Monday, December 19, 2005

Something To Consider

Normally, I hate creating an entry about someone else's work, but this story from the New York Post really got me thinking about this whole "outsourcing" trend among American businesses. It's a little convoluted, but it does make a dramatic point.



IT'S bad enough when an American worker discovers that his job has been outsourced to some low-wage country in the Third World.
But when the outsourcing involves back-office data-processing jobs at banks and other financial institutions, a different and more menacing problem arises: What if lax security at these facilities opens the door to unstoppable identity theft and financial fraud from beyond our own borders?

An example of how that sort of thing can start occurred recently in the city of Gurgaon, India, where the subsidiary of a New Jersey data-processing company called Vanguard Info-Solutions was caught with confidential computer records stolen by two U.K. executives from the offices of a Vanguard rival.

In the U.S., Vanguard Info-Solutions could soon be drawn into even bigger problems. That's because of its close ties to a bankrupt outsourcing company called Allserve Systems Corp. and the man who has been pulling Allserve's strings from the start: an Indian businessman named Dinesh Dalmia.

Dalmia, 44, is wanted for questioning in India concerning his apparent involvement in a stock-rigging scheme that shook the Calcutta Stock Exchange at the turn of the decade. The Interpol Web site lists criminal conspiracy, forgery and fraud among the offenses about which the authorities want to question him.

The seeming ease with which Dalmia has managed to slide into the role of an outsourcing kingpin, behind corporate shells and front men in the U.S., should be a cautionary tale for everyone.

Leaving India one step ahead of the law, Dalmia set himself up in late 2003 in a palatial Fort Lee, N.J., estate overlooking the Hudson River. And from that perch he began knitting together a network of companies to cash in on the outsourcing boom that was erupting in India.

Vanguard Info-Solutions is part of that network. And so too is Allserve Systems Corp., as well as various other companies in the U.S. and Europe.

In the last year, Allserve raised more than $83 million in loans and credits from top U.S. companies like IBM, CIT Financial and Merrill Lynch. But the lenders never knew of Dalmia's presence in a thicket of offshore trusts that stretched from the Channel Islands off the U.K. coast to Tortola.

They didn't know, for example, of Dalmia's apparent ties to a company supplying leased computer equipment to Allserve.

Documents on file with New Jersey's Department of Revenue Services list the company, IGTL Solutions (USA) Inc., as sharing the same North Brunswick, N.J., office occupied by Allserve, and the documents also identify IGTL's president as Dalmia.

In late November, much of Dalmia's network suddenly collapsed in a heap, sending New Jersey-based Allserve into Newark federal court to file for bankruptcy.

In London, where Allserve's parent company collapsed as well, investigators from Britain's Serious Frauds Office got involved

That happened after court-appointed administrators began sifting through the contents of an official's desk and stumbled upon a stack of pre-printed letterhead stationery purporting to be from an IGTL office in Princeton.

But IGTL has no known office in Princeton. The stationery's address instead tied to a facility where business travelers can rent a room, a desk and a phone for brief periods while on the road.

One Allserve creditor in the U.S. says his company got suckered by the letterhead, and other lenders may have been, too.

Last week, federal prosecutors in Newark began issuing subpoenas to Allserve's creditors. Their goal: To get to the bottom of what happened here.

To date, about the only collateral that Allserve's creditors have been able to find consists of some crated computer equipment in a storage room in Trenton, N.J. The creditors say it's just a portion of what they've paid for, yet where the rest is no one knows.

The same fog seems to have enveloped an estimated $20 million lent by the creditors to a different but closely related group of Dalmia-linked companies with "B2B" in their names.

Take an outfit called B2B Solutions Inc., which is actually nothing more than the predecessor to Vanguard Info-Solutions Inc.

Documents from the New Jersey Department of Revenue Services show that B2B Solutions Inc. was created in 2000 by an Indian businessman from New Jersey named Dinesh Mittal.

Mittal said that in late autumn of 2003 he was approached by a group from Allserve that said it wanted to buy his company. A top insider at Allserve at the time said the talks were in fact handled directly by Dalmia.

By March 2004, Mittal had sold B2B Solutions to a Dalmia-linked offshore shell in the Channel Islands called Excalibur Investment Group. There waiting to be folded into B2B Solutions was a startup outsourcing business that Allserve's London operation had owned in Gurgaon, India.

The company, Vanguard Info-Solutions (India) Ltd., was apparently to merged with B2B Solutions. Yet it's hard to know for sure just what was afoot because the view of the proceedings is hampered by the Excalibur trust.

