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The investment bank Goldman Sachs is backing an oil deal in Angola by U.S. firm Cobalt International Energy, despite a risk that local partners in the deal could expose Cobalt to prosecution for corruption in the United States, Global Witness revealed today.
Goldman Sachs is a major shareholder in Cobalt and two of its executives sit on Cobalt’s board. Agreements with the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, give Cobalt shares in two Angolan oil exploration blocks and assign it two local partners, Alper Oil Limitada and Nazaki Oil and Gáz S.A.
Alper and Nazaki are obscure companies with no visible industry track record. This is a serious concern as Angola is a poor country afflicted by severe corruption: many observers believe that small and little-known companies are used as fronts by top Angolan officials to enrich themselves privately.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”