Way back in the dark ages of 2002, there was an election in New Hampshire in which the phones being used by Democrats to contact voters and arrange rides to the polls were jammed by an automatic dialing program that tied up the lines for just a few hours. Eventually, the culprits were identified as Alan Raymond, who pled guilty and went to prison, and Jim Tobin, the New England director for Bush/Cheney, whose defense was funded by the Republican National Committee and whose conviction was eventually overturned.
Wanting to know who was handling the defense and where the money might be coming from, I did a bit of sleuthing and came up with a list of important personages. But, being a really unimportant personage myself, pencil jottings on the back of a rip-off calendar is as far as the information went. But I also didn't throw it out. The ratty notes have sat on my desk for six years. So, I decided to do some refreshing.........
Imagine my surprise when one of the first personages, one Finn M.W.Caspersen, former chairman of the board of the Hodson Trust, former chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School,former chair and CEO of Beneficial Corp (which became Household International and, most recently, was acquired by Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation), former CEO of Knickerbocker LLC and, until he resigned his seat in August of this year, a commissioner in the town of Jupiter Island, Florida, committed suicide in Rhode Island on Labor Day.
The Harvard Law School and the United States Equestrian Team Foundation, of which Casperson was the President Emeritus, both issued fulsome praise without mentioning the cause of his demise.
Finn M.W. Caspersen ’66, who chaired the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School and led the school’s recent Setting the Standard fundraising campaign to a record-breaking end, died Monday in Rhode Island at the age of 67.
"Finn Caspersen once said that Harvard Law School challenged him to think, and he in turn became an extraordinary friend and supporter of the school and its mission," said HLS Dean Martha Minow. "Our hearts go out to his family and friends as we mourn the loss of a visionary believer in the power of education."
Known for his philanthropic work, Caspersen led the Law School’s "Setting the Standard" campaign, which raised over $476 million by the time of its conclusion last year, exceeding its goal and making it the largest and most successful campaign in the history of legal education.
Former Dean Elena Kagan ’86 announced that the student center wing of the new Northwest Corner Building, which is currently under construction on the HLS campus, will be named in his honor. The wing will be home to student organizations, journals, and social activities.
Caspersen has served in important leadership roles at all of his alma maters. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown, where he later served as a trustee. A graduate of the Peddie School in New Jersey, Caspersen was a member of the school’s Board of Trustees since 1970. Other institutions that benefitted from his dedication to education include the Hodson Trust, Drew University and the New Jersey State Board of Higher Education.
For some reason, Harvard left out Casperson's eleemosynary contributions to Johns Hopkins University. Jealousy perhaps?
At a ceremony at the university on July 7, Finn M.W. Caspersen, chairman of the board of The Hodson Trust, recalled the history of the trust, created in 1920 by Maryland lawyer and state senator Thomas Hodson. His son, Clarence, a lawyer and banker who was commissioned a colonel in the Maryland Militia, provided the trust's assets. Clarence Hodson had founded the Beneficial Loan Society in 1914 to make small loans available to working-class Americans. The society became Beneficial Corp., which, when it merged last year into Household International, was the largest consumer credit company in the United States.
For some reason, horses never get a lot of press, but the United States Equestrian Team Foundation provides some interesting tidbits in this case.
During Mr. Caspersen's tenure, which began in 1982 when he was elected to the USET board, the team won 71 medals, including 25 golds in the Olympics, World Championships and Pan American Games.
His personal involvement with combined driving led the U.S. to prominence in the discipline, previously dominated by Europeans. Mr. Caspersen's determination to put America on the map in that sport paid off with a gold medal in the 1991 World Pairs Driving Championship, which opened the door to his hugely successful staging of the 1993 World Pairs Championship at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, N.J., home of the USET.
Mr. Caspersen was elected as the USET's treasurer in 1987, and three years later, became president and chairman of the executive committee. In 1992, he moved up to be chairman of the board, a post he held until 2002.
As chairman of Beneficial Corp., which owned Hamilton Farm at one time, Mr. Caspersen made sure that the USET would always have access to its historic headquarters by making sure the property was deeded to the team.
And, no doubt, Beneficial enjoyed a tax deduction, in addition to the honor.
Perhaps subconsciously I've been reconsidering Beneficial for a while, including its transition into Household International because the controversy over ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, rang a bell. You see, there was a settlement of a law suit in 2003.
Nov. 26--Household International Inc. will pay nearly $100 million to settle several class-action lawsuits accusing the company of predatory lending practices.
The settlement ends the series of lawsuits brought against Prospect Heights-based Household, which operated under the names HFC and Beneficial, according to company spokesman Mark Friedlander.
