Saturday, March 16, 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury: I Am Not a Spy

Last week, as details of Justin Welby's career in some of the world's most dangerous countries came to light, Lambeth Palace "laughed off" suggestions that the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury may have been working for the Secret Intelligence Service.

Oh well then, nothing to worry about concerning the cold war role of the Centre for International Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, then headed by Justin Weby, or Welby's dealings with Al Qaeda and his briefings thereon  to the US Government, or those high level dealings with the Nigerian government on behalf of that virginally pure oil co., Elf Aquitaine, the training in map memorization and codes. No, that was all just good clean Christianity.

As a spokesman for Lambeth Palace said today:
The Archbishop does not work for MI6 and never has done. He has never had any association with them.
That's great: sort of like the Pope announcing he believes in God — all concern on the question is immediately put to rest.

But then they might have commented on the Archbishop's possible connections with other intelligence agenices, British or foreign: the CIA, for instance.

Welby's father apparently made his money, some of it anyhow, bootlegging communion wine in the US during the prohibition era. How amusing. But it might be a good idea for the Anglicans to keep an eye on the communion wine — perhaps the silver and other church treasures too.
See also: 

The Archbishop and the oil sharks: A 'slick' young Justin Welby, the shady 'Monsieur Africa' and a £6billion mission to snag Nigeria's oil riches.

... a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that far from working on the margins of Elf Aquitaine, Justin Welby was one of its finance ‘sharks’ – and employed on a morally questionable plan to protect the firm’s oil interests in Nigeria in the early Eighties.

Named Bonny LNG, the plan involved persuading the country’s leaders that Elf and other major oil companies were poised to invest £6 billion in an energy project that had scant hope of being realised.

Throughout this period, the French state-owned company – which later became synonymous with corruption and scandal – was allegedly committing human rights abuses against the people of the oil-abundant Niger Delta.

Mr Welby, who made regular visits to the country’s capital for meetings at the time, strenuously denies being aware of the claims – or the true motivation for the Bonny LNG project.

During Mr Welby’s five years at Elf he worked under a number of colourful characters, none more so than the Corsican-born oil executive Andre Tarallo, dubbed Monsieur Africa.

Tarallo, who was in charge of African operations, would later feature in a massive fraud inquiry that tore the company apart in the Nineties. He was jailed for four years in 2003 for paying millions in bribes to African leaders in return for oil contracts.

‘Some of my other colleagues had contact with Tarallo and they were caught with their pants down,’ said Mr Welby’s former boss, Kjell Skjevesland.

‘Justin would have had direct contact with him. Justin would have been in the meetings with him, probably as the only non-French guy in there.’ However, Mr Welby denies meeting Tarallo in person.

When he joined the company in the late Seventies, the Nigerian government was planning to nationalise the country’s oil fields, something Elf, Shell, BP and others were desperate to prevent.

They attempted to talk the government out of it by dangling a giant carrot – a promise to invest £6 billion between them in a project that involved shipping natural gas from Nigeria to Europe.

But Bonny LNG collapsed before it began, just as the ‘investors’ knew it would. ‘Everyone was scrambling for crude at the time and everyone wanted to please the Nigerians,’ said Mr Skjevesland. ‘This project was way, way off and unrealistic.’

He said that the oil companies were simply ‘playing games’ with the Nigerian government to ensure they could ‘still get the crude out’.

Thomas Knutsen was another Elf finance executive who worked with Mr Welby. Asked if the project was designed to trick the Nigerian government into believing it would go ahead, when in all likelihood it would not, Mr Knutsen replied: ‘I think that is a good assumption.’

Asked if Mr Welby was aware of the tactic, Mr Skjevesland replied: ‘Yes, of course he was.’ But the Archbishop insists he ‘believed it to be a genuine project .  .  . and nothing [he] learned about it at the time suggested otherwise’.

After Bonny LNG’s demise, the plan to nationalise the industry was halted, ensuring the oil companies’ Nigerian interests were saved. They enjoyed massive profits, while the majority of Nigerians continued to lead impoverished lives.

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