August 10 2009; From Libya to London – The World of a Wild Child Turned Power – Broker. The Financier Nat Rothschild is at The Centre of a Web of International Intrigue
Once again, the name of Nat Rothschild has emerged at the centre of web of intrigue, with questions over his links to Libya, his friendship with Peter Mandelson and his alleged role in the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Indeed, his name seems to be linked with almost every influential, rich and powerful person on the globe, from billionaires to presidents and royalty. But it wasn’t always like that.
For years Nat Rothschild appeared destined to be yet another scion of the rich and famous who had it all and blew it all – mainly through partying. At some point in the mid-1990s he underwent an almost Damascene conversion into a responsible financier, who managed to channel his gambling instincts into money-making investments for a hedge fund. As his skills in handling investments helped turn the Atticus hedge fund into a multi-billion pound concern, so his personal stock rose – in the 13 years he has been with Atticus he has built up his own multimillion pound fortune, quite apart from the £500m he is expected to inherit one day from his father, Jacob, the fourth Baron Rothschild. He has also become an increasingly influential figure not just in the world of finance but in political circles.
Influence is something deeply familiar to the Rothschilds, whose banking concerns have been a force in Europe for two centuries, but for the member of the Bullingdon Club who once rolled an occupied portable loo down a slope, it seemed an unlikely future. Instead of partying with models and socialites, these days he is more likely to be found hob-nobbing with some of the world’s richest and most powerful people. His sphere of influence, it has been revealed, now extends even into Libya, which during the 1980s and 1990s was reviled as a terrorist state. Seif Gaddafi, President Muammar Gaddafi’s son, was the guest of honour at a party held by the financier in New York in 2008 and this year he allowed his home in Corfu to be the venue for a meeting between the Libyan and Lord Mandelson.
The meeting took place earlier this month, just a week before it emerged that the Scottish executive was considering the release from prison of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Lord Mandelson accepted that Megrahi’s name came up in the discussions but he strongly denied any suggestion he interfered in the decision to release the prisoner.
Nat Rothschild’s interests are further thought to overlap with those of Seif Gaddafi in Montenegro, where he has been linked to investments in the £500m Porto Montenegro project, which is intended to give the country a leading marina. Gaddafi is thought to be keen, signing up to a range of deals in Montenegro to benefit Libya.
Prior to winning friends in Tripoli, the former wild child had built up enviable contacts and deals with Russian oligarchs. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, is reported to be one of Rothschild’s closest friends and he has been appointed as an adviser to Oleg Deripaska, the owner of Rusal, which became the biggest aluminium company in the world as part of a merger deal with two other companies that Rothschild helped to put together.
Deripaska, described as Russia’s richest man and the Kremlin’s favourite oligarch, had a fortune estimated at more than £16bn in 2007 and is believed to be close to Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister.
It was Deripaska whom George Osborne, the Conservative front-bencher, was said to have spoken to about a £50,000 donation to the Tory party. The MP admitted he discussed a donation but denied asking for or receiving any money. The row blew up when Mr Rothschild accused Mr Osborne of approaching the oligarch for a donation. He is thought to have been prompted by a breach of etiquette on the MP’s part by leaking the story of Lord Mandelson meeting the oligarch on a yacht – the two politicians were Rothschild’s guests. The row soured a friendship between the MP and the financier which dated back to contemporary membership of the Bullingdon Club.
Mr Rothschild’s success in recent years has come as a surprise to many who knew him in his wilder days. Peter Munk, the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer, recalled meeting the future fifth Baron Rothschild in the lobby of a London hotel in 2001. The financier was hoping to persuade Mr Munk to invest in Atticus but failed to impress at first hearing. “He did not carry the halo of being the future of the family. I wanted to get rid of the boy,” said the gold producer who now has him on his own advisory board. It is thought that as a young man Nat Rothschild was intimidated by the prospect of having to live up to the achievements of his father and ancestors. Now, he is seen as a man who may well set new high standards for his family. Mr Munk added: “This kid is special. It’s back to when they [the Rothschilds] were ruling the world.” “He is one of the few sons of great men who has enhanced the family stature and created his own wealth,” said Charles Phillips, who supervised him when he worked at the investment firm Gleacher & Co.
Spheres of influence: Rothschilds connections: Business associates:
Oleg Deripaska: The Russian oligarch owns Rusal, the world’s biggest aluminium company. Rothschild has won a position as an adviser to Deripaska and one of his select inner circle.
Seif al-Islam Gaddafi: Investment interests thought to overlap in Montenegro. He recently hosted a party with guests including Rothschild Prince Albert of Monaco and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.
Roland Rudd: Atticus employed Finsbury, which is run by Rudd, as its PR firm. Rudd is a friend of Lord Mandelson and Oleg Deripaska is another of Finsbury’s clients.
Timothy Barakett: The founder of the hedge fund Atticus took on Rothchild in 1995. The two have never looked back. Atticus is now a multi-billion concern and its success has enabled Rothschild to make his own fortune instead of relying on his father’s money.
Roman Abramovich: The Russian oligarch and billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club is a close friend of Rothschild. It was through Abramovich that Rothschild met Deripaska.
Peter Mandelson: The depth of the friendship is uncertain but Lord Mandelson has been linked to Rothchild on several fronts, including as a guest at his Corfu home.
George Osborne: Having known each other for years relations soured when Rothschild accused him of seeking donations for the Conservative Party from a Russian oligarch.
