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Member since: Wed May 5, 2004, 09:44 AM
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U.S. Contemplates Confronting Russians in Syria

I Think I Won!

This is done largely through Saudi corporate acquisitions, banks and companies they control

Money buys power, policy and politicians. Hillary Clinton has come to symbolize to many the increasingly blatant capture of the corporate Democratic center by monied interests. Increasingly, in a globalized economy, the source of money in American politics is foreign. But, because there are still vestiges of laws that prohibit the direct campaign contributions to candidates, that money comes in through corporate middlemen. That, my friends, is what we will call corporate capture by proxy.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC states) have acquired or made major investments in literally hundreds of US corporations in a number of industries, including energy, entertainment, banking and financial services, and control even more by "corporate capture". That is a term that is usually associated with how companies in an industry can come to control the regulatory process of agencies originally set up to create and enforce rules of commerce. We are talking here about how nations have been taken over, economically and politically, including the U.S., and how this corruption spreads.

Corporate capture by proxy works this way. Captive companies and their executives legally make contributions to PACS that benefits both parties and major candidates. These contributions are essentially pass-through of foreign funding of federal elections, a problem recognized by the minority opinion in the notorious Citizens United decision. Justice Stevens wrote for those four justices:

The notion that Congress might lack the authority to distinguish foreigners from citizens in the regulation of electioneering would certainly have surprised the Framers, whose obsession with foreign influence derived from a fear that foreign powers and individuals had no basic investment in the well-being of the country. Citizens United, 130 S. Ct. at 945, 947, 948 n. 51 (Stevens, J., joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (internal quotation marks and footnotes omitted).

Saudi Arabia has an enormous diversified portfolio of US and global companies purchased or with a substantial interest over time. It is no secret that the Saudis actively seek to mold American public opinion and policy, and that money is their most effective weapon. Among these large companies in which they have taken a major interest is Newscorp, the parent of the conservative US news outlet Fox News. The total amounts of Saudi investments in the U.S. are estimated to in excess of $750 billion. In the next four years, the State-owned Saudi oil company, Aramco, plans on global acquisitions of $80 billion, compared to the $70 billion they will invest internally. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-11/saudi-aramco-said-to-plan-spending-80-billion-overseas

During his recent visit to the US, King Salman laid out the Kingdom's U.S. investment plans. KSA also seeks US corporations as partners in joint ventures in Saudi industries and sectors. While broadly invested in the US and UK economies, the greatest part of the Saudi economy is still largely closed to foreign ownership, including the upstream oil supply that remains nationalized. U.S. companies are attracted to offers of joint-venture investment schemes and contracts in the Arab states include the largest arms manufacturers, banks, and petrochemical firms.

According to the Saudi Embassy, the corporate elite lining up to see the King were the usual suspects which have long thrived in the Middle east arms for oil trade: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ff87679e-554f-11e5-8642-453585f2cfcd.html#ixzz3ljT0pHox

The US side included representatives from GE, Chevron, JPMorgan, Boeing, Dow, Alcoa, Fluor, Halliburton, Raytheon and Lockheed, according to a banker briefed on the meetings and a Saudi official.

The king was accompanied by his son, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is spearheading the investment drive into sectors such as mining, oil and gas, health, education, retail, infrastructure and banking.

Investment opportunities highlighted by the Saudi delegation:

Mining especially phosphate, bauxite and silica.
Energy state energy giant Saudi Arabian Oil Company is poised to launch a five-year plan, including opportunities in refining and distribution.
Healthcare US private sector investment is sought to help double hospital capacity.
Leisure industries Riyadh is looking to US companies such as Disney, Universal Studios and Six Flags to build theme parks across the kingdom.
Education the government seeks investment in technical training centres.
Banking with opportunities for US banks to finance mortgages and small businesses. Financial services reforms are planned to increase the role of overseas banks.

The Saudis and Gulf Arabs have also diversified their investments and acquisitions of U.S. political parties and candidates. The relationship with the Bush family led to the long-time Saudi Ambassador to the US to be dubbed, "Bandar Bush." The Saudis and Gulf states have also contributed at least ten million dollars since the late 1990s to the Clinton Foundation. Millions more were donated during the time she was Secretary of State. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/foreign-governments-gave-millions-to-foundation-while-clinton-was-at-state-dept/2015/02/25/31937c1e-bc3f-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html

Some corporations and institutions qualify as captures of the Saudis on account of their huge revenues or contributions from that country. The Foundation Center reports that Boeing, for instance, anted up nearly a million dollars of its own to the Clinton Foundation at a key time to facilitate a multi-billion dollar sale to the oil Kingdom: http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/arms-sales-ok-d-by-hillary-clinton-s-state-department-raise-questions

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia totaling $8 billion were approved in FY 2010-12 up from $4.1 billion in FY 2006-08 including $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets delivered by a consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing, despite the State Department's documented concerns about the repressive policies of the Saudi royal family. In the years before Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation, while Boeing contributed $900,000 to the foundation just two months before the deal was finalized.

(Caption: King Abdullah, Clinton meet in New York January 8, 2011. . . . Abdullah bin Abdulaziz received at his residence in New York yesterday evening U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. During the audience, King Abdullah and Secretary Clinton discussed the latest regional and international developments. The audience was attended by Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, President of General Intelligence Presidency; Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Secretary General of the National Security Council . . .)


