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“Vulture fund” companies buy up the debt of poor countries at cheap prices, and then demand payments much higher than the original amount of the debt, often taking poor countries to court when they cannot afford to repay. Investigative journalist Greg Palast reports on one company trying to collect $40 million from the government of Zambia after buying its debt for $4 million.
AMY GOODMAN: And tell us who these people are.
GREG PALAST: Who they are, in the case -- for example, Paul Singer is the number one donor to George Bush at the moment, has given over a million-and-a-half dollars in the last campaign. He’s Rudy Giuliani's chief fundraiser, raising $15 million now for his presidential campaign. He's a billionaire. He controls a $7 billion fund, and he's obviously very close with the Bush administration, which is crucial, absolutely crucial to his making these profits.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
GREG PALAST: Under US law, the President of the United States has the absolute power to stop any vulture fund from collecting money from a poor nation, under the US Constitution. It’s called the power of comity. The African nations are pleading with George Bush to stop his big donors from collecting. Now, what's happening is, is that in the State of the Union, George Bush said we have to give debt relief to the poorest nations. The US taxpayers are putting up more than a billion dollars to write off the debts of the African nations, but what Bush isn't saying is that he is then allowing that money to be captured by his biggest donors, like Paul Singer, so that the money for debt relief is not going to the African nations, where they're desperately in need for, you know, funding for medicine for AIDS, for education, which is what it's earmarked for. These guys are actually going into US courts and saying, “Give us the money.” Now, George Bush, again, has the absolute power, and the judges are waiting for him to write a note. They're saying, “George Bush can ask us to dismiss this case in one minute, but we need something in writing from the White House.”
Citing Democracy Now!/BBC Broadcast, Rep. John Conyers Confronts Bush and Demands Investigation of Vulture Funds
House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Conyers (D - Michigan) joins us from Capitol Hill to talk about the war in Iraq and African debt. He calls for a cutoff of appropriations for the war in Iraq, saying "That may be the only way that we're going to end the war." Conyers also reveals that on Thursday he met with President Bush and asked him to stop vulture investors from preying upon African debtor nations. [includes rush transcript]