29 March 2009

Norbert Schlei

Wikipedia, at the time of writing, doesn't have a lot to say about Norbert Schlei.

Schlei's obituary tells us that,

"Schlei had barely moved into his quarters in August 1962 as head of the office of legal counsel just vacated by Katzenbach, when he was put to work. The University of Mississippi had refused to allow James Meredith, a black student, to enroll that fall, and Kennedy sent Schlei to Oxford, Miss., to get Meredith into the school.

Hardly a month later, as the Cuban Missile Crisis developed, Kennedy asked Schlei to study the legal basis for presidential action in connection with Cuba after U.S. surveillance confirmed that Russia was installing surface-to-air missile sites in the Communist island nation. Schlei responded with what became Kennedy’s October justification for a naval quarantine on all offensive military equipment being shipped to Cuba.

There's a lot more, if you follow the link; it'll tell you tales of a brilliant lawyer in the Kennedy administration drafting civil rights bills; going on to other administrations and running for public office.

It then goes on to say that,

"Schlei was acquitted of eight counts, including wire and bank fraud and money laundering, but was convicted by a jury of conspiracy and securities fraud for purportedly helping five others sell $16 billion in fake Japanese government bonds from the mid-1980s to 1992.

He was sentenced to five years in federal prison and lost his license to practice law for 3 1/2 years. But he never went to prison, remaining free on appeal. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the judgment and, in 1998, Schlei abandoned motions for a new trial to clear his name. Instead he agreed to a negotiated settlement of a year’s unsupervised probation on one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to possess counterfeit foreign securities, and resumed his law practice in L.A.

So, what were these, "fake Japanese government bonds"?

Well, Schlei explains, "Japan's "M-Fund" Memorandum, January 7, 1991 by Norbert A. Schlei," that they were drawn from the M-fund, "a secret fund of money of enormous size that has existed in Japan for more than forty years. The Fund was established by the United States in the immediate postwar era for essentially the same reasons that later gave rise to the Marshall Plan of assistance by the U.S. to Western Europe, including the Federal Republic of Germany.

At the outset, the Fund was administered wholly by the U.S. with purely advisory input from Japan. Later, however, control over the Fund was allowed to pass into Japanese hands. Under Japanese control, very serious abuses of the Fund have developed, and it is clear today the the Fund has been and is being used in a way that is contrary to the interests of both the United States and Japan.

There is more detail in the link provided.

I bring this to your attention because this story, "The Bond Saga: It Gets More Odd."

Two Japanese/Asian people have been arrested trying to smuggle bearer bonds between Italy and Switzerland. They may or may not be fakes; they appear to have a huge face value. The bonds may or may not have been confiscated by the police. The mainstream media haven't provided any sensible reports of the story.

Another link, FTR #501 Norbert Schlei and the Strange Case of the “57’s”.

From The Times 24 April, 2003.

"In 1995 Schlei’s career received a devastating blow when he was tried and convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud in a bizarre case arising out of the Lockheed scandal, which brought down the Government of Kafeui Tanaka, the Japanese Prime Minister.

Initially, Schlei was sentenced to five years in prison and temporarily lost his licence to practise law. However, he did not serve time, as the Appeal Court threw out the judgment against him. In 1998 he agreed to drop his own motions for a new trial, accepting in a settlement one year’s probation on a single misdemeanour count.

Schlei maintained that he had done nothing wrong in the affair and the Government’s agreement to accept a deal strongly suggests there was some truth in Schlei’s contention that prosecutors had wrongly added him to the list of defendants in order to make the trial more newsworthy.

Schlei’s prosecution arose because he had agreed to negotiate on behalf of wealthy Japanese investors who had bought $16 billion worth of securities that the Japanese Government said were forgeries. Schlei told The New York Times that the securities, not bonds but “certificates of redemption”, were issued by Michio Watanabe, the then Minister of Finance, in 1982, to hide a political slush fund. Schlei was in the process of negotiating with the Japanese Government on behalf of his clients when he was caught in an American government sting operation.

Schlei later suggested — and American academic experts on Japan have endorsed his claim — that the alleged fraud was connected with the mysterious “M fund”, a secret slush fund set up by one of General Douglas MacArthur’s associates during the postwar American occupation of Japan. The M fund initially contained proceeds from the sale of gold, diamonds, platinum and silver that had been plundered by the Japanese forces in conquered countries as well as shares of dissolved zaibatsu corporate conglomerates and “counterpart funds” from sales of American aid to Japan in the postwar years.

The fund may have been used by Kodama Yoshio, a war criminal turned US intelligence agent, who is believed to have bribed Japanese officials to purchase F104 fighter aircraft from the Lockheed Corporation.

1 comment:

  1. At Schlei's trial in Tampa, a U.S. State Department career diplomat on Japanese affairs , stated under oath and available to cross examination , The M- Fund were nonsense.
    Schlei's Attorney did not ask any meaningful questions of The U. S. Diplomat.
    This would indicate that Schlei and his Attorney , at this stage anyway , knew the version of history on the "M" bonds found in the book " Gold Warriors ' had no basis in any facts.
    It is noted The New York Times and Wall Street Journal had reporters covering the trial.
    Any creditable proof as to the "M" Bonds being authentic secret bonds would have been a news sensation. Nothing with credence was ever reported .
    However, Special Agent James P. Sena of The U.S. Secret Service , the Government's Case Agent on in the prosecution of Schlei, upon hearing facts not available to him before Schlei's arrest , started articulating misgivings on the level of Schlei's guilt in the Conspiracy.
    Though Special Agent Sena was the Government's Case agent, the U. S. Attorney never called Special Agent James Sena to the stand. to testify on the case.
    For reasons that are unknown, Schlei's attorney seeing this never called Special Agent James P. Sena to testify either.
    The book "Gold Warriors" reports that Special Agent James P. Sena did not feel convinced in the degree of involvement of Schlei in a conspiracy , as it appeared to be before the trial. However, "Gold Warriors" returns to fiction stating that Special Agent James P. Sena was arrested for selling the Bonds himself. It is noted that no such arrest of a U.S. Secret Service Agent in a case involving as historic figure as Schlei was ever reported in any newspaper or court records.
    Special Agent James P. Sena , famous years before his U. S. Secret Service Career , had amassed a personal fortune at 19 years old as owner of Precision Skateboards. The largest Skateboard company during the Skateboard boom of the 70's He retired from The U. S. Secret Service in 1996
    It is not known if he would have been called to testify in Schlei's defense after Schlei had the first trial overturned and a retrial was ordered The question was made moot by the Goverment's generous plea deal to Schlei.