Will Schwinghammer

  • Trade Rep Tai and major religious leaders hold historic meeting on vaccines and COVID response

    Washington DC – Some of the highest ranking religious leaders met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to express support for waiving vaccine patents. The measure, the religious leaders argue, will increase COVID vaccine access for developing countries. 

    “The meeting with Tai was positive and she understands the urgent need to increase vaccine production for developing countries,” shared Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA which organized the Tai meeting with religious leaders. “Waiving vaccine COVID patents will help produce more vaccines and save lives in the developing world.”

    According to the United Nations, poor countries received less than 1% of COVID vaccine doses. The World Trade Organization is considering temporarily waiving pharmaceutical patents so developing countries could produce vaccines, tests and treatments.

    Leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches and AFL-CIO joined Jubilee USA for the meeting. Beyond COVID response, the group discussed trade policies that protect the environment and jobs and prevent future crises in developing countries. 

    "Religious institutions and voices are strongly urging that all COVID solutions protect the vulnerable, jobs and our planet," noted LeCompte. "This is the first time a US Trade Representative met with major religious leaders. The meeting was important because all of the faith leaders represent communities in the developing world who are facing devastating third and fourth waves of the pandemic."

    In March, Jubilee USA organized a meeting between high-ranking faith leaders and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on pandemic response.

    View the US Trade Representative Tai/Jubilee USA Network roundtable agenda and speakers list here.

    Read about the WTO COVID vaccine patent waiver process here.

    Read about the Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable here.

  • Climate Home News Quotes Eric LeCompte on IMF SDR Allocation, Climate

    Climate Home News quotes Eric LeCompte on the impact of a $650 billion IMF SDR allocation on low- and middle-income, climate-vulnerable countries. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

    Rare IMF relief offers a hope of green recovery to debt-laden nations

    By Chloé Farand

    As the International Monetary Fund is poised to inject $650 billion into the global economy, indebted low and middle-income countries are exploring ways to leverage the relief into green investmentsIn recent months, the plea of vulnerable nations for financial support has risen to the top of the international agenda. Revenues from the commodity trade and tourism collapsed in 2020, leaving many nations struggling to meet their basic needs, let alone invest in sustainable development. Cash-strapped governments in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean do not have the luxury of borrowing cheaply to finance a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

    More than half of developing countries are estimated to be in debt distress, with interest payments accounting for at least a quarter of governments’ tax revenues in 2020 and raising to 40% in some countries, according to Jubilee USA Network. “The most consequential climate decision made in the next few months to five years will be made by the IMF, the G7, the G20 and the US Treasury as part of global pandemic response policies,” Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, told Climate Home News.

    A debt repayment suspension initiative by the G20 has brought some relief but excludes middle-income countries, such as small island states, that have been hit hard by the pandemic and climate impacts.


    Read the full story here.

  • Reuters, Fox and New York Times, Feature Eric LeCompte on IMF Special Drawing Rights Announcement

    Reuters, Fox and The New York Times feature Eric LeCompte on the IMF's announcement that it recommends allocating $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights to combat the global economic crisis. Read and excerpt below and click here for the full story

    IMF staff recommends new allocation of $650 billion in emergency reserves: sources 

  • National Catholic Reporter Quotes Eric LeCompte on Meeting with Secretary Yellen and Faith Leaders

    National Catholic Reporter quotes Eric LeCompte on Jubilee USA's meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen along with major faith and labor leaders. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

    Papal priorities reflected in Yellen meeting, Catholic participants say

    A typical day for Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen includes nonstop meetings with presidents, finance ministers and heads of Fortune 500 companies. On March 16, she added faith leaders to her schedule in what is believed to be the first time the head of the Treasury Department sat down with a full delegation of high-ranking religious leaders. Catholic participants described the meeting as one that reflected many of the priorities of Pope Francis.

    LeCompte said the timing of the meeting was essential, as it needed to take place ahead of next month's decisions by the G-20 and the International Monetary Fund, which will decide many of the issues that the Jubilee USA Network delegation presented."These are the civil leaders who are actually dealing with much of the domestic as well as global response to the crisis," said LeCompte, who praised Treasury officials for prioritizing the meeting and recognizing the contribution of faith leaders.

    An official readout from the Treasury Department noted their commitment to tackling global inequality, which includes general support for suspending debt in order for low-income countries to address the effects of COVID-19 and to achieve economic stability.The statement also signaled support for the delegation's push for access to emergency funds, noting that they are part of the "broader package of assistance to low-income countries."



    Read the full article here.

