Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Nigel Wright and Barrick Gold
Pointed questions are beginning to swirl around Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, and whether he used his position to further the financial interests of friends at Barrick Gold Corp.
Wright has known Barrick founder and board chairman Peter Munk for years and is particularly close to his son, Anthony, who sits on Barrick's board of directors. In a 2011 magazine article, Peter Munk disclosed that Wright is godfather to Anthony Munk's son. Wright worked with Anthony at Onex Corp., the private equity investment giant from which Wright has taken a leave of absence to work for Harper.
Wright also served as a director on the board of the Aurea Foundation, a "charitable" foundation established by Peter Munk and his wife in 2006 to support the study and development of public policy. A charitable lobbyist group. You’ve got to be kidding.
Ok all of that is indeed a flaming conflict of interest. However, two important points emerge. First is the fact that the Harper government’s conflict of interest in lobbying for Barrick gold goes far beyond Nigel Wright. Second is the fact that Barrick gold’s media machine is rewriting history. They are leaving out the part about how Barrick gold was created by the dirty arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi who was tied to Iran Contra and the crash of the BCCI. It was arms dealing, drug smuggling, money laundering and investment fraud tied to high ranking politicians. Barrick gold is just a grown up version of Bandera Gold.
Back in 2008 the Green Party reported: Peter Munk is Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation. Mr. Mulroney is a Director of Barrick since 1993, and is Chairman of Barrick’s International Advisory Board. Three times in the past year, the Harper government has intervened to further the economic interests of Mr. Munk and Mr. Mulroney.
The third intervention occurred this week when finance minister Jim Flaherty took what the Globe and Mail (May 7, page B1) called “the unusual step of intervening” by phoning CIBC executives to pressure them to settle up with Barrick Gold Corporation over a dispute over losses related to the current asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) meltdown. Clearly this conflict of interest goes far beyond Nigel. It goes straight to Lyin Brian Mulroney who defrauded Canadian taxpayers out of a $1.2 million out of court settlement which was based on his perjury around kickback mountain.