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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  • ben

    woah, that is a vivid illustration of the despicable way that neoliberalism and the global banking elite are strangling economies across the planet. so, so bad. I’mm glad it’s sort of been sorted out, hopefully Ghana can continue to heal.

  • AAMVN

    I have had a rather crappy year too. But nothing like yours. Here’s hoping 2018 is kinder to us all.

  • shugsrug

    Glad to hear you are back. Many of your followers disagree with some of your views, but most also feel the world is a better place for your observations.

  • Old Mark

    ‘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,’

    Spot on- the inquiries are following a scattergun approach in the sure fire knowledge that Trump, with his history of extremely dodgy business dealings must, at some point down the line, have had questionable dealings with prominent rich Russians, including some who are ‘linked to the Kremlin’, as they say. However, all this appears to be a smokescreen- obscuring the fact that in relation to the release of the Podesta emails ie the event which clearly impinged on the Presidential election, there is no hard evidence of Russian involvement.

    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.

    Craig- it is sad to note that, due to the ‘looting’ by the previous government to which you refer (or, more accurately, looting by placemen in the bureaucracy who see government service as a means of enrichment, and nothing more) , ethical investors like your company appear to end up carrying the can. This is one reason why African sovereign debts are such an attractive proposition for vulture capitalists. Once an individual or a country has a reputation for welshing on its debts, they end up having to make Faustian pacts with the shady people and institutions that thrive on the usurious underbelly of capitalist structures.

    Oh and.. welcome back!

  • Clydebuilt

    C’mon Craig Murray . . . . .

    Yesterday on John Beatties dinner time show he had a discussion with a BBC expert on Fake News and their plans to educate young people on how to recognise Fake news. John brought up that many of radio shortbreads listeners accuse the station of being biased. The expert waffled on for a bit on the difference between Fake News And Biased News. . . . . It was waffle there is no difference in the effect that biased or Fake news can achieve.

    BBC Biased News = Fake news . . . OR. . . . BBC Biased Reporting = Fake news

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Glad you are back. You mention Siemens. Has it been a model of financial probity during this difficult time?

    I don’t think you are very well suited to be a chairman or CEO. Generally they are specifically chosen because they are able not to give a fuck how many people they make redundant. Best, J

    • craig Post author

      John,

      In its specific dealings with us Siemens have been very good. More widely I fear they are the same as other multinationals.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        They had one of the worst reputations in the world for corruption ten to fifteen years ago – right when I was working for them, though it was not cause and effect – but have reputedly cleaned up their act substantially since. J

    • Rob Royston

      John, I think you need to read the third paragraph of Craig’s post again, he was not Chaiman/CEO of a typical Western company.

  • FatCandy

    Great to have you back. Now, more than ever, we need your acute political commentary and insight.

  • Neil Rowe

    For my part I’m sure that your minor donors don’t want thanks, we’re just delighted to see you back. Don’t waste any time on those unopened eMails – just keep on firing-for-effect.

  • AdrianD.

    Welcome back! You’ve been an inspiration to me and many others for years. Can I humbly suggest you put your feet up for a while, enjoy Christmas and come back fit and well.

    One thing though, personally I rather you spent time working out what money you can sent to Neil Clark rather than thanking those of us who contributed to your fund.

  • reel guid

    Good to see you posting again Craig. And good to know that the Atholl Energy trouble, like the court case, has been satisfactorily resolved.

    Ghana’s current defence minister is accusing officials in the previous administration of having sold off military lands for private gain.

  • J

    It’s so very good to see you back on the blog.

    Embarrassed to admit I’d considered several scenarios: abducted by aliens, emigrated to a desert island, relocated to Guantanamo, perhaps even enjoying a bit of peace and quiet after recent events. Should have realised you’ve been busy righting the worlds wrongs! (Well done, no jobs left behind.)

    On that note, there’s definitely scope for a wide and thorough examination of the corporate hive-mind at home, the one which has always accused society of “Big Government” as the pretext for cutting spending on the majority of it’s constituents (infrastructure) while continuously raising total government expenditure in order to give it to banks, corporations and the 0.001%

    I can’t help but wonder if the scale of ongoing US wild fires (which they seem helpless to prevent or impede) is as much to do with ‘corporate society’ as it is to do with climate. Didn’t Americans used to be good at this kind of thing?

    Are the prophets of profit really impervious to their own onrushing annihilation? Especially if it’s spelled out to them conceptually, in language they do understand? These people, we’re told (by them) are justified in viewing government as their personal ATM and cash cow because job creation and trickle down. In fact the only thing they appear to be good at is creating monopolies, driving down wages and creating (financially profitable) disasters.