Be that as it may, in no time B2B Solutions' Web site blossomed with exciting news: The small-time New Jersey computer business had seemed to morph overnight into a multinational powerhouse with operations that stretched from Miami to the Punjab.

The grand vision was undoubtedly one reason why creditors proved willing to loan money to a company owned by people hiding out in the Channel Islands.

YET some creditors now say they felt the first tremors of un ease early this year when B2B Solutions abruptly changed its name to Vanguard Info-Solutions Inc. and launched a failed effort to merge with a Nasdaq Stock Market-listed computer company angling to get into the outsourcing game.

By the start of spring, the tremors had reached the Allserve creditors, too, as people the creditors had never met began delivering strange, dog-ate-my-homework excuses for having to miss upcoming loan payments. Oddest excuse of all: a sink hole had, in effect, swallowed up an Allserve facility in Chennai, India.

By autumn, the creditors had begun to wonder whether they themselves had stumbled into a sink hole, and they began hunting for answers from whoever seemed in charge.
But most had no idea who Mr. Big really was, and that alone enabled the crew in New Jersey to spin them in circles.

When a senior vice president for North Fork Bank, a major creditor to Allserve, showed up at the company's offices and asked to see the owner, no one would tell her who that person was or where to find him. All she was told was that her questions would all be answered by Nick.

Later, a lawyer for another creditor, the DB Zwirn investment group, had more luck. He learned that Nick's last name was Mittal. But the lawyer could rarely get Nick to respond and he wound up filing a complaining affidavit to that effect in court.

Only one creditor managed to break through to the real Nick Mittal (or so he thought). During a conference call of creditors last week, one person volunteered the news that he had actually met Nick Mittal personally and had even been to his house for dinner. Later, the lucky lender even recalled the address . . . a nice home indeed, he said, describing it as being in Fort Lee, N.J., on a street called Euclid Drive.

He was in fact describing the home of Dinesh Dalmia himself.

Next development: a bankruptcy hearing this week in Newark federal court, where an Allserve official is said to be making an appearance. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Screwing Around

So, sometimes I have to much time on my hands, what are you gonna do? I felt like taking a shot at the Overlords as they test the new "beta" for Journals! What do you think is going to come of that?

Anyway, do me a favor? If you don't see your Blog or Journal listed on my sidebar, would you mind leaving me a link? Kids are at school, and I have a little time to play, HA!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Whole Lotta Nothin'

Well, all three kids had sleep-overs to attend last night. That affords ol' Dad here a luxurious extra 8 or 9 minutes to relax this morning before I head out for kid-collections.

Only thing is...there's nothing to do. There are no soccer, basketball or croquet games to rush to. No birthday parties, no weddings, no "play dates" (lol play dates). I'm a little uptight, as the little box on the wall calendar has nothing scribbled in it. There are no little "invitations" stuck to the fridge.

Looks as though we're going to have to do something nearly unprecedented this weekend: COME UP WITH SOMETHING ALL ON OUR OWN.

But that's ok. Thanksgiving is coming up. I'll more than pay for any leisure time I might have now. There's millions of miles to go before I sleep that weekend.

OK, I have 3 and 1/2 minutes left today. And, dammit, I'm gonna go enjoy them.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

100 Things About Me

This could go on for years, and I don't want to clog the front page with this list so I back-dated it to my birthday in 2005. So, you wanna know 100 things about me? Here you go...

  1. I am weird, and no longer care about hiding it, because everyone has his/her own levels of weirdness.

  2. I am Catholic.

  3. I like to believe I'm devout in my Faith.

  4. My heritage goes four ways: Irish, English, Scottish and Danish. But not prune.

  5. I have green eyes.

  6. I have brown hair.

  7. My favorite movies are "Apollo 13", "Cinderella Man", "Independence Day", "She's All That", "Wedding Crashers", "The Untouchables", "The Breakfast Club"

  8. The thing I'm proudest of: I'm a good, involved, loving father.

  9. The thing I'm most ashamed of: my marriage did not work out. I tried.

  10. My favorite Celebrity (in the Celebrity Crushes category) is Hilary Swank.

  11. My 5 best friends are women. I know how to have friendships with women. As in platonic.

  12. I am physically handicapped. My legs are terrible because of neglected damage, and my right arm is a mess that doesn't straighten out. My spine is degenerated to the point where it hurts all the time. I live anyway. Just a lot more slowly.

