Tag Archives: Eliot Spitzer

Winners and Losers 2008

Here is a list of winners and losers for 2008.

As befits a year in which the economy collapsed and wars dragged on, the list of losers is longer than the list of winners.

Feel free to add or subtract names and to add commentary.

The year isn’t over, so the list may change.

Winners

Barack Obama
Michelle Obama
Hillary Clinton
Rachel Maddow
Pixar
Bankruptcy lawyers
Facebook
Robert Gates
Jonas Brothers
Bill Ayers
Heather Mills
Sarah Palin
Rick Warren
Democrats
Beyoncé
Harrison Ford
Joe Biden
Robert Downey, Jr.
The Taliban
Mexican drug cartels
Prisons
AIG
Lawrence Summers
David Axelrod
Rahm Emanuel
Paul Volker
Vladimir Putin
Tom Daschle
John Podesta
Britney Spears
Keith Olbermann
C.C. Sabbathia
Philadelphia Phillies
Brett Farve
will.i.am
Eli Manning
Bank of America
Christopher Buckley
Walmart
Mark Begich
Muntadhar al-Zaidi
Somali pirates
Guy Ritchie
Emo vampires
Carla Bruni
Google
Tom Udall
Mark Udall
John Kerry
Al Gore
Kay Hagan
Mickey Rourke
Mike Huckabee
Jeff Merkley
Michael Phelps
Jason Lezak
Heath Ledger
Rafael Nadal
Repo Men
Global warming
Handguns

Losers

OJ Simpson
Bernard L. Madoff
Anthony Pellicano
George W. Bush
John McCain
Republicans
Alan Greenspan
Realtors
Iraq
Paul McCartney
Newspapers
Local television
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
William J. Jefferson
Circuit City
Lehman Brothers
Detroit
John Edwards
Myspace
Steve Schmidt
Chinese milk
Star Wars
Yahoo
Wachovia Corp.
Washington Mutual
Karl Rove
Sam Zell
Richard H. Davis
U.S. Automakers
The South
Mortgage brokers
Ben Bernanke
Henry Paulson
Same Sex Marriage
Merrill Lynch
Book publishers
Airlines
Homeland Security
Rush Limbaugh
The Fed
Britney Spears
Rod Blagojevich
Scooter Libby
Bill Clinton
Jeremiah Wright
Mitt Romney
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Las Vegas
California
Arnold Schwartzeneggar
Eliot Spitzer
Gordon Smith
Raffaello Follieri
Workers
Ted Stevens
Washington Mutual
Yeshiva University
Africa
India
Bill O’Reilly
New York Mets
Plaxico Burress
Broadway
Phil Gramm
Museum of Modern Art (MOCA) Los Angeles
Mikheil Saakashvili
Christopher Cox
Joe Lieberman
Jewish charities
Public schools
Community colleges
John E. Sununu
Elizabeth Dole
Miley Cyrus
Countrywide
Angelo Mozilo
Max Mosley
Kwame Kilpatrick
Heath Ledger
Roger Clemens
Baytown, Texas
Galveston Island, Texas
Missouri
The Bill of Rights

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Disgraced Ex-Governor Eliot Spitzer Starting Real Estate ‘Vulture’ Fund

Do you want to profit from the housing crisis and the mortgage meltdown?

Disgraced ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer might have just the opportunity you’ve been looking for.

Spitzer is putting together a real estate “vulture fund” to buy and flip distressed property, envisioning projects valued between $100 million and $500 million.

According to the New York Sun, “Eliot Spitzer, in his first big business venture since he was shamed out of office by a prostitution scandal, is shopping around a plan to start a vulture fund that would scoop up distressed real estate assets around the country, revamp them, and flip the properties for a profit. Late last month, the former governor of New York gathered a group of high-level Washington, D.C.-based labor union officials in a conference room at the headquarters of his father’s real estate business in Manhattan and pitched them his idea for starting such a fund, a source said.”

Eliot Spitzer’s father is multi-millionaire Manhattan real estate developer Bernard Spitzer, known for building one of New York City’s largest real estate firms (one of his properties is The Corinthian, a spectacular 55-story, 1.1 million square foot apartment building), as well as for bank-rolling his son’s political career.  The ex-Governor has been working with his father’s firm since resigning last March.

The Sun stated that “In the half-hour meeting, Mr. Spitzer told the officials that he was determined to take his ailing father’s real estate company to ‘the next level’, the source said. Mr. Spitzer said he would lay out his business plan in greater detail at a later date, and would ask the labor officials to consider investing pension fund money under their control.”

“Mr. Spitzer is moving aggressively to occupy a niche created by the credit crunch, the subprime mortgage crisis, a surge in foreclosures, and a declining real estate market. He is looking to mine for riches in projects that banks are no longer willing to finance.”

