National Catholic Reporter cites Eric LeCompte on Pope's Mozambique visit and debt scandal. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.
Francis suggests officials in Mozambique are corrupted by foreign aid
Eric LeCompte, the leader of Jubilee USA, a network of religious and development groups that argue for international debt relief, praised the pope's choice to visit the three countries. He said each have been dealing with separate corruption scandals.
"Pope Francis is extremely concerned with the cost of corruption on the poor," LeCompte told NCR.
"In Laudato Si', Pope Francis also calls foreign debt a tool of rich countries to control poor countries," he said, citing the pontiff's 2015 encyclical letter. "Mozambique and Madagascar are examples of this as they struggle with debt crises … natural resource theft and high poverty rates."
Read more here.
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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.
Eric LeCompte writes on Puerto Rico issues of corruption, debt, disasters, child poverty, economic growth and renewable energy. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full article.
Gov. Rosselló is out, but much more is needed to better Puerto Ricans' lives
Washington DC - Two debt collection agencies were ordered to stop operations and fined more than $60 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and New York's Attorney General. The settlement involves debt companies run by Douglas MacKinnon and Mark Gray. Their companies are accused of using predatory collection tactics that include collecting false debts and impersonating police officers to force collection.
"Abusive debt collection practices need to be stopped,” stated Eric LeCompte who leads the religious debt watchdog group, Jubilee USA Network. “This settlement is a strong warning to debt collectors who engage in predatory activities."
Mackinnon and Gray's Buffalo-based network of debt collectors reportedly increased debt collection amounts, in some cases by as much as 600%.
Washington DC - Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigned Wednesday. Protests engulfed the island for nearly two weeks after Rosselló drew criticism for offensive language in leaked communications and the FBI arrested former members of his administration on corruption charges.
"The people of Puerto Rico reached a boiling point in recent weeks. People were in the streets about much more than the Governor's inappropriate language,” stated Eric LeCompte, the head of Jubilee USA, which works on Puerto Rico corruption, disaster aid and debt relief policies. "Puerto Ricans marched because they are tired of corruption, because 6 out of 10 kids live in poverty, because of hundreds of shuttered schools, an enormous debt crisis, and months of waiting for promised hurricane disaster aid to arrive.”
In 2016 the US Congress passed emergency Puerto Rico debt crisis legislation for the US Territory which stopped paying $72 billion in debt. The child poverty rate is nearly 60 percent and in 2017 the island was devasted by two hurricanes.
"Rosselló's resignation is not enough to answer Puerto Rico's endemic corruption, high poverty levels, the economic crisis or being forgotten after hurricanes ravaged the island,” LeCompte stated. “Puerto Rico needs serious debt relief, sufficient disaster aid, strong public budget transparency laws and economic investments in growth, not more austerity policies."
Eric LeCompte was quoted by Quartz on U.S. multinational airline company Aircastle Ltd. avoiding $14.8 million in state taxes owed to the nation of South Africa. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full story.
A US multinational avoided South African taxes worth twice Johannesburg’s social housing budget
“While much of this behavior is legal, it is immoral,” Eric LeCompte, executive director of faith-based anti-poverty group Jubilee USA, said in a statement. “Developing countries are losing vital monies to fight poverty and build infrastructure because of this behavior that avoids paying taxes.”
Poorer countries lose up to $100 billion each year thanks to tax agreements with offshore jurisdictions like Mauritius, according to UN research. Fixing this imbalance, LeCompte said, is the only way for these nations to meet the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN in 2015, which established a series of economic and social benchmarks to be attained by 2030. On a broader scale, the Tax Justice Network, a research and advocacy group, estimates that multinationals shifting profits to tax havens costs the world’s governments more than $500 billion per year, with poorer countries losing the most as a percentage of GDP.
Read more here.