To Assist The Thieves

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[The Financial Meltdown]

On today’s editorial page, The Wall Street Journal in a piece titled "To Catch A Thief," took issue with the inability of the Securities and Exchange Commission to ferret out wrongdoing on Wall Street.

A better title would have been "To Assist The Thieves."

The Journal claims that the SEC couldn’t do much to prevent Bernard Madoff's $50 billion fraud because it’s "business as usual," as if this in itself should exonerate the SEC.

The Journal is being facetious. The editorial page editors know full well that the Chairman and Commissioners of the SEC have been covering up violations of federal securities laws on Wall Street for years.

In one instance, specifically involving the stock fraud of the company PNF, Peter Kann, then publisher of The Journal, ordered his reporters never to either use me as a source or to quote me in The Journal’s pages; a practice that continues to the present even though I was a major source for a front page article dealing with Wall Street corruption in Business Week, in 1999.

PNF was a stock fraud involving the Italian Mafia in the person of Al Avasso, a former member of the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) with a lifetime ban from the securities industry. In a previous stock fraud, Greyhound Electric, Avasso had earned in excess of $20 million, which sum Heinz Grein the architect of Motel 6 insider trading placed into a Luxembourg bank.

Avasso bragged to Steven Lister, Senior Vice President of Compliance, and to Louis Miceli and Robert VanCaneghan, members of the Board of the AMEX and proprietors of the AMEX specialist firm, Miceli-VanCaneghan, that he had earned a vast sum of money and would once again earn $20 million if his latest stock fraud PNF were listed on the AMEX.

So these four horsemen of the apocalypse, plotted their own doomsday scenario to rip off the American public- even though Lister, Miceli, and VanCaneghan knew that Avasso had cheated his non-Mafia participants in his last stock fraud venture.

Lo and behold an AMEX compliance employee, became aware of this fix. So out of benighted self-interest in the hope that he would be promoted if Lister were forced out, this compliance employee informed a Wall Street Journal reporter about this stock fraud and the fact that the Italian Mafia was involved.

Prior to this Wall Street Journal reporter receiving the information, I had actually sent a copy of PNF's annual report and an explanatory note to another senior reporter at The Journal; I was persona non grata, so I was ignored.

One article dealing with this case was published in The Journal in early July 1992; my understanding was that a follow up article would be an expose of Miceli and VanCaneghan and their financial ties to Avasso. No article followed.

Everyone was mystified. Louis Miceli and Robert VanCaneghan could not resist bragging. The talk was that Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the AMEX, and members of the Board of the American Stock Exchange, had telephoned Peter Kann and had asked him not to publish the second article about PNF and the finances of Louis Miceli and Robert VanCaneghan.

After I wrote a letter to Kann, stating that serious crimes had been perpetrated at the AMEX and stated that it was his fiduciary responsibility to report Miceli’s and VanCaneghan’s illegal activities, O’Brien told me that he was berated by Kann. Eventually O'Brien moved to The New York Times.

In 1999 there emerged another chance for publisher Kann to redeem himself. In October, Al Chalem and Maier Lehmann, two stock fraud promoters, were murdered in New Jersey.

A Journal reporter working on the story told me that she found out that members of the AMEX were involved in the stock frauds of Chalem and Maier Lehmann, and that Harbor Securities, the day trading firm which the Russian Mob had taken over, was financed by members of the American Stock Exchange; she said she was prevented from writing about this in The Journal.

Not reporting the theft of $4 million from Harbor Securities was inexcusable; not reporting the fact that Al Chalem and Maier Lehmann were linked to members and Board members of the AMEX was heinous.

Arthur Levitt, who at that time was Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed a whitewash of the Harbor Securities imbroglio by not aggressively pursuing an investigation into the Russian Mob links on Wall Street.

So, The Wall Street Journal should stop pontificating and start reporting the truth.

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