Tales from the Trail

from Summit Notebook:

With end of TARP, investigations into fraud take center stage

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/BAROFSKYWhile the much maligned $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has officially ended, not everything has wrapped up -- auditors are just starting to hit their stride investigating scores of cases of possible malfeasance.

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the program, nicknamed SIGTARP, said his office has more than 120 criminal investigations underway. They are looking into whether the money loaned to financial institutions and automakers was used properly or not, if there was fraud in applications for TARP financial backing and other wrongdoing.

"Our focus on investigations is growing and that's an area where we are definitely in a ramp-up phase," Barofsky told the Reuters Washington Summit. "The crimes that have been committed were committed in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The most common statute of limitation for fraud is five years and there's a reason for that, it takes a while for these type of sophisticated while collar investigations ... to hit, for fraud to be discovered and it takes a while to investigate them."

Barofsky lamented that finding experienced people willing to come to work for a temporary agency was proving to be a challenge.

"We're looking for experienced, white collar investigators who want to come over to a temporary agency, that is not the deepest of pools, to be honest with you, if I could find more I would hire more," he said.

Blago says he’s “blacker than Barack Obama”

Believe it or not, Rod Blagojevich is African-American — and more so than President Barack Obama. At least, that’s what the former Illinois governor tells Esquire magazine in a new interview.
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“It’s such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of (expletive deleted) and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the (expletive deleted)? Everything he’s saying’s on the teleprompter,” Esquire quotes Blago as saying about the president, without the expletives deleted.

“I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up,” he explains.

Blago is, in fact, a white Democrat who gained prominence for introducing big male hair to the national political arena during a corruption probe that led to his indictment on charges of trying to sell Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. He denies the accusations.