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Did somebody just try to buy the British government?

(Hat tip to [REDACTED] over on LJ for spotting this one ...)

Hansard is the official printed transcript of the proceedings of the houses of parliament — in other words, the working log of the British government.

It is an authoritative primary source, and records every speech made in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Interestingly, it also records words spoken under parliamentary privilege.

So when an eminent member of the House of Lords stands up six hours into a debate and blows the gaff on a shadowy foreign Foundation making a bid to buy the British state, and this is recorded in Hansard, one tends to sit up and take notice. And one takes even more notice when His Lordship tip-toes around actually naming the Foundation in question, especially after the throw-away about money-laundering for the IRA on behalf of the Bank of England. Parliamentary privilege only stretches so far, it seems, and Foundation X is beyond its reach. I'm going to quote at length below the cut — if you want to read the original, search for "1 Nov 2010 : Column 1538" which is where things begin to tip-toe into Robert Ludlum territory.

(NB: The venue is the House of Lords, at 10:42pm on November 1st, 2010.)

Lord James of Blackheath: At this point, I am going to have to make a very big apology to my noble friend Lord Sassoon [Treasury Minister], because I am about to raise a subject that I should not raise and which is going to be one which I think is now time to put on a higher awareness, and to explain to the House as a whole, as I do not think your Lordships have any knowledge of it. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Strathclyde [Leader of the House] is not with us at the moment, because this deeply concerns him also.

For the past 20 weeks I have been engaged in a very strange dialogue with the two noble Lords, in the course of which I have been trying to bring to their attention the willing availability of a strange organisation which wishes to make a great deal of money available to assist the recovery of the economy in this country. For want of a better name, I shall call it foundation X. That is not its real name, but it will do for the moment. Foundation X was introduced to me 20 weeks ago last week by an eminent City firm, which is FSA controlled. Its chairman came to me and said, "We have this extraordinary request to assist in a major financial reconstruction. It is megabucks, but we need your help to assist us in understanding whether this business is legitimate". I had the biggest put-down of my life from my noble friend Lord Strathclyde when I told him this story. He said, "Why you? You're not important enough to have the answer to a question like that". He is quite right, I am not important enough, but the answer to the next question was, "You haven't got the experience for it". Yes I do. I have had one of the biggest experiences in the laundering of terrorist money and funny money that anyone has had in the City. I have handled billions of pounds of terrorist money.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham [Labour]: Where did it go to?

Lord James of Blackheath
: Not into my pocket. My biggest terrorist client was the IRA and I am pleased to say that I managed to write off more than £1 billion of its money. I have also had extensive connections with north African terrorists, but that was of a far nastier nature, and I do not want to talk about that because it is still a security issue. I hasten to add that it is no good getting the police in, because I shall immediately call the Bank of England as my defence witness, given that it put me in to deal with these problems.

The point is that when I was in the course of doing this strange activity, I had an interesting set of phone numbers and references that I could go to for help when I needed it. So people in the City have known that if they want to check out anything that looks at all odd, they can come to me and I can press a few phone numbers to obtain a reference. The City firm came to me and asked whether I could get a reference and a clearance on foundation X. For 20 weeks, I have been endeavouring to do that. I have come to the absolute conclusion that foundation X is completely genuine and sincere and that it directly wishes to make the United Kingdom one of the principal points that it will use to disseminate its extraordinarily great wealth into the world at this present moment, as part of an attempt to seek the recovery of the global economy.

I made the phone call to my noble friend Lord Strathclyde on a Sunday afternoon—I think he was sitting on his lawn, poor man—and he did the quickest ball pass that I have ever witnessed. If England can do anything like it at Twickenham on Saturday, we will have a chance against the All Blacks. The next think I knew, I had my noble friend Lord Sassoon on the phone. From the outset, he took the proper defensive attitude of total scepticism, and said, "This cannot possibly be right". During the following weeks, my noble friend said, "Go and talk to the Bank of England". So I phoned the governor and asked whether he could check this out for me. After about three days, he came back and said, "You can get lost. I'm not touching this with a bargepole; it is far too difficult. Take it back to the Treasury". So I did. Within another day, my noble friend Lord Sassoon had come back and said, "This is rubbish. It can't possibly be right". I said, "I am going to work more on it". Then I brought one of the senior executives from foundation X to meet my noble friend Lord Strathclyde. I have to say that, as first dates go, it was not a great success. Neither of them ended up by inviting the other out for a coffee or drink at the end of the evening, and they did not exchange telephone numbers in order to follow up the meeting.

I found myself between a rock and a hard place that were totally paranoid about each other, because the foundation X people have an amazing obsession with their own security. They expect to be contacted only by someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world. This is a strange situation. My noble friends Lord Sassoon and Lord Strathclyde both came up with what should have been an absolute killer argument as to why this could not be true and that we should forget it. My noble friend Lord Sassoon's argument was that these people claimed to have evidence that last year they had lodged £5 billion with British banks. They gave transfer dates and the details of these transfers. As my noble friend Lord Sassoon, said, if that were true it would stick out like a sore thumb. You could not have £5 billion popping out of a bank account without it disrupting the balance sheet completely. But I remember that at about the same time as those transfers were being made the noble Lord, Lord Myners [former Labour Treasury Minister], was indulging in his game of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic of the British banking community. If he had three banks at that time, which had had, say, a deficiency of £1.5 million each, then you would pretty well have absorbed the entire £5 billion, and you would not have had the sore thumb stick out at that time; you would have taken £1.5 billion into each of three banks and you would have absorbed the lot. That would be a logical explanation—I do not know.

My noble friend Lord Strathclyde came up with a very different argument. He said that this cannot be right because these people said at the meeting with him that they were still effectively on the gold standard from back in the 1920s and that their entire currency holdings throughout the world, which were very large, were backed by bullion. My noble friend Lord Strathclyde came back and said to me that he had an analyst working on it and that this had to be stuff and nonsense. He said that they had come up with a figure for the amount of bullion that would be needed to cover their currency reserves, as claimed, which would be more than the entire value of bullion that had ever been mined in the history of the world. I am sorry but my noble friend Lord Strathclyde is wrong; his analysts are wrong. He had tapped into the sources that are available and there is only one definitive source for the amount of bullion that has ever been taken from the earth's crust. That was a National Geographic magazine article 12 years ago. Whatever figure it was that was quoted was then quoted again on six other sites on the internet—on Google. Everyone is quoting one original source; there is no other confirming authority. But if you tap into the Vatican accounts—of the Vatican bank--— come up with a claim of total bullion—

Lord De Mauley [Government Whip]: The noble Lord is into his fifteenth minute. I wonder whether he can draw his remarks to a conclusion.

Lord James of Blackheath: The total value of the Vatican bank reserves would claim to be more than the entire value of gold ever mined in the history of the world. My point on all of this is that we have not proven any of this. Foundation X is saying at this moment that it is prepared to put up the entire £5 billion for the funding of the three Is recreation; the British Government can have the entire independent management and control of it—foundation X does not want anything to do with it; there will be no interest charged; and, by the way, if the British Government would like it as well, if it will help, the foundation will be prepared to put up money for funding hospitals, schools, the building of Crossrail immediately with £17 billion transfer by Christmas, if requested, and all these other things. These things can be done, if wished, but a senior member of the Government has to accept the invitation to a phone call to the chairman of foundation X—and then we can get into business. This is too big an issue. I am just an ageing, obsessive old Peer and I am easily dispensable, but getting to the truth is not. We need to know what really is happening here. We must find out the truth of this situation.

I am left rubbing my eyes.

Did a not-obviously-insane member of the government — a corporate troubleshooter and Conservative life peer — really just stand up in the House of Lords and announce that a shadowy Foundation (that might or might not represent the Vatican) was offering the British government an investment of umpty-billion pounds in order to reboot the economy — free, gratis, with no strings attached?

Or am I just imagining the "no strings attached" clause?



Erm, WTF? I thought you were having a significant laugh at our expense until I went to Hansard and checked. And why do they just move on to other stuff without discussing this mad interlude? Is it just Lords insanity?


Reads like the setup for the biggest advance fee fraud in history, doesn't it?


Presumably we merely have to give them the account details for the Bank of England and transfer them one billion pounds by wire transfer to cover their administrative costs and we'll have the money arrive in our accounts in no time?


I am absolutely as baffled as you are!

Suddenly we seem to be living in a Robert Ludlum universe -- or worse, a Dan Brown one.


How utterly bizarre. I'm going to assume it's not the Vatican (that'd just ruin the Foundation X metaphor), but if you're talking a major power with their entire fortune in copious amounts of bullion that's got to be a very narrow short list.

Plus there must be some kind of strings attached to that, no one throws around billions altruistically.


Any sign of this being picked up by the press?


One point to remember is that the current price of gold is posited at least in part on the known supply. If the available supply suddenly doubled, the price would drop dramatically.

But yes, I'll be rubbing my eyes too - this is weird. If the Vatican wanted to leverage itself into taking over a larger country, the UK is not the most obvious one to go for: at first sight, Italy would seem more convenient. Or perhaps Ireland - Catholic, and straining under their banking crisis.