Matthew Freud: Rothschild was a guest at the 40th birthday party that Freud, the PR guru, threw for his wife, Elisabeth, Daughter of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, in Corfu last year.
Annabelle Neilson: Rothschild married the model and friend of Kate Moss at a ceremony in Las Vagas after eloping. The marriage lasted less than three years, with a divorce being agreed in 1997.
Petrina Khashoggi: The daughter of Jonathan Aitken, Ivanka Trump, the socialite and businesswoman daughter of Ivana and Donald Trump, and the actress Natalie Portman are among the women Rothschild has dated. Princess Florence von Preussen: The great great granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor, is the latest woman to be romantically linked to the financier. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/from-libya-to-london-the-world-of-a-wild-child-turned-powerbroker-1776482.html
August 17 2009; Mandelson Met Gaddafi’s Son Before Lockerbie Bomber Move
Lord Mandelson met Colonel Gaddafi’s son at a Corfu villa only a week before the announcement that the perpetrator of the Lockerbie bombing could be released from prison. Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, widely seen as the Libyan leader’s most likely successor, was a fellow guest of the Rothschild family at its Greek property a fortnight ago in a wider annual gathering of powerful friends. Stays by the two men overlapped by only one night, according to Lord Mandelson’s spokesman. He said the pair spoke only briefly but they did discuss Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrah. “There was a fleeting conversation about the prisoner; Peter was completely unsighted on the subject,” he said.
It was only one week later that news emerged that Mr Megrah could get an early release on compassionate grounds because he is suffering from terminal cancer. Lord Mandelson said through his spokesman that he had had no involvement in the decision and only learnt of it through the BBC. Mr Megrah’s possible release was a decision entirely for the Scottish government rather than London. “It was entirely coincidental,” the spokesman said.
The government is likely to portray the meeting as unexceptional because relations between the UK and Libya have normalised in recent years. It was in 2003 that Muammer Gaddafi surrendered his weapons of mass destruction programmes and helped deliver the Lockerbie bombing suspects for trial. In November 2008 he agreed a $1.8bn (£1.1bn) compensation package for bomb victims.
Libya’s role as a large oil producer, with the potential for much greater mineral discoveries in the future, has made it a magnet for international business – including British oil companies. “Libya is . . . very much back in the mainstream of international affairs,” the British ambassador to Libya, Sir Vincent Fean, said this summer.
However, news of the meeting could renew questions about Lord Mandelson’s affinity for rich and powerful individuals and his ability to create controversy. Seif Gaddafi antagonized relatives of some of the 270 Lockerbie victims last year when he said in a BBC interview that they were “very greedy” and “trading with the blood of their sons and daughters”. 501 of 2845 https://archive.org/stream/ABCNews19781979/Libya-FT-2007-to-2012-b.txt
August 17 2009; Mandelson Sends Signals From Corfu
The business secretary used his summer break to convey contempt for his critics, By returning to the Rothschild family’s estate in Corfu for his summer break a fortnight ago, Lord Mandelson was making a characteristically defiant gesture. The veiled riposte to critics who question the company he sometimes likes to keep seemed to reinforce his intensifying sense of purpose and confidence as Labour’s most effective operator. As Matthew D’Ancona wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph: “It was a positive crowd-pleaser showing that the old stager is still ready to please himself and the punters with a bit of old-fashioned New Labour ligging and poncing off rich folks.”
Last summer the business secretary’s holiday with his friend Nat Rothschild led to his stay on the yacht of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch – and raised questions about a potential conflict of interest. A dinner at the local “Taverna Agni” with George Osborne, shadow chancellor, also ended up in the newspapers – although it was Mr Osborne whose reputation took a temporary knock.
This summer, as Lord Mandelson was spotted once again flying to Greece, his spokesman declared: “Peter is not going to allow what happened last year to put him off Corfu. He is there for a week – but this time without Russians, yachts or George Osborne.” True, of course. But it was an apparently chance encounter with another character – this time the son of Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader – which could reignite questions of the business secretary’s judgment. Such is the secrecy surrounding the annual shindig at the Rothschild’s luxurious £30m estate that most conversations stay -private.
But the Financial Times has been told of another conversation, between Saef Gaddafi and Lord Mandelson, which touched briefly on a more serious issue: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the man imprisoned for the Lockerbie bombing of 1988 that killed 270 people. The two men had met on at least one previous “official” occasion – a formal event in London.
Both are mutual friends of Nat Rothschild, co-founder of the Atticus hedge funds and an international socialite. Mr Rothschild hosted a party for the Libya powerbroker at his New York townhouse last autumn – although Lord Mandelson was not present.
But the conversation’s timing, days before news of Mr Megrahi’s possible release, is an unfortunate coincidence for the business secretary. Feelings are running high on Mr Megrahi, with the US state department stating flatly last week that he should “spend the rest of his time in jail.” It could be seized upon by those who believe the British government is overly keen to improve relations with Libya because of the north African state’s large oil reserves. Asked if the two men discussed the oil industry, Lord Mandelson’s spokesman said: “[In] the context of this party, discussions on bilateral relationships cannot be very extensive.”
August 22 2009; Lord Mandelson Faces Fresh Questions Over His Links to Libya Following the Decision to Free the Lockerbie Bomber.
The Business Secretary denied that the Government had done a deal to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, who was convicted of the 1988 terrorist atrocity that claimed 270 lives. However, his claims were contradicted by Saif Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, in a conversation with Megrahi as the pair flew home from Glasgow. In a transcript obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Gaddafi tells Megrahi: “You were on the table in all commercial, oil and gas agreements that we supervised in that period. You were on the table in all British interests when it came to Libya, and I personally supervised this matter.
