Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Africa

"Although former senior Elf officials have been jailed in France for ‘misuse of company assets’, their legacy of opacity and hair-raising accounting endures [in Congo Brazzaville]...Once one of the richest states in Africa, Congo now has the highest per capita debt in the world...Elf had an enormous amount at stake as the dominant oil company in Congo Brazzaville, where oil receipts today account for around 70% of the country’s income and 90-95% of its exports. Elf’s proprietary interest in Congo Brazzaville led it not only to feed corruption, but also to meddle with elections, encourage massive indebtedness and, worst of all, to fund both sides in the 1997 civil war. Elf’s successor, the private-sector TotalFinaElf (now Total), remains a major player in Congo: in 2002, it still accounted for around 70% of the country’s oil production. Transparency is still desperately needed in Congo...Recent negotiations between the Congolese authorities and Total show that the tradition of secrecy surrounding oil income continues under the government of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, autocratic strongman turned elected president."

--from Global Witness's report, Time for Transparency, Coming Clean on Oil, Mining & Gas Revenues

In an example of French prejudice against the English, Le Monde has an article on the Global Witness report that mentions British wrong-doings in the petroleum industry but fails to mention the report's critiques of French companies.

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