Liberia : President of Liberia rallies a wake up call about Vulture funds, exloiting Africa

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Liberian leader urges MPs to back action against vulture funds

Thursday, February 25, 2010
An investigation for BBC's Newsnight has uncovered allegations that speculators subverted the international debt relief process.

By Greg Palast and Heather Stewart for The Guardian



Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, is urging MPs to back a bill banning vulture funds from using British courts to prey on poor countries when it comes to a vote on Friday. Liberia lost a $20m (£13m) case in London last year against two so-called vultures. Such funds buy up the loans of poor governments, wait for them to win from the international community, and then use courts to pursue the countries for assets.

Sirleaf said: "We've been waiting for a parliament or an assembly to take this kind of hard decision. I hope the US Congress and maybe some others in Europe will pick up this gauntlet and will follow the example of Britain."

An investigation for BBC's Newsnight, to be broadcast tonight, has uncovered allegations that speculators subverted the international debt relief process for Liberia, in an attempt to gain more money from its government and international donors than 97% of its other creditors accepted.

Liberia received debt relief worth $4bn from the international community in 2007 under the heavily indebted poor countries initiative, including $2bn from private-sector bondholders. Insiders to negotiations allege that two US financiers, Eric Hermann and Michael Straus, allowed other creditors to accept a low payout from Liberia, then quietly transferred their holdings to two other firms, which then sued in Britain for the debt in full.

BBC cameraman Rick Rowley in Liberia, reporting with Greg Palast from the village of Demeh, Liberia.One of Liberia's biggest creditors, Hans Humes, owner of New York's Greylock Capital, criticised the behaviour of speculators in the negotiations over the country's debts. "[They were] just sitting there and saying: 'OK, we're the last guys and we're going to hold up any process by which the country can grow unless somebody takes care of us.' It's extortion," he said.

Two others who were involved in the negotiations confirmed that Humes's criticisms must refer to Hermann and Straus.




full article;
http://www.gregpalast.com/liberian-leader-urges-mps-to-back-action-against-vulture-funds/#more-3319
 

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