Magazine article The Spectator

On the Take

Magazine article The Spectator

On the Take

Article excerpt

High life


Libel laws prevent me from spilling the beans, but a certain name caught my eye while reading the Sunday newspapers. The name was among those who donated to New Labour. The gentleman in question is anything but a gentleman, in fact he used to pimp for Adnan Khashoggi back in the days when Adnan was considered among the richest men in the world. Khashoggi was and remains a very nice guy. I once asked him about the future New Labour donor. How could a mild-mannered person like himself employ such a vulgarian. Or words to that effect. Adnan smiled and told me that, `In a low-life business such as finding women one needs the friendship of low-lifes. .. '

Be that as it may. Accepting money from louche characters is nothing new, even in merry old England. In endemically corrupt France, Francois Mitterrand was extremely corrupt, although I doubt he tried to enrich himself or his family. In my own country Andreas Papandreou was out of control in his eagerness to make money. His wife has just sold the villa he built for her for an enormous amount, prompting even the socialist newspapers to gasp at the extent of his corruption. I am told by people in the know that Papandreou accepted kickbacks close to one hundred million greenbacks, most of them lying in safe foreign havens. Just imagine what the Hindujas would have done if dealing with the like of Ali Babandreou.

Italy's Christian Democrats were almost as crooked as African kleptocracies, although things are much better at present. The Belgians, too, are very corrupt, and let's not begin to talk about the EU and its totally dishonest bureaucrooks. Ironically, authoritarian regimes like those of Salazar in Portugal and Franco's in Spain were never on the take, even at the highest level. Ditto for the bungling Greek colonels. George Papadopoulos died in prison. His wife, Despina, occasionally accepts gifts of food from supporters, lives in a single-bedroom apartment in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood, and relies on her pension for survival. The other two colonels who made up the original troika, Pattakos and Makarezos, both live in very modest circumstances.

Businessmen who deal with governments have a seismographic alertness to bent politicians. …

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