  13. I was outside The World Trade Center South Tower when the second plane hit on September 11, 2001. I had to run away quickly. Some friends of mine died there that day.

  14. I am the Website designer/webmaster of the Nicole Miller Memorial Website. Nicole Miller died on United Flight 93 in Shanksville PA on September 11th, 2001. She is one of my life's heroes.

  15. I find intelligence the most attractive trait in a woman. That's not lipservice. It's true, and always has been.

  16. I'm friendly with every ex-girlfriend except 1. She moved far away.

  17. I drink iced tea like it's my job. At least 1 gallon per day.

  18. I love to write. I'm a frustrated journalist.

  19. I dislike hip-hop and Rap. It has nothing to do with anyone who performs it, I just don't get into the tunes.

  20. I like "American Idol" a lot.

  21. I'm a website designer.

  22. I met, and shook hands with: Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes (professional Heavyweight Boxing Champions both), Hillary Clinton, Whoopi Goldberg, Bruce Willis, Bill Parcells, Heidi Klum, Ronald Reagan, Rudy Giuliani, George Bush, Yogi Berra, Carmen Basilio (Middleweight Boxing World Champion), Jewel (the singer). Mostly because of job-related activities.

  23. I love steaks and chops. I also love seafood, but not sushi.

  24. I am deathly allergic to tree-nuts. Wow, that gets ugly.

  25. Also allergic to pitted fruits such as peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines.

  26. I once gave mouth-to-mouth rescuscitation. Succesfully, I might add. Choking victim.

  27. I'm a major-league computer geek. I love going to people's houses to fix their computers.

  28. I can cook. I can bake. I know how to clean well. In other words, I can take care of myself and not live like an animal.

  29. I have read the Bible, cover-to-cover, twice.

  30. I have read the complete works of Shakespeare. Once.

  31. My best friends own me. In a good way. I love waiting on, pampering them, and I adore brats and princessy behavior when it's all in fun.

  32. I like fishing. I used to play football, but now my body's busted, so that's out. I can shoot basketball left-handed, although I'm right-handed, because my stupid right arm is all messed up.

  33. I play the guitar well, and the piano "ok".

  34. I have been on television a number of times. Both accidentally and on purpose, that is. I'm not a star though. It was job-related stuff.

  35. I'm the worst UNO player on the planet.

  36. I'm the second-worst chess player.

  37. My friend Emily owns me on the online Pogo game site. For every game I win, she wins 10.

  38. I have absolutely no problem working for a woman. I've done so before, and I'd do it again.

  39. My friends range in ages from 18 to 75. Cool.

  40. I'm too tall for bathtubs. Showers rule.

  41. My favorite TV show is one that is in repeats: "Still Standing". I also like the CSI shows, The Food Network, and the Monday CBS Lineup: "Two and a Half Men", "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory."

  42. I liked the movies, "Ghost", "Titanic", "Pretty Woman" and "Walk The Line". They're right there in my DVD collection.

  43. I rarely, if ever, drink alcohol. I drink a gallon of iced tea a day, where' would I put it?

  44. I have never been guilty of driving drunk. Ever.

  45. I am, however, a very impatient driver, but not overly aggressive. My impatience is expressed vocally.

  46. I give the world's best foot massage. Their words, not mine.

  47. I love when women wear boots. Big secret, huh?

  48. I love well-cared-for women's hands. Pretty hands definitely augment a woman's beauty. Same for feet. Gotta see that pedicure with those sandals.

  49. If I had to be "categorized" by "taste", I'm a "leg man".

  50. I also have an overbite fetish. So cute.

  51. I have a Bachelor's Degree and 5 Securities Licenses.

  52. I went to school with Moses. (just wanted to see if you're still reading)

  53. I can do laundry very well (meaning I don't ruin garments) and I can iron/press even the most delicate of garments. I worked in a Tuxedo rental place when I was younger.

  54. Pet Peeve #1: The word "amazing". To me, it's as bad as people who say, "like" too much. I heard a woman describe oilcloth as "amazing". Are you kidding me?

  55. Pet Peeve #2: snobbery.

  56. Pet Peeve #3: This recent trend where people, particularly women, all talk like they're in bed. Sure, there are times when it's appropriate, sure, but not when you're giving a news interview or doing a commercial. SPEAK UP DAMMIT!

  57. I love my Ford Explorer.

  58. I have 17 nieces and nephews. I always said "20" but forgot that "3" of those "20" are my own kids.

  59. I love dogs, and like cats. I am not, however, a "dog person" or "cat person". Everything should have its limits, you know? They are not people. They are animals. I love 'em, but, the facts are the facts.

