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Title Moon Organization - Moon/Bush: Ongoing Crime Enterprise
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moon - Moon/Bush: Ongoing Crime Enterprise February 19th, 2007 - From petty local scams to international money-laundering, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon s political/media/business/religious empire has all the looks of a global ongoing criminal enterprise, albeit one with enough powerful friends in Washington to protect it from serious consequences. [...] The latest example of a Moon-connected operation getting a legal break despite breaking the law was the exposure of a decade-long scheme led by a local pastor of Moon s Unification Church that poached thousands of baby leopard sharks from San Francisco Bay. The undersized sharks were sold illegally to private buyers in the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The local pastor, Kevin Thompson, claimed that Moon personally approved the scheme and encouraged its expansion. In a recorded sermon from 2003, Thompson told his congregation that Moon became excited when he heard about the shark-catching operation. He told me, you know you need 20 boats out there fishing, Thompson said. He had this big plan drawn out. Though the poaching never reached that scale, it did use church-owned boats and stored the catch at a San Leandro, California, distribution center for one of the largest U.S. sushi wholesalers, True World Foods Inc., a business affiliated with the Unification Church. Despite the evidence of these close Moon connections to the illegal scheme, the Bush administration reached a non-prosecution agreement with Moon s church in which it agreed to pay $500,000 to help restore the damaged habitat. (While U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan was deliberating this case, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanded his resignation as one of nine U.S. attorneys to be replaced by Bush political loyalists.) For his part, pastor Thompson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison. Another church member, John Newberry, received a six-month sentence. But senior Unification Church officials denied that Moon, now 87, had any kind of personal knowledge or involvement with the details or the particulars, according to church spokesman Phillip Schanker, who claimed that any conversation between Moon and Thompson would have been a casual chat about fishing, nothing more. Small & Big Scams [...] In both Asia and South America, Moon s operations have been linked to major crime syndicates including the Japanese yakuza and Latin American cocaine cartels. When I was investigating Moon s activities in the mid-1990s, I interviewed several former church insiders who explained how the smaller and bigger operations meshed. Local church-related operations were expected to finance themselves often through petty criminality while the national business operations served to launder overseas money. For instance, John S., a former New York University student who was recruited into Moon s organization in 1992 and became a youth leader in the Pacific Northwest, said small-scale fraud covered local expenses. At first, like most newcomers, S. worked as part of mobile fund-raising teams that traveled by van from town to town selling flowers and other cheap items. The fund-raisers always hid their links to Moon and presented themselves as students raising money for some worthy cause, S. said. [...] Widows & Pagodas [...] While some Moon watchers believe these scams help explain Moon s fortune and how he could afford to lose an estimated $3 billion on the Washington Times alone others suspect that Moon s major funding comes from his close relationships with major underworld figures in Asia and South America. Those ties date back several decades to negotiations conducted by one of Moon s early South Korean supporters, Kim Jong-Pil, who founded the Korean CIA and headed up sensitive negotiations on bilateral relations between Tokyo and Seoul. The negotiations put Kim Jong-Pil in touch with two other important figures in the Far East, Japanese rightists Yoshio Kodama and Ryoichi Sasakawa, who had been jailed as fascist war criminals at the end of World War II. A few years later, however, both Kodama and Sasakawa were freed by U.S. military intelligence officials. The U.S. government turned to Kodama and Sasakawa for help in combating communist labor unions and student strikes, much as the CIA protected German Nazi war criminals who supplied intelligence and performed other services in the intensifying Cold War battles with European communists. Kodama and Sasakawa also allegedly grew rich from their association with the yakuza, a shadowy organized crime syndicate that profited off drug smuggling, gambling and prostitution in Japan and Korea. Behind the scenes, Kodama and Sasakawa became power-brokers in Japan s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Kim Jong-Pil s contacts with these right-wing leaders proved invaluable to Moon, who had made only a few converts in Japan by the early 1960s. Immediately after Kim Jong-Pil opened the door to Kodama and Sasakawa in late 1962, 50 leaders