Protesters ‘Occupy’ Clinton Hill financier’s home!

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First there was Occupy Brooklyn. Now there’s occupy Peter Grossman’s front yard!

Protesters have been demonstrating outside a Clinton Hill financier’s home to lash out against his attempts to collect millions in debt owed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo — one of the world’s poorest nations — and they refuse to go away.

“We’re not going to stop!” said Kambale Musavuli, a spokesman for Friends of the Congo. “This is an American who’s coming in just like a vulture to take what little is left.”

More than a dozen activists — several of whom hail from Occupy Wall Street — began rallying outside Grossman’s DeKalb Avenue residence late last month after the British newspaper The Guardian published articles painting Grossman as a vulture who snaps up the debt of poor nations, then sues for the full value of the debt plus millions of dollars in interest and fees. Opponents to this practice call the buyouts “vulture funds.”

Grossman’s company, FG Hemisphere, bought some of the African country’s debt to Bosnia for $3 million a decade ago. The Congo borrowed the money from Bosnia so it could place power lines throughout its country.

After struggling in court rooms around the world to retrieve his dues, Grossman successfully sued the war-torn country for $100 million last year in a court on the tiny U.K. island of Jersey, which isn’t covered by U.K. anti-vulture laws.

Grossman’s family blasted the media reports as “factually inaccurate and highly sensationa­lized,” and claim the protests amount to harassment.

“People are saying that my husband runs a billion-dollar hedge fund,” said his wife, Sarah Weir. “A guy who lives on DeKalb Avenue is running a hedge fund? The media reports are completely nuts!”

FG Hemisphere’s website has a lengthy response from Grossman, stating he sued the Congo because the government idled on its pledge to repay his company.

“The story is more complicated than is being portrayed,” Grossman said in a statement. “First of all, we are not seeking $100 million or anything close to it [but] when you sue, you obviously sue for what you are owed.”

Reuters financial blogger Felix Salmon said that he sympathizes with the demonstrators, but defended vulture funds, which he sees as a necessary evil.

“Vulture funds are a bit like vultures, actually,” Salmon said. “They do things that can be sort of smelly and ugly, but they do perform an incredibly important role in the ecosystem. They have a very, very hard time trying to collect on judgments.”

Still, the 99 percent say the suit is a heartless move toward a country beset with a cholera epidemic, civil war and corruption.

Ryan Green, a member of the Existence is Resistance activist group, said that the such demonstrations could push U.S. legislators to ban “vulture funds” from profiting from the debt of developing nations.

“If we could just focus on it, we could probably change it,” he said.

The next demonstration will take place on Sunday, Jan. 1 at 5 pm at Washington and DeKalb avenues. For info, visit

Reach Kate Briquelet at or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.

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Reader Feedback

Jeansy Kazadi from London/UK says:
Well done to the protesters! it is time for the fund vultures, the mineral vultures and others, to understand that Congo people are now awake and on their way to a global revolution.
Dec. 31, 2011, 4:05 pm
Larissa from Williamsburg says:
These demonstrators need to stop living off Mom & Dad's money and get jobs. Really now! Do they think someone who is a high powered hedge fund guy is living on DeKalb???

I am just as frustrated with the state of the economy as the next guy, maybe more. Unlike these arrogant 20 year olds who have never worked, I have worked for 30 years and am sick and tired of the status quo.
Jan. 1, 2012, 1:33 pm
ty from pps says:
Larissa -- you should reread your comment. It's just a bunch of confused gibberish.
Jan. 1, 2012, 7:55 pm
Pete from Park Slope says:

The Congo is an incredibly rich country.
The "leaders" of the Congo choose to
do other other things with that money,
-mostly sending it offshore.
So I'm not sure why people in Brooklyn would
be so concerned about this guy getting pennies
on the dollar for a loan the Congo did skip out on.
Jan. 2, 2012, 2:57 pm
Sick and Tired from Clinton Hill says:
A little research for you Pete from Park Slope. Kind of hard to feed your people when you have all this forced debt to pay.,,pagePK:64392398~piPK:64392037~theSitePK:40941~countrycode:ZR~menuPK:64820000,00.html

Suggested reading "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins.
Jan. 2, 2012, 9:24 pm
Pete from Park Slope says:

Yes, thank you.
The reason rich soiled Congo cannot feed their
people is that they have NO government to speak
of- The "government" has not done ANYTHING about
raising it's own food, and it has great conditions for
growing crops, unlike some Saharan countries.
If American's want to help the Congo, they should
focus on the gunmen,and how they prevent their citizens
from doing normal productive activity.
I would follow what the Liberian women have done
as an example.
Jan. 3, 2012, 12:28 pm
Sick and Tired from Clinton Hill says:
Read the book Pete. And really look at the websites i posted, especially world bank projects

Governments do not always have control of what happens in their own countries, and yes corruption is always a factor.
Jan. 3, 2012, 6:03 pm

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