Thursday, February 02, 2017

What Does Big Oil Get For It's Political Bribery?


Where did the $1.6 billion bribe to Trump come from?

With Trump and Bannon tearing it up so raucously in the center ring, some people aren't paying close enough attention to what the Republicans are up to in the sideshow. Like "world's best negotiator," Trumpanzee himself, totally buckling to PhRMA lobbyists within minutes. And rest assured, Ryan's foul little Congress is up to no good. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the oil industry lobbyists are collecting on a debt. Big Oil and Gas spent $29,193,276 bribing politicians in the 2016 cycle alone-- $25,361,577 to Republicans and $3,797,930 to Democrats. (Since 1990, Big Oil and Gas has poured $265,991,602 into congressional races.) The biggest Oil whores in Congress this cycle include Speaker Paul Ryan ($646,683), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady ($392,050), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy ($329,750) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise ($273,900). The grateful Ryan, Brady, McCarthy and Scalise have lead the lobbyists to the feeding trough and told them gorge themselves.
One of House Republicans’ first targets for regulatory rollback is torn from the oil industry’s wish list: eliminating recent Obama administration requirements that oil, gas and mining companies divulge more information about business payments they make to foreign governments.

A House resolution this week, which aims to scrap the transparency rule imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is one of the first measures that seeks to use the Congressional Review Act to undo regulations adopted during the final months of the Obama administration.

And it comes at a potentially awkward moment for former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, who opposed the SEC regulation and is now awaiting confirmation for the position of secretary of state.

The review act could be used to nullify regulations dating back to June last year, experts on the law say.

In this case, the SEC drafted the regulation in response to directions in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation. The directive was in an amendment backed by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and then-Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). “Information is power,” Lugar said at the time. “It is power for shareholders and power for citizens living under oppressive regimes.”

The SEC says that it would “combat government corruption through greater transparency and accountability.”

But the SEC’s first version of the regulation was struck down by a federal district court in the District of Columbia after the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed suit in 2012. That prompted a second attempt by the SEC. Because the final version was imposed near the end of the Obama administration, it now falls within the time frame that permits Congress and the president to use the review act to undo the regulation.

The oil industry has been particularly incensed about the regulation, complaining that the SEC rule would put them at a competitive disadvantage to foreign firms and be unduly expensive.

The SEC has argued that the rule would help fight corruption not only by companies but by governments around the world. It has also noted that global companies have begun to provide, on a voluntary basis, more comprehensive disclosures. In December 2015, then-commission member Luis A. Aguilar said that at least two large resource extraction companies were already providing payment disclosure on a project basis, and at least one other major resource extraction company was voluntarily providing other disclosures.

“Other global companies are also beginning to open their books to permit a window into their resource extraction payments to foreign governments,” he said.

...“Rolling back this law will enable the corruption President Trump told us all he would end,” said Corinna Gilfillan, head of the U.S. office of Global Witness, an advocacy group that targets environmental and human rights abuses. “The oil industry has been striking backroom deals with dictators and tyrants for decades, wrecking developing economies and the environment in the process.”

She added that “this law helps prevent it by making sure people can see how much money is changing hands for their resources, and who is really benefiting from those deals.”

Right wing extremist Ken Buck (R-CO) introduced the resolution, which passed yesterday 235-167, 5 Democrats voting with the GOP-- Gene Green (TX- $727,313), Henry Cuellar (TX- $565,180), Collin Peterson (MN- $117,275), Filemon Vela (TX- $72,800) and newcomer Vicente Gonzalez (TX- $1,000). Big Oil schmeared Buck with $72,950 this past cycle-- $402,329 since he was first elected to his High Plains Eastern Colorado seat in 2014. 

