bonds on the securities markets have to correct internal control problems. When there is an international organization whose Board consists of member countries, this problem becomes especially serious. I informed the Treasury Department that the Sentia stakeholder analysis was predicting that the US was going to lose the Gentlemen’s Agreement. When the Treasury Department did not respond, I informed Senators Biden, Clinton, Obama, and Lugar on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Senator Lugar backed me up with three letters to the World Bank before I was fired, and my Congressman wrote a fourth letter at Nancy Pelosi’s request after I was fired illegally in retaliation. Senators Leahy and Bayh also joined Senator Lugar in demanding a Government Accountability Office investigation into corruption at the World Bank the year after I was fired. When the World Bank stonewalled the GAO investigation, Congress put conditions on the US contribution to the World Bank’s capital increase requiring reform to end the effects of retaliation. (16)
There are other World Bank whistleblowers reporting the same problems as I did. They have stories that are equally outrageous. You cannot run a bank as if it were your personal slush fund. You have got to have accountability; you have got to have internal controls. When I reported to Congress that the World Bank had deficient internal controls, I also pointed out that because of the special position of the World Bank in the world financial system, not only are you wasting tax payers’ money, but you’re going to end up with a currency war. When the World Bank fired me and stonewalled the GAO investigation, the governance crisis at the World Bank assumed constitutional proportions.
L.S.: In order to deal with your problems, you bought a certain kind of bond. Please tell us this story.
K.H. The World Bank is an international organization and has immunity from lawsuits brought by its staffmembers. But the World Bank has waived its immunities to bondholders. In 2009 the Chairman of the World Bank’s Governance Committee, the Chairman of the Board’s Audit Committee, and the Chairman of the Board’s Ethics Committee, together with the Dean of the Board, reinstated me when I was trying to end the convention that the Board may only rubber stamp actions initiated by the World Bank’s President. When I was locked out of the World Bank’s headquarters building, I bought a World Bank bond and sued in federal court.
L.S.: And what has been the result?
K.H.: The short answer is that the US is viewed as a scofflaw nation in violation of its treaty obligations and securities laws in all of the jurisdictions in which the World Bank’s bonds are traded, including state blue sky laws. Last week an Ambassador of one of the World Bank’s members wrote, “I would also like to recognize the work you are doing in trying to bring the Bretton Woods institutions to bear on the need to meet the agreed international states in the course of their operations.”
The long answer is that the Judge in the District Court ignored the fact that I was a bond holder and dismissed my suit. So I appealed and the stakes were increased a little bit. The day after I blogged that the Board of the World Bank was taking over the litigation (17), the Court of Appeals issued an unpublished decision that did not contain the reasoned opinion that was required under applicable precedent. Then the clerk ignored my notice that the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and I were withdrawing the case after it was settled by the World Bank’s Development Committee. I reported the clerical error in the federal courts to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to the rest of the Judicial Conference, and again more recently to the Judge who heads the Judicial Conference Executive Committee. I also reported to the National Governors Association, the National Association of Attorneys General, and the Conference of Chief Justices of the state Supreme Courts that the federal courts were ignoring 187 Ministers of Finance.
On April 19, 2013 the Development Committee issued me a pass to attend the Spring meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions. On April 20, 2013 the U.S. Secret Service barred me from attending the rest of the meetings. On April 21, 2013, in a letter that was cleared by the World Bank’s shareholders, I informed Julia Pierson, Director of the Secret Service, that the Secret Service had acted illegally. Later that day the Secret Service issued me an invalid barring notice, which had been signed by a World Bank official who exceeded his authority.
L.S.: It’s almost unnecessary to ask you this, but anyway: Did you get any protection as a whistleblower? And what are your thoughts in general how whistleblowers are treated these days in the US?
K.H.: That’s a wonderful question. I started out with a law firm to help me with my case. At one point that firm gave me some documents which were very helpful, including a report from the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress to the effect that World Bank governance is very bad and its accounting is terrible. (19) A couple of years ago, I went back to that firm to thank them for having given me that very important document. And the next thing I knew, that firm referred an assignment to me in the Philippines. Well, I have gotten some very powerful people in the Philippines rather angry. I thought it was kind of dangerous to go to the Philippines, so I said, “I’d be very happy to take that assignment, but I think I’m going to sub-contract the work in the Philippines.” The work dried up when I wasn’t going to the Philippines anymore.