of an ultra-nationalist Japanese Buddhist sect converted en masse to the Unification Church, according to Yakuza, a book by David E. Kaplan and Alec Dubro. Sasakawa became an advisor to Reverend Sun Myung Moon s Japanese branch of the Unification Church and collaborated with Moon in building far-right anti-communist organizations in Asia, Kaplan and Dubro wrote. Far-Right Extremism Moon s church was active in the Asian People s Anti-Communist League, a fiercely right-wing group founded by the governments of South Korea and Taiwan. In 1966, the group expanded into the World Anti-Communist League, an international alliance that brought together traditional conservatives with former Nazis, overt racialists and Latin American death squad operatives. Authors Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson wrote in their 1986 book, Inside the League, that Sun Myung Moon was one of five indispensable Asian leaders who made the World Anti-Communist League possible. The five were Taiwan s dictator Chiang Kai-shek, South Korea s dictator Park Chung Hee, yakuza gangsters Sasakawa and Kodama, and Moon, an evangelist who planned to take over the world through the doctrine of Heavenly Deception, the Andersons wrote. WACL became a well-financed worldwide organization after a secret meeting between Sasakawa and Moon, along with two Kodama representatives, on a lake in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. The purpose of the meeting was to create an anti-communist organization that would further Moon s global crusade and lend the Japanese yakuza leaders a respectable new façade, the Andersons wrote. [...] French Connection [...] Heroin from the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia soon filled the void left by the broken French Connection and its mostly Middle Eastern heroin supply routes. During this time of transition, Sun Myung Moon brought his evangelical message to South America. His first visit to Argentina had occurred in 1965 when he blessed a square behind the presidential Pink House in Buenos Aires. But he returned a decade later to make more lasting friendships. Moon first sank down roots in Uruguay during the 12-year reign of right-wing military dictators who seized power in 1973. He also cultivated close relations with military dictators in Argentina, Paraguay and Chile, reportedly ingratiating himself with the juntas by helping the military regimes arrange arms purchases and by channeling money to allied right-wing organizations. Relationships nurtured with right-wing Latin Americans in the [World Anti-Communist] League led to acceptance of the [Unification] Church s political and propaganda operations throughout Latin America, the Andersons wrote in Inside the League. As an international money laundry, � the Church tapped into the capital flight havens of Latin America. Escaping the scrutiny of American and European investigators, the Church could now funnel money into banks in Honduras, Uruguay and Brazil, where official oversight was lax or nonexistent. Cocaine Coup In 1980, Moon made more friends in South America when a right-wing alliance of Bolivia military officers and drug dealers organized what became known as the Cocaine Coup. WACL associates, such as Alfred Candia, coordinated the arrival of some of the paramilitary operatives who assisted in the violent putsch. Right-wing Argentine intelligence officers mixed with a contingent of young European neo-fascists collaborating with Nazi war criminal Barbie in carrying out the bloody coup that overthrew the elected left-of-center government. The victory put into power a right-wing military dictatorship indebted to the drug lords. Bolivia became South America s first narco-state. One of the first well-wishers arriving in La Paz to congratulate the new government was Moon s top lieutenant, Bo Hi Pak. The Moon organization published a photo of Pak meeting with the new strongman, General Garcia Meza. After the visit to the mountainous capital, Pak declared, I have erected a throne for Father Moon in the world s highest city. According to later Bolivian government and newspaper reports, a Moon representative invested about $4 million in preparations for the coup. Bolivia s WACL representatives also played key roles, and CAUSA, one of Moon s anti-communist organizations, listed as members nearly all the leading Bolivian coup-makers. [...] As the drug lords consolidated their power in Bolivia, the Moon organization expanded its presence, too. Hermann reported that in early 1981, war criminal Barbie and Moon leader Thomas Ward were seen together in apparent prayer. On May 31, 1981, Moon representatives sponsored a CAUSA reception at the Sheraton Hotel s Hall of Freedom in La Paz. Moon s lieutenant Bo Hi Pak and Bolivian strongman Garcia Meza led a prayer for President Reagan s recovery from an assassination attempt. In his speech, Bo Hi Pak declared, God had chosen the Bolivian people in the heart of South America as the ones to conquer communism. According to a later Bolivian intelligence report, the Moon organization sought to recruit an armed church of Bolivians, with about 7,000 Bolivians receiving some paramilitary training. Moon s Escape But by late 1981, the cocaine taint of Bolivia s military junta was so deep and the corruption so staggering that U.S.