In addition to overt influence buying, until from 1985 until recently the Saudis operated a multi-billion dollar political slush fund, "al-Yamamah" ("the Dove" in Arabic) as a sort of reverse kick-back scheme through which a portion of BAE arms sales revenues to KSA was converted into an all-purpose global bribery fund. Some $43 billion in proceeds were distributed in a loosely audited arrangement as shares of oil that were extracted by Shell Oil and BP oil concessions in KSA.

At least $1 billion were paid out by Yamamah on a regular basis to an account at the now defunct Washington, DC Riggs Bank held by Saudi Ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar. These funds were channeled into a variety of projects, including support of covert operations -- including approximately $70,000 that were used by a Saudi national, Omar al-Bayoumi, who supported the Flt. 77 hijackers, al-Midhar and al-Hazmi, when they arrived in the US in early 2000. Other Riggs Bank funds held by the Saudi Embassy paid for donations to favored politicians in the UK and US. Not surprisingly, Riggs Bank also had long ties with both the Bush family, Jonathon Bush was a Director, and the Central Intelligence Agency. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB110444413126413199

Like the BCCI-network of corrupt banks with similar dark money ties, funds held by the Saudi Embassy paid for covert operations abroad, including $55 million that went to the contras during the Reagan Administration. These covert operations funded with Saudi Embassy funds out of Riggs continued until the bank was fined $25 million and shut down in 2004 for its role in these money transfers.

By Stephen Fidler

Financial Times (UK)
July 2, 2007


Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice examining BAE Systems' compliance with anti-corruption laws in its arms dealings with Saudi Arabia will find themselves scrutinizing a deal that was used, with the help of the British government, as a secret tool of Saudi foreign policy.

BAE said last week that the DoJ had launched a formal inquiry into the 20-year-old Al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

The Al-Yamamah agreement, originally signed in 1985 by the Saudi and British governments to pay for the Saudi purchase of Tornado jets, was employed to distribute Saudi oil revenues outside the country's official budget. "It was a way of Saudis paying money to Saudis," said one person involved in the deal.

The mechanism has been used to pay for more than combat aircraft. According to one account, it bought arms from Egypt for the Mujahideen fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan and paid for clandestine purchases of Russian arms to oust Libyan troops from Chad.

BAE serviced this contract and has always denied wrongdoing associated with it, arguing that its work was part of a government-to-government arrangement. If the payments were approved by the British and Saudi governments, how could it be doing anything illegal?

The arrangement, at least initially, involved a special account controlled by the Saudis, at the Bank of England. This would receive funds from the sale of Saudi oil lifted and sold by BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which took a commission. Press reports in 1996 suggested this exact arrangement changed -- but over nearly two decades, tens of billions of dollars were directed through it.

The first oil lifting under the contract was on January 31, 1986, of 1.8m to 1.9m barrels. The Saudis agreed to deliver 300,000 barrels per day [plus or minus 10 per cent] for the first three years of the contract. The amount of oil delivered varied with fluctuating oil prices up to a reported maximum of 600,000 bpd in 1993, when a new and expanded contract called Al-Yamamah 2 came into force, and fell to 400,000 in 1998 after the last Tornado was delivered. At times, the kingdom replenished the account with cash -- and at other times there was a surplus that was available for distribution.

Some or all of the payments from the Bank of England account were routed through the U.K.'s Defense Export Services Organization, part of the Ministry of Defense. For this service, the MoD was paid a small commission.

U.K. media reports have alleged Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington and now national security adviser to King Abdullah, received more than 1bn from BAE as part of these arrangements.

Prince Bandar has dismissed the allegations as "grotesque in their absurdity." He has said the payments came from a Saudi government account and were paid into another account belonging to the Saudi ministry of defense and aviation, to which he was a signatory.

The Guardian detailed how detailed the international financial network that spread commercial and political corruption around the world: http://www.theguardian.com/baefiles/page/0,,2095831,00.html

Over the past 20 years, the warplane programme has brought 43bn in revenue for BAE [profile].

The deal made the career of BAE executive Dick Evans [biography], who rose to chair the company on the strength of it.

Police later calculated that more than 6bn may have been distributed in corrupt commissions, via an array of agents and middlemen.Newly obtained documents and our own investigations have revealed details of where the money may have gone.

Millions went to Bandar, according to US sources. Up to $30m (15m) at a time is alleged to have been paid into his dollar account at Riggs Bank [profile] in Washington.

More millions were paid by BAE into Wafic Said-linked accounts in Switzerland.

Bandar's father, Prince Sultan [biography], was described by a British ambassador as having "a corrupt interest in all contracts".

Legal sources say BAE disguised many of the payments by making them through an anonymous offshore company, Poseidon.

Large amounts were also alleged to have been transferred in this way to Mohammed Safadi [biography], a Lebanese politician.

He acted for Sultan's son-in-law, Prince Turki bin Nasser (biography), who controlled the Saudi air force.

At least 1bn is said to have gone down the Poseidon route. More payments were allegedly disguised in inflated bills to BAE from local subcontractors.

. . .

The cash for all these payoffs came, simply enough, from overcharging.

Accidentally released UK documents [article] reveal that the basic price of the planes was inflated by 32%, to allow for an initial 600m in commissions.

That was only the start. Many UK sub-contractors - for jet engines, weapons and electronics - have revealed that they too were required to pay commissions.[article]

Spare parts, maintenance, construction of local bases - every aspect of al-Yamamah is alleged to have involved corruption.

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