Any sign of this being picked up by the press?

I haven't seen anything so far, but given the news cycle it couldn't possibly have broken before today -- the debate was late evening on Monday, Hansard probably only came out yesterday, so we may see it over the next few days.


I have to agree. An entity that comes out, apparently spent already 5 billion $, and is ready to spend at least 22 more (if the 5, plus "immediate 17" are separate) is...



So was the Pope's recent visit simply a potential buyer viewing the prospective property?


It was twenty to eleven at night. He may just have been a bit pissed, awoke from a wee dwam and recounted the dream he had just had.

But Lord Sassoon doesn't appear to think it a joke:

Lord Sassoon: I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Myners. He had great trouble keeping a straight face. I have to say that I took extremely seriously my noble friend Lord James of Blackheath's suggestions that there were people who could help us out with our financial difficulty. The noble Lord, Lord Myners, thinks it is all a joke. I have been in detailed discussions over the past number of weeks with the noble Lord, Lord James of Blackheath, and of course we take seriously anyone who wants to invest in our economy...

...even if they are doing so from their secret volcano base in a reputable tax haven.


He mentioned "megabucks."

He's playing a very public game of Illuminati. I see your Vatican, and raise you one Boy Scouts and a Fiendish Fluoridator.


You can watch the video of this at

Starts at 2h 34m.

Deeply weird. Is this a viral for the next Dan Brown novel?


Impressive. As above commenters mention - would not have believed it without the Parliment link.

Assuming this is British billions (1,000 million, or a US trillion)?


Will, in the UK, 1 billion = 1,000,000,000. Just like it does in the USA. (The former usage -- 1 milliard = 10^9, 1 billion = 10^12 -- has been obsolete for many years. Was not longer being taught in schools thirty years ago, when I was a teenager.)


Will, I am as baffled by this whole thing as everyone else, but my two minor contributions are:

a. the sums are very likely to be in normal billions - a thousand million. The entire UK economy is less than $3 trillion. I've never come across anyone in Britain using "billion" to mean anything but a thousand million, rather fortunately.

b. It may or may not speak to Lord James' sanity that his last noteworthy appearance was during a debate on immigration on 21 October, in which he referred to an obscene song about Hermann Goering trying to have sex with a kangaroo.


There are always strings attached, and it's the near-invisible monofilaments that'll take your head off, before you even know you're dead...


"Not obviously insane"

That said, I've found a recent Guardian piece (, third bullet point) which mentions him telling a tale about Goring having sex with a kangaroo.


"a strange organisation which wishes to make a great deal of money available to assist the recovery of the economy in this country"
I was expecting a request for some interim funds to help ensure the transfer of the cash in question. Spelt slightly wrong and from a address with a Nigerian IP address.
Biggest 419 EVAR?
(that or a compelling case for Social Services to sit in on the House of Lords for a bit of care in the community)


It's not the OITC, is it?


Ajay: Oh my.

I'm going to amend "not obviously insane" to "a few screws loose -- but how did he get so far?!?"


I must be part of the last generation that was taught the old '-illion is a power of 10^6' long scale form.

Umm, the UK Government officially switched in 1974. By which time I was not far short of my O-levels.


In his own words, from the immigration speech linked:

We had an amazing roll call every morning. It began with Adybaya, Baptista, Chinchialla and Dukszta, and ended gloriously with Xyrus, Yballa and Zabialski. I used to think that if I could get through life and remember the entire roll call, I would know that Alzheimer's had not yet reached me. After I had my stroke, I said this to my physician, who said, "No, old boy. You may remember all the other 25, but your trouble is when you cannot remember who the J was". So far, so good - but not for long, I am sure.

Emphasis added.


Per the wiki page under your link, he's a backbench peer not a member of the govt.[/nitpick]

It's a strange one - the man himself seems to have the sort of profile that would make the how and why he came to be involved in the situation somewhat credible and the rambling account of his dealings with various govt representatives paints a picture of an amateurish old boy network that has the ring of authenticity for the upper reaches of the establishment.

But the story itself sounds like a less-than-sensible plotline from Spooks - 'Potty Peer Goes Emeritus' is almost certainly the story here.

Regarding news cycles - yesterday was dominated by the US mid-terms and the Franco-British military accord, whilst today will be dominated by the results of the US mid-terms. This won't see any play until the end of the week at the earliest, but probably not even then as it's just too bizarre - if you ask me it'll need to be stood up by Private Eye or similar before the 'proper' outfits will think about picking it up.



I just sent tweets about this to Graham Linehan, Mark Thomas and Johann Hari... hopefully one or more will pick up on this.

As an ex-Treasury paper-shuffler, I'd say this is just extraordinary.


Perhaps there's an Anglophile GSV in orbit.


It's kind of hard to follow, but it sounds like holmes is trying to blow the whistle on "The Illuminati" or something.


Sounds rather like the mo of the Sultan of Brunei:

So a small army of hangers-on was assembled, among them one Mohamed al Fayed. The Sultan and his brothers have long been suspected of bankrolling Fayed's subsequent purchase of the upmarket Harrods store in London. Fayed- at the centre of recent bribery scandals in the British Parliament, as well as the father of the boyfriend who died with Princess Diana-claims that during the financial crisis of 1992 the British Government approached him personally to intercede with the Sultan to keep his billions in London.

But you'd rather expect him to have better contacts with the UK establishment than phoning up a random Lord. You don't get your own private regiment of the British army by phoning the number listed under

So, either some random ruler of a obscure part of the world with few historical ties to the UK who wants to be the new Sultan. Or (9 times more likely), some hustler who wants to be seen as such.


"Perhaps there's an Anglophile GSV in orbit."

The Just Enough Gravitas For A Late Night Lords Debate perhaps?


Surely the bit at the start of his speech (which you missed out) talking about how Brigadoon was the first play he'd seen in the West End should have tipped you off that all is not well in m'noble lord's head? Or where he predicts, to the week, when the next big financial crisis will hit (second week in Feb, if you're interested...) Or where he calls on the government to start its own version of British Home Stores as a subsidiary of the state?

You can almost hear the sad incredulity in the voice of Lord Shipley, who speaks next, as he says "My Lords, back to the spending review..."

It's pretty obvious the poor old sod has started to lose his marbles. Perhaps not a great idea to start a huge campaign to get it picked up by the papers.


Is this statement from Lord James more Ludlum territory?

an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world

There are only 5 permanent members on the UN sec. council. What or who is this statement in reference to?

Re: Ludlum v. Brown: If this is a Brown novel, then Lord James is the villain!


Time-travellers - it's obvious.


Surely the bit at the start of his speech (which you missed out) talking about how Brigadoon was the first play he'd seen in the West End should have tipped you off that all is not well in m'noble lord's head?

Well, not necessarily. Having read a fair bit of Hansard, I can say that the acceptable upper limit of dottiness in debates in the Lords (and even, to an extent, in the Commons) is far higher than in normal conversation. The start of the speech, Brigadoon and all, is entirely normal for the Upper House.
For supporting evidence, I suggest the following exercise: think of a strange word (like "dormouse", say, or "jellybean", or for the best result "corned beef") and enter it into the Hansard search engine. Read and marvel.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, is the Minister aware that if, having taken off one end of the corned beef can with the twisty thing provided — assuming that you have not lost it — you then take a common, ordinary, household tin-opener and take off the other end, it is very easy to push the corned beef out of the tin without any danger to yourself?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Yes, my Lords, I was aware of that, and I am very glad that that essential piece of information is passed round for the benefit of this House.

Both Lady Saltoun and Lord Sainsbury are, as far as I am aware, entirely sane.


It sort of reads like it could be a short story in the Merchant Princes multiverse.


I rather enjoyed this exchange between two venerable Conservatives yesterday:

Lord Tebbit (Conservative): My Lords, is my noble friend aware that I had the pleasure of being seated at dinner last week next to our right honourable friend Mr Kenneth Clarke but that he did not talk to me, whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was opposite, was quite chatty? I particularly enjoyed a long conversation with our coalition partner the Viscount Thurso, who is of course a Member of the House of Commons.

Lord Strathclyde (Leader of the House of Lords, House of Lords; Conservative): It is immensely interesting to hear of my noble friend's dining partners and the conversations that he had. I hope that he will update us regularly.


Just for reference, here's the linky to the relevant place in the totally awesome

(I know people have linked to various bits of it in the discussion, but for context, TheyWorkForYou basically take Hansard and drop it into a huge query engine and analysis tool, with loads of value-added features like user annotations, automated political scorecards, RSS feeds, subscriptions, postcode loops, etc. It's totally awesome and loads easier to read than the official Hansard website. Check it out.)

His speech has annotations yet, hint hint.


or could it just be the FED offering to print some for us too..


He said that this cannot be right because these people said at the meeting with him that they were still effectively on the gold standard from back in the 1920s

Well, to be on the gold standard you'd have to be a sovereign state's central bank. That's what "on the gold standard" means.

I think someone's having a lot of fun with a rather confused old chap.

