Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ex-Im Bank stonewalling media on weak, new anti-corruption guidelines

One of the most important stories I've seen regarding drug cartel corruption of an important American government institution has gone virtually unremarked by the mainstream media except for a single, dogged broadcast journalist in Dallas, WFAA-TV's Byron Harris, who first broke the story last month about Ex-Im Bank loans to phony companies registered to figures connected to Mexican drug cartels.

Today Harris reports on the new Ex-Im Bank due diligence guidelines for loans that Grits discussed here, although as previously, no one from the Ex-Im Bank will respond directly to Harris.

Unfortunately, as mentioned before, to my mind the new Ex-Im guidelines aren't nearly "diligent" enough - all the key background checks that might reveal whether a loan recipient was connected with a drug cartel are still optional, for example, and are not required to be completed before the Ex-Im Bank gives out new loans.

Harris' piece about Ex-Im loans to cartel figures, to me, was a huge story, but he appears to remain the only person in the MSM who's covering it. (Another fraud case involving Ex-Im Bank loans to finance never-delivered exports the Philippines got a little more play.) The idea of using the Ex-Im Bank as a money laundering vehicle offers so many potential opportunities for smugglers, it literally boggles the mind.

I hope Harris keeps at it and more reporters start to ask questions about what's going on at this shadowy bastard child of NAFTA that may even be financing some of the folks presently shooting it out with the Mexican army in Tamaulipas.


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