  • The Presbyterian Outlook Covers Jubilee USA's Meeting with Secretary Yellen and Religious Leaders

    The Presbyterian Outlook covers Jubilee USA Network's historic meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on international debt and COVID response. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

    Nelson joins faith leaders in virtual roundtable discussion with US Treasury secretary

    The virtual roundtable discussion was moderated by Jubilee USA Network, a nonprofit financial reform organization based in Washington, D.C., that advocates for debt relief for developing countries. Tuesday’s conversation centered on the global coronavirus response and anti-poverty efforts.

    During Tuesday’s call, invited guests were given an opportunity to address Yellen and her senior staff. In his statement, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) said the yearlong pandemic has deeply hurt the most vulnerable and deepened inequality in the U.S. and abroad. Jubilee officials estimate that developing countries lose $1 trillion a year due to illegal practices such as corruption and tax evasion. The group also says that “shell corporations” hide the identities of their owners for tax evasion purposes as well as participate in human trafficking and the exploitation of poor communities.

    “Global inequality is a large and growing problem. Low-income countries are facing poverty and an increased debt burden. Many governments lack the resources to pay for vaccines and support those hit by this economic crisis,” said Yellen. “We are committed to addressing global inequality and work with our partners to tackle this crisis.” Yellen says the current administration has already started to provide support for low-income countries through such initiatives as debt service suspension and a multilateral framework for debt treatment.



    Read the full article here.

  • Devex Features Jubilee USA Network's High-Level Meeting with Treasury Secretary Yellen

    Devex features Jubilee USA Network's historic meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on the global economic response to the pandemic and international debt. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

    US Treasury secretary meets with faith leaders about debt, COVID-19

    By Adva Saldinger

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with U.S. faith leaders Tuesday to discuss the global economic response to the pandemic, debt relief, and financing efforts to address climate change.

    It was a “historic meeting,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director at Jubilee USA, who spoke at and helped organize the meeting. “I don’t know of a time a treasury secretary sat down with some of the highest religious leaders in the U.S.”

    Yellen “made clear the Biden Administration’s commitment to reducing global poverty,” and said low-income countries will need continued support to respond to the pandemic, according to a readout of the meeting from the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department is committed to working with international partners to address the crisis, including the implementation of existing debt relief efforts including the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and Common Framework for debt treatments, according to the readout.



    Read the full article here.

  • The Record, Catholic Spirit and Catholic News Service Feature USCCB-Jubilee Letter to President Biden - Jubilee USA Network

    The Record, Catholic Spirit and Catholic News Service feature Jubilee and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' letter to the White House for global debt relief expansion. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

    Religious leaders urge Biden to support global coronavirus aid, debt relief

    By Dennis Sadowski

    Two religious leaders, including the chairman of a U.S. bishops’ committee, urged the Biden administration to support the release of $3 trillion in global reserve funds to help developing countries respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Writing Feb. 23 to the White House, the leaders also called on the Group of 20 nations, or G-20, and private groups to cancel all debt and increase aid for the poorest developing countries, stop tax avoidance and create a permanent global bankruptcy process to prevent future economic crises.

    “The letter lays out a road map on how to deal with the structures that cause poverty, inequality and the challenges we now face in this great economic crisis,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an alliance of faith-based development and advocacy groups that spearheaded the effort.

    The letter to Biden comes after the president attended the Group of 7, or G-7 virtual summit of major industrialized countries Feb. 19, during which he pledged the United States would return to a multilateral approach in tackling global challenges.


    Read the full article here.

  • Swissinfo, Primera Hora and El Siglo Feature Eric LeCompte on PR Lawsuit Withdrawal Request to President Biden

    US and PR religious leaders sent a letter to President Biden requesting to withdraw a lawsuit filed by the previous administration that blocks $2.3 billion in annual Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. Read an excerpt below and click here for the full story.

    Piden a Biden que retire demanda que bloquea 2.300 millones para Puerto Rico

    Un grupo de líderes religiosos pidió al presidente estadounidense, Joe Biden, que retire una demanda interpuesta por su predecesor, Donald Trump, que bloquea la llegada de 2,300 millones de dólares de pagos anuales destinados a población desfavorecida en la isla que ayuda a cerca 300,000 puertorriqueños.

    Eric LeCompte, director de Jubilee Estados Unidos, coalición de grupos religiosos que defiende a los sectores sociales más vulnerables, divulgó este martes la carta dirigida a Biden en la que se aboga por velar por el bienestar de los puertorriqueños menos favorecidos.

    “Es nuestro deseo trabajar con su administración para atender los desafíos que enfrenta el pueblo de Puerto Rico”, indica la carta remitida a Biden, en la que se afirma que como líderes religiosos preocupados por la difícil situación y necesidades que enfrenta el pueblo de Puerto Rico le solicitan al jefe del Ejecutivo que impulse y haga posible la llegada de ayudas.

    Read the full article here.