Also, during the visits of the previous prime minister, Tony Blair.”Downing Street confirmed last night that Gordon Brown had discussed the possible release of Megrahi with Colonel Gaddafi when the two men met on the fringes of the G8 summit in Italy last month. A letter the Prime Minister sent to the Libyans, dated last Thursday, the day of the release, said: “When we met I stressed that, should the Scottish Executive decide that Megrahi can return to Libya, this should be a purely private, family occasion.”
Libya’s talk of trade deals has shone the spotlight on Lord Mandelson, who is facing mounting questions over his links with Mr Gaddafi, 37, the man widely tipped as his country’s next leader. An investigation has disclosed that the Business Secretary’s controversial businessmen friends, Oleg Deripaska and Nat Rothschild, have a closer relationship with Mr Gaddafi than has so far been publicly known. Earlier this summer Mr Gaddafi hosted a birthday party at a resort where Mr Deripaska, a billionaire Russian oligarch, and Mr Rothschild, a wealthy British financier, held a business meeting the following morning. The 37th birthday celebrations took place in Montenegro, a tiny country whose interests have been championed by Lord Mandelson and where Mr Deripaska and Mr Rothschild have substantial business interests. Late last year Mr Rothschild hosted a party in honour of Mr Gaddafi in New York.
Lord Mandelson has met the Libyan at least twice in the past four months. Last week he admitted to a “fleeting” discussion with Mr Gaddafi about the convicted Lockerbie bomber at the Rothschilds’ family estate in Corfu. It came just days before it emerged that preparations were being made for Megrahi’s release and raised questions from opposition politicians.
Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP, said yesterday that the public would wonder whether Lord Mandelson had “once again” allowed his private life to mix with controversial decisions made in his role as Business Secretary. Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, demanded greater transparency over the Government’s role in the release. “The evidence is mounting that there was far more to the release of Megrahi than simply a judicial decision based on compassion,” he said.
Yet Saif Gaddafi said in his conversation with Megrahi, which was filmed for broadcast on Libyan television: “Frankly, we did a lot of work, secret and public, which involved all parties and took years. The work was constant to get your release.” The Business Secretary has denied acting improperly and his spokesman said claims of a conflict of interest were “farcical”, adding: “People are reading far too much into this.”
Colonel Gaddafi heaped further embarrassment on Britain by praising “my friend” Gordon Brown and his government for their part in securing Megrahi’s freedom. It also emerged that a Foreign Office minister had written to the Scottish government in what critics claimed was an attempt to put pressure on Scotland to set Megrahi free. Ivan Lewis, the minister responsible for Libya, wrote to Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, less than three weeks before Megrahi was freed. He is said to have explained that there was no legal reason not to accede to Libya’s request to transfer him into its custody under the terms of a treaty agreed between Tony Blair and Colonel Gadaffi in 2007.
Whilst confirming the letter, the Foreign Office last night insisted that it was only an explanation of the legal position, which Mr Lewis had given in response to a letter requesting clarification of the Treaty from Mr MacAskill. “Ivan Lewis reiterated our understanding of the legal situation. It is absolute rubbish to suggest that this letter provided any encouragement to transfer Megrahi to Libya.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/6073631/Lockerbie-bomber-Lord-Mandelson-faces-new-questions-over-Libya-links.html
23 August 2009; Mandelson Denies Release Linked To Deal
Lord Mandelson has dismissed claims the release of the Lockerbie bomber is linked to a trade deal – as the head of the FBI has slammed the Scottish government. The trade deal claims were made by the son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, Seif al Islam, in a television interview filmed as Abdel Baset al Megrahi was flown home. He said: “In all commercial contracts, for oil and gas with Britain, (Megrahi) was always on the negotiating table. “All British interests were linked to the release of Abdel Baset al Megrahi.” The claim was rejected by the Foreign Office, and was followed by an angry response from the Business Secretary. “It’s not only completely wrong to make such a suggestion it’s also quite offensive,” Lord Mandelson said. He said he had met Colonel Gaddafi twice in the past year, and on both occasions he had raised the issue of Megrahi. “They had the same response from me as they would have had from any other member of the Government. The issue of the prisoner’s release was entirely a matter for the Scottish Justice Minister,” Lord Mandelson said. “That is how it was left, that is how it was well understood.”
Meanwhile, head of the FBI Robert Mueller, who as a US Justice Department lawyer led the investigation into the 1988 bombing, said the decision to release Megrahi made a “mockery of justice”. His comments came in a letter written to Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, the man who made the decision to the release the bomber. In Libya, Colonel Gaddafi met Megrahi and praised the Scottish authorities for their “courage” in releasing him. He thanked his country’s “friends” in the Scottish Nationalist Party for the early release on compassionate grounds.
Megrahi is suffering from terminal cancer and is said to have less than three months to live. According to the Libyan official news agency Jana, he said: “I congratulate (the Scottish authorities) on their courage and for having proved their independence despite the unacceptable and unreasonable pressures they faced.”The British and US governments have expressed outrage at the “hero’s welcome” Megrahi received on returning to Libya.
