SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Last October, I reported here on the strange case of Interoil, a small firm that bought an Alaskan oil refinery from Chevron and shipped it 6,000 miles away to Papua New Guinea. Back in 1997, a subsidiary of Enron bought a big stake in InterOil, and two years later the firm got an $85 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)–a fraction of the $2.2 billion that Enron and Enron-linked firms sucked out of OPIC in loans and insurance.
One of InterOil’s investors and directors, by the way, is Gaylen Byker, a generous donor to G.O.P. candidates and causes. Byker is also the president of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2005, President Bush delivered the College’s commencement speech.
InterOil planned to refine crude oil into gasoline in Papua New Guinea and had all sorts of other plans that were going to make investors rich. Instead, the firm has lost a pile of money, including a $28.9 million loss for 2007, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing from last week. Meanwhile, the company has $130 million in loans coming due in May and, “We cannot assure that our business will generate cash flow… to enable us to pay our maturing indebtedness.” Hence, the company may need to raise outside money to pay off the debt, but that “to some extent, is subject to general economic, financial, legislative and regulatory factors and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot be sure that we will be able to obtain the refinancing or new financing on reasonable terms or at all.”
Even as InterOil’s economic prospects dim–its share price as of today was trading at about $17, down from about $44 last June–PIC has been remarkably generous in granting the firm a series of waivers and extensions on its loan payments. The new SEC filing reports that millions of dollars in principal payments due to OPIC during the past few months, have been deferred until 2015.
If mortgage brokers were this understanding, the housing crisis would be solved overnight.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount by which a typical good-looking U.S. worker will out-earn a typical ugly one over a lifetime:
A Japanese inventor unveiled a new invisibility cloak that uses a material made of thousands of tiny beads called “retro-reflectum.”
A couple at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina, left their waitress a note telling her “the woman’s place is in the home,” in lieu of a tip.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."