-Bolivian relations were stretched to the breaking point. The Moon sect disappeared overnight from Bolivia as clandestinely as they had arrived, Hermann reported. [...] But Moon s organization suffered few negative repercussions from the Cocaine Coup. By the early 1980s, flush with seemingly unlimited funds, Moon had moved on to promoting himself with the new Republican administration in Washington. An invited guest to the Reagan-Bush Inauguration, Moon made his organization useful to President Reagan, Vice President Bush and other leading Republicans. Where Moon got his cash remained one of Washington s deepest mysteries and one that few U.S. conservatives wanted to solve. Some Moonie-watchers even believe that some of the business enterprises are actually covers for drug trafficking, wrote Scott and Jon Lee Anderson. While Moon s representatives have refused to detail how they ve sustained their far-flung activities, Moon s spokesmen have angrily denied recurring allegations about profiteering off illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs. [...] Without doubt, however, Moon s organization has had a long record of association with organized crime figures, including ones implicated in the drug trade. Besides collaborating with leaders of the Japanese yakuza and the Cocaine Coup government of Bolivia, Moon s organization developed close ties with the Honduran military and the Nicaraguan contras who were permeated with drug smugglers. [...] On the Offensive Moon s organization also used its political clout in Washington to intimidate or discredit government officials and journalists who tried to investigate Moon-connected criminal activities. In the mid-1980s, for instance, when journalists and congressional investigators began probing the evidence of contra-drug trafficking, they came under attacks from Moon s Washington Times. [...] Mounting Evidence The now-available evidence shows that there was much more to the contra-drug issue than either the Reagan-Bush administration or Moon s organization wanted the American people to know in the 1980s. The evidence assembled over the years by investigators at the CIA, the Justice Department and other federal agencies indicates that Bolivia s Cocaine Coup operatives were only the first in a line of clever drug smugglers who tried to squeeze under the protective umbrella of Reagan s favorite covert operation, the contra war. [...] In some cases, U.S. intelligence officials bent over backwards not to take timely notice of contra-connected drug trafficking out of fear that fuller investigations would embarrass the contras and their patrons in the Reagan-Bush administration. For instance, on Oct. 22, 1982, a cable written by the CIA s Directorate of Operations stated, There are indications of links between [a U.S. religious organization] and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups. These links involve an exchange in [the United States] of narcotics for arms. The cable added that the participants were planning a meeting in Costa Rica for such a deal. When the cable arrived, senior CIA officials were concerned. On Oct. 27, CIA headquarters asked for more information from a U.S. law enforcement agency. The law enforcement agency expanded on its report by telling the CIA that representatives of the contra FDN and another contra force, the UDN, would be meeting with several unidentified U.S. citizens. But then, the CIA reversed itself, deciding that it wanted no more information on the grounds that U.S. citizens were involved. In light of the apparent participation of U.S. persons throughout, agree you should not pursue the matter further, CIA headquarters wrote on Nov. 3, 1982. Two weeks later, after discouraging additional investigation, CIA headquarters suggested it might be necessary to label the allegations of a guns-for-drugs deal as misinformation. The CIA s Latin American Division, however, responded on Nov. 18, 1982, that several contra officials had gone to San Francisco for the meetings with supporters, presumably as part of the same guns-for-drugs deal. But the CIA inspector general found no additional information about that deal in CIA files. Also, by keeping the names censored when the documents were released in 1998, the CIA prevented outside investigators from examining whether the U.S. religious organization had any affiliation with Moon s network of quasi-religious groups, which were assisting the contras at that time. Studied Disinterest Over the past quarter century as Moon invested in prominent Republicans this pattern of government disinterest in his illicit operations remained one consistency. That disinterest wasn t even shaken when disenchanted Moon insiders went public with confessions of their own first-hand involvement in criminal conspiracies. For instance, Moon s former daughter-in-law, Nansook Hong, admitted to participating in money-laundering schemes by personally smuggling cash from South Korea into the United States. In her 1998 memoir, In the Shadow of the Moons, Nansook Hong alleged that Moon s organization had engaged in a long-running conspiracy to smuggle