Russophobia Goes Comic 1024


I am feeling particularly hostile to Donald Trump after his incendiary move on Jerusalem. But it remains the case that I have enough direct knowledge of events to be aware that the entire premise of the Russophobic “election-hacking” conspiracy theory is simple nonsense. I am therefore most amused that my friend Randy Credico, who stayed with Nadira and I in Edinburgh a few months ago, has now been subpoenaed by the Senate Inquiry on Russian meddling as the alleged go-between for Roger Stone and Julian Assange, on the brilliant grounds that he knows both of them.

I can tell you from certain knowledge this is absolute nonsense. While Randy is a delightful person who hides a shrewd political mind behind a deliberate crackpot façade, he is the most indiscreet person in the world. He is not anybody’s conveyor of secrets, he would tell it all impulsively on his next radio show! Where Russia fits into this mad conspiracy theory I have no idea. If I had any belief that it was the genuine intention of Senate or Special Counsel inquiries to discover the actual truth, I would be surprised they have never made any contact with me, as opposed to my fleeting houseguests. But as I am well aware the last thing they want to know is the truth, I am not surprised in the least.

On a personal note I have just emerged from a really harrowing period. I had to leave the High Court a month ago straight to Heathrow and fly out to Ghana. Here I have been battling for the last year to save Atholl Energy, a company I chair which had some US $50 million worth of debts. The reason for this was that it had built an extension to the power station it originally constructed for the Ghanaian government, and the Ghanaian government had failed to pay for the extension after Atholl pre-financed it. In line with company philosophy, Atholl had both completed and handed over the extension, despite the non-payment, as the aim is to supply power to the people of Ghana.

The massive debt of course threatened Atholl with going bust. That would mean redundancy for our staff, and potentially many scores of redundancies at local sub-contractors we had been unable to pay in full. The thought of inflicting that mass misery on families, many of whom I know, has stopped me sleeping for months.

The current government of Ghana took over in January and inherited a huge fiscal deficit due to – and there is no other way of saying it – wholesale looting by the last government on a scale which Ghana had never witnessed before. To give an example from our own sector, we install power plant using Siemens equipment at about 1.2 million dollars per MW for a turnkey plant including fuel supply and power evacuation infrastructure. The last government of Ghana were contracting large projects at three times the unit cost or more, using inferior equipment. For $150 million per project to be added corruptly was not unusual.

On top of this, despite having imposed some of the world’s highest electricity tariffs – higher than British tariffs, for example – the revenue collected was mysteriously vanishing. As a result, our $52 million owed was part of a US$2.5 billion energy sector debt the current government inherited.

In effect this has been rescheduled, by the launch of bonds to raise the money to pay off the debts. The bonds are serviced by a levy on petrol and diesel. As usual in Africa, the IMF and World Bank were extremely unhelpful, refusing to sanction a government guarantee on the bonds, which means the energy levy is now to be collected by a new corporate structure and the bond is a corporate one. This structure necessitated an increase in the bond interest rate to 19.5%, which will benefit the financial institutions who have bought them, to the detriment of the Ghanaian public. In my experience every IMF and World Bank policy intervention in Africa always, on analysis, benefits corporations to the disbenefit of the African public.

It is also a gross double standard – if the energy debt had been treated as government debt, Ghana’s “unacceptable” debt to GDP ratio would still have been substantially less that that of many developed countries, including the UK.

The government of Ghana is to be congratulated on its persistence and the brilliance of its financial engineering that enabled it to tackle a huge problem despite obstruction rather than help from the international agencies – the energy sector debt had been threatening to crash the Ghanaian Banking sector, to the benefit of the large international banks.

For our company, we had to take a haircut because the payment was made not in the cash dollars which were owed, but in a mixture of bonds and local currency. We owed banks and suppliers in dollars, so we have been structuring sales and taken the odd hit on discounting. But we have got through it, and as of yesterday have paid off all our creditors in full. There is not a single job loss caused by us, either in our company or at our suppliers and sub-contractors, and that has removed a fear which has been haunting me. I cannot express how tough this period has been – I did not receive a single penny from my major source of income for nearly four years, and as of this morning still haven’t. I am not going to be a millionaire, but I am now going to be OK.