Megrahi is the only person to have been convicted of the attack, which killed 270 people in the air and on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. He has always denied involvement in the bombing and has told The Times he will produce new information that will prove his innocence. http://news.sky.com/story/718710/mandelson-denies-release-linked-to-deal
August 24 2009 The Libyan Despot’s Son, The Rothschilds and Other Questions For Lord Mandelson
The Rothschild villa on Corfu and the oligarch-rich coast of tiny Montenegro have once more hosted what could easily be mistaken as a Mandelson – orchestrated salon of mutual backscratching. The despot’s son, a Corfu soiree and yet more questions for the Fixer Supreme. Mutual connections, ‘chance’ meetings and social back channels are often what make the diplomatic and economic worlds go round. But Lord Mandelson’s Adriatic vacations with his rich friends are in danger of becoming an annual cause celebre. Last summer they resulted in ‘ Yachtgate’ – his vicious spat with Shadow Chancellor George Osborne over what was said on their high seas holiday in Corfu with controversial Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
This year the Business Secretary faces growing speculation over his part in the release last week of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing which killed 270 people. The backdrop to this fresh controversy is a very familiar matrix of exotic faces and locations. We have the involvement of Mr Deripaska, the Russian oil and metals baron, and British financier Nat Rothschild – two Mandelson cronies who were also central to Yachtgate.
But the crucial new figure this year is that of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, second son of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, whom he is widely expected to succeed.
Lord Mandelson denies that he had any influence over Megrahi’s release and triumphal return home, which has so infuriated the United States. But he has already had to admit that the matter was discussed at least once in private with the urbane Saif, who then declared on Libyan TV. ‘In all commercial contracts for oil and gas with Britain Megrahi was always on the negotiating table.’
It is worth remembering that last year it took some little time before Lord Mandelson admitted that he had known Mr Deripaska for at least two years longer than his office had previously let on. Will the forgetful Business Secretary have to make similar admissions this time round?
There is no doubt that Saif is the coming man on the Libyan scene and already an international player in both politics and business. If his one-time pariah father has managed a remarkable rehabilitation in the West – thanks in no small part to the 44billion barrels of oil as yet untapped on Libyan territory – then the London School of Economics educated Saif, who has exhibited as an artist, appears to be the regime’s more palatable future. And it is a future which offers immensely lucrative trade deals for the UK – one hint of the emerging relationship between Libya and Britain came with the news this weekend that Saif has just purchased a £10m mansion in Hampstead, North London.
Saif’s official role is that of running a Tripoli – based family charitable foundation. Last year he foreswore any active part in Libyan public life. He declared that democracy was the only way forward and that North African politics – Libya aside – was a ‘ forest of dictatorships’.
Such noble utterances are greeted with skepticism by Libyan dissidents. It is difficult to tell the truth about what Saif’s true politics and intentions are,’ says Ashour Shamis, a leading London-based Libyan opposition activist. ‘Saif says he wants a new beginning and for the country to be run with more freedom. We shall see. Do not forget that in Libya there is no opposition, only Gaddafi and his sons. They treat Libya as their own possession. Its assets belong to their family. ‘Saif is not rebelling against this regime. He is part of it. I place no credence in his saying that he has no interest in succeeding his father.’
Another Libyan exile was even more cynical: ‘Saif is his father’s son. The idea that anything dramatic will change under him is laughable. He is very good at presenting himself as a reformer and blaming the excesses for people around his father. But I for one do not believe him.’ Saif is not the only son of a head of state to appear in this circle of friends. Our own Prince Andrew, the UK’s special trade envoy, is a friend of his, having met him on a number of occasions in private and public capacities.
Saif has also been a guest at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. The Gaddafi family are particularly keen to nuture this connection it seems. Another boost for them on the global stage. And what a small world it is. In March this year, Andrew went to Montenegro to open the new British embassy there. During the trip he took time out to be shown round the £500m Porto Montenegro marina which is being developed on the coast near Tivat. Two of the main investors in the project are Mr Deripaska and his financial adviser Mr Rothschild. Indeed, the former’s business interests make him the largest private employer in Montenegro.
Early last year, when he was still EU Trade Commissioner and not yet ennobled, Peter Mandelson announced that he had secured a bilateral agreement with the tiny Adriatic nation. ‘Today’s signature is an important milestone,’ he declared at the time. Montenegro’s progress toward becoming a reliable world trading partner had been ‘ remarkable’. Mr Deripaska must have been delighted. It later emerged that during Lord Mandelson’s tenure as commissioner, there had also been two cuts in EU aluminium import tariffs, which has benefitted Mr Deripaska’s company Rusal – the EU’s biggest importer of the raw metal – by tens of millions of pounds a year.
In June this year what was described as the most lavish celebration ever held in the Adriatic took place near the Tivat marina. Saif Gaddafi had chosen the Splendid hotel in Becici as the location for his 37th birthday party. Among the guests, who flew in on a fleet of a dozen or more private jets, were Prince Albert of Monaco, Mr Deripaska and Mr Rothschild. Saif is said to be interested in investing in Montenegro. Presumably he and Mr Deripaska had plenty to talk about – the Russian also controls the oil company Russneft and Libya is looking for foreign investors in the energy industry. Business and pleasure combined in one ostentatious display.
August came and the Mandelson circus arrived back on Corfu. Displaying his trademark rhino hide, he brushed off the 2008 imbroglio and returned once again as a guest at the Rothschild villa. No Mr Deripaska this time. But sharing the Rothschild hospitality for 24 hours of his holiday was someone with the potential to be equally if not more controversial: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. Lord Mandelson has admitted to having met the despot’s son at least once before, in May this year. On Corfu they chatted. And, inevitably, the subject of Megrahi came up. Within the month the convicted mass murderer was free and being welcomed at Tripoli airport by a jubilant Saif.
