Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg

Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg
Justitia, Old Bridge of Heidelberg © Gernot Keller, 2007
Blinkered Justice articles also appear on CrimeTalk and Government In The Lab

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Glencore, Africa, & the World Food Programme: Ill-gotten gains and food security (part 1)

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 'The Chance for Peace',16 April 1953
President Teodoro Obiang
The Guardian has reported that French authorities are impounding the assets of three serving African leaders and their families, in a case known as "ill-gotten gains". Those accused include Omar Bongo and his son, Ali Bongo from Gabon, the Congo-Brazzaville leader, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, and the Equatorial Guinean President, Teodoro Obiang and his son, Teodorin Obiang.

When balanced against their supposed state salaries, the assets that each of these clans had accrued over their years in power leaves left many questions unanswered. Hence, this legal action, initiated by anti-corruption NGOs. My initial reaction was one of satisfaction; the powerful should be held to account for their actions.

The tail end of this piece notes that NGOs are unable to bring corruption cases against African leaders in the UK, despite London allegedly being the "No. 1 destination for kelptocrats", according to Tim Daniel, a British Lawyer and anti-corruption expert. It is up to our authorities to do so.

In the UK, we have charged James Ibori, a former governor from the Delta state of Nigeria, with corruption. This region has a wealth of oil and natural reserves, and it has become synonymous with corruption, as money and power intermingle in a tale of filthy lucre populated by sly "Lucans".

In their book, 'Where vultures feast', Ike Okonta and Oronto Douglas, wrote that the IMF could not account for 150,000 barrels of oil that was being produced daily, the implication being that former Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha, and his cohorts were siphoning off the proceeds.

Six months later, Abacha completely redrew the allocation of crude oil contracts, handing a third of future supplies to Glencore, who later gained greater control of the Nigerian crude industry.

Later in the Congo, The Australian reports:
The breakthrough came in 2005, when Elliott detectives discovered that two consignments of Congo oil had been loaded on to a vessel called the Nordic Hawk for sale to Glencore, a British company set up by Marc Rich, the Swiss-based trader. 
Glencore intended to sell the oil on to BP in what should have appeared as a normal industry transaction. 
Kensington promptly applied to the High Court in London for injunctions to seize the proceeds of the Nordic Hawk consignments on the grounds that they were fraudulently concealed sales by the Brazzaville Government... 
...Somewhere along the way, millions of dollars went missing, and the judge noted that an examination of the bank statements of one of Gokana's companies "reveals that there was virtually no connection between the cash passing through its bank accounts and the sums it should have received for the oil it sold". 
Where the money went remains a mystery.
Glencore's website reveals that they also have operations in Equitarial Guinea. As part of its E&P portfolio, they have operated under the guise of Noble Energy, along with other oil giants, with the agreement of, and help from, the U.S. government. Yesterday, Glencore were due to merge with Xstrata to form one of the largest companies in the world.

Is it a coincidence that Abacha and Sassou-Nguesso were dealing with Glencore at about the same time that they were said to have been misappropriating resources and funds? Is it a coincidence that Glencore's name is linked to all the geographical areas ruled by those charged in France? 

Saddam Hussein on trial July 2004
Beyond this, Glencore have a history of dubious corporate activity. It was reported that the CIA believed that Glencore did business with Saddam Hussein and that they received millions in illegal kickbacks during the U.N. Oil For Food programme. Reuters refer to human rights and environmental abuses in Colombia, and pollution-related health problems in Zambia. This does not includes a number of other abuses that they have been associated with in Australia, Colombia and Kazakhstan, as detailed by Donal O'Driscoll for Saving Iceland.

Furthermore, this behemoth has strong political ties. For example, Glencore owns 8.75% of United Company (UC) Rusal Limited. Chaired by Oleg Deripaska, through his En+ group, and co-chaired by Nathanial Rothschild, who runs Vallar which has a 40% stake in Glencore, both are friends of former EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, and UK Chancellor, George Osborne. Wikileaks reveals that Deripaska has Vladimir Putin's ear.

This is what the 1% have and do. More than bonuses, more than tax breaks, they have the political and economic power to do as they please, harming whoever gets in their way.

1 comment:

  1. Where is the WFP part of the article ??