Albright Blocks $500 Million Bank Loan
Marshall, Toni, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The U.S. Export-Import Bank yesterday blocked a $500 million loan to Russia's Tyumen Oil, after Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright sent a letter to the bank saying it is in the U.S. national interest that the loans be denied.
After a drawn-out meeting by the bank's board members yesterday afternoon, the bank acquiesced to Mrs. Albright's request.
"The [Export-Import Bank] today received a letter from Secretary of State Madeleine Albright containing a determination that it would be in the national interest and clearly and importantly advance U.S. policy in Russia for Ex-Im Bank not to approve, for the time being, financing for two transactions in Russia," the bank said in a statement late yesterday. "The Ex-Im Bank board of directors acted in accordance with the secretary's determination."
While some in Congress and others on the campaign trail have said the loans should be halted because of Russia's assault on the breakaway Chechen Republic, Export-Import Bank and U.S. officials deny the decision was based on the Russia-Chechnya conflict.
The loans were to buttress Russia's oil industry: $295 million for oil field services and $203 million in engineering services and equipment for upgrading a refinery.
The proposed loan guarantees would have supported the sale of U.S.-made oil and gas equipment, and technical services to be provided by Halliburton Co., Dallas; ABB, Stamford, Conn.; and 23 other U.S. companies to the Tyumen Oil Co. of Russia.
Media reports earlier yesterday, citing an unnamed U.S. official, said Mrs. Albright exercised a seldom used administrative law - the Chafee amendment - which allowed her to block the loan.
Earlier yesterday, State Department deputy spokesman James Foley confirmed that Mrs. Albright met early yesterday with Export-Import Board Chairman James Harmon, but said the two only exchanged views on the pending $500 million loan guarantee. …