cash into the United States and to deceive U.S. Customs agents. [...] Corroboration Nansook Hong s allegations were corroborated by other disaffected Moon disciples in press interviews and in civil court proceedings. Maria Madelene Pretorious, a former Unification Church member who worked at Moon s Manhattan Center, a New York City music venue and recording studio, testified at a court hearing in Massachusetts that in December of 1993 or January of 1994, one of Moon s sons, Hyo Jin Moon, returned from a trip to Korea with $600,000 in cash which he had received from his father. � Myself along with three or four other members that worked at Manhattan Center saw the cash in bags, shopping bags. In an interview with me in the mid-1990s, Pretorious said Asian church members would bring cash into the United States where it would be circulated through Moon s business empire as a way to launder it. At the center of this financial operation, Pretorious said, was One-Up Corp., a Delaware-registered holding company that owned many Moon enterprises including the Manhattan Center and New World Communications, the parent company of the Washington Times. Once that cash is at the Manhattan Center, it has to be accounted for, Pretorious said. The way that s done is to launder the cash. Manhattan Center gives cash to a business called Happy World which owns restaurants. � Happy World needs to pay illegal aliens. � Happy World pays some back to the Manhattan Center for services rendered. The rest goes to One-Up and then comes back to Manhattan Center as an investment. While the criminal enterprises may have been operating at one level, Moon s political influence-buying was functioning at another, as he spread around billions of dollars helpful to the top echelons of Washington power. Moon launched the Washington Times in 1982 and its staunch support for Reagan-Bush political interests quickly made it a favorite of Reagan, Bush and other influential Republicans. Moon also made sure that his steady flow of cash found its way into the pockets of key conservative operatives, especially when they were most in need. [...] Falwell s Savior Another case of saving a right-wing icon occurred when the Rev. Jerry Falwell was facing financial ruin over the debts piling up at Liberty University. But the fundamentalist Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, got a last-minute bail-out in the mid-1990s ostensibly from two Virginia businessmen, Dan Reber and Jimmy Thomas, who used their non-profit Christian Heritage Foundation to snap up a large chunk of Liberty s debt for $2.5 million, a fraction of its face value. Falwell rejoiced and called the moment the greatest single day of financial advantage in the school s history, even though it was accomplished at the disadvantage of many small true-believing investors who had bought the church construction bonds through a Texas company. But Falwell s secret benefactor behind the debt purchase was Sun Myung Moon, who was kept in the background partly because of his controversial Biblical interpretations that hold Jesus to have been a failure and because of Moon s alleged brainwashing of thousands of young Americans, often shattering their bonds with their biological families. Moon had used his tax-exempt Women s Federation for World Peace to funnel $3.5 million to the Reber-Thomas Christian Heritage Foundation, the non-profit that purchased the school s debt. I stumbled onto this Moon-Falwell connection by examining the Internal Revenue Service filings of Moon s front groups. [...] Moon also used the Women s Federation to pay substantial speaking fees to former President George H.W. Bush, who gave talks at Moon-sponsored events. [...] Trump Card [...] Bush s speech was so effusive that it surprised even Moon s followers. Once again, heaven turned a disappointment into a victory, the Unification News exulted. Everyone was delighted to hear his compliments. We knew he would give an appropriate and nice speech, but praise in Father s presence was more than we expected. � It was vindication. We could just hear a sigh of relief from Heaven. While Bush s assertion about Moon s Washington Times as a voice of sanity may be a matter of opinion, Bush s vouching for its editorial independence simply wasn t true. Almost since it opened in 1982, a string of senior editors and correspondents have resigned, citing the manipulation of the news by Moon and his subordinates. The first editor, James Whelan, resigned in 1984, confessing that I have blood on my hands for helping Moon s church achieve greater legitimacy. But Bush s boosterism was just what Moon needed in South America. The day after, the Unification News observed, the press did a 180-degree about-turn once they realized that the event had the support of a U.S. President. With Bush s help, Moon had gained another beachhead for his worldwide business-religious-political-media empire. After the event, Menem told reporters from La Nacion that Bush had claimed privately to be only a mercenary who did not really know Moon. Bush told me he came and charged money to do it, Menem said. [La Nacion, Nov. 26, 1996] But Bush was not telling Menem the whole story. By fall 1996, Bush and Moon had