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Obama's Buds Sunstein and Wolf Overboard!

By       Message Russ Baker     Permalink
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With Wolf no longer chairman of UBS's American operations, Obama can still pal around with him, get economic advice from him, and point out that Wolf, as an independent investment professional, is no longer responsible for what the bank does.

Speaking of which, what has UBS been caught in lately -- since settling with the US on the money laundering? The LIBOR scandal. UBS is one of the banks accused of manipulating interest rates for its own benefit. Now, federal prosecutors are offering deals to former UBS traders if they turn in bigger fish in the rate-rigging.

Assuming Obama cannot -- or, to be charitable, will not -- impede this investigation, where might it lead? Why, to Robert Wolf, as the onetime top dog.

The truth is that Wolf has been presiding over a dirty shop in the time that he has been successfully romancing the political leadership (this is not a partisan thing -- the GOP's chief financial deregulator, former senator Phil Gramm of Texas, joined UBS as a vice chairman after retiring from the senate.)


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It took an outside commentator, the stellar business writer James B. Stewart, writing in the pages of The Times, to note:

At UBS, a series of immunity, non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements in recent years -- evidently the government's preferred approach to corporate crime -- seems to have had scant, if any, deterrent effect.

But even this feisty piece made no mention at all of Wolf, or of his close relationship with Obama (and other leaders) or of how these kinds of relationships are useful to corporate malefactors when it comes to arranging all of these slaps on the wrist. Some might call the whole thing"corruption.

The upshot of all this is that our political system is so bad that the alternative to the Obama-Wolf relationship is Romney, who both is -- and openly embraces -- big money, and wants to "unshackle" big money further. And whose own widespread use of offshore banking and other devices to pay lower tax rates than the rest of us makes him a far less likely candidate than Obama to do anything about it.

As Stan Laurel might have said, apologetically: Ollie -- here's another fine choice I've gotten you into.

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