    It does precisely the opposite of what it says on the tin.

    Good to know that you’re well and fighting fit.

  • Loony

    Is Ghana being screwed by the IMF and the World Bank or is there some other explanation?

    Take a look at the Siemens record of corruption and ask why you would invite one of the most corrupt companies on earth to a country that incubates corruption. Next ask why Ghana needs high end technology of the type provided by Siemens. Look at the comparative cost difference in spares and O&M in Europe and Africa and ask why it is appropriate that these costs be shoved down the throats of the citizens of Ghana.

    Next take a look at the quality of the management. Mr, Murray writes “… we install power plant using Siemens equipment at about 1.2 million dollars per MW for a turnkey plant including fuel supply…” How can this be? A MW is a unit of capacity, it is not a unit of energy. In order to determine energy supply you need an equation that includes capacity, availability, load factor and efficiency.

    In what world would you finance a facility that produces electricity via a tax on gasoline and diesel? Aint you ever heard of basis risk? and don’t you know that someone accepting basis risk looks for more money in order to compensate for that risk.

    As a consequence of having the wrong technology, the wrong OEM and the wrong financing prices are inevitably higher than they otherwise would be. As Ghana is a country with an average per capita income of around $4,500 people cannot afford to pay for the product produced. Based on ample precedent in comparable jurisdictions electricity theft will increase, O&M will be pared back to save money, this will impact on availability which in turn will impact on financing, which will lead to refinancing probably on onerous terms, Everyone can then blame rapacious entities like the World Bank and the IMF and absolutely no-one will question their own actions that served no other purpose than to kick down the door for predatory financiers to stroll through.

    • J

      We’re all to blame for the relentless tide of consumerism that teaches us to desire, several thousand advertisements a day, media context by media context, war by war, from cradle to grave and those same people who organise and police the rules of finance and market which are killing us, only they can save and protect us from ourselves. Business as usual.

      Fair summary?

    • Pouncing Nick

      Siemens doesn’t sell fuel, Siemens sell equipment which has a capacity. MW, or perhaps more correctly MVA rating based on rated voltage. If Craig is buying equipment from Siemens it has a cost per MW capacity. Craig’s quote which you did not reproduce fully may have been referring to fuel supply infrastructure, rather than the fuel itself.

      Please tell me which EHV equipment manufacturers Craig should turn to which aren’t tarnished with a history of cartel activities? There aren’t that many to choose from fullstop.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      I’d say using the capacity of a power plant in MW is exactly equivalent to describing that of a car engine in terms of horsepower, or KW. It gives a measure of the size of the thing. Entirely legitimate if you are simply describing the plant. I would assume that the figure allows for inefficiency within the plant, and is a measure of maximum instantaneous electrical output to the distribution network, which isn’t part of the deal, perhaps.

    • giyane

      ” A MW is a unit of capacity, it is not a unit of energy. In order to determine energy supply you need an equation that includes capacity, availability, load factor and efficiency.”
      All variables, judging by the power station near my house which was belching white vapour in yesterday’s snow. Siemens strength might be its ability to regulate output to demand electronically.

      As to corporate morality, the mosque operates a spying authority over its individual worshippers, corporations sack you for what you look at on the internet in private and on a recent job application the Chinese authorities prevent you from revealing the content of the contract whose breach is $1000 + imprisonment + expulsion.

      We are living in extremely totalitarian times, for the benefit of different manifestations of power. Why Corporate capitalism, Religious fundamentalism and Socialist manufacturing all have in common, the power of snooping , gives them reason to unite rather than fight. It takes a poet to comment: “Rage rage against the dying of the light”. Craig’s efforts for the Ghanians are poetic. The whole of the rest of our world is basically state terror.

  • Rob Royston

    Great to hear you are OK and getting your problems sorted, it has been a very hard time for you lately.

    Re the 5000 people you need to thank for your High Court expenses contributions I suggest that a general thank you message via your blog should suffice. I contributed via Paypal and have had an acknowledgement and a statement already, I’m sure other methods will have sent some form of confirmation as well. We need to be thanking you for the battles you fight for a better society.

  • nevermind

    I feel a little ashamed for having raised the possibility of this blog closing with the last thread, what did I know. Dump the majority of emails and don’t bother thanking us, we all know how much you have appreciated readers help, Neil Clark is now in more need of funds.
    I tried to donate, but the wretched pay pal wants to sign me up and take a corporate cut and I’m not up for it. Would appreciate a postal address for Neil so we can donate the old fashioned way as well. Does anybody have his address?