been working in political tandem for at least a decade and a half. The ex-President also had been earning huge speaking fees as a front man for Moon for more than a year. Throughout these public appearances for Moon, Bush s office refused to divulge how much Moon-affiliated organizations have paid the ex-President. But estimates of Bush s fee for the Buenos Aires appearance alone ran between $100,000 and $500,000. Sources close to the Unification Church told me that the total spending on Bush ran into the millions, with one source telling me that Bush stood to make as much as $10 million from Moon s organization. The senior George Bush may have had a political motive, too. By 1996, sources close to Bush were saying the ex-President was working hard to enlist well-to-do conservatives and their money behind the presidential candidacy of his son, George W. Bush. Moon was one of the deepest pockets in right-wing circles. Smurfing Also in 1996, the Uruguayan bank employees union blew the whistle on one scheme in which some 4,200 female Japanese followers of Moon allegedly walked into the Moon-controlled Banco de Credito in Montevideo and deposited as much as $25,000 each. The money from the women went into the account of an anonymous association called Cami II, which was controlled by Moon s Unification Church. In one day, Cami II received $19 million and, by the time the parade of women ended, the total had swelled to about $80 million. It was not clear where the money originated, nor how many other times Moon s organization has used this tactic sometimes known as smurfing to transfer untraceable cash into Uruguay. [...] Moon s pattern of putting into Bush family causes has continued into George W. Bush s presidency. In 2006, Moon again used money-laundering techniques to funnel a donation to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. The Houston Chronicle reported that Moon s Washington Times Foundation gave $1 million to the Greater Houston Community Foundation, which in turn acted as a conduit for donations to the library. The Chronicle obtained indirect confirmation that Moon s money was passing through the Houston foundation to the Bush library from Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath. Asked whether Moon s $1 million had ended up there, McGrath responded, We re in an uncomfortable position. � If a donor doesn t want to be identified we need to honor their privacy. [...] But Moon has earned the deepest gratitude of the Bush family and the Republican Party via his reported $3 billion investment in the Washington Times, a powerful propaganda organ that helped the GOP build its political dominance over the past quarter century. George Archibald, who describes himself as the first reporter hired at the Washington Times outside the founding group and author of a commemorative book on the Times first two decades, recently joined a long line of disillusioned conservative writers who departed and warned the public about extremism within the newspaper. In an Internet essay on bigotry and extremism inside the Times, Archibald also confirmed claims by some former Moon insiders that the cult leader has continued to pour in $100 million a year or more to keep the newspaper afloat. Archibald put the price tag for the newspaper s first 24 years at more than $3 billion of cash. [...] Aiming at Obama The intervention by Moon s media outlets into U.S. presidential politics continues to the present. In one of the first dirty tricks of Election 2008, Moon s online magazine Insight tried to sabotage Sen. Barack Obama s campaign before it even got started, while laying the blame at the feet of Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton. The Insight article cited supposed opposition research by Hillary Clinton s campaign that had allegedly dug up evidence that Obama had attended a fundamentalist Muslim madrassah while a young child and had sought to conceal his allegiance to Islam. The Insight attack on Obama was framed as a heartfelt desire to test out the credibility of the 45-year-old Illinois senator who identifies himself as a Christian and belongs to a church in Chicago. [...] After Moon s online magazine published the madrassa story, it quickly spread to the wider audiences of Rupert Murdoch s right-wing media outlets, Fox News and the New York Post, and then into the mainstream press. To further the subliminal link between Obama and Islamic terrorism, the New York Post ran its story under the headline Osama Mud Flies at Obama. As the Obama-madrassa article circulated, Fox News made sure the story was put in the harshest possible light. [...] Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson termed the Insight article an obvious right-wing hit job by a Moonie publication that was designed to attack Senator Clinton and Senator Obama at the same time. [...] When CNN checked out the Insight article on Jan. 22, the story collapsed. [...] Whether the Obama/Clinton story has a long-term impact or not, it is a reminder of the value that Moon s billions of mysterious dollars have purchased in the U.S. political process and why his allies seem so determined to protect him from anything approaching aggressive law enforcement.