Warmongers and profiteers

Thu, 27/06/2013 - 09:00
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Why are the Tories so keen to use British money and in due course British servicemen to help cut-throat Islamist rebels, financed by Saudi Arabia and other Wahhabi oil states, take over Syria and destroy it as their kind already have (with Conservative government help) Libya? 

The answer is simple: Follow the money!

This article looks at just one aspect of the Tory party leadership’s unhealthy relationship with Big Oil, focussing on the career of Alan Duncan, government minister and close friend of Foreign Minister William Hague.

In 2011 the Guardian reported on Alan Duncan’s involvement with Vitol in the Libyan conflict, reporting that the government had admitted that Duncan took part in meetings between officials operating a Whitehall cell to control the Libyan oil market and Vitol – for whom Duncan has previously acted as a consultant.

According to its website, Vitol is a multi-billion dollar oil conglomerate comprising a group of energy companies with revenues of over $100bn which ship 200m tonnes of oil a year.

It was founded in 1966, Ian Taylor is the President and Chief Executive. He has been with Vitol for 20 years.
Taylor is a long-term donor to Tory leader David Cameron and Tory Business Secretary Alan Duncan.

In 2008, Taylor donated more than £50,000 to David Cameron, which automatically includes him as a member of Cameron's Leaders Group where he has the opportunity to meet the Tory leader in person through meetings and events.

Such as the one in November of 2011, at Downing Street where Mr Taylor was a guest, billed as a social dinner for strong and long term supporters of the party with whom the PM has a strong relationship.

In 2008, he is also reported to have made donations to Alan Duncan the Tory Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Duncan is currently Minister of State in the Department for International Development.
Vitol is in talks with HMRC about its tax avoidance practices.

Mr Taylor, according to BBC reports has donated £555,100 to the Tory Party since June 2006. A closer look at his relationship with Duncan and others and their role in using British taxpayers´ money and warplanes to open up business opportunities for Vitol gives us an indication.

Taylor and Duncan

Taylor and Duncan have a long history together since they were colleagues at Shell and remain close friends. Duncan, the former Tory vice-chairman, was a paid consultant to Vitol in the early 1990s.

In fact, Duncan has had a 30-year friendship with the chief executive of Vitol, Ian Taylor and Taylor is declared on Duncan's parliamentary register of interests as a Tory donor.

Alan Duncan began his career in the oil industry with Royal Dutch Shell. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1992. After graduating from Oxford, he worked as a trader of oil and refined products, from 1988 until 1992 Duncan worked as a self-employed consultant and advisor to foreign governments on oil supplies, shipping and refining.

In 1989, he set up Harcourt Consultants which also advises on oil and gas matters.

Duncan and Hague

He played a key role in William Hague’s successful bid for the Conservative leadership in 1997, around the same time that he was brokering a deal between Vitol and Pakistan during the Gulf war.

He made over a million pounds war-profiting from the need to supply oil to Pakistan after Kuwait’s supplies were disrupted in the Gulf War.

Both Duncan and William Hague were at Oxford, both had been Presidents of the Oxford Union and reportedly have been close friends since the 80s.

The two have been flat mates in the past.
They have always been close friends. Duncan was a key player in the 1997 leadership contest as the right hand man of Hague.

As a return for his loyalty during the leadership contest, in June 1997, Duncan was entrusted with the positions of Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party and Parliamentary Political Secretary to the Party Leader.

He resigned, however, from the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Health after only a month, when it emerged that he had used the right-to-buy programme to make profits on property deals.

Apparently, he lent his elderly neighbour money to buy an 18th Century council house at a significant discount, and after only three years, the neighbour then re-sold the property to Duncan.

In June 1998 he became Shadow Health Minister. In June 1999 he was made Shadow Trade and Industry spokesman. In September 2001 he was appointed a Front Bench Spokesman on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Since April of 2008, Duncan has also been on the Board of Arawak Energy Ltd a then, 41% owned subsidiary of Vitol where Ian Taylor is President and CEO.

In December of 2008, Vitol announced its offer to buy Arawak in its entirety through Vitol subsidiary Rosco.
So Duncan, who has influence on business policy, benefits financially from Vitol on two levels: through personal donations from the company's President and CEO and also through remuneration for his involvement on the Board of its subsidiary.

Donations to Cabinet members from companies that have direct interests in their policy portfolios have been criticised as concealing a conflict of interest, a claim the Tories regard as "utter nonsense".

Duncan, however, was one of many Tory MPs caught out in the expenses scandal but allowed to continue his career after a ritual slap on the wrist.