    Siemens had massive problems some 10-15 years ago and had to clean their act up. But the world is not a nice place anymore and the EU is as much involved in promoting tax evasion than this Government.
    good to have your sense back here, my best to Nadira and Cameron.

  • Sharp Ears

    Wow Craig. What a heavy load you have been carrying. Well done.

    and Welcome Back. You have been missed here.

    PS Trust Blair had nothing to do with the affairs in Ghana!

  • Frazer

    I thought that was what was happening ! Better luck in 2018 pal. Keep the stress levels down …

  • Martinned

    Congratulations on your business successes. You’ll forgive if I don’t take your word for it regarding Russian election hacking, not in the least because I’d image you’d be the first to accuse the CIA of hacking elections everywhere and nowhere.

    As for Ghana’s debt to GDP ratio (an issue slightly more within my area of expertise), I’d be the first to agree that a lot of stupid things are being said about that metric on a daily basis. (I’d link to Simon Wren-Lewis’s blog for some thorough debunking, but for some reason my work IT network thinks that his blog is about sex, and won’t let me access it.)

    However, if there’s one thing we have learned from the last few decades of international economic development, starting with the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s, and more recently with the crisis in Greece, it’s that there is a big difference between countries that borrow in their own currency (such as the UK) and countries that do not (such as Greece and, presumably, Ghana). If I were a world bank official, I’d get nervous about Ghana’s debt levels at a much lower level than the UK’s, quite simply because the former are in US$, giving the government of Ghana a massive exposure to international exchange rates and, even more basically, to its ability to export enough stuff to have the currency reserves it needs to service its debts.

    So while I can’t assess whether the World Bank’s judgement in this case was right, I don’t think the comparison with the UK is fair.

    • witters

      “Congratulations on your business successes. You’ll forgive if I don’t take your word for it regarding Russian election hacking, not in the least because I’d image you’d be the first to accuse the CIA of hacking elections everywhere and nowhere.”

      Ah, your imagination determines your truth! Dream on!

  • glenn_nl

    CM: “. I have 21,253 unopened emails!!

    Don’t forget those books yet to be sent out!

    Seriously though – welcome back, and I’m glad the year is turning out reasonably well after all the threats that it might have ended very badly indeed.

  • Macky

    Welcome back, hope you finally get time to give us your take on the Priti Patel affair, as you did on the similar Liam Fox affair.

  • Macky

    Craig: “I would be surprised they have never made any contact with me”

    Would you go if requested to ?

  • Loony

    Here is another story all about Africa – and how some people in Africa benefit from EU corruption and mendacity.

    Consider the case of one Markus Jooste the recently departed CEO of Steinhoff. Poor Markus woke up one day and realized that he was operating a fraudulent business and wondered what he might do. What he did in fact do was to list his company in Germany where Steinhoff immediately qualified to have its corporate bonds purchased by the ECB. The ECB may have purchased up to Euros 560 million of these bonds – we don’t know the exact amount because the ECB regards the information as confidential.

    What we have here is European taxpayers being forced to underwrite criminality – criminality that benefits a very small number of rich criminals. Simultaneously large swathes of the inane European population bleat on about injustice in general and the specific historical injustices that occurred in South Africa. Instead of helping the masses the EU steals from the people in order to transfer money to rich South African criminals.

    This is the EU writ large. All those that have smeared the mass of the British population as racist xenophobes for their desire to leave the EU should take a careful look at their own zealotry – a zealotry that must be fueled by either ignorance or a grotesque contempt for the mass of humanity.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Good to see you back, bur I think you should be moire worried about the four probes that Mueller, the CIA, NSA, and the Bureau are conducting into Wikileaks about Russian hacking than anything a Senate inquiry is up to. Probably just trying to determine what the others are up to.

    Have long been opposed to Russophobia, but Trump’s use of Rutin to promote Hillary hatred is crossing a red line.

    Must look into what my Swedish third world development fund has been doing.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      It is the House Intelligence Committee that wants to talk to Randy via a subpoena after he refused to do so voluntarily.

      Check the article on Consortium News.

      And as an investigator, I would want to talk to anyone who knows that Roger Stone, a gigantic liar. Claims to have been so in with the Reagan, though I can find no mention of him. even in the Index, in Lou Cannon’s biography of the Hollywood turncoat.

      Assange must be really desperate to deal with such scum.