Spitzer apparently believes that the prostitution scandal that cost him the Governor’s office (and a fast-track to even higher political office) was really a blessing in disguise:

“During the meeting, Mr. Spitzer expressed relief that he was no longer burdened with the frustrations of being governor, according to the source. And, in contrast to his repentant resignation speech that he delivered beside his tearful wife, Silda Wall, he took a more relaxed view of his indiscretions. He has told friends and associates that he is consoled by passersby who stop him on the city sidewalks and tell him that sex is ‘no big deal’ and that the disclosure that he frequented prostitutes was distorted out of proportion, the source said. Europeans, the former governor has noted, have been especially supportive of him and perplexed by the fallout from the scandal.”

Spitzer’s real estate dreams may have to be put on hold, however, as federal law enforcement authorities might force him to make other plans.

The New York Post reports that ” The noose appears to be tightening around sex-crazed ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.”

According to The Post, “The federal case against him is so strong that prosecutors had no interest in striking cooperation agreements with the ringleader of Spitzer’s hooker-supplier, Emperors Club VIP, and his second in command, sources told The Post‘s Murray Weiss. Prosecutors have records of Spitzer’s transactions, phone records and taped conversations with Emperors Club, and are confident they need little more to nail him on charges that could include violating prostitution laws and money laundering, sources said. Probers are also said to be looking into whether he used campaign funds to pay for his pleasures.”

“The case against Spitzer includes the cooperation of curvy call girl Ashley ‘Kristen’ Dupre and a second hooker. Her old boss, Mark Brener, 62, will plead guilty Thursday without the sweetheart deal he was hoping for – he’ll have to serve up to 30 months in the slammer on money-laundering and prostitution-conspiracy charges.”

In addition, Temeka Lewis, who worked for Brener at the Emperor’s Club, pled guilty in a cooperation agreement that requires her to testify about Spitzer’s involvement with the prostitution ring and his alleged attempts to conceal payments for sex.

We think that a “vulture fund” meeting with Eliot Spitzer where he pitches cashing in on the foreclosure crisis doesn’t help improve the image of labor unions or union leaders.

We also think that anyone considering investing in Spitzer’s real estate project should think about whether the fund could do without the presence of the ex-Governor for several years while he stays at the Gray Bar Hotel.

 

Mortgage Fraud Reports Up 50% in 2007

The latest report from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) covering the period from March 2006 to March 2007 shows a 50 percent increase in suspicious activity reports (SARs) indicating possible mortgage fraud.

The previous study had examined a statistical sample of SARs reporting mortgage fraud filed between April 1996 and March 2006.

FinCEN’s analysis of the most recently studied time period indicates a 50 percent increase in the number of SARs intercepting suspected fraud prior to funding a mortgage.

FinCEN also noted a 44 percent increase in SARs reporting mortgage fraud in 2006.

Analysis of the more recent data indicates that many identified trends continued and certain suspicious activities showed marked increases.

For example, reports of identity theft in conjunction with mortgage fraud SARs increased 96 percent from the previous study. In 2006, there were 37,313 mortgage fraud SARs filed. The final total for mortgage fraud SARs filed in 2007 was 52,868, an increase of 42 percent.

Mortgage loan fraud was the third most prevalent type of suspicious activity reported, after Bank Secrecy Act/structuring/money laundering and check fraud.

According to FinCEN, this tremendous increase in SARs relating to possible mortgage fraud does not necessarily mean that mortgage fraud has increased, but rather “indicates growing vigilance and awareness in the financial community.”

“FinCEN’s analysis indicates that the financial community is becoming increasingly adept at spotting and reporting suspicious activities that may indicate mortgage fraud,” said FinCEN Director James H. Freis, Jr. “This exemplifies how compliance with Bank Secrecy Act regulations is consistent with a financial institution’s commercial concerns.”

The purpose of the Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) is to report known or suspected violations of law or suspicious activity observed by financial institutions subject to the regulations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

FinCEN requires a SAR report to be filed by a financial institution when the financial institution suspects insider abuse by an employee, violations of law aggregating over $5,000 or more where a subject can be identified, violations of law aggregating over $25,000 or more regardless of a potential subject, transactions aggregating $5,000 or more that involve potential money laundering or violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, computer intrusion, or when a financial institution knows that a customer is operating as an unlicensed money services business.

There has been a tremendous increase in the number of SARs in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and banks have been extremely diligent in filing such reports.

Incidentally, it was through the use of SARs that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s liasons with prostitutes were exposed. Spitzer was snared when the FBI intitiated a money laundering investigation based on SARs that his bank filed due to Spitzer’s suspicious financial transactions.