Also, I think he's been reading goldbug web sites.


It's the Vanguard Foundation from Use of Weapons.


> Both Lady Saltoun and Lord Sainsbury are, as far as I am aware, entirely sane.

Lady Saltoun has her own particular approach to discussions in the chamber, but Lord Sainsbury's comment in print does not do justice to the cheerful, though gracious, irony of his response.


Also, does anyone else keep thinking of that textual analysis algorithm they used on Agatha Christie's books, that was meant to identify when she started to lose it? If there's an open source implementation, would it be cruel to integrate it with TWFY?

(Not so much WhatDoTheyKnow as WhatHaveTheyForgotten.)


Its the Scientologists! BEWARE!


>Did a not-obviously-insane member of the government

I'm not British, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I have understood that House of Lords is place specially for the obviously- and not-so-obviously-insane members of the government.


I have had one of the biggest experiences in the laundering of terrorist money and funny money that anyone has had in the City. I have handled billions of pounds of terrorist money ... My biggest terrorist client was the IRA and I am pleased to say that I managed to write off more than £1 billion of its money. I have also had extensive connections with north African terrorists ... the Bank of England ... put me in to deal with these problems.

This is what really got me. Is it more evidence for His Lordship's apparent lunacy, or could someone tell me why the Bank of England would be laundering the IRA's money for it?


So a Tory peer admits to money laundering for terrorists and then goes on to say a shadowy foundation wants to provide the UK with a bail-out worth billions. He's clearly programmed to tell the truth, so I believe him.

By the by, wasn't old Mr Microsoft and his wife in the UK recently on a PR-tour for their super wealthy charitable foundation?



Perhaps le Carre rather than Ludlum.

I'm on my library waiting list for his latest novel which puts forward, apparently, the thesis that at the time of the banking crash, when liquidity was effectively frozen on the international exchanges, major criminals and money launderers - with the only liquid assets - flooded the markets with their lucre and effectively unblocked and saved the system.

(Whether the book claims that governments or banks asked them to do this I don't yet know).

With the result that governments in the West, his novel suggests, are now owned by the gangsters.


Do want.


I read the laundering reference to mean that James was on the BoI team trying to track down and sequester pIRA assets. £1bn would be about four times what I'd expect them to have picked up in any one decade, though.

As for the 'top 6 people' does this sound a bit like the OITC's "Level 5 or 6 security clearance"? I reckon yr man has been had.

And yay! following his payment of some money to the Tories a few years ago, he's in the legislature for life. The UK constitution is a gift that just keeps on giving, doesn't it?


Think back to 2008. Financial crisis, banks going down like two-bit hookers, liquidity crunch. The Provisionals had, however, decommissioned their arsenal and their political arm, Sinn Fein, was gearing up to participate in the Northern Ireland Assembly as a legit political party.

On the one hand, you have a government desperate for liquid currency to stop the entire banking sector collapsing. On the other hand, you have an organization that has considerable -- dubious -- financial assets, no further need to use them to buy guns and explosives, and a bunch of retired combatants who would be very grateful for a pay-off (and who might be kept out of mischief thereby).

Under such circumstances it would make perfect sense for H. M. Treasury to turn a blind eye to the IRA laundering their quartermaster accounts back into the regular economy (thereby decomissioning their logistics train as well as their actual weapons) -- it helps fix the banking crisis and it also reduces the likelihood of the pIRA restarting the shooting war.

I've seen claims that in 2008, up to $200Bn of drugs money and criminal assets worldwide were laundered under the noses of central banks who were in the middle of a desperate liquidity crunch. Winding up the assets of an ex-guerilla organization would be part and parcel of that.


This sounds very familiar to me. It's happening in the United States right now, as covered in this news piece.

In these cases the city or whatever gets a big wad of wonga in exchange for control of all the toll roads or parking meter revenue for a set time or whatever. It doesn't work out as a very good deal for the cities involved as you can imagine.


Ann, I'd be amazed if the IRA ever had a billion at a time that needed laundering.

The noble lord, however, has been (innocently) involved in some interesting stuff: his "I say, that pipe over there addressed to MR SADDAM HUSSEIN, IRAQ looks rather like a giant gun barrel" remark proved to be extremely perceptive. And his involvement in Libya may explain the North African reference.


It's not badly written enough to be Dan Brown.

+1 for the marbles lost camp from me, unfortunately. Either that or the Gnomes of Zurich are getting a bit high profile.


I've seen claims that in 2008, up to $200Bn of drugs money and criminal assets worldwide were laundered under the noses of central banks who were in the middle of a desperate liquidity crunch

So have I. From the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, no less, in a speech in November 2008:

Not only have bankers created monstrous financial instruments whose size, complexity and ownership nobody could understand or master. So many of them have engaged in something both stupid and diabolic. They have allowed the world's criminal economy to become part of the global economy. Investment bankers, fund managers, commodity traders and realtors - together with auditors, accountants and lawyers - have assisted syndicates to launder the proceeds from crime and become legitimate partners to business. In most cases the predicated crime was mafia-type: namely, violence against individuals, business and property. In other cases the predicated crime was corruption: namely, a silent yet pernicious violence against national treasuries and against public services that remain unfunded.

Greedy banks have taken in and hidden this blood money. Complex financial instruments have made financial markets deliberately less transparent and more accessible to wrong-doing. Thanks to bankers, accountants and lawyers, criminal groups have become multinational corporations: a sort of mafia borghese, or white collar syndicate. Today, the financial crisis is providing an extraordinary opportunity for even greater mafia penetration of cash-strapped financial houses: with the banking crisis choking lending, these cash-rich criminal groups have emerged as the only sources of credit.

But there's a far cry from that to "gangsters actually propped up the world financial system".


Alex: looking at a paper on the Christie text analysis, it seems they just counted unique words, n-grams, and what they called 'indefinite' words in the first 50K words of various novels, which should be trivial to do with any text-mining tools.


That makes sense, thank you. As for why he'd blab about it so publically, well, I suppose common sense isn't his long suit.


I am becoming quite a fan of Lord Blackheath:

There were to be no hymns sung, so he decided-very unwisely, as it turned out-that we could all, in rotation, sing our national anthems, to which we could write our own words of a non-jingoistic nature. The honour went first to the three British boys. We decided to use "Pomp and Circumstance" and rewrite the words to, "Land of cut the call-up, how do we dodge this nonsense?". That did not get us any merit points. The situation completely fell to pieces when the two German Jewish refugee boys at the school decided to write their own version of "Deutschland Über Alles" and got their little bit of revenge on Germany in the process. They decided to devote the words to the most obscene account of Hermann Göring having sexual congress with a lady kangaroo, which ultimately proved fatal to him because it would not stop jumping. After that, the Reverend Wynn decided that there should be no more of that.


Break out the Giant Kudzu!


The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity?


So how much money do the Scientologists have these days? Or Facebook, for that matter...?

(A whole country bought out by something like Google - or Apple - that's got to have story potential).

I must say I don't expect to read minutes from the Lords and find it riveting, but I did. A bit of a letdown, of course, if Lord James turns out to be doolally. But a corking read for all that. Perhaps he might have had an alternative career as a thriller writer in that case.

And as for the 'wishing nothing in return' bit - I think we all know there's no such thing as a free lunch.


1. Sovereign investment fund.

2. $5 or $22 billion is chump change these days -- that's only 0.5% of a kiloDirksen.

For scale, GDP of the planet is $70T.

But remember GDP is annual income, assets are worth much more.

3. Loony Lord +1.


Perhaps there's an Anglophile GSV in orbit.

This would be my preferred explanation as well. May just be wishful thinking on our part though.


To everyone saying Lord James is a nutter, from watching the footage he seems as sane as anyone - more importantly there appears to be some corroboration from other Lords.

It seems to me there're several possibilities:

a) It's a hoax/scam like the OITC - personally I don't see how such a scam would work at government level and it seems unlikely.

b) It's real and the 'No Strings' is a lie.

c) It's real and the investors stand to gain more from the resultant growth in the country than they would by not investing.

d) We're missing information and it's something else.

If it's 'c' it's entirely within the realms of possibility that the organisation in question helped cause the current crisis in order to benefit from investment opportunities down the line.

Personally I'm leaning towards 'd'.

Also, JennyP - If it were Bill Gates or a known charitable organisation it would be weird to approach the government in this way. Besides, I'd be surprised if Microsoft's money was ever backed with gold.


also, this webserver seems to be taking quite a hit (I guess via this post). Also, basically all the tweets with "Foundation X" in them seem to link to this post.


I've explicitly asked about the identity of Foundation X over on Quora:

Seems like a decent place to toss around theories.

This is a fascinating, potentially terrifying story. Well done for drawing attention to it.


one of the biggest German blogs has just linked here as well, btw ( .. that's CCC stuff and conspiracy theories).


The Rothschilds, obviously.


Sounds like the Business to me. I wonder if they have the same plan for Britain as they did for Thulahn?


It reads like the intro to a 419 scam:

"Dearly esteemed member of the House of Lords, I represent an organisation which has obtained a very large sum of money and wishes to invest part of it into your government. Due to the confidential nature of this transaction I am unable to give further details in this email, but please respond with your name, address and bank details in order to expedite this request".