We are asked to believe by the Foreign Office that there were no linked trade deals, and no input by Lord Mandelson. Unfortunately experience has taught us to be more than a little circumspect about the Business Secretary’s declarations. His soiree with Saif on Corfu, at a time when the Megrahi affair was about to reach a crisis, leaves too many questions unanswered from the fixer supreme.
For the moment there is only one clear beneficiary of the affair: Saif’s father. ‘Gaddafi is reaching a crescendo of success as he approaches his 40th anniversary,’ says Mr Shamis. ‘He is the chairman of the African Union, has visited most of the European and world capitals that were once closed to him and now he has freed Megrahi. He has achieved most of the things he wanted to do. ‘Lord Mandelson and other politicians in the West have fallen completely into his lap.’ http://blacklistednews.com/?news_id=5297
August 29 2009; Lord Mandelson Accused of Secretly Lobbying For The Interests of Libya at The Time of The Alleged Prisoner-For-Oil Deal With Britain.
Informed sources say that, nearly a year after Lord Mandelson stepped down as European Trade Commissioner to return to the Cabinet, he continued to push personally for a new and quick European Union (EU) trade deal with Libya. The persistence of his lobbying on Baroness Ashton, his successor as Trade Commissioner, is said to have alarmed officials at the EU headquarters. “Mandelson has been putting Ashton under pressure to give something quicker to Libya,” said one European official close to the trade talks.
The Business Secretary has however strongly denied the allegation. Lord Mandelson’s growing links to Libya can be revealed just days after Saif Gaddafi, the Libyan leader’s son, insisted that freedom for the Lockerbie bomber was directly linked to lucrative deals in the North African country for British firms.
It has been revealed that Mr Gaddafi last week repeated his earlier claim that Megrahi’s release was always “on the table” during talks about trade agreements. Deals included a £545 million deal for BP. Last night there was more evidence to support this theory as it emerged that the British government had decided in 2007 that it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to pave the way for his return to Libya.
Letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, which show the government was abandoning its attempt to prevent Megrahi from serving out his sentence in his home country. The decision was taken after discussions between Libya and BP over the multi-million pound oil exploration deal hit difficulties.
Fresh information comes to light
The Business Secretary, Gordon Brown’s right-hand man, faced fresh calls yesterday to “come clean” over his links to Mr Gaddafi and Libya. The country was a pariah nation until six years ago when, in return for a lifting of economic sanctions, it accepted responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, above Lockerbie, in December 1988.
On February 27 2008, Lord Mandelson, as Trade Commissioner, proposed that the EU should start negotiations for a “Framework Agreement”, to develop trade and other links, with Libya. He said: “An ambitious Free Trade Agreement would intensify co-operation between the EU and Libya on trade and economic issues and would further strengthen and deepen our relationship.” Such an agreement usually takes up to 10 years to arrange.
In June of this year, British officials lobbied other EU member states to give interim trade breaks to Libya by scrapping tariffs on certain textiles and engineering products. In Montenegro, where Mr Deripaska and Nat Rothschild, two of Lord Mandelson’s most wealthy and controversial associates, have invested, their £500-million new marina project is on the site of a shipyard that had Libyan links. After the Porto Montenegro marina project, in which Mr Deripaska, Mr Rothschild and others have invested millions, was launched in 2007, some 100 workers from the former government shipyard on which it is being built were transferred to Libya. The workers had previously been overhauling Libyan warships.
The heat is on Lord Mandelson, the Prime Minister and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, this weekend after William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, demanded answers over their conduct. “If there was no UK government involvement in the decision to release Megrahi then Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson should have no objection to releasing details of the government’s dealings with Libya,” he said.
The 24-hectare marina site in Montenegro was sold to Peter Munk, the Canadian mining tycoon, for a reported price of only £3.2 million in a deal personally overseen by Milo Dukanovic, Montenegro’s controversial prime minister. Mr Gaddafi, who was a guest of Mr Rothschild at his villa in Corfu earlier this summer at the same time as Lord Mandelson, was actively promoting Libyan business interests in Montenegro, which is aggressively courting high-profile foreign investors.
During his time as EU Trade Commissioner in Brussels, Lord Mandelson championed the cause of Montenegro, supporting its entry into the World Trade Organisation and ending EU trade tariffs on the country’s largest export, aluminum. That move benefited Lord Mandelson’s friend Mr Deripaska, who bought Montenegro’s former state aluminum plant.
27 November 2009; Peter Mandelson’s Closeness to Gaddafi’s Son ‘Is Sickening’
Lord Mandelson should use his friendship with the son of Colonel Gaddafi to help negotiate compensation for people injured by IRA bombs, a victims’ campaigner has said. Willie Frazer, who lost his father and two uncles during the Troubles, said he was “sickened” by reports that the former Northern Ireland Secretary of State had attended a shooting party with Saif al-Islam Gadaffi in England earlier this week. He said: “At the minute, at the very least it is distasteful for that man, Lord Mandelson, to be affiliating himself with Colonel Gaddafi. “Has he forgotten what happened to British citizens and British victims? Until that’s dealt with there should be some respect for the people that have lost their lives and given their lives for the defence of British cities.”
