Saturday, March 22, 2008

Continuation with ethics professionals

Dear _________,

I continue to look for a forum, such as the ECOA, in which to present my ideas about a significant disconnect between the law and the propagation of ethical business behavior, which disconnect is explained at length here.

I am currently working on contacting chief executive officers (the office of the Chairman of Bank of America called me after reviewing this email), general counsel and ethics officers at the credit card companies and the banks that are defendants in this currency conversion fee class action litigation. I have brought my activities to the particular attention of Ms. Lisa A. Rickard, President of the Institute for Legal Reform of the US Chamber of Commerce, and will advocate to her that the Institute make outreach to corporate ethics officers. I hope my efforts will result in a dialogue between top level corporate management and ethics officers on this disconnect between law and ethics, which seems to be excellently exemplified by this particular litigation, as I discuss in a letter to the judge.

I hope you think that such a dialogue would be desirable, and that this is meritorious for consideration in a forum such as the ECOA. If there is any way you can help me out in my efforts, and you wish to do so, please contact me.

Thank you.

Robert Shattuck

Enron; Professor John Coffee had this post about the Enron attorneys fees and Professor John Coffee of Columbia being supportive of fee request.

I sent Professor Coffee the following email:

Subj: Enron attorney fees

Dear Professor Coffee,

I saw you referred to and quoted in a March 17, 2008 entry in as being supportive of the Enron attorney fees request and to the effect that you often testify for fee requests.

Do you have any writings in electronic form that you could send to me, or are there any books or articles you have written not in electronic form that you could cite me to, in which you lay out your positions and arguments relative to tort reform and plaintiffs' lawyers?

For what it is worth, I am squarely in Walter Olson's camp and have my own blog to show for it. I am interested in finding cogent statements of the case on the other side from Mr. Olson and myself, but have not found much yet. I hope you can help me out.

Thank you.


Robert Shattuck

I discuss Enron is this blog here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Credit card currency conversion class action

[Email I am sending out in a targeted fashion]

Subj: Super legalized scams

To Whom It May Concern:

It is human nature to scheme and scam, right? That is almost daily in the news.

There is, however, a super legalized form of scamming that goes on in the United States regularly that you may or may not know about and fully appreciate.

I am involved with one of these scams right now, and I want to tell you about it.

This particular super legalized scam is piggy backed on the business practice of the credit card companies (MasterCard, Visa, etc.) to charge credit card holders currency conversion fees on foreign transactions. The super scammers I am talking about claim that the companies and their banks hid these fees (in the 1% to 3% range) from cardholders and bilked them out of probably more than a billion dollars over a decade long period from 1996 to 2006. You can find more info at the following link: In re Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation.

I don't like being taken advantage of anymore than the next person. I believe that I, as well as everyone else, needs to be constantly on the lookout for scams and sharp business practices. Criminal law enforcement is important. For example, if an auto repair shop regularly tells car owners they need repairs they don't actually need, the police should do a sting operation to catch the shop owner and put him in jail. Another area is that I think society needs to spend a lot more money on tracking down identity theft gangs and putting them away for a long time.

I am dubious about this credit card currency conversion case I am involved with. I think it is just a matter of sharp business practices that, both on a big and small scale, millions of upstanding red blooded Americans frequently participate in in their own businesses and employment. If there was serious fraud in the credit card currency conversion fee case, the serious response of society would be to go after and punish the officers and employees who concocted and implemented the fraud. That would be a serious lesson to all officers and employees at all companies not to participate in serious corporate fraud, and that would ultimately curtail serious corporate fraud.

In the credit card case, no one thinks there was a serious billion dollar fraud that people should be put in jail for, but it is fodder for the super legalized scammers, to wit, the plaintiffs lawyers, to go to work on. So for a couple of years some fifty plaintiffs lawyers have gotten together and beaten their chests about the credit card companies and their banks skimming probably more than a billion dollars in the form of small amounts from millions of credit card holders. With enough chest beating by these fifty lawyers, they have gotten the officers of the defendant companies to have the defendant companies agree to pay about $336 million, which is skimmed in small amounts from tens of thousands of innocent stockholders. The overriding objective is so the plaintiffs lawyers can do their own skimming of $90 million (of the $336 million) for themselves. In the end, no officer or employee of the defendant companies is to be in any way punished for having done anything wrong, they have gotten good salaries and bonuses for the skimming they helped their defendant companies do, and all officers and employees at all companies are encouraged to concoct and implement new skimming schemes for their companies for which they will be paid more good salaries and bonuses, with the psychological comfort that if anything goes awry, nothing will happen to them personally. When this super legalized scam is complete, there will have been a shifting around of funds among innocent shareholders and cardholders (which could get re-shifted back later by the credit card companies upping their fees and charges on cardholders to make it up to the stockholders), the plaintiffs lawyers will have skimmed off a cool $90 million, and many more millions of dollars will have been skimmed from the innocent shareholders and card holders and put into the pockets of the defendants' attorneys that the defendant companies have had to hire to try to defend them against the scamming plaintiffs lawyers.

A hearing for the court to approve all of the foregoing is scheduled for March 31, 2008.

Last September, I wrote a letter to the judge in the case saying he should be ashamed to put his stamp of approval on these shenanigans, You can read my letter here: Letter to Judge Pauley.

There is delicious irony in this case in the way the plaintiffs lawyers beat their breasts about the defendants' skimming hundreds of millions of dollars in small amounts from millions of credit card holders, the lawyers have no interest in stopping the skimming, and they only want to exploit it so they can do their own super legalized skimming and scamming, in this case to the tune of $90 million for the plaintiffs attorneys and many millions more for the defendants' attorneys, and all with the legal stamp of approval of Judge Pauley.

I am sending this email to you to make sure you and other persons and entities with whom you are affiliated know and fully appreciate this super legalized form of scamming that goes on regularly in the United States.

Thank you.

Robert Shattuck