Yulai - After months of painstaking investigation, agents of the Secure Commerce Commission have discovered still more startling evidence of Angel financial backing of Caldari companies. Thousands of man-hours have already gone into the case, with mountains of financial records and tax statements being parsed, compared, and fact-checked in excruciating detail. Yet investigators feel that the efforts have paid off, and no fewer than twenty Caldari corporations (most heavily involved in manufacturing or advanced research and development) have been implicated.
"This is by far the most extensive investigation of its kind in history," said SCC representative Hangrun Lulk, "and it hasn't been easy. The Cartel's methods of diversifying its front companies and hiding its assets were quite sophisticated. And to make matters worse, the Caldari Chief Executive Panel has resisted us every step of the way, trying to stymie our efforts by any means possible. Honestly they should be thanking us for exposing this cancer in their financial system."
For their part, the Caldari financial sector was quick to fire back. "Cancer?" said Haarbin Aigoro, a financial analyst for the Mercantile Club, "we're talking about what, twenty companies here? There are literally tens of thousands of companies publicly traded on the Caldari stock exchanges." While Aigoro admitted that there were investment loopholes that should be closed to prevent this kind of illicit sheltering in the future, he was adamant that the SCC was blowing the extent of the problem out of proportion. "This kind of hyperbole drastically overstates the issue, and is irresponsible on the part of the SCC."
While most of the corporations implicated in this investigation have been relatively small companies (such as Itsukame Innovations, the company whose routine patent application set this investigation in motion), there have been a few larger victims as well. Most surprisingly, it has been confirmed that through a series of four related holding companies (headed by Goju Securities Limited, a confirmed Cartel front), the Angels are heavily invested in bio- and nano-mechanical research giant Zainou Biotech.
Zainou officials were quick to comment on the revelation. In a press conference convened within hours of the news breaking, a spokesman for Zainou Biotech said, "This is a publicly-traded company. We do not as a habit check the credentials of every private investor seeking to purchase shares of our stock." Zainou officials went on to point out that the very sophistication exhibited by the Cartel which has made CONCORD's investigation so difficult makes it virtually impossible for a single company, even a mega-corporation, to perform a similar check before allowing a stock purchase. "Any Angel investment in Zainou Biotech is plainly a money-laundering scheme, and it must be remembered that Zainou is the victim here."
Meanwhile, Caldari officials remain adamant that this is a purely internal matter and should be handled according to Caldari corporate law. "This is no longer simply a matter of profits from potential interstellar patents. If CONCORD thinks that they're going to sieze any part of Zainou's assets like they siezed Itsukame, they're out of their minds," said Aivoras Ahtainio, CFO for the Caldari Chief Executive Panel. "If anyone is going to profit from the divestiture of criminal assets, it's going to be the Caldari people."
But there is a growing sentiment that has become all too common recently among Caldari business executives, that of a perception of bias within CONCORD. Zidai Ohtoko, a spokesman for Kaalakiota asked, "When will we see SCC investigations into Serpentis involvement in Gallente corporations? Not soon I'd imagine."
Others see this as less an issue of bias and more an issue of CONCORD aggressively expanding their authority. Yukio Kunitomo, a spokeswoman for NOH remarked, "It's becoming clear that CONCORD has gotten completely out of control. They have usurped progressively more authority for themselves, and I think that this recent Aria business has shown that what little control the Empires have on CONCORD is slipping. It is my sincere hope that the revelation of that scandal will allow the delegates to rein CONCORD in before it's too late."
And a few voices have expressed even more radical viewpoints. A senior Caldari corporate official speaking on condition of anonymity remarked, "If CONCORD and their Gallente cronies insist on picking the flesh from our body bit by bit, perhaps the Caldari State would be better off withdrawing from the Treaty of Yulai."
While such strident remarks are in the minority, they are an increasingly vocal minority. As the results of this investigation go before the SCC Tribunal, there are sure to be more bumps in the already rocky relationship between CONCORD and the Caldari State.