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Tricky Treats: Is This Mitch McConnell’s Idea of “Affordable Health Care”?

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COMMENT: As the off-year elec­tions approach, with the GOP pro­ject­ed to take con­trol of the Sen­ate, Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader-to-be Mitch McConnel­l’s fam­i­ly is in the news for the wrong rea­sons. (Most of McConnel­l’s for­tune appar­ent­ly comes from his in-laws.)

His father-in-law (James Chao) has pros­pered because of his found­ing and pro­pri­etor­ship of a ship­ping line, The Fore­most Group.

That com­pa­ny has an opaque struc­ture, with many of its ships reg­is­tered in coun­tries that make com­pli­ance with mar­itime reg­u­la­tions eas­i­er to skirt.

Now, one of Fore­most’s ships (the Ping May) has been bust­ed sail­ing from Colom­bia for Ams­ter­dam with 40 kilo­grams of cocaine aboard.

In the post accessed below, author Nathan Downes asks a rel­e­vant ques­tion: How much of Fore­most’s largesse (and, by exten­sion, the McConnell clan’s wealth) is derived from shady enter­pris­es?

“40 KG of Cocaine Found on Mitch McConnel­l’s Father-in-Law’s Boat” by Nathaniel Downes; Addict­ing Info; 10/31/2014.

James Chao, father of Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine, has a lot of ques­tions to answer after 40 kilo­grams of cocaine (about $6.7 mil­lion worth) was found on the Ping May, a ship owned by the Fore­most Group, a com­pa­ny James Chao found­ed and led to a tidy for­tune. But was that for­tune built on hon­est move­ment of legit­i­mate bulk trade goods, or has Mr. Chao been trad­ing in less than legal goods?

The cocaine, found in 40 sep­a­rate pack­ages, was dis­cov­ered dur­ing a rou­tine inspec­tion hid­den among a load of coal bound for Europe from the port of San­ta Mar­ta, Colum­bia onboard the Ping May, one of 15 ships Fore­most cur­rent­ly oper­ates, with anoth­er 8 under con­struc­tion. The final des­ti­na­tion for the ship was to be the Nether­lands, like­ly one of the port cities sur­round­ing Ams­ter­dam. It is known that the Ping May has been wit­nessed at the port of Zaanstad, one of these cities, in the past.

Fore­most Group is the source of most of Sen­a­tor McConnell’s for­tune through gifts and inher­i­tance from his in-laws. It is a shad­owy cor­po­ra­tion, uti­liz­ing a com­plex scheme of shell com­pa­nies to skip out on mil­lions in tax­es annu­al­ly.

They fly their ships under the flag of Liberia, a west African nation known for its lax labor pro­tec­tions, allow­ing Fore­most the oppor­tu­ni­ty to exploit its ships’ work­force with lit­tle fear of recrim­i­na­tion. How­ev­er, this sta­tus as an employ­er-friend­ly anti-labor nation also allowed west­ern African nations, such as Liberia, to become one of the epi­cen­ters for drug smug­gling through legit­i­mate chan­nels. By work­ing to extract every red cent of prof­it at the cost of the labor­ers who make their for­tunes pos­si­ble, Fore­most may have sewn the seeds of its own down­fall.

It could be that some among the ships work­force, tired of being exploit­ed, decid­ed on being cre­ative with their income. It could be that the drug car­tels which dom­i­nate Colum­bia insert­ed the cocaine with­out any of the ships crew know­ing. Or it could be that Mr. Chao is in league with the drug car­tels, pos­si­bly for a very long time, and chose to fly under the Liber­ian flag for this very rea­son. We do not know.

It is most like­ly that Mr. Chao’s greed is the only crime for which he is guilty. By using this elab­o­rate scheme to not only defraud the US gov­ern­ment of owed tax­es but to exploit his work­force, Mr. Chao may have made such a sce­nario a fore­gone con­clu­sion. Now his com­pa­ny is under a micro­scope, the last place the very pri­vate man want­ed it.

 

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