Lord Mandelson and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi reportedly met at Lord Rothschild’s villa in Corfu, days before the announcement earlier this year that Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was to be freed on compassionate grounds. Saif Gaddafi later accompanied the dying terrorist back to Libya. A Conservative frontbencher said victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism would be “sick to the stomach” at reports of the country house social event. Conservative Scotland spokesman Ben Wallace said: “The hundreds of victims of Libyan Semtex will be sick to the stomach to see Lord Mandelson gallivanting around the countryside with Gaddafi’s son.” http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/peter-mandelsons-closeness-to-gaddafis-son-is-sickening-28504340.html
August 31 2009; Home Secretary Jack Straw Letter Rekindles Megrahi Row – Opposition MPs Call For An Inquiry
The government dropped an attempt to exclude the Lockerbie bomber from its prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) with Libya two years ago after resistance from Tripoli, it emerged yesterday. Jack Straw, justice secretary, decided it was in the UK’s “overwhelming interests” to agree to Libyan calls for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi to be included in the deal. In a letter, Mr Straw wrote: “The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [PTA] should be in the standard form and not mention any [specific] individual.”
Within six weeks of the decision on December 19 2007, Libya had ratified an exploration deal for oil and gas made with BP seven months earlier.
Mr Straw said yesterday that the decision was “academic” to this month’s release of Mr Megrahi, which was taken by the Scottish executive on humanitarian grounds outside the prisoner transfer agreement (PTA). But the disclosure, made in letters to Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, and leaked to a Sunday newspaper, prompted a strong reaction from opposition MPs yesterday, who said the government should hold an inquiry into the affair.
Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said the letters were evidence that the government had been talking to the Libyans about Mr Megrahi with a view to safeguarding Britain’s commercial interests. Document 552 of 2845 https://archive.org/stream/ABCNews19781979/Libya-FT-2007-to-2012-b.txt
September 2 2009; Oil Helps Grease Improvement In Relationship
The surge in Libya’s oil exports to the UK coincided with Britain becoming a net importer of oil since 2005. Mr Blair’s meeting with Colonel Muammer Gaddafi in March 2004, followed by a second visit in 2007, helped cement Libya’s re-admission into the international community. For oil companies the company that has the most riding on Libya is BP. The deal it signed in 2007 gave it a huge area to explore, and it plans to start drilling wells next year, but any discoveries are unlikely to result in production until late in the next decade. Document 555 of 2845 https://archive.org/stream/ABCNews19781979/Libya-FT-2007-to-2012-b.txt
June 5 2010; Tony Blair Our Very Special Adviser by Dictator Gaddafi’s Son
Tony Blair has become an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator’s son has sensationally claimed. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said the former prime minister has secured a consultancy role with a state fund that manages the country’s £65billion of oil wealth. In an exclusive interview, Saif described Mr Blair as a ‘personal family friend’ of the Libyan leader and said he had visited the country ‘many, many times’ since leaving Downing Street three years ago. Personal friends? If true, the claims will plunge Mr Blair – now a Middle East peace envoy – into a fresh row over potential conflicts of interest between his public and private roles.
His business affairs have attracted widespread controversy because they are deliberately shrouded in secrecy. Last night, families of the 270 Lockerbie victims accused Mr Blair of breaking bread with people who ‘have blood on their hands’. They have in the past raised questions about Mr Blair’s relationship with Colonel Gaddafi especially over a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya that paved the way for the return of the Lockerbie bomber last year.
Saif made clear that the agreement – drawn up when Mr Blair was prime minister – was key to creating a ‘special relationship’ between Britain and Libya. Saif suggested Mr Blair was involved in ‘Africa projects’ with his father, alleging: ‘He also has some consultancy role with the Libyan Investment Authority.’ Mr Blair was adamant last night he had no relationship whatsoever with the LIA. However he is advising several firms seeking a slice of the massive revenues from Libya’s oil reserves.
Saif, speaking in his private suite in Mayfair’s five star Connaught Hotel, said: ‘Tony Blair has an excellent relationship with my father. ‘For us, he is a personal family friend. I first met him around four years ago at Number 10. Since then I’ve met him several times in Libya where he stays with my father. He has come to Libya many, many times. ‘He’s adviser to the LIA, the Libyan Investment Authority. He has some consultancy role.’ Saif defended Mr Blair’s right to exploit his contacts in Libya. ‘Many people are unhappy with him [Blair] because of Iraq,’ he said. ‘It’s much easier to deal with the LIA than the Middle East. Tony Blair has the right to earn money. ‘It’s a good thing to be a businessman.
The LIA is ready to talk to anybody who wants to do business in Libya.’ Last night, Mr Blair’s spokesman said: ‘Tony Blair does not have any role, either formal or informal, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the government of Lybia. But sources close to the Gaddafi family said Saif – tipped to succeed his father as leader of his country – stands by his comments.
Colonel Gaddafi is understood to be on first name terms with Mr Blair, who saw his work in Libya as one of the great foreign policy successes of his premiership. Mr Blair has always insisted he played no role in the return of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi, who was sent home last August by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds after doctors wrongly said he had only three months to live. But Saif said Megrahi’s release was ‘always on the negotiating table’ in discussions about ‘ commercial contracts for oil and gas with Britain’.
Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, told the Mail: ‘If this is true, I guess this is Tony Blair’s reward from the Libyan government for what he has done. It’s important for world peace that Libya is brought back into the community of nations but that doesn’t mean that you have to honour people with blood on their hands.’
Saif, 37, was a key player in Libya’s bid to end its pariah status and renounce nuclear weapons. That decision led to Mr Blair’s trip to Tripoli in 2004, where he shook Colonel Gaddafi’s hand and declared a ‘new relationship’. The meeting led to lucrative Libyan oil contracts for Shell. A month before stepping down as PM, Mr Blair visited-Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli again at the same time that BP signed a $900million deal with the Libyan National Oil Company.