I have filed many complaints with local, state and federal law enforcement officials about illegal acts and not a single complaint has been satisfactorily resolved. It is the job of each and every citizen in a democracy to inform themselves what is happening to their whistleblowers and to protect them. The accountability feedback loop has been largely impaired by the “super-entity” of financial institutions which bought up the media in the U.S.
L.S.: There was actually an investigation to address the corruption at the World Bank, which was headed by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker. What do you think about the results of this investigation?
K.H.: After studying Development Economics at the University of Amsterdam, I have some excellent contacts. In 2005 the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked for an investigation of the Audit Committee into my complaints about the lapses on the Philippines financial sector structural adjustment loan.(20) The Chair of the Audit Committee at the time, Pierre Duquesne, asked instead for an investigation into the Institutional Integrity Department. The Volcker Panel has been thoroughly discredited. (19)
L.S.: Have there been other responses, for example in the UK?
K.H.: Yes. I met with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office on September 28, 2010, and informed them that KPMG did not follow Generally Accepted Auditing Standards. The Serious Fraud Office called the SEC on October 10, 2010, but the SEC only stonewalled. Two Committees of the UK Parliament published my testimony to this effect. (See note 11) After the SEC refused to respond to the Serious Fraud Office, that was when a UK lawyer advised me, ‘It’s time, Karen, to go to the credit rating agencies.’ All of these problems are going to drive down the US credit rating, there’s no question about it. That is why the Attorney General, Eric Holder, is suing the credit rating agencies. Thirteen other countries have written to me about the illegality I have been reporting to them.
Now, I’ve made these points to the state attorneys general, to the state governors and to the Chief Justices of state Supreme Courts. When there are these compliance issues, the states are also responsible for protecting the bond holders under blue sky laws. I finally got a letter from Maryland’s governor, Martin O’Malley, requesting me to have my Senators in US Congress solve this problem. So I went to Senators Mikulski and Cardin, and they didn’t solve the problem. I went to Senate Legal Counsel and to the House General Counsel, and informed them that there was an impasse between the state regulators and the SEC.
Then I went to Secretary Hagel and said, “First of all we’re landing in a currency war and second of all, we have a serious disconnect between the states and the federal government. How is this going to be resolved, martial law? The Judicial Conference is confronting a situation where 188 Ministers of Finance have reinstated me, have granted me a security pass, and the President of the World Bank and Secret Service prevent me from entering the building; the clerk of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed my case in error; the Judicial Conference refuses to correct the clerical error, and the citizens with a few exceptions remain in the dark. What you have is a country which is seriously, seriously out of compliance. So, when you say the World Bank is out of compliance; no, it’s the US government. It’s all of the different pillars of government. It’s the federal government, it’s the judiciary. The Congress isn’t doing such a great job either; they passed an appropriations law with conditionality and failed to require GAO to carry out an audit into corruption that they commissioned.
L.S.: Yes. You also assume the repatriation of German gold that was announced by the Deutsche Bundesbank in January of this year has something to do with the problems at the World Bank. Why so?
K.H.: That’s a very good question. The Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve together with the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission sit on the National Advisory Council on International Monetary and Financial Policies, and these are the entities that have accepted KPMG’s unqualified audit of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development when the bondholders can have no confidence in the accuracy of the World Bank’s financial statements because of the corruption that I and other World Bank whistleblowers have reported.
Germany asked to repatriate 300 tons of gold three months after the New York Federal Reserve refused Germany´s request for a physical inspection of vaults in which Germany´s gold was stored. Instead, the US Treasury offered a paper audit.(21) The Inspector Generals of both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have not inspired any confidence in my case, to put it bluntly. A dozen states are also moving to recognize gold as legal tender,(22) and Texas is permitting its pensions to invest in gold now.(23)
It’s part and parcel of this corrupt illegality; this illegality is creating such turmoil that people have concerns about the soundness of the US dollar as a currency. Now, I’ve seen the letters that you’ve written and about why Germany needs its gold. I think probably the best answer is that in a situation that I’ve just outlined where you have illegality from top to bottom, you don’t want your gold anywhere else because you don’t know what’s going to happen to it. I can’t say for sure when the decision of your audit committee was made that required the audit.