A quick bbc news search of our peculiar Lord provided the first two hits of points raised in the House of Lords about sex with Kangaroos and anthrax on a proposed rail site. Perhaps we give him a little too much credit calling him not-obviously-insane!


The Vatican ha had a lot of banking problems recently. Maybe this is an attempt to launder their accounts. Perhaps the "gold standard" is just cover for the rumored Nazi gold hoards that the Vatican holds?


I'd been wondering what Prester John was going to do about the recent financial crisis. Good to know.


On the one hand, you have a government desperate for liquid currency to stop the entire banking sector collapsing.

The government wasn't desperate for liquid currency - it could, and did, just print the stuff already.

Also, the various people hoping for content here need to read the noble lord's remarks closely. He muddles up his units and also his points of view. Perhaps he was simply drunk? It wouldn't have been the first time by any means.


Is it real? Hard to say.

My take on this mess is that, reportedly, there's many times more virtual money floating around than real money (e.g. money that are numbers in computers, rather than money that is on paper, grams of bullion, or what have you), to the point where if we tried to make that virtual money "real," (as in attached to a real good) the price of everything would double or triple due to inflation.

The problem with all this virtual wealth is that it's very existence depends on a huge global infrastructure of power and data, plus having people who care about the fact that it exists.

Considering how rickety our power grids and data links are, it actually makes good survival sense for the ultra-rich to invest in the infrastructure that holds their wealth. After all, it wouldn't do for a billionaire to lose everything when an earthquake wipes out a data center, but that's where we all are right now.

What this really says is that we're all falling to the level of third world countries, where various sectors of our governments are propped up by the wealthy, just as charities provide health care in the poorest countries.

It also says that, just perhaps, powerful people are starting to realize that all the greed in the world won't keep society together, and that (horrors!) they may have to give back some to keep the rest.

So, whether or not this one is real, I suspect we'll see more of it, and more open, too.


My take on this mess is that, reportedly, there's many times more virtual money floating around than real money (e.g. money that are numbers in computers, rather than money that is on paper, grams of bullion, or what have you), to the point where if we tried to make that virtual money "real," (as in attached to a real good) the price of everything would double or triple due to inflation.

Wouldn't you just print more banknotes? What's "real" about paper money that isn't "real" about bank deposits? What's more "real" about accounts on paper than on a spreadsheet? Why do you imagine banks hold all their data in RAM?


My guess is Russian Oligarchs.

Get ready to party like it's 1917!


Why not just join the obvious dots?

1. The Vatican needs to extricate itself from its own banking problems and cannot use the wealth that it has hoarded due to provenance issues.

2. The UK government is pushing Austrian economic, deficit hawk measures, rather than Keynesian stimulus as it should. A loan on generous terms would be very helpful and a win-win for both parties.

3. Lord Blackheath was approached because he was already known to have laundered IRA money, with BoE approval apparently. A perfect contact. If it should all get exposed, deny it as the ravings of a not completely sane member of the House of Lords. Hence the need for high level the secrecy, especially if it turned out the UK was intentionally laundering Nazi gold. That surely would bring down the government.


And the timing fits with the Pope's visit. Perhaps something was said over dinner somewhere, and the wheels were set in motion.


I find your trust in computers...disturbing. (to paraphrase Darth Vader).

The financial markets are an accounting balance of huge numbers. There is a difference between balances with small debits and credits compared to one with very large values for these. Counter party risk is very real and was the cause of the 2008 meltdown.

Although foolish, there is a reason for the perennial talk about returning to the gold standard. At it's core, you can think of it as collateralizing banknotes against a real asset that can be acquired "on demand".


A different speculation, since too many people are naming the Vatican:
I would be very surprised if some organization named something vaguely like the Church of Scatology did not have several billion in GBP or US$ in liquid assets, given the amounts of money that said organization successfully solicits in an entirely legal fashion from their members annually. (It's not a mere tithe: if you're not a major movie star, the amount is likely to come to whatever income you make, + any assets you acquired, minus a small pittance to live on.)

The value of having the UK as a new home base country which would be more or less forced to view them in entirely friendly and supportive terms, and which entirely coincidentally, I'm sure, has the most ferocious libel laws in the developed world, well... I'm sure that could easily exceed that same amount in long-term financial value to such a religious group, if it actually existed, which is purely hypothetical.

Note: Charlie has expressed in the past a strong and understandable desire not to render himself subject to those same ferocious UK libel laws. If he decides this comment stays within acceptable bounds, please use extreme caution in wording any responses to it; if this comment later gets deleted please don't get in an uproar.


didn't they try to do this with Ireland or Portugal during the 70's?


Did anyone else notice the timing? 10.*42*.

Any Douglas Adams fans in here? ;)

But aside from that, this reads like a politial thriller - except for the part where he speaks in public. Or especially with that part…


It's clearly the OITC.

At their website, they claim to have the world's largest reserves of gold and platinum.

And they say they'll only meet with top-level (Prime Minister, etc) government officials.

Both are in line with James' description of Foundation X.

It's simple. OITC somehow contacted the chairman of the (failed, thus) FSA-controlled financial institution. This chairman is probably as out of touch as James is, wouldn't know a 419 from a 411, and can't tell that OITC is a scam. It has all that official-looking stuff on it.

This chairman gets in touch with James. James also somehow can't tell it's bullshit, and takes it seriously.

His fellows in the House of Lords humor him on the record, not openly mocking him (and by implication the unnamed financial institution chairman) for falling for an obvious fraud.

End of conspiracy theory. Aging person unable to detect web scam. Film at 11.


Yep, my bet is the OITC.


OITC (as commented above and also found in the reddit debate on this blog entry) clearly could fit the bill:


Very good, very convincing. Yep, changed my mind. It's a hoax.


BTW, for those of you making the plausible "gullible old coot" assumption, and who didn't read the link at #57 above:

Lord James of Blackheath apparently made his fortune and thereby his recent peerage as a successful financial troubleshooter, fraud detector, and corporate turnaround expert. As recently as ten years ago he was given credit for turning the "Millennium dome" project from a looming financial disaster into a profitable attraction. He also was involved with MI6 on cloak-and-dagger stuff on at least two occasions.

It's pretty possible that a recent stroke or something similar has damaged his judgment - I've seen a bad case of that first-hand in my own family - but he certainly didn't start out as your classical out-of-touch old guy. That would make him an odd mark for a 419; you don't normally start your fraud by trying to swindle an experienced financial auditor.


>>Did a not-obviously-insane member of the government
>I'm not British, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I have understood that House of Lords is place specially for the obviously- and not-so-obviously-insane members of the government.

The House of Lords is the place which protects us from the more insane measures being introduced by whichever set of authoritarian bastards is running the country at the time - roughly accurate, if slightly cynical.


Another vote for OITC. Interestingly, old reports in the Financial Times quote the same $5bn value as being the amount that OITC claimed they wanted to invest into MG Rover (but only if they could buy it for £10), and the events here seem to match the MO of their recent capers (at least, according to Wikipedia).


Is it relevant that (at least according to Wikipedia), Lord James of Blackheath *also* made a bid for MG Rover? That would suggest that he's already familiar with OITC, and so less likely to be taken in by them.


Clearly it was intended by the noble Lords as an April Fool joke.

But by the Jape Project had cleared all the ethics and policy and standards committees, the Jape was running 18 months late.

That's pretty impressive for a government project, and so the peers deserve our applause for such a punctual parliamentary prank.

G&Ts all round!


Simon, Hopi Sen's blog entry has hit the Grauniad.

There are going to be some very strange conversations around my office coffee machine tomorrow.


One should not rule out Gates.

He now serves the whole gamut of plutocrats as his clientele (he pulled a Murdoch, basically), and his accessible wealth has multiplied far beyond what he stole from Microsoft's customers.

He can put his hands on any amount of cash thereby, and 5 bln pounds is chump change for what this could achieve in terms of leverage for his friends.


Hmm, lets see: Lots of money, has kinds views of UK og possibly with a moral debt to settle ?

How about Kuwait ?

Colin Powell describes in his autobiography how George the first Bush came back from a meeting with Thather saying "This will not stand!" which struck Powell as sounding very Thatheresque.

It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination that Thatcher clinched that deal and that the Kuwaities know it and feel that they owe UK one.

And KIC (Kuwait Investment Company) HAS a LOT of money.

The stuff about gold, could simply be a misunderstanding: "We have enough money to buy all the worlds gold twice over" or some such mumbling, although I have no doubt that KIC has hedged serious piles of precious metals also.



What I find quite interesting is that even assuming that it is a hoax on the government, we still have had the sight of a life peer claiming to have channelled a shed load of terrorist money. Which is deeply weird and more than a bit funny.


Well, given that I'm currently reading Geoffrey Robertson's 'The Case of The Pope' I think I have some ideas about what the Vatican might want in return for some big cash injections for the British state.