Saif said: ‘Libya has a special relationship with Britain.’ Since becoming a part-time Middle East peace envoy on leaving office in 2007, Mr Blair has exploited his contacts to amass a personal fortune in excess of £20million. He has a lucrative contract to advise JP Morgan, which pays him £2million a year. Part of his job for them is to develop banking opportunities in Libya. It is understood that British firms Mr Blair is linked to are also being given contracts to tap Libya’s massive natural resources, and to help rebuild the country’s outdated infrastructure.The details are sketchy because he has built a labyrinthine business empire of interlocking partnerships designed, it seems, to conceal the sources and scale of his income.
Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, who chairs the all-party Commons committee on Libya, said Mr Blair should spend more time on his role as a Middle East envoy than allegedly exploiting his links with the Gaddafi family. He said: ‘Mr Blair has a very important job. It does concern me greatly that he seems to spend so much time with the Libyans, who are not key players in the Arab-Israeli conflict. ‘There should be greater transparency to ensure that Tony Blair is not using his current position and his previous position to assist his business interests.’
Sources close to Mr Blair said it was a matter of public record that he has visited Libya since leaving office, where he has discussed a range of issues. They said he fully supported the decision to integrate Libya back into the international community and is proud of the role he played in the process.
Saif Gaddafi sits at the centre of a remarkable social web that has ensnared both Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson. The men are bound together by their interests in Libyan business and their friendship with the multi-billionaire financiers of the Rothschild family. Lord Mandelson once remarked that he was ‘intensely relaxed’ about extreme wealth, a position he has justified ever since. It was only natural that he should share an interest in networking and wealth with one of the world’s oldest banking families.
But even the Rothschilds have probably never described him as a ‘killer of a man’. That was Saif Gaddafi’s take on the former Business Secretary. After Labour’s election defeat, Mr Gaddafi said: ‘It’s bad news for the UK that he left because he is a killer of a man. It’s a loss for the UK.’ The two men met briefly last summer at the secluded cliff top mansion compound of the Rothschild family on the holiday island of Corfu. Curiously, their stays overlapped by one night and came only a week before the announcement-that the perpetrator of the Lockerbie bombing could be released from prison. They ‘fleetingly’ discussed the fate of the bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi but Lord Mandelson’s spokesman said he was ‘ completely unsighted’ on the impending release.
Last November, Lord Mandelson spent more time in the company of Saif during a shooting weekend at Waddesdon Manor, Lord Rothschild’s mini-Versailles in Buckinghamshire. Cherie Blair was also a guest. Earlier this month, the former business secretary was seen zipping around the Swiss ski resort of Klosters in Nat Rothschild’s £250,000 Ferrari convertible. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1284132/Tony-Blair-special-adviser-dictator-Gaddafis-son.html
September 19 2011; Blair Made Two Secret Visits to Gaddafi in Libya Before Lockerbie Bomber’s Release
Tony Blair held secret talks with Colonel Gaddafi in the months before the release of the Lockerbie bomber, letters and emails uncovered in war-torn Tripoli reveal. After he stepped down as Prime Minister, Mr Blair was twice flown to Libya on a Gaddafi private jet. He visited the dictator in June 2008 and April 2009, when Libya was threatening to cut all business ties with Britain if Abdelbaset al-Megrahi stayed in a Scottish jail. At one of his encounters, Mr Blair took a billionaire U.S. businessman with him. The Libyans wanted to discuss a beach resort deal.
The revelation of the meetings will provoke further claims that Mr Blair worked behind the scenes on behalf of the tyrannical regime to get the bomber released. But despite admitting that Gaddafi brought up the issue of Megrahi, Mr Blair strenuously denied having anything to do with his release, saying it had always been solely a matter for the Scottish Executive.
Pam Dix, whose brother died in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, said: ‘The idea of Gaddafi paying for Mr Blair’s visits is deeply offensive. ‘These new meetings are disturbing, and details of what was discussed should be made public. I am astonished Tony Blair continued to have meetings like this out of office.’ The emails and letters, in which Gaddafi is referred to as ‘The Leader’, show that in 2008 and 2009, Mr Blair negotiated to fly to the Libyan capital from Sierra Leone, where he was promoting tourism, in a jet provided by Gaddafi.
One letter was written on June 2, 2008, by Gavin Mackay, from Mr Blair’s office, to Libya’s ambassador to the UK. It said: ‘Let me begin my [sic] saying that Mr Blair is delighted that The Leader is likely to be able to see him during the afternoon of June 10, and he is most grateful that the Libyan authorities have kindly offered an aircraft to take him from Freetown to Tripoli and back to London.’
Another letter shows that Mr Blair took billionaire Tim Collins to the April 2009 meeting. Mr Blair’s events organiser Victoria Gould wrote to the British ambassador in Tripoli, Sir Vincent Fean, to ask whether the former PM could stay at his residence. She wrote: ‘If we were able to stay at the Residence, I know TB [Mr Blair] would be really grateful (as would we all).’ Sir Vincent wrote back: ‘Just to confirm that the residence is at your disposal.’
A week later, Miss Gould wrote in an email: ‘We have asked the Libyans to collect us from Sierra Leone and bring us to Libya. In terms of calls, if you could note that TB would like to do the following: a meeting with The Leader (partly 1:1 and partly with Tim Collins).’ The meeting came a day after Britain signed an agreement with Libya which paved the way for Megrahi’s release. This happened in August 2009 after doctors gave him three months to live because of cancer.
