The Bribe Factory
March 30, 2016 3:33 PM   Subscribe

The Company That Bribed The World - It was the company with jet-set style and dirty hands. From the tiny principality of Monaco, Unaoil reached across the globe to pay multi-million dollar bribes in oil rich states. The beneficiaries? Some of the biggest companies in England, Europe, America and Australia.
posted by unliteral (33 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Corruption in the oil industry you say?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:36 PM on March 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Monaco - A sunny place for shady people.
posted by adamvasco at 4:10 PM on March 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Aliens are real. They're not waiting for us to be warp capable. They're waiting for us to stop being the greediest fucking cockstains in the universe. We fail every single fucking test.
posted by Talez at 4:24 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Some wonderful journalism from Fairfax and the Huff Post.

Valid argument can be made that Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker from Fairfax/The Age are the best journos in Australia by a comfortable margin.
posted by chris88 at 4:59 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


This made me laugh:
Al Jarah urged his Unaoil bosses to “please make sure our holiday period [bribe amount] is firm” or risk “Peddling like mad to please Teacher”.
In-between my howls of outrage. Yes, I know this is a corrupt business but to have it laid out like this is stunning me.
posted by unliteral at 5:00 PM on March 30, 2016


Corruption in the oil industry you say?
Yes, but prosecutable corruption, with proof. Which is a tasty topping for any bowl of snark.
posted by bonaldi at 5:47 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can we just skip the outrage and start talking about how no one will ever go to jail for this ever?
posted by nevercalm at 6:02 PM on March 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


Wake me up when they are prosecuted competently and every available trick is used to deny them their ill gotten gains in use for what would otherwise be their inevitably masterful defense (as per last week's post).
posted by Slackermagee at 6:13 PM on March 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah... which jurisdiction can bring what charges against whom?

Impressively thorough tagging, BTW.
posted by clawsoon at 6:14 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


We fail every single fucking test.

We? I'd love to just have a chance to take the fucking test.
posted by srboisvert at 6:42 PM on March 30, 2016


Yes, but prosecutable corruption, with proof.

...and yet nothing of value will be done. Oh, yes, some poor fellow will be kicked out of his club, and perhaps someone else will have their children denied admittance at the latest Ultra-School For the Criminally Wealthy in Zurich, and someone like Lagarde might be caught tut-tutting whilst attending a gallery opening, but aside from that a sum total of nothing will be done.

It's not even worth getting outraged about, at this point it's merely tedious.
posted by aramaic at 6:58 PM on March 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Unaoil has been certified by anti-corruption agency Trace International. This in itself raises serious questions about the worth of such international accreditation

I have the minimal possible confidence that the whole business of independent financial auditing, certification and compliance reporting is anything other than a mutual con game, allowing everybody to dodge responsibility and hide whatever is profitable and convenient to hide.

I think I first really appreciated this when I learned that Huawei had its books signed off by KPMG, but I still couldn't get a straight answer to the most basic of questions. I'm still overwhelmed by the scale and the ubiquity of the problem.

I look forward to more large dumps of internal emails from within the beast.
posted by Devonian at 7:00 PM on March 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Good work by these journos, but as nothing will be done as a result of it, it is ironically another argument-nail in the "journalism is dead" coffin.

(Leighton are CIMIC now.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:25 PM on March 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do not underestimate this, "the worst bribery scandal in history" does not sound exaggerated. We are talking about billions, and apparent proof for the involvement of a very long list of major western corporations. And this is only part one of three.

As of right now, a striking 100% of the mainstream media outside of Australia has not issued a single word.
posted by dnial at 7:43 PM on March 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


You know what gets me? We have various government and international agencies intercepting email and web traffic as much as they can. If they wanted a less corrupt world, you would think they would be in a position to ferret out crap like this, instead of it only coming to light via clandestine data dumps being given to newspapers.
posted by fings at 9:18 PM on March 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Given that Fairfax just cut 120 journalists (reported to be 25% of its newsroom), I doubt we shall be seeing more of this kind of reporting from them in future. This may just be a last hurrah.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:58 PM on March 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


If the mechanics of global bribery, thievery, murder, extortion etc by seemingly 'respectable" Western companies interests you - and it's genuinely fascinating how they manage to interact with the worst human rights abuses imaginable with a sheen of deniability - I highly, highly recommend The Looting Machine , which I read earlier in the year. The cases studies and journalism in it are terrific, stupefying, horrid.
posted by smoke at 1:38 AM on March 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


> We? I'd love to just have a chance to take the fucking test.

Unfortunately, you've clearly failed the first part of the test.
posted by fragmede at 2:03 AM on March 31, 2016


Part 2
posted by unliteral at 4:05 AM on March 31, 2016


Given that Fairfax just cut 120 journalists (reported to be 25% of its newsroom), I doubt we shall be seeing more of this kind of reporting from them in future.

But their listicles and reviews of Celeb Tweet Wars will be amazing.

it's genuinely fascinating how they manage to interact with the worst human rights abuses imaginable with a sheen of deniability

Having met some of these people (and not just execs, but ex-pat workers), I won't go as far to call them psychopaths, but there is definitely something there - it's almost a case of the Nuremburg Defence, except instead of them just following orders, they're just following the law of the land, and if villages get bulldozed alive into pits, well, it was the military, see, nothing to do with the resources below the village.
posted by Mezentian at 4:37 AM on March 31, 2016


I actually read the article and was surprised by how small the numbers were.