K.H.: The strength of my case is that I have documented the illegality from the very bottom of the financial system to the very top. The only reason this matter is not resolved is because of this control of the media which is jeopardizing democracy in the United States. I’ve documented a serious case of what is called state capture. Is it going to be resolved? I do know that all of these World Bank whistleblowers have their own contacts with their governments. Although the credit rating agencies have had a front row view, most American citizens haven’t, with the exception of a group called the National Taxpayers Union, which has a blog about me. (25)
L.S.: What do you think about the fact that the BRICS nations are creating their own development bank to rival the World Bank and the IMF?
K.H.: I congratulate them, and I’m very glad that they did this.
L.S.: Yes, but do you think that this creation of a new development bank by the BRICS nations is a result of this corruption at the World Bank?
L.S.: And since we also raised the issue of gold, is it any surprise to you that these BRICS nations are buying gold, for example, Russia and China, whereas the western Central Banks and the IMF have a very different approach to gold?
K.H.: Professor Antal Fekete has written about the significance of the current very high demand for immediate delivery of gold.(24) It is becoming clear that the corruption in the international financial system is risking a situation in which gold supply will cease as persons who hold gold refuse to relinquish it for paper money, referred to as “permanent backwardation.” We have got to prevent this from happening. It’s the “super entity” of financial institutions that’s unsettling everything; they have got to play by the rules. They can’t have a free pass to corrupt the world. No; that’s ended, that’s over. The fact that most people don’t know about them or what they do or what the BIS is, that has to end. Everybody has to know, and there has to be an orderly transition to a world financial system that makes some sense. This current situation where they control the press makes no sense whatsoever, and it’s got to end.
L.S.: Apropos the BIS; is it also involved? And you’ve said most people don’t know what the BIS is, so what is the BIS?
K.H.: The answer is yes, the BIS is involved. The BIS, Bank for International Settlements, is the consortium of central bankers. The central bankers are private, they’re not government entities. Anyway, I wrote the BIS to ask them what on earth is going on? I never heard back from them, which is kind of curious.
L.S.: Final question. How would you solve the problems we were talking about if the choice was yours?
K.H.: I’ve been thinking a lot about the answer to that question. I think there are two very easy answers. The first is that whistleblowers have to be made whole, as required by US Congress for the US contribution to the World Bank capital increase. The second is that the democratic deficit in the international financial system where people don’t know what the BIS is has to end. People don’t know it’s their Ministers of Finance that are dealing with these issues and what their Ministers of Finance are up to. People have to become aware of this because it’s dangerous to have this democratic deficit. So that’s what I would change, I would change the flow of information.
L.S.: Yes, but how would you change the flow of information?
K.H.: Well, that’s a serious, serious question. There has to be awareness that people are getting their information filtered, and I think once they’re aware of it, this is going to change. I think a lot of the solution is going to come from the internet. That’s why there are so many efforts now to limit the Internet. I went to a conference on this, and it was no surprise to me that the person who was running this conference didn’t think it was suitable for me to address the conference. You know, need I say more. There is censorship, and the censorship has to stop.
One of the very positive developments is that people expect that soon there will be very wide access to the internet by all of the people on this planet. So we have to ensure that the Internet remains functional, and that we pay serious attention to what happened with the death of Aaron Swartz; this is no accident.
L.S.: Yes, yes. But isn’t also the internet a wonderful surveillance instrument for intelligence agencies?
K. H.: Yes. Recently I’ve gotten to know a US whistleblower who knows a great deal about domestic surveillance: Mark Novitsky. People have got to become aware about what all is going on, and that should help us make a begin in solving this extremely serious and dangerous problem.
L.S.: Thank you very much for taking your time, Dr. Hudes!
