Thursday :: Aug 26, 2004

The Wonga List


by larre

The sensation-snarfing scriveners of the mass media must be getting hungry now that the Swift Boat lies have turned indigestible. So, maybe this little tidbit will tide them over.

As you probably know, Sir Mark Thatcher (the honorific is by heredity, not personal deeds) is the ne'er-do-well-son of the Iron Lady. He is presently under house arrest in South Africa after being named by an international arms dealer at the trial of a group of mercenaries.

The Dallas Morning News reports --

Thatcher was arrested Wednesday and charged with helping finance what authorities say was a foiled plot to overthrow the president of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Police in South Africa, where Thatcher has lived since 1995, have information that the 51-year-old businessman had put his $3.3 million home up for sale and had booked flights for his American wife and two children to Dallas, police spokesman Sipho Ngwema said. The children had already been enrolled in schools there.

Dallas, huh? That's a little odd, right? Read on.

As you doubtless know, though it may have momentarily slipped your mind, Equatorial Guinea is a small, miserable little hellhole about the size of Maryland located on the Bight of Biafra just south of Cameroon and north of Gabon. Lonely Planet charitably calls it a "backwater," an impoverished grease spot that boasts 'few attractions aside from the beach and the many local bars'.

Oh. And one more thing: oil.

According to Alexander's Oil and Gas Connections, very recently discovered offshore oil reserves make Equatorial Guinea "Africa's rising economic star."

Equatorial Guinea -- previously unheard of by corporate America -- has become the fourth largest recipient of US foreign funding, after South Africa, Nigeria and Angola. Incredibly, Equatorial Guinea's vast reserves of oil remained largely untapped until the mid-1990s. But since 1996, the country's oil production has increased more than tenfold -- and is expected to rise to a daily average of more than 200 000 barrels this year and possibly about 300 000 barrels sometime next year.

Hmmm. First Dallas, now oil. But that's an understandable coincidence, right?

Last March, the BBC was reporting Equatorial Guinea was 'Ripe for a Coup.' Planeloads of mercenaries were being flown in, presumably to overthrow the government of the corrupt president, Obiang Nguem Mbassogo.

As the CIA World Factbook explains --

President Obiang Nguem Mbassogo has ruled the country for over two decades since seizing power from his uncle, then President Macias, in a 1979 coup. Although nominally a constitutional democracy since 1991, the 1996 and 2002 presidential elections - as well as the 1999 legislative elections - were widely seen as being flawed. The president controls most opposition parties through the judicious use of patronage. Despite the country's economic windfall from oil production resulting in a massive increase in government revenue in recent years, there have been few improvements in the country's living standards.

Let's see. Dallas.... oil.... impoverished masses... rapidly escalating boatloads of U.S. aid ... military action to overthrow a dictator. This is beginning to sound familiar, don't you think?

Now, we learn from The Scotsman.com , a web resource that had it exactly right about Iraq three years before the New York Times, that the company drilling for the oil, whom Sir Mark presumably wanted to help, has "close ties to President George W. Bush."

Dallas-based Triton Energy, which has close ties to President George Bush, Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco have together invested more than US$5 billion in Equatorial Guinea's burgeoning oil production, predicted soon to provide five percent of US oil needs.

The Scotsman.com also adds this bit that promises continued suspense:

News of [Sir Mark's] planned departure emerged amid reports that a key witness in the investigation has disappeared. Jack Kershaw, a computer expert who is alleged to be the coup paymaster, appears to have gone to ground. His home and mobile telephones in South Africa are now registering unobtainable.

It was reported yesterday that Mr Kershaw, in his late 20s, is believed to be carrying the "wonga list" - the names and contact details of wealthy and powerful individuals who contributed funds to finance the alleged failed coup.

I wonder if by chance there's a Bush somewhere on that wonga list? One that might have close connections with Sir Mark and his Texas-reared wife.

larre :: 7:59 PM :: Comments (1) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!