The Petrobras scandal alone is bigger than this. One procurement guy there received 100 mil in kickbacks alone. The total bribes at one company, for essentially one project (The pre-salt deepwater offshore) are estimated to be in the 3-5 billion range.
posted by JPD at 5:09 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah... which jurisdiction can bring what charges against whom

The FCPA gives the US the power to prosecute a lot of these things if the so choose. They actually have a decent track record at going after people.

Of course the thing to keep in mind is that in most of Europe these sorts of bribes were not only legal but tax deductible until the last 15 years or so.

See this for example
posted by JPD at 5:14 AM on March 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


We must impose radical transparency upon governments, government officials, and economically significant corporate actors.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:02 AM on March 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also of interest from the world of oil corruption, How Texaco Helped Franco Win the Spanish Civil War.

tl;dr want to know what putting Fascists in power and helping Literally Hitler gets you? The Chairman and CEO of Texaco who did this
lost his job, but thanks to a grateful Franco the deposed tycoon landed on his feet: the dictator made him chief American buyer for the Spanish government's oil company. He went on to a succession of other high-paying positions and directorships in the oil industry and shipbuilding and died a wealthy man in 1968, at the age of 86.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:48 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know what gets me? We have various government and international agencies intercepting email and web traffic as much as they can. If they wanted a less corrupt world, you would think they would be in a position to ferret out crap like this, instead of it only coming to light via clandestine data dumps being given to newspapers.

And given that they have not been ferreting out crap like this, what conclusion can we draw?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:51 AM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


The FCPA gives the US the power to prosecute a lot of these things if the so choose. They actually have a decent track record at going after people.

Wasn't this kind of thing the reason all those Mafia guys finally got taken down for tax evasion?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:21 AM on March 31, 2016


This brings to mind Assange's essay about the beneficial effects of whistleblowing and leaks. Organizations must communicate to coordinate. The more corrupt an organization is, the less they can tolerate their communications being exposed. So the threat of whistleblowing/leaks selectively pressures corrupt organizations to communicate less effectively, and reduces their fitness relative to less-corrupt competitors.

From what I can see the Unaoil Monacans kept unencrypted emails, and used fairly brazen code words. Maybe a juicy target. I wonder what the rest of the global corruption-facilitating industry is busy doing right now.
posted by anthill at 1:32 PM on March 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


Not much actually. No new energy projects, China cracking down. Malaysia, etc.

Economic slowdowns are their own disinfectant

HK high end watch sales were down 20% this month.
posted by JPD at 2:27 PM on March 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yesterday's Democracy Now! ended with an interview (transcript) with Adam Hochschild, Berkeley professor and co-founder of Mother Jones, about Texaco's support of the Franco regime and espionage against his republicano opponents. Other interviews and material concerning the Spanish Civil War and the volunteer American Abraham Lincoln Brigade earlier in the program.
posted by XMLicious at 11:14 PM on March 31, 2016


Can we just skip the outrage and start talking about how no one will ever go to jail for this ever?

You Think This Is Bad
posted by kliuless at 5:24 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yesterday's Democracy Now! ended with an interview (transcript) with Adam Hochschild, Berkeley professor and co-founder of Mother Jones, about Texaco's support of the Franco regime and espionage against his republicano opponents. Other interviews and material concerning the Spanish Civil War and the volunteer American Abraham Lincoln Brigade earlier in the program.

New thread.
posted by homunculus at 8:10 PM on April 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Part 3
posted by unliteral at 12:50 AM on April 2, 2016


The Kazal family history:
This distorted fact free media reporting is why my brother Charif created the website www.kazalfamilystory.com to report the truth about what happened with our dealings with Rodric David after Charif and I previously made the mistake of going into business with him, only to have him commit corporate fraud and theft on a grand scale at our considerable expense. Have you done any background checks before running your story? As soon as you type Kazal in google the www.kazalfamilystory.com would appear so I can’t see how you would have missed this during your investigations. Instead of reporting false allegations run by Linton Besser & Kate McClymont in the past, why didn’t you report about Charif’s website?

Your predecessor journalists Besser & McClymont refused to report the truth despite us sending it to them, so excuse me if I have serious doubts about another journalist who contacts me claiming to be investigating matters about me out of the blue. I didn’t acknowledge your earlier email asking me questions about confidential company contract information that I can only presume your source clearly participated in stealing or buying from a thief. The selling of confidential records sounds to me like real corruption at the highest level Mr Baker. Certainly moreso than what you wrote about me because I accepted a written contract and carried it out. I have never paid or received a bribe, but clearly in order to get hold of confidential company emails someone close to your source has committed a crime. You should be careful accusing innocent people of being corrupt just because they had a contract with an organisation that you subsequently claim is corrupt. That’s quite a stretch to assume anyone who ever dealt with Unaoil is corrupt. Is the telephone company they use corrupt and the water company and the gas company. Where does it stop? Shouldn’t you have raised in your earlier email to me that you were writing a story about corruption and had evidence I committed bribery? Where is this supposed bribery information on me because your article offers nothing illegal about my contracted dealings with Unaoil? That all other major media players have ignored your story should tell you something.
And so much more.
posted by unliteral at 4:32 PM on April 3, 2016


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