Clifton -
As recently as ten years ago he was given credit for turning the "Millennium dome" project from a looming financial disaster into a profitable attraction.

Up to a point, Lord Copper.
The final accounts show the late lamented Millenium Dome to have cost £789 million. Ticket sales and other receipts were 189 million - the rest was picked up by the taxpayer. Oh, all right, the money was 'granted' upfront, but the same principle applies -it was by no means 'profitable'


Mad old duffer. Nobody in the house paid him any mind whatsoever. They let him ramble on then told him to hurry it up once he got to 15 minutes. Surely a revelation of this magnitude, when not being delivered by a lunatic, would have caused some stir, even among the moribund pensioners in the lords.


Gotta be the french.

Vested interest in the UK not collapsing, interested in rail links that can tie up with the channel tunnel line, hiding identities, still got cash because they didn't get defrauded by the financiers, Cameroon giving MoD over to them for no sensible purpose.

It all makes sense.

Well more sense than a story that is talking about billions when hundreds of billions is required to fix the hole that the financiers, like the dishonourable lord, created.


Pray that it's not a Cheradenine Zakalwe character. None of his adventures seemed to end well for the bystanders...


Thanks for pointing this one out!

The take in my office is that the Vatican wants to buy up Britain so that it can negate the competition that comes from the Church of England. But maybe we've been reading too much Dan Brown.


The obvious punchline is that the Chairman of Foundation X is a deposed Nigerian Prince. But still... Are you sure this isn't instead the plot to the next James Bond Movie?


Hm. MGM does the James Bond movies, and they just entered chapter 11 bankruptcy... Coincidence? OR STUNNING CONCLUSION OF FACT? You be the judge!



Ahem. Now that I've got that off my chest, here's my tuppence worth:

Alex @78 is probably right. He was probably drunk. He certainly didn't look sober to me in the video someone linked above.

One thing that seems to have been missed, is that the Lord is told he's in his 15th minute, and yet according to TWFY, his whole speech lasted only 12 minutes. Methinks they were trying to get him to shut up as he wasn't making any sense.

Also, he says "Foundation X was introduced to me 20 weeks ago last week by an eminent City firm, which is FSA controlled", but the FSA is a regulator, not a controller, which makes me more think of UKFI. We are then told that said firm need his "help to assist us in understanding whether this business is legitimate". But if anyone would know about differentiating this kind of thing, it would be an "eminent City firm", what with the mountains of Special Purpose Vehicles and all.

Anyway, if only Anthony Sampson were still alive - I'm sure Foundation X would've made an interesting revision to his work.


I'm assuming that in this speech, "billion" was intended to take on the older British meaning of 10 to the 12th power (what we would call a "trillion" in the U.S.). So, 5 billion pounds would be truly a huge stimulus - the equivalent of 2-3 years' worth of the UK's entire GDP. In contrast, 5 billion pounds in the U.S. sense (5 times 10 to the 9th power) would be pretty insignificant - about the cost of a nice aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine.

At one point, the transcript says "million," but I assume at that point he was simply mis-speaking.


Also note that throughout the conspiracy part of his speech, he doesn't look down at his papers, which had been in his hands, but then are left lying on the bench to his left. Did he memorize all that, or was it ad-lib?


And finally, don't forget we've had a drunk MP before:


Of course, if you want a really insane -- or perhaps that should read "insanely great" -- conspiracy theory, I can think of an organization that (a) has over $50 billion to throw around, and (b) just announced that its next major product is going to be named after Britain's totem animal.


Uhhhhh, I noticed this transcript is not in the Hansard for November 1, Nor is it in the video, It almost seems MADE UP


Foundation X seems to be based in Salt Lake City, Utah :P


'Not obviously insane'?

I'm sorry, but how much more obvious could it be? The poor fellow is delusional.


Sources close to those who know say it is Chinese govt desperate to get sovereign wealth out of dollars as they are about to do another round of quantitive easing, effectively devaluing all the US dollar bonds that China holds.


If somebody does buy the British government, I advise them to keep the receipt. They'll probably want to take it back once they've had a good look at it.


Ha! Yes indeed firm X if from Nigeria...!


Melinda Gates visited Downing Street just a few weeks ago as part of their Foundation work, I'm sure the Prime Minister would take their phone call.

As for OITC, well, it looks legit to me:


The British government is sovereign over it's own currency and can create as much as it likes simply by writing cheques or directly crediting bank accounts. No need to "print" any bills. No debt need be created by this process, and thus no increase in the "deficit" or the "national debt" (which should correctly be called the "national credit").

Of course the constraint is eventual inflation if you do too much. But a gift of money from some shadowy organization would cause exactly as much inflation as the same pound value created out of "nothing". There was, for example, inflation in Spain after the Conquistadors started bringing a whole lot of Gold back from the Americas.

I recommend a browse through the archived articles at

This describes how a fiat monetary system (such as that of Great Brittain, the USA, Australia, Canada, China and many more) actually works, as opposed to the fantasies promulgated by the so- called "neo-liberal" economists.


New season of Brass Eye, perhaps?


I don't imagine the Vatican settling for nothing less than the USA.


Having just read Look To Winward, this made my night. Thank you.


It sounds like famous "Nigerian Scam" (google it, but on a bigger scale; It was traced to Israel, anyway.


Sounds like a commodities trader trying to short gold.


1.5m Neil Gaiman followers incoming ...


This story is absurd enough, but do government officials frequently use the phrase "this is megabucks"?


Again, assuming this is true - which by warm cheesy nachos on a cool autumn day, I hope it is - "No strings" says to me that Foundation X expects to increase their power/legitimacy by whatever the effects of the stimulus will be.

That is, what will England do with their newfound financial health? Who profits from that? Who profits enough so that a 5-22 billion pound "investment" would be worth it? Who profits that much, yet must do it in this secretive way? I expect it's as short a list as the fellows who Foundation X is willing to meet with.

Does sort of recall good ol' Aleister Crowley and the OTO.

It's times like this when real life really does surpass fiction - even Neil Gaiman's fiction. ;)


This story is absurd enough, but do government officials frequently use the phrase "this is megabucks"?

I've heard it used fairly often by financial types, which is what his background is.

Having read up on the background and modus operandi of the OITC, I'm fairly sure it's these guys that have suckered Lord James.

(I'd also suggest that high financiers are actually probably more gullible to this kind of thing, particularly after strokes - even in my limited experience, there's a lot of strange, very secretive, rich entities out there.)


Michael, the old British use of "billion" is obsolete -- hasn't been used for decades.


Issue revisited at 3.25


Not sure why Foundation X is buying the UK to be honest. I'd prefer somewhere a bit sunnier. Isn't there a comparison site for this sort of thing?

...unless,of course, they want to use their giant robots to move the UK and become a new Caribbean tax haven? In which case, I for one welcome our new alien overlords with open arms and my regulation Legion Of Terror bikini.


@ 45
... As long as the agent involved IS NOT Cheradenine Zakalwe

And, peoples ... the House of Lords' debating standard IS wierd, but his guy, Lord James, seems perfectly rational, given his past history of financial scam-uncovering, and auditing of very dubious sources.
Hightly interesting, in the traditional Chinese sense.

Or perhaps it is the GSV Gravitas Unbound ???


Firstly, the Pope is here on earth on a far greater mission, that is not focused on the matters of this man created "material" world, because given a sufficient energy this planet can cease to exist and all your problems will be over, but what happens after that or what is this reality all about, really?

Anyone that puts his/hers life's energy solely into the matters of this man made money world is throwing away his/hers energy into something very temporary and illusional and good for nothing in the end.

Whatever Foundation X wants to buy the ultimate question is, for how long? How long the bussiness will go for, eternity? Anything less than eternity is not worth the investment, because if the investment had not an impact on eternity, then it had no impact at all. Once again, all good for nothing.


I have no "faith" in computers more than I have in wheels.

I merely point out that the scenario in heteromeles' post is silly. Banking is still a paper intensive activity. Banks do not store all their data in RAM. Banks do, however, spend serious money on remote disaster-recovery data centres.


And this post has just appeared in the sidebar of Ben Goldacre's Bad Science.


Also, for context, UK general government expenditure annually is of the order of £600bn.


the Pope is here on earth on a far greater mission, that is not focused on the matters of this man created "material" world, because given a sufficient energy this planet can cease to exist and all your problems will be over,

...Wow. Sounds like a line from a 1950s SF film.

"The Day the Pope Stood Still."

"Klaatu baradu nikto."
"Et cum spiritu tuo."


I was taught the milliard and imperial billion in 1965, but have never seen either used in real life, ever. The same teacher refused to believe the American spelling of "mum".

But I digress.

James did not fall for the (presumed)fraud: he has spent months trying to check it out.

If there's even a .1% chance that it could be genuine, this was surely the right thing to do: the cash would after all come in quite handy. (The parallel with New World gold is flawed.)


Apple!!! We will become iUK


@ 140
"Gort klaatu barada nikto"


If The Vatican is implicated, they may well need their reserves as it does have rather a lot of cash to fork out for the altar boy problem which has proved vastly expensive. If there is lots left to help out the UK in its difficulty, then we are talking megabucks indeed.

