Wednesday 7 December 2016

Financial backer of protest is Republican millionaire

Jon Swaine in New York

Published 19/10/2011 | 05:00

The Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. Photo: Getty Images
The Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. Photo: Getty Images

The biggest financial backer of the Occupy Wall Street protests is a former 'superstar' oil trader who earned up to $15m (€10.8m) a year and supports the Republican party, it has emerged.

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Robert Halper donated $20,000 (€14,500) to the founders of the anti-capitalist demonstration, which has spawned offshoots across the world and entered its second month in Manhattan yesterday.

Mr Halper, who spent two decades trading commodities futures on Wall Street, has also given $2,500 (€1,800) to Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential front-runner and former Massachusetts governor.

"I made a lot of money, things just worked out for me," said Mr Halper (52), who was until recently one of the world's best-paid traders.

"There's some issues where we're all in it together. If there's pain, it should be shared," he told 'The New York Times'.

"The people who have money -- they should pay something more, whether that's in taxes or somewhere else."

Mr Halper, known as 'Bobby', has lived in a multi-million-dollar apartment overlooking Central Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side with his wife and family since the 1990s.

The son of off-licence owners, he graduated in economics from the State University Of New York and began trading on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) in 1983.

He founded HPR Commodities, an oil trading firm, and went on to become vice-chairman of NYMEX in 2006. That year he was named one of "the superstars of the investment world" by 'Trader Monthly' magazine, which ranked him joint twelfth in its list of the world's 100 best-paid traders.

The magazine estimated that he "helped himself" to $10m-$15m in profits in 2005.

Mr Halper passed his donation cheque to Kalle Lasn, the editor of 'Adbusters', an anti-consumerist magazine that sent out 90,000 emails calling for a mass demonstration on Wall Street earlier this year.

Since then, thousands have taken to the streets across the US and Europe, including last weekend in London, to voice their opposition to what they see as corporate greed since the financial crisis of 2008.

The New York organisers have raised more than $300,000 (€217,460) to keep their protest camp operating in Zuccotti Park, just north of Wall Street.

Mr Halper's donation is all the more surprising given that Mr Romney has emerged as Wall Street's presidential choice. He has so far collected $350,000 from Goldman Sachs employees, seven times more than Mr Obama.

Mr Romney is increasingly seen as the likely Republican nominee to challenge Barack Obama. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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