  • El Nuevo Dia Features Eric LeCompte on Letter to President Biden from PR and US Religious Leaders

    The letter sent by US and PR religious leaders urged President Biden to facilitate access to the SSI program, bring back manufacturing, and increase aid to the island. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.

    Líderes religiosos de Puerto Rico y Estados Unidos piden a Joe Biden atender el acceso al SSI e incentivar la manufactura

    Con respecto al SSI, los líderes religiosos, como autoridades de la isla, sostienen que el asunto se encamina solo con retirar el certiorari que presentó el gobierno de Donald Trump ante el Tribunal Supremo de Estados Unidos para que se revierta la decisión del Primer Circuito de Apelaciones federales que abre la puerta a que los residentes de la Isla tengan acceso a ese programa de bienestar social.

    Biden se comprometió durante la campaña a revertir esa política pública del gobierno de Trump.

    “La deuda y los desastres sumieron a Puerto Rico en múltiples crisis, y luego llegó el COVID-19. La Casa Blanca y el Congreso pueden avanzar en acciones críticas para abordar las crisis que enfrenta Puerto Rico”, indicó LeCompte, en una declaración, al señalar que la carta reúne a religiosos que han presionado en Washington durante los últimos años a favor de temas como la crisis fiscal y de deuda pública, y la asistencia para la isla luego de los recientes desastres naturales.

    Read the full article here.

  • Mozambique Charges Former President's Son, Officials for Secret Debt Scandal

    Washington DC - Mozambique charged the former president's son and 19 others on corruption, fraud and blackmail in relation to a $2 billion dollar loan scandal.

    “Some of the world's poorest people are the victims of the Mozambique debt scandal,” noted United Nations corruption and finance expert Eric LeCompte and Executive Director of the religious development group, Jubilee USA Network. “This behavior is only possible because of a lack of global loan transparency and a lack of public budget transparency in Mozambique.” 

    In July, former Credit Suisse banker Andrew Pearse pled guilty in US Federal Court for accepting millions of dollars in a fraud scheme that led to the $2 billion Mozambique loan scandal and debt crisis in the East African country. Pearse and six others are accused of taking $200 million in kickbacks. US prosecutors argue that Credit Suisse and Russian-based VTB finance group hid secret loans by bribing bank and government officials. The loans were supposed to support the tuna fishing industry, but instead supported the outfitting of boats as military attack crafts.

    Both the US and Mozambique governments also seek to prosecute and extradite former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang, currently detained in South Africa.

    "The International community must implement standards on public budget transparency and responsible lending and borrowing to prevent future corruption,” said LeCompte. “The people of Mozambique struggle to recover from endemic corruption, a debt crisis and horrific natural disasters."

    This year, the southeast African country was hit with two destructive cyclones.

  • Poor Countries Lose Billions from Tax Avoidance, Reveal "Mauritius Leaks"

    Washington DC - The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released evidence that laws in the country of Mauritius help corporations avoid taxes globally, including on the continent of Africa.

    "The Mauritius story is another window into how poor countries are losing billions of dollars a year because of a complex, yet legal web of tax treaties and shell corporations," stated Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert and head of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. "Developing countries are losing vital monies to fight poverty and build infrastructure because of this behavior that avoids paying taxes."

    At the heart of the ICIJ investigation is the law firm of Conyers Dill and Pearman with offices in Bermuda, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands and Mauritius. More than 200,000 leaked Conyers Dill and Pearman legal documents were anonymously sent to the investigative journalists and detailed how corporations use Mauritius to avoid paying taxes. Previously, similar investigations dubbed the "Panama Papers" and the "Paradise Papers" were performed by the ICIJ exposing similar tax avoidance and evasion processes.

    "While much of this behavior is legal, it is still immoral," noted LeCompte. "For poor countries to be able to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to eliminate this type of tax avoidance revenue loss."

  • Bond Buyer Interviews Eric LeCompte on Humanitarian Efforts in Puerto Rico

    Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently interviewed by Bond Buyer to discuss relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

    Humanitarian Advocates Optimistic on Aid to Puerto Rico

    By: Brian Tumulty

    Laura Esquivel, director of national Advocacy for the Hispanic Federation, and Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, told The Bond Buyer they are hopeful Congress will rework the administration’s request and provide more funding[...]

    LeCompte stressed the urgency of stepping up the recovery effort.

    “I think Congress will step up and we will see in the coming weeks and months more packages around both relief and recovery and rebuilding aid as well as some financing issues addressed,” LeCompte said.

    LeCompte said his organization supports having the oversight board established under PROMESA review contracts that are signed for spending federal funds in the recovery effort.

    “There appears to be a need for some transparent and accountable way that contracts are reviewed," he said. “We just want it to be expedient and fast.” 

    Read more here.