I have a far better solution. Lets not get involved that way. Lets stop giving Brussels £48 m per day and use this money to put our police, NHS, fire engines, ambulances, street cleaning, defence, crime prevention etc. etc. back on track. I see Mr. Cameron has agreed to shove this up by 2.9 %, in spite of his trumpeting to the contrary. Ouch.

Wouldn't this country just be great with efficient services once again.


I reckon that it's Ocean Finance offering to compound the UK's debts into one easy monthly payment


Stuart, money raised by the EU in any given EU nation is generally spent in that nation. Or hadn't you noticed that EU funding props up a lot of bits of our infrastructure?

The total EU bureaucracy is smaller than the Scottish Office.

You need to stop taking everything you read in the Daily Mail on trust ...


Hmmm, is Foundation X based in Nigeria by any chance.
Sounds like an advance fee 419 scam at first sight.


Sounds like they would have to be connected to the Rothschild dynasty in some way.

For one thing, the "top six people in the world". How many groups in the world even know about the top six?


It's the Knight Foundation.


Perhaps it's Mr. Vadderung of Monoc Corp, who after all has a (very) distant familial connection to the House of Windsor, choosing where to invest the last millenium or so of golden rings dropped by Draupnir (eight of them every ninth night). Even if each ring is quite small, and they may not be given that according to some sources Draupnir is an armband, that's a whole lot of gold he's accumulated.


The Rex Foundation?


Hmm, he's denying it's the UNOITC.

"James told ZDNet UK that he had not been approached by the UNOITC, and that there were no links between Foundation X and UNOITC."

More details on the IRA laundering in that link too.


There's a ZDNET article, an interview with Lord James, he says it isn't the OITC.

"I'm convinced it's bona fide," said James. "I've been working on this case for five months, and I've not found a single reason [to think otherwise]."
He says, "The problem is, the government has not carried through the checks that I want them to do and open up lines of enquiry".



Indeed, and I'd have gotten there first too if it hadn't been for them pesky kids (literally, I'm making their dinner). :)


It's not very likely that the Vatican is Foundation X.

Why would he go and call it Foundation X at all if he was going to turn around and spill the beans just five minutes later?

I think the purpose of introducing the Vatican was only to illustrate that the estimate of the amount of bullion taken from the earth's crust was seriously below the actual numbers.


#28 "Perhaps there's an Anglophile GSV in orbit."

Iain M. Banks! Win.


"James did not fall for the (presumed)fraud: he has spent months trying to check it out."

He fell for it. It's transparent nonsense. He's spent months trying to find someone else who'll fall for it too.


"If there's even a .1% chance that it could be genuine, this was surely the right thing to do: the cash would after all come in quite handy. "

It's only £5 billion + maybe £17 billion.

Handy, but as Alex noted above, annual UK government spending is about £600 billion. And for 2009/2010, the UK government borrowed £159.8 billion.

So James is talking about getting involved with an absurd scheme for which the return would be about 10% of one year's borrowing. Not enough to make a dent, really.

Assuming, of course, that any money would actually be forthcoming. Which wouldn't happen, because it's a big scam.

I don't know whether James is senile, crazy, or in on the scheme. But it has every indication of being the UNOITC people, who James ought to be familiar with from their farcical £1 "deposit" to buy MG Rover.


""The problem is, the government has not carried through the checks that I want them to do and open up lines of enquiry"."

Sounds quite like the people who complain "the US government has not carried through the checks (on Obama's birth certificate) that I want them to do and open up lines of enquiry"


If this offer is real and not a spoof, my guess is that the entity making the offer is Google. Or some other mega-corporation.


It's not the Vatican, Foundation X appears to "The Office of International Treasury Control".

It's a sophisticated scam for sure, but the Elite have no say in it.

Better luck next time.


"million" is a transcript error. He actually says billion.


Nope: Lord James of Blackheath is denying it's the OITC (who he knows of yore).

The IRA connection is explained in that article, too, in a way that makes much more sense.


If Foundation X is not UNOITC (according to the Tom Espiner article at ZDNET UK), it may just mean that the UNOITC has an imitator.

Are we witnessing the birth of a new 'industry'?


Hm. Sky have picked the story up now.

'A shadowy organisation has apparently offered to lend the UK £75bn to clear the national debt and "help save the world", a peer has told Sky News.'

I have no idea where the £75bn figure has come from, it only mentions the £5bn and £17bn we already knew about in the article. There's nothing new in this article, though it does appear he was interviewed by Sky.

I'm always impressed by their ridiculously and totally unnecessarily long urls.


Actually there is one more piece of information in the Sky piece, a clue perhaps. Lord James 'described them as having a "massive supranational accumulation of funds" which they have built up over 100 years.'


ObSF: "The Business" by Iain Banks. (Actually, it's not one of his SF novels, but it reads like one -- and this affair sounds very like the sort of thing that business would get up to.)


Oh, in that case it must be the Howard Families.


the Office of International Treasury Control (O.I.T.C) = Foundation X, I'm guessing. Do a search on it; they've offered up big gold bullion bucks to other countries before.


"Nope: Lord James of Blackheath is denying it's the OITC (who he knows of yore)."

I don't buy it. As he describes the organization, it's a dead ringer for UNOITC.

I think he's bluffing to save face and doesn't want to admit he's been snookered.

Either that, or some other outfit has been cribbing from UNOITC's website.

Or perhaps he never really looked hard at the full extent of UNOITC's claims, and they've approached him under a different name.


A reminder we need an elected upper house, not some place full of rambling old loonies. I think he's just lost it, but this will give endless fodder to conspiracy theorists!!

Only the BIS in my mind could be a 100 year old supranational organisation, and even that isn't old enough. And if it's 100 years old, why didn't it offer to help in 1947 when we had to borrow from the Americans?

A crazy, or scammed, old man.

As said, we need democracy in the upper house, not peerages.


I'm betting that it is Doc Savage and his Mayan gold. We have waited so long for his return.


The way I'm reading their story (based on the little we have through Lord James) is that they've made enormous amounts of wealth over the last century and a collapse of the system would make it worthless so they're moving to prevent that from happening.
Assuming there is a tremendously wealthy 'Foundation X' (Lord James' name for them btw, seemingly not what they call themselves) I'd hazard a guess at their wealth originating from war gold.
It all sounds very far-fetched but I'm fascinated as to where all of this is going.


Always despise the free lunch.


Why has no one mentioned China yet?

75billion for the easing up of import \ export tariffs which in the long term will see them make many tens or hundreds that amount back.


So, could it be a straitforward scam?

Could it be a publicity scam, someone trolled him? (perhaps not)

Could it be some dodgy finance instrument ("we'll go and get the gold at some point, we'll work out how then")?

It could I suppose be real, the banking sector pays enourmous saleries.


As the UK total government debt is about a trillion pounds (one thousand billion pounds) the offer of 75 billion is nice but doesn't make any real difference. It's about a year or two's interest.

Also the offer doesn't need to be accepted; the nice guy can simply pay the money to the Bank of England and ask them to apply it to the national debt. The Chief Cashier will be very happy to oblige. And go out and buy the necessary gilts in the open market.

As this isn't the case maybe there are some "conditions" applied to the offer.

If anyone knew what the conditions were then one could work out what errr the real agenda is. Don't want to be sued so I chose my words carefully.


If Foundation X exists at all — and is not just a fancy Nigerian email-style fraud dressed up in a financial Illuminati Hallowe’en costume — I'd be prepared to discount any of the corporate suspects out of hand.

Even without the 'wealth amassed over a hundred years' comment (which rather knocks any of the Silicon Valley set out of the running), all the cloak-and-dagger, Man From Uncle-style monkeying around just does not strike me as the sort of approach that a corporate body would make.

Still, if a meeting _is_ set up, I'm really hoping that Hagbard Celine shows up for it in his gold submarine.


