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Congressional Record – US Rep. Marcy Kaptur, [D-OHIO], America needs to recapture its independence from foreign interests

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Record by US Representative Marcy Kaptur from Ohio,

Washington D.C., 11 June 2008

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Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, today the New York Post reported that a foreign government in the form of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council plans to buy the Chrysler Building, a New York City landmark, for more than $800 million, continuing a trend of foreign government buyouts of American business, real estate and assets. This is the same sovereign wealth fund that bailed out Citigroup earlier in this year. Recall Citigroup, America’s biggest bank and a key player in recycling international petrodollars and a holder of enormous debt from the subprime lending crisis.

Abu Dhabi is jointly owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The former chairman is Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who is pictured here on the poster with President Bush. The Sheik is the President of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Abu Dhabi. This is not just a foreign executive buying up an American icon building. This is the ruler of a foreign country.

For those who are opposed to the American government owning private property, allowing foreign governments, and I underline that, to own America’s priceless assets should be anathema. But the same people who advocate less U.S. Government involvement surely cannot support the meddling of undemocratic governments such as Abu Dhabi in buying up America’s assets.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson went to Abu Dhabi earlier this month to put stardust on the state of the U.S. economy, assuring the Sheik that the United States encourages these types of foreign government investments and buyouts, even while the Secretary advocates a smaller role for the U.S. Government in our own country. Does this make any sense?

Abu Dhabi’s investments are particularly alarming, because in addition to the Authority and Council being state-run and perhaps the largest such funds in the world, they are among the least transparent sovereign wealth funds. According to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, there is a ranking of the transparency of who really owns these funds and whose money is in there and what is that money doing.

Abu Dhabi and the UAE are at the very bottom, at the very bottom. They are the least transparent of global sovereign wealth funds. The Authority in particular has a reputation for intense secrecy, without even an internal communications department. The fund is state-run and “does not answer to a wide public at home,” said David L. Mack, a former United States Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

How would this fund stand up to the regulations we have in place here in our own country? Would this fund be legal in the United States? How is this fund supportive of democratic principles? Abu Dhabi and the UAE are not democratic places. Without even asking these questions, this oil-hungry administration courts these investors personally.

Of course, sovereign wealth funds are not just in the UAE. Kuwait, Qatar and Boston Properties purchased the GM Building earlier this week. Do you see the pattern? Nor are these funds limited to the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries. In fact, one of the largest funds is Norway’s. But that country, a democracy, has perhaps the most transparent and conventional investment strategy. They are at the top in terms of transparency and normal Western business and law practices.

China, Saudi Arabia and many funds, such as those of the UAE, invest unconventionally, are very secret. They are not transparent, even when countries like Norway set an example of responsible investment.

As our trade deficit swells even more, in April it deepened even more, to $60.9 billion in one month, America cannot afford to sell off any more of our country. We need to reduce our dependency on oil, balance our trade accounts and invest in our own country so that undemocratic and secretive foreign governments do not buy out our heritage. We need to recapture America’s independence and stand on our own two feet again. It will require sacrifice and discipline and responsibility.

Freedom’s clock is really ticking for this generation. Are we going to hear it? Are we going to hear it?

Mr. Speaker, I include the June 11, 2008, New York Post article entitled “Chrysler Building on the Block” for the Record.
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