He was disgraced when The Daily Telegraph disclosed he claimed £4,000 in gardening bills for his designated second home in his constituency.

Another claim for £3,194 was not paid by the fees office, as it was thought to not be within the spirit of the rules. He added insult to injury for the taxpayer when he was recorded complaining that MPs were "living on rations"!

In 2011 reports on Duncan’s involvement with Vitol in the Libyan conflict, have the government admitting that Duncan took part in meetings between officials operating a Whitehall cell to control the Libyan oil market and Vitol – for whom Duncan has previously acted as a consultant.

This "Libyan oil cell" involved a group of officials working in the Foreign Office waging a discreet campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s government by controlling the flow of oil in the country.

This campaign prevented Gaddafi from importing and exporting oil while it allowed it to reach the rebels in the east. This oil came via ONE company – Vitol.

The Guardian reported that Vitol had been working with the rebels in the east before the establishment of the cell but had struggled with the sanctions in place.

Enter Duncan, whose expertise has been described by a senior government source as crucial to the genesis of the cell, to help officials working on the project better understand the complexities of oil markets.

Vitol is the largest trader of oil and refined products in the world, buying and selling more oil and gas than BP and Shell. It handles 5m barrels a day and controls 200 super tankers and other vessels to move it around the world.

Vitol, officially based in Switzerland, does not control oil fields but its exploration and other activities turn over revenues of more than £87bn in a good year.

It has a presence in every leading oil-producing country, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria.
In one deal earlier this year, Vitol purchased more than 7 million barrels of diesel in Singapore and shipped the vast majority to Saudi Arabia to help run the industrial basket case’s summer air-con systems.

Imagine the profit on that deal alone.
Duncan sat on the board of Arawak Energy, until it was bought in 2009 by Vitol. As shadow leader of the house in 2008, Duncan declared donations in the register of members' financial interests that he received from Vitol’s Ian Taylor.

Vitol’s murky dealings

The company was investigated in 1993 after selling 280,000 tonnes of "contaminated" oil to Pakistan's state-owned power company causing £100m worth of damage.

In 1996 Vitol was in court over oil deals in Serbia. Apparently, a $1m payment had been made to the Serbian war criminal, arms dealer and oil smuggler, Arkan, or 'the butcher of Vukovar' as he is also known.

Here was another secret oil deal to provide Slobadan Milosevic's Serbia with fuel. This deal was struck whilst the Bosnian conflict was still raging and UN sanctions were in place.

Vitol insists that the oil was delivered only after sanctions were suspended and the deal was therefore entirely legal.
In 2007 Vitol paid $17.5m in fines after being found guilty of providing kickbacks to Saddam's Iraq under the oil-for-food programme.

Vitol pleaded guilty to larceny in a New York court and paid the Iraqi people restitution.

The events of March 2011

In March of 2011 William Hague, in an effort to sell the Libyan National Transitional Council to the public, declared that Britain welcomed the NTC's pledge to form an inclusive transitional government before democratic elections.

He went on to say, "Just imagine for a moment the magnitude of this… this is something clearly affecting a wide area of the Middle East and North Africa and it will affect more countries yet.

This is in its early stages…."
Hague continues, "But imagine if it went wrong. Imagine if, actually, extremism, terrorism were promoted. Imagine the financial consequences as well as the human and moral consequences of this going wrong.

"This going wrong in the Middle East, the area that produces so much of the world's oil and gas, that contains so many tensions in the world, would have financial consequences that would make the last three years seem the mere prelude to much greater difficulties. That is why the stakes are so high."

Pretty verbiage unless you are watching closely what else is unfolding by those around him.
Meanwhile warmonger Hague was co-chairing a meeting of the international contact group on Libya in Qatar.

They were looking for a "temporary financial mechanism" for the interim national council-controlled areas of Libya.
Coincidentally, also in March of 2011, the Financial Times reports that Vitol was approached by Qatar to sell a cargo of crude from the Libyan rebels and, in exchange, supplying them with fuel.

What started as a one-off deal to swap crude for gasoline and diesel rapidly evolved into a $1bn business that fuelled the Benghazi-based rebel army’s progress towards Tripoli.

Oil tankers were sent secretly to terminals a few kilometres from the fighting between supporters of Colonel Gaddafi and rebel opposition.
Vitol was propelled to a leading position in post-Gaddafi Libya and chief exec Ian Taylor is unashamed when he explains, “We expect to play a role in the future (of Libya’s oil industry)”.

Surprisingly, Vitol supplied most of the fuel without upfront payment. Later, after an attack in May on the oil fields which left the rebel’s flow of oil interrupted, they were left owing the trading house more than $500m. But Taylor describes these activities as a ‘reasonable gamble’.