Comment from reddit:

KnightsOfMalta 30 points 23 hours ago[-]
I'm not too sure how many people will buy this one, but it happened.
I work in the gold industry, and have some connections to some heavy-hitters, though I'm just a conduit for deals, not a deal-maker myself. Let's just say I work more on the technical side of gold movements. Out of the blue, I get an email from a lawyer in Switzerland who says he had been referred to me by a "mutual acquaintance" who he would not name. 419 scam alert was in full effect, and I hit the spam button, I get those all the time. Next.
The next day, I answer a call from an unknown number. The Swiss lawyer is on the phone. I guess he wasn't 419, but I'm thinking he's just the Swiss version of it. He wants me to connect his client (who he would not name) to some of the major gold sellers that I work with. I'm resistant to this, and am tempted to hang up immediately, but he's somehow believable. However, I let him know that there's no way in hell I'd jeopardize any of my longstanding relationships to some anonymous person. I politely end the conversation, but prior to hanging up, he lets me know he will validate himself.
10 minutes later I get a call from one of my clients, who I've known for 15 years, who is ultra-wealthy, and who I view as somewhat of a mythical figure. He's one of the "old boys", and makes hundreds of millions by merely placing a few phone calls every month to facilitate deals. Though he's my client, I rarely talk to him, I usually deal with "his people" through a few layers.
Without a "hello" or any sort of preface, he said, "Believe what you want, and draw your own conclusions, but I'll tell you this: the people trying to do business with you are for real. I've never met any of them directly, no one has. They control a massive amount of wealth in the world. You're a convenient person to them due to your connections in gold. That being said, they probably have 100 more people they could use. No harm if you walk away, but I'm letting you know that they are real."
I manage to get out of him the group I'm dealing with. A organization called the "Sovereign Military Order of Malta", some strange pseudo-church state thing straight out of the Da Vinci Code:
"... a Roman Catholic order based in Rome, Italy. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is widely considered a sovereign subject of international law. It takes its origins from the Knights Hospitaller, a group founded in Jerusalem about 1050 as an Amalfitan hospital to provide care for poor and sick pilgrims to the Holy Land."
I get a followup call from the Swiss lawyer an hour later, and I let him know I'm willing to proceed, though cautiously. He sends me a few docs, I fill them out, and send them back. He lets me know they wish to do some very large gold purchases directly with gold mining companies. I asked him why not just go to the LBMA, though I knew the answer, and I guess he knew that I knew the answer. He replied, "I realize this is just a question to probe our knowledge. If you're in this business, you of course know that for all intents and purposes, the LBMA has no gold".
He goes on to state that the gold is to be used to fund various global projects, and they would like to acquire 20 metric tons of gold per month over the next year.
It ends there, however. After that day, I never heard back from him, and that was 2 years ago. Since that time, the price of gold has gone from 800 to 1350 per ounce.


" all the cloak-and-dagger, Man From Uncle-style monkeying around just does not strike me as the sort of approach that a corporate body would make."

Right. Nor would there be any need for months of "enquiries" and checking to see if they're legit.

If Bill Gates or Google wanted to spend many £billion on the health of UK society as a no-strings donation, the UK government would just tell them where to wire the money and ask when they want to do the press conference.

It'd be like Zuckerberg's promised donation for the Newark schools, only larger.


"Still, if a meeting _is_ set up, I'm really hoping that Hagbard Celine shows up for it in his gold submarine."

And pays in flaxscript?



Drug money laundered by banks kept financial system going during peak of the 2008 financial crisis.

"Drug money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis [said] the United Nations’ drugs and crime tsar.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result."


Remind me, for I seem to have forgotten, how large is the army of the Bankers? How many ships in their navy, jets in their air force? Do they have nuclear weapons?

You're not thinking clearly, and neither was Sir Stamp.


Oh look, a stupid anti-semite.


google global security fund, started by rothchild.

have a look also at
check out the late christopher story on you tube.

it takes this to a whole new ball game.


By the way, did anyone notice the "Court Circular" on 3rd November 2010 included.

"The Duke of York, Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, this afternoon received Mr. Joseph Hooley (President and Chief Executive Officer, State Street), Mr. Joseph Antoellis (Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman, State Street) and Mr. Michael Wilson (Executive Vice President, State Street).
His Royal Highness, Special Representative for International
Trade and Investment, received the Rt. Hon. Nicholas Clegg MP (Deputy Prime Minister).
The Duke of York, Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, later attended the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Reception at Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1"

I'd never heard of State Street before, but it appears (if is to be believed) to be worth a trillion or so. And, on the same day, this same representative of the Head of State meets a
Microsoft Government Leaders Forum

I don't know what to read into all this but there is more than enough to get the mind spinning. If nothing else, the order of seeing the people from State Street, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Microsoft, just seems scary.

I didn't vote for any of them!.


"Christopher Story" was a loon, and "" is about as reliable as Lyndon LaRouche.


"I'd never heard of State Street before, but it appears (if is to be believed) to be worth a trillion or so."

That trillion belongs to State Street's customers. State Street invests it for them.

What James is describing is not an investment. State Street is pretty boring as financial institutions go. It's from Boston, Massachusetts for pete's sake.


Elections for the upper house? After this week's midterm elections over here, I can't say I'm all that sure you'd be better off.


TBH I’ve long-suspected that Londis are sitting on a vast cash mountain. They certainly aren’t investing it in my local store, so maybe they’ve been saving it for the acquisition of a sovereign state and a global rebalancing of power.

Presumably Dr Londis is sitting and plotting from within his rock-and-steel South Pacific secret lair located inside a huge, hollowed-out corner shop.


Personally I think this has to be a hoax being played on the noble Lord. I just don't see why a legit player would go through some random backbench peer.

If it's a quasi-statal like the Vatican or the SMOM, then they have their own diplomatic services which they'd use to make contact and establish their bona fides. And in those two cases, why would they want to help bail out a nominally Protestant country rather than a Catholic one? Ireland could certainly do with a few billion right now.

If it's a private entity, I'm sure there are official channels they could go through, or has the Coalition just cut our inward investments office?


OffTopic - Suomynona: do you know how confusing it is to see my World of Warcraft Druid character posting here? (I have a whole bunch of characters whose names start 'Suo', but Suomynona was the first.)


It's made Sky News -- their website is sending me inbound traffic -- and The Guardian's politics bloggers. So I'd say it's broken, but below the fold.


NB: Can I refer our new commenters to the moderation policy (above)?

I'm talking to you, H. L. Shancken, and especially to you, Saturn.aka.Jahweh. (Hint: this blog is part of the international jewish-liberal conspiracy. It may even be communist. So there.)


Very "Manchurian Corporation" (from "The Manchurian Candidate" novel and films).


Charlie, I haven't followed the links, but I think @197 and @198 are spam, re-posting a previous comment with a spam link as the re-poster's website. There appears to be an instance in the "Ouch!" comments (@55) too.


Ta. Nuked.

(My regular mods are out west and so not on the ball yet, and I'm about to head off to Brum for the weekend. Add a shitstorm of inbound links and the spammers were inevitably going to turn up sooner rather than later ...)


At least under Windoze, Right-click -> Properties will allow you to read the actual address underlying a hotlink, without visiting the site.


Uh yeah, I know. Given that two comments said exactly the same thing, and that was the same as a comment Charlie had made earlier, and they were under different names linking to different websites (but both in .it) I felt that I really didn't have to go visit them, and infect my work computer with all sorts of niceness, in order to call them as spam.


Don't want to be sued so I chose my words carefully.

Actually, if they sue someone they'd have to reveal who they actually are hmm... will this likely make it to HIGNFY tonight?


Looks like the story is starting to break in the MSM. The Mirror and the Daily Hate now have stories on their online sites, dunno about dead tree.


Only two explanations:
This Lord is crazy.
Foundation X is crazy.


Charlie had deleted them before my last visit. It warrants repeating though, particularly since it lets you see what the URL actually is without visiting the linked site, and something that points to, say, Blogspot or Wordpretzel is likely a new blogger making their first comment here, although a URL of "" is probably genuine spam.


It is possible to imagine a reasonable explanation for the behaviour of Foundation X without getting into conspiracy theories. There are two parts necessary to explain: the giving of money, and the secrecy.

The first is easy to make a good business case for. If the group has holdings so vast that they dwarf the proposed donations, then the increase in income that would come from a stronger global economy could render the transaction profitable. The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund is well over $500 billion - if they donate $5 billion, they only need to get a 1% increase in income to break even.

As to why the secrecy, I can think of a couple of reasons. Organised criminals have huge investments, if the figures given for the income from organised crime - Mafia alone, billions per year - are at all accurate. They can still make a profit in the same way as any other very rich group as outlined above, although obviously they wouldn't want to attract attention.

More plausible, though, is that there's another sovereign nation involved. Abu Dhabi is one possibility; China is another, if they want their loans paid back. It would simply be too embarrassing all round to make it public.


"All in all there are in excess of 30,000 Trusts / Foundations, scattered throughout the world, which make up “FOUNDATION DIVINE”, which is generally / commonly referred to as the Global Debt Facility."


Abundant Hope *is* the OITC. Same people. Same style.


Yes, but do you think that "Foundation Divine" within the OITC is "Foundation X"? And do you think that they are the ones who approached Lord Blackheath?


"1 Nov 2010 : Column 1538" which is where things begin to tip-toe into Robert Ludlum territory.

Or, this is more like stomping into John LeCarre territory. See: Our Kind of Traitor.


Charlie @ 198:

It may even be communist. So there.
And even if it isn't, some of us who comment here are, or as near as makes no difference in the Western World.

By process of elimination* I conclude that the organization in question is a coalition of descendants of Nazi survivors in Argentina who managed to get out of Dodge at the last minute in 1945 with a lot of gold. They've given up on ever levering the Argentine economy out of the gutter, and figure on buying into a country with a little more potential.

* Can't be the Russians, they don't have any gold left, and probably wouldn't cross the street to piss on Britain if it was on fire in any case; probably isn't the Vatican, because they need to save their money for legal fees and damage settlements; and so on.


So, what does Lord Strathclyde have to say about all this? Has he been interviewed? I haven't found anything.