2017 has personally been really difficult. But I can now look forward to the New Year with lightened shoulders, and pick up the rest of my life again.

I am truly sorry that for the last few months speaking invitations and book orders have gone by the wall. I have 21,253 unopened emails!! Not to mention over 5,000 donors to my legal defence fund I have not thanked yet. I promise I shall be less elusive in future.


1,024 thoughts on “Russophobia Goes Comic

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  • Sharp Ears

    Chief of the head choppers coming to London by invitation of May. How disgusting.

    https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2017/12/21/theresa-may-invites-saudi-crown-prince-london

    ‘His visit comes amid a speeding up of executions in Saudi Arabia under the Crown Prince’s leadership. Research by human rights organization Reprieve shows that 142 people were executed in Saudi Arabia this year. Around 70% of these executions were carried out after Mohammed bin Salman took power in June this year.

    Reprieve has raised concerns for 14 political protesters whose death sentences were upheld over summer, and who face imminent execution. The 14 were convicted on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted through torture. Among them is a disabled man, Munir al-Adam, and a juvenile, Mujtaba al-Sweikat. Mujtaba is one of six juveniles who face execution in the Kingdom on charges relating to protests. ‘

    Even the BBC is highlighting the terrible effects of the Saudi attacks on the Yemeni people and of the blockade which is leading to a humanitarian disaster.

    • Loony

      Good one. There is nothing guaranteed to piss of Catalan nationalists more than by cheering them on in a language they claim to despise.

      Mil gracias y tres hurras por tu broma.

      • lysias

        Autocorrect made it difficult to post the correct spelling of the Catalan, but I think I eventually succeeded. What’s more annoying about Autocorrect is how it objects to the posting of words that it finds ideologically objectionable, like “bankster”.

  • Macky

    Just like alternative news site & independent journalists were reporting that the West was funding the terrorists in Syria, years before the BBC’s Panorama “broke” the story last week, expect the MSM to finally admit the truth about the White Helmets something in the future, when it cannot no longer hold the official line and still retain a shred of credibility.

    Here’s Gareth Porter on the Guardian hit-piece on those calling-out the White Helmets;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOg4KwsVY-k

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/11/a-flawed-un-investigation-on-syria/#comment-249059

    • K. Crosby

      Being seen to be being seen toeing the official line is more important than avoiding insulting the readers’ intelligence.

  • lysias

    The UN vote reveals the extent to which Israel — and now the U.S.– have become pariah states.

  • Sharp Ears

    Discover what your MP claims for in office costs, staff costs and travel plus accommodation if claimed for. Those local to London should not claim for accommodation. I am not sure if payment for second homes is still made and if so, whether it is included under ‘accommodation’,
    http://www.theipsa.org.uk/publications/scheme-of-mps-business-costs-expenses/

    For 2016-7, mine claimed a total of £150,000 That excludes the MP’s salary of £74,000 and the costs of a golden goodbye when they go, either voted out at an election or resigning when in office , plus their very lucrative pension scheme.

  • Sharp Ears

    Who was it who was saying that ISIS had been defeated?

    ISIS has over 10,000 fighters in Afghanistan, more arriving from Syria & Iraq – Moscow
    23 Dec, 2017 09:04
    ‘The terrorist group Islamic State has over 10,000 loyal fighters in Afghanistan, and Moscow believes the US may be underestimating their threat, Russia’s special envoy says.
    Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was pushed out of their home base in Syria and Iraq this year by separate military operations of a US-led coalition, and the Syrian Army backed by Russia. Many of the IS fighters who fled those countries ended up in Afghanistan, where the terrorist group has as many as 10,000 troops at the moment, Zamir Kabulov, the head of the Middle East department in the Russian Foreign Ministry, said.’

    https://www.rt.com/news/414048-afghanistan-isis-numbers-rise/

  • Alex Wright

    Well done for seeing this harrowing experience through Craig. I have been in a similar position myself and sleepless nights became the norm. Hopefully, you can concentrate your focus on keeping us informed. Many thanks.

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