|John Key The smiling Assassin|
Looking at the History of John Key in relation to his financial abilities here are some facts and figures regarding his major employer Merrill Lynch and their general performance…
· Key's first job was in 1982, as an auditor at McCulloch Menzies, and he then moved to be a project manager at Christchurch-based clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin for two years.
· Key began working as a foreign exchange dealer at Elders Finance in
, and rose to the position of head foreign exchange trader two years later, then moved to Auckland-based Bankers Trust in 1988. Wellington
· In 1995, he joined Merrill Lynch as head of Asian foreign exchange in Singapore. That same year he was promoted to Merrill's global head of foreign exchange, based in London, where he may have earned around US$2.25 million a year including bonuses, which is about NZ$5 million at 2001 exchange rates. Some co-workers called him "the smiling assassin" for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis. He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2001.
· In 2001, he headed back to
to fulfill a long held ambition to stand for Parliament for the National Party. New Zealand
It was fortunate that he did because Merrill Lynch went into free-fall:
· In 2002, Merrill Lynch settled for a fine of $100 million for publishing misleading research. As part of the agreement with the
attorney general and other state securities regulators, Merrill Lynch agreed to increase research disclosure and work to decouple research from investment banking. A well known analyst at Merrill Lynch named Henry Blodget wrote in company e-mails in which Blodget gave assessments about stocks which conflicted with what was publicly published by Merrill. In 2003, he was charged with civil securities fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He settled without admitting or denying the allegations and was subsequently barred from the securities industry for life. He paid a $2 million fine and $2 million disgorgement. The CEO at that time, David Komansky, said, "I want...to publicly apologize to our clients, our shareholders, and our employees," for the company falling short of its professional standards in research. New York
· In 2004 convictions of Merrill executives marked the only instance in the Enron investigation where the government criminally charged any officials from the banks and securities firms that allegedly helped the energy giant execute its accounting fraud. The case revolved around a 1999 transaction involving Merrill, Enron and the sale of some electricity-producing barges off the coast of
. The charges surrounded the 1999 sale of an interest in Nigerian energy barges by an Enron entity to Merrill Lynch was a sham that allowed Enron to illegally book about $12 million in pretax profit, when in fact there was no real sale and no real profit. Four former Merrill top executives and two former midlevel Enron officials faced conspiracy and fraud charges. Merrill cut its own deal, firing bankers and agreeing to the outside oversight of its structured-finance transactions. It also settled civil fraud charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, without admitting or denying fault. Nigeria
· In 2002 Merrill Lynch settled for 10 million civil penalties as a result of improper activities that took place out of the firm's Fort Lee New
Jersey office. Three financial advisors, and a fourth who was involved to a lesser degree, placed 12,457 trades for a client Millennium Partners in at least 521 mutual funds and 63 mutual fund sub-accounts of at least 40 variable annuities. Millennium made profits in over half of the funds and fund sub-accounts. In those funds where Millennium made profits, its gains totaled about $60 million. Merrill Lynch failed to reasonably supervise these financial advisers, whose market timing siphoned short-term profits out of mutual funds and harmed long-term investors.
More recent Controversies with Key as PM were:
· During the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Key was a proponent of Hosni Mubarak's government, citing his support of Israel and refusing to call for his resignation. When asked if Mubarak should step down, he said "no".
· In 2011, Key was caught up in a controversy over the purchase of government limousines which he denied knowledge of initially but later reports surfaced his office was aware. He was accused of being dishonest and eventually apologised, calling the deal sloppy.
· In October 2011, Key made a statement where he claimed Standard and Poor's had said at a meeting in the prior month that "if there was a change of Government, that downgrade would be much more likely", this claim was contradicted by S&P after Key's credibility had been called into question.