Some sources report that four companies offered to supply fuel to the rebels; however, CorpWatch reported that Vitol is thought to be the only oil firm to have traded with the rebels during the Libyan conflict.

Furthermore, Oil industry sources have stated that other firms including BP, Shell and Glencore had not been approached over the deal with one well-placed source describing this as “very surprising” because other companies would have been keen to be involved.

While it was reported that Qatar, a strong supporter of the Benghazi rebellion from the outset, helped facilitate contacts as the initial messenger, Vitol executives and Benghazi-based oil officials doggedly claim that they did not participate in the negotiations. It is somewhat hard to believe that neither side participated in negotiations on so large a return.

Who made the deal?

The UK Foreign Office did its best to prevent Col Gaddafi from obtaining fuel or selling crude during the conflict.
London encouraged trading houses to supply the rebels.

Expert Alan Duncan advised the cell, the deal was masterminded by him. As already noted, Duncan was previously a director of one of its subsidiaries.

In September of 2011, CorpWatch reported that Vitol won exclusive rights to trade with Libyan rebels during the conflict, following secret talks involving the British Government.

Mr Duncan’s private office received funding from Ian Taylor, the head of Vitol before the general election. In fact, Taylor has given more than £200,000 to the Conservatives.

The US Treasury granted a “general licence” authorising US companies to buy Libyan crude from Vitol. Washington also released $300m of frozen Gaddafi assets to the rebels to pay for the fuel, according to the state department.

After more than five months of dealings, the trading house sold the rebels more than 30 tankers of gasoline, diesel, fuel and liquefied petroleum gas, and this kept rebel forces moving, petrol stations filled and power stations running. Vitol has transported two tankers of crude oil from the rebels.

The Coalition was under pressure to disclose details of Mr Duncan’s role in securing the deal, worth about $1billion (£618million). Sources at other oil firms described the situation as ‘highly unusual’.

Duncan arranged the setting up of the “Libyan oil cell” to stop the Libyan government benefiting from its control of oil reserves.
The Government’s exact role remains shrouded in secrecy. Yet, Downing Street has described the highly lucrative activities as part of attempts to avoid a humanitarian crisis if rebel-held areas ran out of fuel as a way to sell it to the people as acceptable.

The rebels did not have access to significant sources of finance, meaning that Vitol agreed to deals without upfront payments and is understood to only now be receiving funds.

The Libyan government had assets frozen in London and elsewhere and Vitol may have been given assurances that this money would be released to the rebels in the future, as is now happening.

Sources close to the deal also said that the Government helped secure insurance for the Vitol shipments. Vitol ends up with both the crude oil and the proceeds from the frozen assets.

Details of the Libyan oil cell emerged following briefings from those close to Duncan, who is said to have described the cell as “the Duncan plan” to friends.

Nick Griffin compares Duncan and his secret deals to the way some of the American deals were done in Iraq after the war:
"The USA first flattened Iraq and then ensured that companies such as Vice-President Cheney´s Halliburton got the contracts to rebuild its infrastructure.

Similarly, we see Duncan, Hague and Cameron using the RAF to hand Libya on a blood-stained plate to Islamist rebels, and then seeing the same rebels do deals with the oil giant that had helped fund their personal party offices and rise to power. Effectively our armed forces were being used as mercenaries for corporate interests."

The Government claimed that Vitol, “had an existing commercial relationship with the National Transitional Council.” However, Vitol has declined to comment and sources close to the firm have indicated that the Government had “clearly been helpful” in facilitating the deal, stating that the American government was also involved.

Stranger still, Mr Duncan who recently gave up a directorship in Arawak Energy, a company owned by Vitol denied that he had set up meetings between the rebels and Vitol, whom he claims have always been the supplier.

As early as April of 2011, Duncan, the former oil trader, convinced Cameron to establish the so-called 'Libyan oil cell' which was run out of the Foreign Office.

The cell advised NATO to blockade the port of Zawiya to stifle Gaddafi's efforts. They helped identify alternative passages to smuggle fuel into Libya via Tunisia and Algeria.

They encouraged London based oil traders to sell fuel to the rebels, facilitating communication between traders and the rebels to set up fuel routes and it wasn't until August of 2011that Duncan’s role in blocking fuel supplies to Gaddafi was reported.
Now the same sinister forces are promoting war against Syria.

Once again Hague is promoting war which will again benefit the commercial interests of his long time pals. It is time for us to look behind the biased reports, inflammatory speeches, and ‘humanitarian’ professions to the true greed that fuels current world events.

If that isn’t corruption, what is?


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