He is still alive. A spokesman for Mr Blair said: ‘The subjects of the conversations during Mr Blair’s occasional visits was primarily Africa, as Libya was for a time head of the African Union; but also the Middle East and how Libya should reform and open up. ‘Of course the Libyans, as they always did, raised Megrahi. Mr Blair explained, as he always did, that it was not a decision for the UK Government but for the Scottish Executive. As we have made clear many times before, Tony Blair has never had any formal role, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the Government of Libya and he has no commercial relationship with any Libyan company or entity.’ The former prime minister continues to have round-the-clock armed protection, and it is understood that Scotland Yard spent up to £20,000 during the trips to Libya. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2038765/Tony-Blair-secret-meetings-Gaddafi-Lockerbie-bomber-release.html
August 4 2013; Tony Blair Assisted Colonel Gaddafi in £1bn Legal Dispute With Victims of a Libyan Terrorist Attack
Documents show that Gaddafi turned to Mr Blair after a US court ordered Libya to pay $1.5billion (£1billion) in damages to relatives of seven Americans killed when a bomb exploded on a Paris-bound passenger jet in west Africa. According to the email, Mr Blair approached President George W Bush after promising the Libyan leader that he would intervene in the case. Mr Bush subsequently signed the Libyan Claims Resolution Act in August 2008, which invalidated the $1.5billion award made by the court.
UTA Flight 772 from Chad was blown up on Sept 19, 1989, by Libyan intelligence services, killing all 170 passengers. The attack took place nine months after Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killing 270 people. The relatives of UTA Flight 772 had won the billion-pound court case in January 2008 after a seven-year legal battle, causing serious difficulties for the Libyan regime in the US. The ruling meant the proceeds of Libyan business deals, mainly in oil and gas but including other investments, could be seized in the US.
Mr Blair’s involvement in the case is outlined in an email obtained by The Sunday Telegraph. The document was written by Sir Vincent Fean, the then British ambassador to Libya, and was sent to Mr Blair’s aides on June 8, 2008, two days before Mr Blair met Gaddafi in Libya. It was one of at least six private trips made by Mr Blair to Libya after he quit as prime minister in June 2007. The first trip to meet Gaddafi was made in February 2008. The previous month a US federal court had made the $1.5billion award to Flight 772 victims. The email written by Sir Vincent outlines points for Mr Blair to raise in his meeting with Gaddafi. It also shows that a key aide to Mr Blair had met with a senior US diplomat to discuss the Flight 772 case.
Sir Vincent wrote: “On USA/Libya, TB should explain what he said to President Bush (and what Banner [a Blair aide] said to Welch [a US diplomat]) to keep his promise to Col Q [Gaddafi] to intervene after the President allowed US courts to attach Libyan assets.” The memo went on: “He [Blair] could express satisfaction at the progress made in talks between the US and Libya to reach a Govt to Govt solution to all the legal/compensation issues outstanding from the 1980s. It would be good to get these issues resolved, and move on. The right framework is being created. HMG is not involved in the talks, although some British citizens might be affected by them (Lockerbie, plus some UK Northern Irish litigants going to US courts seeking compensation from Libya for IRA terrorist acts funded/fuelled by Libya).”
The memo reveals that Nick Banner, Mr Blair’s chief of staff in his role as Middle East peace envoy, had spoken to David Welch, the US official who was negotiating with the Libyans over compensation for victims of terrorism. The American lawyer who had won the court order in January 2008 only to have it made invalid by the act signed by Mr Bush said his clients had “got screwed”.
Stuart Newberger, a senior partner at the international law firm Crowell & Moring, said: “This case was thwarted by President Bush, who directed the State Department to negotiate a package deal that ended all Libyan-related terrorism cases, including my judgment. I had heard rumours about Blair’s involvement but this is the first time that role was confirmed.” He added: “I never considered this an honourable way to carry out diplomacy. It sent the wrong message to terrorist states – don’t worry about these lawsuits and judgments as the politicians will eventually fix it.”
Under the terms of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act, Libya made a one-off payment to victims of all Libyan state-sponsored terrorism including the bombings of Pan Am Flight 103, UTA Flight 772 and a Berlin discotheque. The payment, totalling $1.5billion, gave Libya immunity from all terrorism-related lawsuits. The relatives of victims of UTA 772 received about $ 100million, rather than the court award of $1.5billion. Relatives of victims of Pan Am 103 welcomed the agreement which saw them get the final instalment of compensation already agreed. The deal meant all victims of Libyan terrorism received the same award.
The Sunday Telegraph has also obtained a separate letter, sent on June 2 from Gavin Mackay – a Foreign Office official seconded to Mr Blair in his role as Middle East peace envoy at the Office of the Quarter Representative (OQR) – to Libya’s ambassador in London. The letter, on OQR-headed notepaper details Mr Blair’s gratitude that Libya is providing him with a private jet to fly him from Sierra Leone to Tripoli for a four-hour stopover and then on to the UK.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Foreign Secretary, expressed concern that the trip appeared to be arranged through Mr Blair’s public role as Middle East envoy. He said: “Unless Mr Blair can come up with a convincing explanation as to why the Quartet secretariat should have been involved in this visit, it would indeed be a reason for legitimate and serious criticism.”
A spokesman for Tony Blair said: “The only conversation he ever had with regard to this matter was to give a general view that it was in the interests of both Libya and the USA to resolve those issues in a fair manner and move on.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/tony-blair/10220684/Tony-Blair-helped-Colonel-Gaddafi-in-1bn-legal-row.html