      • witters

        Rutin? Oh what a Freudian slip (and must be terrbly annoying many names to know you are the one Freud got right).

  • Manda

    I am very pleased this terrible period for you and those dependent on the company is over. Plenty of rest and relaxation is in order over the festive period.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    *phew*…thought a crocodile had got you. Very interesting case study of financial difficultyin Africa, and glad Akufo-Addo’s lot seem to be less corrupt than Kufuor’s. Unsurprised to hear that “…every IMF and World Bank policy intervention in Africa always, on analysis, benefits corporations to the disbenefit of the African public”. The pressure is to flog off the national assets, presenting this as the only way to get the debt monkey off the national back, as here:

    http://citifmonline.com/2017/11/17/is-nkrumah-dictating-ghanas-economic-policy-from-the-grave-article/

    Which I hope is of interest.

    PS Did you obtain an audience with TB? He visited Ghana while you were there…again.

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      Was amazed to learn that when our row house was sold, Handelsbanken put the profit after paying the capital gains in a recommended adeveloping world fund which was paying 10-12 %. I just thought it was a savings account.

      Sounds like all those retirees who put their money in Puerto Rican bonds.

    • Kweku

      It is too early to say that Akufo Addo and his appointees are less corrupt that Kuffour. They have been in power for for less than a year. One of the reasons they did not raise the energy bond as government bond is that they wanted to obscure this debt so that it doesn’t count towards the GDP to debt ratio an indicator they complained so much about when in opposition but are now on a borrowing spree that surpasses that of the previous government that Craig has unfairly labelled.

  • Sal Newton

    Glad to hear that things are getting better for you Craig especially as you have, typically, been putting others before yourself. Better times ahead I hope.

  • Squonk

    On the subject of electricity and Siemens

    http://www.westernhvdclink.co.uk/

    We are pleased to report that commissioning works on the Western Link reached a point on 7th December 2017 where power started to flow through the Link. The cables will transfer up to 900MW of power across several hundred kilometres to link the transmission network in Scotland with the one in England and Wales. To enable the Link to operate at its full capacity of 2200 MW, further work is required at Hunterston and there may be times when the power flow will need to be taken out of the system. All activities are expected to be completed during 2018

    …National Grid and ScottishPower Transmission have come together in a joint venture to build the Western Link, a £1 billion project which will help to bring renewable energy from Scotland to homes and businesses in Wales and England.Construction of the Western Link is being carried out by a consortium of Siemens and Prysmia.

    Last night for the first time wind power didn’t have to be seriously curtailed over night because there was no available grid capacity to get the power out of Scotland. This link should have gone online a few years ago but the project was plagued with technical problems including faulty cable and an explosion at the Hunterston converter a few months ago. The delay has been throwing away electricity by the gigawatts for multiple years at times of high wind. Some generation may still have to be thrown away at times until link is running a full power.

    This is the first High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) link internally on the UK National Grid although external HVDC links already to France, Netherlands and Ireland.

    9 GW of metered wind power plus about 4 GW unmetered (smaller but more numerous turbines) flowed into the grid pretty much steadily over the last 24 hours. That’s a record.

    http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

    https://www.bmreports.com/bmrs/?q=eds/main

    • Squonk

      Also the delay to this link was what killed off Longannet power station early and was about to kill of Scotland’s one remaining gas plant at Peterhead which lost its contract with national grid because of grid capacity issues.

      On current national grid plans Scotland will have no power stations at all (apart from wind and hydro) once the nuclear stations shut down and will have to import up to 5GW from England at peak times. Already Scotland imports up to 2 GW from England since Longannet shut down. With the proposed closure of Peterhead another 1.2 GW of Scottish generation will be lost.

      • Clark

        These HVDC grid links are the technology of peace. There is no shortage of usable energy on our planet:

        https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8619/15370231684_e854186ec4_b.jpg

        Anywhere can get becalmed or clouded in, but there’s always spare energy somewhere. We need to learn to trust each other the world over, let war become a distant memory, and seriously grid up! Either we build our interconnected world, or die fighting over 65 million year old sludge.

  • Macky

    Today on the BBC;

    “In Mozambique, a $200m airport was meant to be the second busiest in the country.
    But three years after it opened it is operating at only 4% of its capacity.
    Nacalas International Airport has also been caught up in a corruption scandal involving Brazilian contractor Odebrecht.
    The company was responsible for the airport’s construction, and admitted to having paid bribes to high level officials”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-42277070/the-luxurious-ghost-airport-in-one-of-the-world-s-poorest-countries

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