Thursday, February 22, 2007

'Goldfinger' Undermines Debt Forgiveness

I heard this report this evening on NPR's program Marketplace. If ever there was a definition of sin this is it. It is also an important illustration that meeting the goals of the MDGs is much more than putting a dollar in the offering plate. It will require serious advocacy and watchfulness against exploitation.

An American financier Michael Sheehan — who has jokingly used the name of the James Bond villain — has been linked to an investment fund that snapped up some of Zambia's debt before it could be written off. The fund bought it for just over $3 million, and then sued the Zambian government for $55 million — the full face value of the debt, plus interest and penalties.
TRISHA ROGERS: For a commercial company to come in and try and make a huge profit and take this money away so that it can't be spent on health and education, we feel is just completely disgraceful.
Trisha Rogers of the Jubilee Debt Campaign says this obviously is a "vulture fund" in action.
ROGERS: For somebody to swoop in and snatch that money away, to feather their nest and making, you know, what is it . . . 1,600 percent profit or something that they were trying to make on their original investment. I think is totally reprehensible.
See the Marketplace web site and listen to the podcast.

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