Magazine article New Internationalist

Oilisms

Magazine article New Internationalist

Oilisms

Article excerpt

First of an occasional series in which Adam Porter ventures into the muckier reaches of Big Oil

YET another oil man has been caught greasing palms: US banker and oil negotiator James Giffen. The head of the Mercator Corporation, a 'boutique bank' from Washington, this 62-year-old CEO has been charged with funnelling $78 million into accounts controlled by Nursultan Nasabayev - who just happens to be President of Kazakhstan - and Nurlan Balgimbayev - who just happens to be ex-oil minister of Kazakhstan. Reports say that the Kazakh Government's lobbying to drop the charges against Giffen, have been ignored. This could spell the start of a new angst-ridden phase of US-Kazakh relations. Wait till they get to Kazakhstan's heroin industry. Drugs and oil? Afghanistan II? Invasion in 2006? I'll take the bets.

Mobil (which subsequently merged with Exxon) was the company on whose behalf Giffen was negotiating. They were of course shocked and appalled by his actions. 'Mobil has no knowledge of any illegal payments made to Kazakh officials by any current or former Mobil employees,' they said. This as former Mobil executive J Bryan Williams was convicted of tax evasion when he admitted to hiding $7 million in what he described as 'income' and what prosecutors have described as 'kickbacks. …

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