Not that Ken Buck or conservatives in Congress are the only ones Big Oil is schmearing. According to some pretty heavy duty, well-sourced rumors, Exxon gave Trump a nice fat $1.5 billion bribe. Sounds unbelievable? Maybe you haven't been paying close enough attention to what Exxon is and what Trump is. From Jonathan Schwartz:
According to documents recently uncovered in Europe, Exxon paid the Trump Organization $1.5 billion in June 2016 through a money laundering scheme involving banks in Europe, Hong Kong and New York. This payment occurred just days after ex-Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson attended the St. Petersburg Economic Conference in Russia.   It is unclear whether Trump's decision to nominate Tillerson as Secretary of State is in any way connected to the payment.

The documents were discovered by a European intelligence consulting company, headed by former European intelligence officers. The company was working with European intelligence and law enforcement agencies monitoring attempts by European companies to bypass US and EU sanction on Russia.

The documents state that on June 16, 2016, Exxon signed an agreement with MCC Holdings, a subsidiary of MCC (Metallurgical Corporation of China), a Chinese company owned by SASAC (State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council), the Chinese government agency responsible for managing government owned corporations.

Both MCC and its subsidiary, MCC Holdings have been rated by Moody's. The CEO of MCC Holdings, Mr. He Ting Shen (aka Heting Shen) is one of the signatories on the contract. According to public records as confirmed by several news sources, Shen is registered as the CEO of the company.

Кукольный! Кукольный! Нет кукол!
According to the contract agreement, Exxon and MCC holdings entered into what they defined as a "$1.6 billion joint participation agreement". The agreement, a 35-page document, is remarkably opaque, and can be described as a legalese waffle without any tangible deliverables or any other viable basis for a normal large scale business deal. The sole purpose of the agreement appears to obfuscate the payment by providing a cover that could be claimed was a plausible justification for the $1.6 billion payment Exxon made to MCC.

...On January 11, 2017, information regarding this payment was shared with the Department of Justice, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and several Senators.

Rex Tillerson visited Russia in June 2016, and then, just days later, the Exxon payment took place. Six months after that, Trump nominated Rex Tillerson, who was still Exxon's CEO at the time the agreement was signed and the payments made, as his nominee for Secretary of State, despite his lack of pertinent experience. Clearly, it is vitally important that this matter be investigated assiduously before the Senate confirms Tillerson.

In addition to the circumstances regarding the actual payment, two other issues need looking into. One is the source of the money. If it did not come from Russia, but from Exxon sources, Exxon, as a publicly traded company is required to report a $1.5 billion to the SEC, and list it in the relevant quarterly report. If this did not happen, then either the money originated from a third party, probably Russia, or Exxon is guilty of gross violations of banking laws and regulations.

...Unlike the Russian dossier recently released in the United States, the documents in this matter are available and include the contract agreement, the wire transfer document from Paris to Hong Kong, the HSBC “Payment Advice” document, passports from signatories, and emails describing the transactions.
Yesterday 3 right-of-center Democrats-- Manchin (WV), Warner (VA) and Heitkamp (ND)-- plus 1 independent-- Angus King (ME)-- voted with the Republicans to confirm the Trump-Bannon-Putin pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. All 4 of them are up for reelection in 2018. This is how much each has received from Big Oil:
Manchin- $290,150
Heitkamp- $259,379
Warner- $161,920
King- $17,800

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At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

they get everything they want... even from democraps. how high is up?

At 8:32 PM, Blogger mainstreeter said...

Keep this page up long as you can, no one else is reporting this.

At 12:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: " ... probably Russia, or Exxon is guilty of gross violations of banking laws and regulations."

We've treated Russia (Soviet Union) like a piece of dog shit for 70 years, culminating in an essential war crime of "economic sanctions" (that Obumma boasted left its economy in tatters:

THEN we get indignantly sanctimonious that Russia MAY have violated the same "banking laws" we have used to impose said sanctions?

If we survive, we can thank Herr Hair for revealing our societal core of magical thinking that put him into office but would still lead to our demise even if he never existed.

John Puma

At 4:47 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

The bullshit keeps on flowing, a never ending river. It seems we will all drown in it. Corporations and billionaires will sink, too, in their boats made of gold. How sad for the flora and fauna and our beautiful planet.

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie, is any of this connected with the Russian petro company Rosneft deal?


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