  60. I once played a football game on the field at Giants stadium. Ok, so I was 35, and it was a charity game, but it is what it is, right?

  61. I once got my nose broken by a girl. I didn't hit her back either!

  62. I once put my teeth through my lip. Right through. I fell, of course. I get those keloid scars too, lovely, huh?

  63. I've had 11 cellphones since 1993.

  64. I have a T-Mobile Sidekick III that I love.

  65. I have an iPod that I love.

  66. I watch shows like "One Tree Hill", "Gossip Girl" and "The Hills". (I have 2 daughters and 13 nieces and 5 female best friends. The odds are just there, ya know?

  67. Pet Peeve #4: Interviewers who don't shut up long enough for their guests to speak.

  68. I don't know what the opposite of "Pet Peeve" is.

  69. I know that Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana are the same girl. Sigh.

  70. My sense of humor refuses to allow me to find people like Will Ferrell, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Larry David funny. I like Dennis Miller, George Carlin, and Dane Cook's acts. My jury is still out on Chris Rock.

  71. I don't believe in the ability to communicate with the dead - clairvoyants, mediums, whatever. I do believe there is life after death, I just think it's beyond our means to talk to them.

  72. I do, however, find ghost stories, etc. very entertaining. I loved Poltergeist, and I watch the Ghost Whisperer

  73. This entire country has its priorities completely screwed. That is just an opinion of mine.

  74. I have not walked on the Moon. I wish I could. I love astronomy.

  75. I truly do like long walks on the beach. But I prefer swimming in a pool, thanks.

  76. I like acknowledging people's birthdays. People who hate birthdays have denial issues, in my opinion.

  77. Children singing (Christmas pageants, recitals, school plays) chokes me up every single time.

  78. I have eaten lion meat, snake and alligator. There was a restaurant in NY City called "The New Deal Restaurant" and exotic game was their menu.

  79. I have been to Barbados, South America, Canada and 3 islands in the Carribbean. I have never been to Europe.

  80. If I could live in a "vacation destination", I'd choose Disney World. My favorite place on earth.

  81. I am slow to anger, but when pushed to that, I'm slower to forgive. That's bad.

  82. I make Chateaubriand, homemade tomato sauce (gravy), and I've even made a soufflé.

  83. I like escargot and clams on the half-shell, but I despise sushi. Go figure.

  84. Pet Peeve #5: Control Freaks. First sign of that, I go the other way.

  85. Pet Peeve #6: People who miscategorize opinions of others. Disagreeing with someone, not caring for their music, or their political ideology does not constitute "hating" them. I think that's a weapon that some people use to try to discredit your own beliefs; after all, hatred is intolerable, right?

  86. I like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, ELP, YES, and The Doors. I also like Britney Spears, Fergie, and The Goo Goo Dolls. I like Earth Wind and Fire, Journey and Maroon 5. I like Snow Patrol and The Fray. I like Aly & AJ. I don't like The Rolling Stones. Talk about diversity?

  87. I love pizza and vanilla ice cream.

  88. I want to see Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, The Badlands, the Black Hills. I have not yet seen the Grand Canyon.

  89. I was once auctioned off to cook a dinner for 4 (for charity). I went for a lot, too!

  90. i can sing, but I wouldn't make it through to Hollywood on American Idol.

  91. I have been bitten by dogs 5 times.

  92. I write way too much. But I love it.

  93. I love that my kids, my nieces and my nephews feel comfortable talking over their problems with me. I love that I am still able to "connect" to people younger than me. I'm a good listener who doesn't judge.

  94. As geeky as I am, I dislike talking on cellphones. I hate the phone. I love texting or emailing much better.

  95. I am afraid of heights. I fell off a scaffolding when I was in college. I respect gravity now.

  96. Pet Peeve #7: People who argue their political views with me by telling me that I need to educate myself better if I don't agree with their view. I'm a lot more educated than I need to let on. I know what due diligence is.

  97. Fair treatment should not be based on net-worth. Again, an opinion.

  98. My first instinct is to like someone.

  99. I love my sweats, jeans and t-shirts, but I like an excuse to wear a suit and tie now and then too. I think a baseball cap is a hat, and hats should be removed at dinner.

  100. I can admit when I am wrong. "I'm sorry" isn't fatal.

Well, reading 100-things list might not be fatal either, but they can be tiring. If you got through this, thanks!