In an agreement reached with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also known as Acorn, Household agreed to establish a $72 million foreclosure assistance ...
The SEC press release includes a little more information:
The core of the proposed settlement is a Foreclosure Avoidance Program (FAP). FAP will provide relief to
Household borrowers who are delinquent on their payments and at risk of losing their homes.
Components of FAP include:
• Interest rate reductions.
• Waivers of unpaid late charges.
• Deferral of accrued unpaid interest.
• Principal reductions.
"The proposed settlement reaffirms Household’s leadership and commitment to ethical mortgage lending practices," said William F. Aldinger, chairman and chief executive officer, Household International. "We look forward to working closely with ACORN in administering these important programs for consumers, and we commend them on their continued efforts to promote financial literacy throughout the United States."
ACORN’s case was filed last year in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, prior to HSBC’s acquisition of Household in March 2003. The settlement will become effective only if approved by the
About Household International, Inc
Household International, Inc., based in Prospect Heights, Ill., is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE: HBC), one of the largest banking and financial services organizations in the world.
Household’s businesses are leading providers of consumer loans, credit cards, auto finance and credit insurance products in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. In the United States, Household companies operate under the two oldest and most recognized names in consumer finance - HFC and Beneficial. Additionally, Household’s businesses are some of the nation's largest issuers of private label
and general-purpose credit cards, including The GM Card® and the AFL-CIO's Union Plus® card. For more information, visit www.household.com.
Gregory D. Squires has written a book, Why the poor pay more: how to stop predatory lending which puts it in a nut shell, or rather, a global perspective.
An inescapable trend in this new millenium is the export of subprime lending models beyond the United States. Citigroup, following its acquisition of Associates First Capital Corporation in late 2000, began offering subprime loans to lower-income consumsers in countries from Brazil and Mexico to India and Korea. The Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) bought Household International a month after Household settled predatory lending charges with attorneys general in 42 states for half a billion dollars. In making the deal, HSBC chairman Sir John Bond said that the profits would come from exporting Household's model to the 81 other countries in which HSBC does business; a month later, HSBC announced it would compete in subprime lending with Citigroup in Brazil.
From Australia through North America and back to Eastern Europe, General Electric, through its GE Capital unit, has developed a subprime lending capacity on which the sun never sets. The insurance company AIG has more quietly taken the subprime lending model of American General, which AIG bought in 2001, to the other countries in which AIG does business.
Caspersen had sold Beneficial to Household International in 1998 for over $8 billion as part of the process of financial services consolidation.
Former New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean said Caspersen gave away tens of millions of dollars to charity, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. While running Beneficial, Caspersen built a corporate headquarters in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, the newspaper said.
Caspersen gave about $590,000 to the Republican Party between 1998 and 2001, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
But, it seems, Caspersen didn't like to pay taxes.
The New York Times reported:
At the time of his death, investigators were building a case against Mr. Caspersen on suspicion of using secret offshore bank accounts to evade taxes.
The authorities had asserted he might have owed as much as $100 million in back taxes and fines or, possibly, even have faced prison, according to a person briefed on the investigation, who was granted anonymity because of the delicacy of the case and the events surrounding Mr. Caspersen’s death.
Whispers of some sort of tax trouble went through the crowd at Mr. Caspersen’s funeral on Tuesday. About 800 people attended the service in Morristown, N.J.
"He made everything right for so many people, and that is why this is such a tragedy," Susan Wachter, a friend and former Beneficial board member, said of Mr. Caspersen’s death.
Yes, Mr. Casperson "made everything right" with other people's (poor people's) money. He was one of the sequestering class who get filthy rich by stealing other people's money.
President Obama's address yesterday was on bank regulation.
He's slated to discuss that matter with the G-20. Also, September 23, 2009 is the deadline for tax cheats to come clean voluntarily to the IRS and avoid criminal prosecutions over their unreported income, as I made mention in this diary earlier in the week.
And ACORN is in the news. Because, yes, Barack Obama cut his legal teeth as an associate advising ACORN on a number of class action suits that challenged bankers and the power elite. There's no reason to doubt the record brought forth by Republican Michigander. That the first case, Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank was settled, as was the Houshold International one, is entirely consistent with the fact that financial institutions would rather pay out dollars than open their records. After all, how they extract super revenue from poor people is the information HSBC paid a bundle for to acquire from Household International.
HSBC chairman Sir John Bond said that the profits would come from exporting Household's model to the 81 other countries in which HSBC does business.
The value is in the proprietary information on how best to extract money from poor people and give it to the rich, because they're "worth it," don't you know?