K. H.: Thank you very much for having me!
(1) See Laurence H. Shoup / William Minter: “Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy“, Authors Choice Press, New York, 2004. For a shorter introduction into this topic see Andrew Gavin Marshall: “The Council on Foreign Relations and the ’Grand Area’ of the American Empire”, published December 13, 2011 here: http://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2011/12/13/the-council-on-foreign-relations-and-the-grand-area-of-the-american-empire/
(2) See Anna Stolley Persky, “Truth or Fiction? Foreign Interests in U.S. Elections”, Washington Lawyer, published November 2012 available here: http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/resources/publications/washington_lawyer/november_2012/foreign_elections.cfm
(3) See Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston: “The network of global corporate control“, ETH Zurich, published September 2011 available here: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf
(4) See Hugo Grotius: “On the Law of War and Peace”, Book XV, available here: http://www.archive.org/stream/hugonisgrottiide00grotuoft/hugonisgrottiide00grotuoft_djvu.txt
(5) § 7082 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Pub. L. 112-74). available here: http://www.whistleblower.org/storage/documents/whistleblowerlanguageinHR2055.pdf
(6) Tekoa Da Silva, World Bank Whistle-blower: “Precious Metals To Serve As An Underpinning For Paper Currencies”, May 6, 2013, available here:
(7) See Randolph M. Silverson, “The Contributions of International Politics Research to Policy”, Political Science and Politics, published March 2000, available here https://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/ContributionsInternationalPolitics-Siverson.pdf See page 62
(8) Jacek Kugler, Ron Tammen and Brian Efird: “The War Presidency: Options Taken and Lost”, International Studies Association Meetings, Montreal, Canada, published February 2004, available here: http://citation.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/7/4/2/7/pages74272/p74272-1.php
(9) See NSNBC International, “World Bank Whistle-blower. Confidence in the Dollar as an International Currency Is Waning. The End of Bretton Woods ? published May 2, 2013 available here: http://nsnbc.me/tag/karen-hudes/
(10) Analysis on the Rule of Law at the World Bank in 2004 by the Sentia Group available here: http://kahudes.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/board-of-governors.pdf See pages 16-23
(11) Development Committee Communique, published April 25, 2010 available here:
http://www.imf.org/external/np/cm/2010/042510.htm (see paragraph 6)
(12) House of Commons International Development Committee, Written Evidence for the inquiry into The work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, published July 7, 2012 available here:
House of Commons Public Administration Committee, Written Evidence for the inquiry into Public engagement in policy making, published November 2, 2012 available here:
The European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control Hearing on Whistleblowing May 25, 2011 available here:
(13) Foreign Policy, Zoellick Pick Roils Romney Campaign, August 8, 2012 available here: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/08/08/zoellick_pick_roils_romney_campaign
(14) K. Hudes and S. Schlemmer-Schulte, “Accountability in Bretton Woods”, 15 ILSA J. of Int’l & Comparative L. 501 (2009) Available here: http://www.kahudes.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ilsaJournal1.pdf
(15) Wikipedia entry for “Plebgate”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plebgate The Week magazine 24 September 2012 called Mitchell’s public flogging “Gategate” available here: http://www.theweek.co.uk/politics/gategate/49169/gategate-friends-ids-take-pleasure-andrew-mitchell-gaffe
(16) § 7082 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Pub. L. 112-74). Available here:http://www.whistleblower.org/storage/documents/whistleblowerlanguageinHR2055.pdf
(17) Foreign Policy Magazine, The Romney National Security Transition Team That Might Have Been, November 7, 2012, Available here: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/11/07/the_romney_national_security_transition_team_that_might_have_been
(18) Letter from Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress to James Wolfensohn dated April 8, 2005, Available here: http://kahudes.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/101.pdf
(19) Email from Netherlands Ministry of Finance dated January 13, 2005 that my allegations should be discussed by the World Bank’s Audit Committee. http://kahudes.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/89.pdf
(20) Common Dreams Newswire dated April 6, 2010 concerning intimidation of staff in the Institutional Integrity Department during the Volcker Panel investigation. Available here: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/04/06-3
(21) Office of the Treasury Inspector General, Audit of the Department of the Treasury’s Schedule of United States Gold Reserves Held by Federal Reserve Banks as of September 30, 2012, available here: http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/ig/Audit%20Reports%20and%20Testimonies/OIG13031.pdf