This is the Illuminati at play, probably bribing the Lord.. bcus that is what they do until they get what they want, and if they dont they will act via other ways, such as assasination, take for e.g Kennedy........Scary stuff this is


Not sure about Kennedy, however I do believe the Illuminati was behind the French Revolution. I hope we're not heading towards a New World Order


Mad as a hatter.

What is actually hilarious is the ability of the HoL (and by extension the media) to simply pretend that nothing happened here at all - clearly an appointed (not even hereditary) member of the British Parliament could not have delivered such a deranged monologue - so he just didn't....

It so happens that this morning I was reading Michael Glover's book on the Peninsula War: this includes an amusing footnote on the appointment of Maj-Gen Sir William Erskine Bt, to command a division.

Wellington remonstrated that Erskine was 'generally understood to be a madman' and some mandarin at the War Office airily replied that 'No doubt he is sometimes a little mad, but in his lucid intervals he is an uncommonly clever fellow; and I trust he will have no fit during the campaign, though he looked a little wild as he embarked'.

As you'd expect the appointment did not turn out well and after engaging in behaviour that even his colleagues could not ignore Erskine was relieved of duty and committed suicide.

Amusing to see that two hundred years on the British establishment still exhibits the same sang froid when faced with complete lunacy amongst its members.


Oh and a small correction: he's not actually a member of the government as such (i.e. he doesn't hold any ministerial office) but he is a member of the governing parliamentary party and was appointed as recently as 2006 as a working peer.


The hat tip was redacted!




Unfortunately, we do.

Dee, Colorado


Some simple theories that don't fit Occam's Razor, but are more fun than a prosaic scam:

(1) Cargo cults are right: It's an AI with advanced nanotechnology. Its harvested the ocean for gold atoms dissolved in sea-water. It will then bring gold, and joy, and cargo to the world.

(2) Reality is a simulation: The simulation is breaking down and all sorts of un-probable things will happen. Next up, the Tea Party will engage in adult, rational, and constructive policy making to help cut the US federal deficit.

(3) Goldfinger!


May be the Galactic Federation has sent its representatives, and Saint Germain is waiting for a sensible man to draw some conclusions and start thinking outside the box.
It's all running to a close. You didn't think things would go 'back to normal', did'ya?


I see the Independent gives this story a full page today. Where Charlie leads, mere journalists eventually follow.


Ahem: I picked up the story from elsewhere; it's just that the blogger in question works in government and doesn't need the kind of scrutiny they'd be subjected to if I publicly credited them. (I asked.) So don't credit me with the journalistic chops necessary to spot something weird in Hansard off my own bat ...


Doesn't matter the Federal Reserve controls the banks.

Watch this if you want to find out how money is created out of thin air.


You're assuming that the known quantity of bullion does not include the value that they are 'offering' with no strings attached. Is it conceivable that foundation x has waited until gold is at its all time highest? It would then float its assets. It should also be noted that all money transactions are handled through London, regardless of currency. In the current financial climate, where the dollar is not worth the money its printed on and the Euro virtually has ceased to exist is it not plausible that a conglomerate of Middle Eastern Princes and oil magnates would use the only 'stable' financial system in the world to invest in to provide a return on an investment? It would also pay them to strengthen their own position at the expense of the US.


I bet my dying dollar it's the Aliens..

we come in pissed on earth's riches that we raped from day one, all that gold baby and we're willing to share the wealth with u fucking human scum coz our dna only differs from 1% so we felt we should help u fucking apes out, besides reality isn't real, money = matter / matter = thought / thought = wavelengths / wavelengths = energy / energy = pointzero

and we have a pointzero generating machine!


Middle-East oil money.


It's a gift from the culture.


This is old news. "Foundation X" has been attempting to take over for the past 400 years. As to the identity of "Foundation X"...? Guy Fawks was a member and was told to blow up parliament by these people as a threat. Nowadays, these people are mainly know for raping young children.


Upon reading the noble Lords speech an organisation called "The ACIO" sprang to mind.


What is truly interesting about this story is the comments people make... The very few comments.

1) There's a definite media blackout on this story - a fool can observe that. This is not dissimilar, for example, to the last US presidential elections when (R) candidate Ron Paul was utterly excluded from the media coverage in Britain, for the simple reason that ideas like his are a challenge to the established order.

2) The British have become extraordinarily bitter and cynical in the last 10 years or so, thanks to the media pushing it all in that direction. Popular (i.e. mediocre) programs like the "Weakest Link" etc. make it cool to be negative, to put others down, as if that requires even just a shadow of intelligence. Pathetic...

Look at comments like 231. Made anonymously, accusing of the worst crime possible... who are you people... just shadows without a backbone. Or are you paid to do this? :)

What is truly interesting about this story is the comments people make...


Charles, dude, I consider you a Sci-Fi writing genius with a range of vision and imagination that mere mortal I can only aspire to. So I am somewhat surprised that you are not appearing to see the various different layers to this story. Obviously Lord Blackheath was using irony when talking about his career in money laundering; he was not in the business of doing it but of detecting and sabotaging it. In doing so he has cost the IRA a substantial amount of money.

Now given such a profession how might he approach Foundation X? Might he perchance recognise them for the scammers they are and be laying a trap for them? And what better way to do that than by publicly declaring that he buys their story? There is more to this than meets the eye.

235: ZDnet report treasury not interested in deal with foundation x, not even meeting with them. They claim Lord James did not meet with Lord Sassoon or others.
My feeling is that he's sane, not lying and the government are throwing him to the wolves. I'm disappointed we may never know the truth about foundation x.


I'm pretty sure we've been this bitter and cynical for more than 10 years, due to the continual let downs by politicians and such.

And the weakest link is just a program, ok? Don't try and read too much into it, given there's other quiz programs which use teams and are nice to each other still doing perfectly well.


Sounds like Chris Morris called him.


That does make more sense than any other explanation I've heard so far. If the government was doing a secret and ultimately bad deal the best way to break it is just put the spotlight on it. If that's the case Lord James would have known they'd throw him to the wolves for it. A lot of people would probably stand to gain in such a situation by selling out the country.


Really? I mean, REALLY? Foundation X... Way to sell something as honest and reliable. The entire thing sounds like a convoluted advertisement for the next James Bond film.


Tell them to send the money to me , I know what to do with it.
If a new Monty Python Show is in the making , he should definitely be invited to write the script.


no-one's mentioned cecil rhodes...would explain the gold thing, and the UK thing...

pure speculation is rife when someone throws around things like "foundation x".

having read the transcript, watched the video, and checked out this james of blackheath, i can only say i find it hard to believe this guy wouldnt have the resources and the know how to find out whether this was bogus or not. i mean, the man has been involved in levels of fraud we know little about.

take the world of football club ownership, there are frequent "speculative buyers", and the ones that simply do not have the money are sniffed out, probably by people like lord james...

none the less, this whole episode is remarkable. first you have this whole foundation x thing, then you have a member of the house of lords saying the bank of england laundered money for or from the ira. astounding.

i would really like to know more.

im writing a letter to lord james.


While an interesting anecdote, I doubt this latest occurrence in the UK has anything to do with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). For one, they are MUCH older than a century. As for their potential involvement in your anecdote, it is entirely believable, but for much more mundane reasons. SMOM is a charitable organization providing relief the world over. When a disaster strikes, they scramble to acquire planes, trucks, supplies, etc to rush to the area affected. Such emergency purchases would be greatly facilitated by having a highly liquid financial base. So IF SMOM were looking to purchase a good deal of gold through you, that is the reason I would likely attribute to it, rather than some diabolical scheme to control the world's economy.


my personal belief is that the rich and powerful of this world and you know who you are have over a period of years taken back monies they invested in us all for economic stability leaving our economies in tatters so that they can prepare and save themselves from the near future disasters that are pending . these rich powerful people know more about what is and is going to happen leaving the rest of us to suffer pending disasters. they have probably finished preparing themselves and the vast amount of money left over is being given back as a keep the rest of us happy senario . dont talk to me in political jargen ime from earth not government. oh by the way my story holds ground when you consider ten years ago we had community spirit and wellbeing to all now its a free for all and fuck you jack


Hi Charlie,

I am wondering if someone is leaking part of the plot of
your next novel, Rule 34.


245 is this what you mean


Judging by the number of hits, I'd say the goldbugs are on to you. And well they should be, with over 600% profits in the last 10 years.

May I suggest nonfiction for your next foray? With 700 Trillion in derivatives about to evaporate from the financial system, I recommend you panic.
(hat tip to Hugh Hendry)


as of the 6th of november there has been a media blackout of this, not a peep, its as if it fell off a cliff.

the government decided to "not pursue the matter any further", not that they did anything except for flat stonewall the whole thing.

its remarkable.


I am sorry that the Lord felt it necessary to air our private business in such a fashion. We will be withdrawing our interest in providing the discussed monies.


I spy spammers!!! #252 and #253, dated 15/11/2010


Fixed. (They were posted while I was driving up the M1 -- not a time at which I'm busy monitoring my blog!)


Actually, as this discussion has petered out except for the spammers, I'm closing the topic now. Thanks for all the fish, and goodbye!



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