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France’s oily dealings

In the past few weeks we have all indulged in a spot of frog bashing, which will continue, I hope, until Jacques Chirac steps down from his UN soapbox, from which he is currently preaching Justice, World Peace and Morality.

This may be yet another nudge to kick him off the moral highground that only the French themselves seem to take seriously. Not even Peter Hain, one of Britain’s leading Federasts, is fooled by France’s posturing. The Telegraph reports:

For the next four-and-a-half months, the former top brass of Elf, the [French] oil giant, will have to explain what happened to hundreds of millions of pounds diverted from company accounts for bribes and personal enrichment.

President Chirac is reported to be deeply concerned that France is not embarrassed as it tries to establish itself as an alternative to America’s global leadership.

I bet he is! Watching him wriggle out of this one should be interesting. French interests? Oil? Bribes? Moi? Elf was founded by General de Gaulle as a state-owned company until 1994. Its original purpose was to serve as cover for operations the French government wanted to keep secret, whether bribing African and Latin American leaders or funnelling money into Swiss accounts for domestic political backers.

The key defendants are the former chief executive of Elf, Loik le Floch-Prigent, its former director of general affairs, Alfred Sirven, and Andrèc) Tarallo, known as Elf’s Monsieur Afrique because of his deep ties to the continent. In his testimony, Le Floch-Prigent says he urged M Mitterrand in 1989 to turn off the bribery tap. “Ah non,” he claims M Mitterrand told him. “Let’s carry on with what General de Gaulle started.”

If M Mitterand did not want to upset de Gaulle ‘legacy’, what are the chances that M Chirac, with his Gaullist tendencies, would have done so during his time in power? I wonder whether there may be an Iraq-Elf connection. Or is that just too much to hope for? In any case, Chirac’s fall, whenever it happens, is bound to leave an oily slick on the ground…

14 comments to France’s oily dealings

  • While I find this post really amusing (Oil? Bribes? Moi? – really, I am not being condesending, this is hilarious), I do not believe the current Iraqi situation has anything to do with oil. Not for the United States and not for France. Will this Elf trial turn up all sorts of nastiness, oh, yes, I imagine it will and all things considered, at least a portion of the nastiness will lead back to the Presidency, but I am not expecting any of that to necessarily be related to Iraq.

  • The most interesting part of this is not the current Elf Iraq farrago, but what happens when they look at the kicbacks paid to Helmut Kohl in part payment for Kohl’s financial support during France’s Maastricht referendum

  • S. Weasel

    I’ve been puzzled by this “it’s all about oil” thing from the start. We aren’t particularly short of oil. We didn’t steal their oil in ’91. So what’s the obsession about oil?

    It finally dawned on me what they’re getting at. They think Bush and co. stand to gain financially and personally on oil deals. That they’re going to war to line their own pockets.

    And that’s just bizarre.

  • Not the brightest bulb in the fancy chandelier, Chirac is hoping that instead of him being truly found with hand in cookie jar, somehow, magically, it can be shown that Bush is somehow tainted with “oily stuff”. Careful coverage of Elf’s little “Trials & Tribulations” will show it is France that has slimed itself for lo these many years.

  • I have been wondering if the French aren’t responsible for the softening of British anti-war sentiment in the last few weeks. It wouldn’t be surprising.

    I also find myself wondering how much of that anti-war sentiment is, or was, more of an “I’d rather we not do this, but…” opinion than an “I’ll hate Blair forever if he does this” opinion. I suspect much of it was and is the former, and that the French have probably helped a good bit of that along.

  • John J. Coupal

    As the little details of the financial deals between Saddam Ltd and the Franco-German-Belgian triangle become revealed in the weeks ahead, I’m sure we’ll all get a good laugh.

    Or not.

  • Jacob

    “It finally dawned on me what they’re getting at. They think Bush and co. stand to gain financially and personally on oil deals. That they’re going to war to line their own pockets”
    Well, that’s the custom in (continental)Europe – why wouldn’t Europeans think so ?
    Natural, not bizarre.

  • Front4u

    Heh heh,

    It is quite amaizing to see the same toads at French lefty press now cozying up to Chiraq, calling him a white knight of peace or whatever.

    You just have to go back 6 months when they were tearing him down and calling him selfish corrupt relic of elitist France.

    Har har. Only the left can do 180 degrees and still claim to have the moral high-ground.

  • Jerry Greenhoot

    The deal is not about oil…..it’s about an oil company that was used to launder kickbacks from Arab and African politicians for use in France by French politicians……and German ones. The money goes Elf to corrupt official….skim a lot….donate the rest to Chirac etc. That’s what they’re protecting….to keep out of jail is what they’re trying to do…..not geopolitics or the
    glory of France….just old fashioned jail. Somewhere in Baghdad is a little guy with a green eyeshade who has the numbers, names and dates of Saddam’s connivance in this process. The investigators of the 82nd Airborne, with .50 calibre supoenas will find it. There’s plenty of smoke….but the gun is in Baghdad.

  • Johan

    By claming that this war is only about oil is to fuel socialist/communist ideas that capitalism is the root of all evil and that this is the product of capitalism; war.

    On the other hand, I’m glad if it is all about oil. Heck, I’d rather buy American and/or British oil than supporting terrorists, fundamental Islamic states (and so forth) by buying Iraq oil.

  • Guys, where do you read that ‘it’s all about oil’?! It’s obvious that Elf is first and foremost a company set up to cover government corrupt dealings with the Third World tyrants. Elf may have nothing to do with Iraq (probably). It was just too good an item to miss, especially as it combines Chirac, French corruption, bribes, Third World and oil!

    For the record, I don’t think that ‘it’s all about oil’, what comes out clearly is that governments don’t act on principle. Individual politicians might and I believe Blair’s personal conviction is driving his policy, rather than some direct benefit, though there will be some, if all goes well.

    Chirac, though, is so corrupt that his moral posturing is beyond outrageous. The Elf scandal is only the most recent example of the French goverment corruption and its underlying belief that in realpolitik anything goes.

  • I have been wondering if the French aren’t responsible for the softening of British anti-war sentiment in the last few weeks. It wouldn’t be surprising.

    I’m sure it’s true. Even someone deeply skeptical about the war, such as myself, finds Chirac’s recent posturing totally ridiculous. He’s done France’s international image a lot of damage.

    Don’t forget he only got elected because his opponent in the runoff was a Fascist.

  • Andy

    While the war (almost assuredly) isn’t about oil, it’s easy to be suspicious of the motive; Cheney & GWB both have oil interests. In fact, Cheney was chairmain of Halliburton and still has associates that are in charge of the company. Halliburton picked up the contract to manage (and fix) the Iraqi oil fields when the war is done. There are probably a handful of companies that can pull off a job of this magnitude (they are probably French, German and Russian :), so it’s not surprising that an American company got the nod for this job.

  • I have always suspected that the narrow base of the enarques who rule France and the increasing evidence of corruption leaves the country vulnerable to a ‘clean hands’ development similar to Italy’s in the early 90s.

    It would be interesting to note if there are any links between Elf and the European Commission, another blogjective.