Anti-corruption campaigner, Global Witness, has released the results of a months’ long investigation into the shadowy China Sonangol syndicate. The Economist ran an in-depth feature article on August 12th based, in part, on the Global Witness investigation. China Sonangol, known also as The China International Fund or the “Queensway Syndicate” is a corporate partnership that started trading oil in Angola and now operates in oil markets around the world. The Economist article is a must-read for anyone interested in oil and the so-called “resource curse.” The Global Witness report provides more information, as well as proposals for curtailing this type of illicit trading.
Here’s a press release from Global Witness along with a link to the full report:
12th August 2011
Revelations in today’s Economist expose how a syndicate of private companies based in Hong Kong has been able to secure access to vast tracts of Africa’s current and future natural resource wealth in deals struck behind closed doors with pariah regimes.
The story reveals how a private group of investors from Hong Kong have struck some of the largest “resource-for-infrastructure” (RFI) deals ever made with the governments of Angola, Zimbabwe and the former government of Guinea, denying millions of citizens access to their natural resource wealth and dealing with brutal regimes in the process.
The syndicate secures access to resources by offering much needed investment in developing countries’ economies and infrastructure. However, very few of the promised benefits are materialising in the countries concerned, while the tiny elite behind the syndicate are making billions in profits.
The conditions which allow deals of this magnitude to be hidden from view are often complex and localised. But the roots of this problem reach beyond national borders and into the heart of our global financial and political systems.
Global Witness is calling for urgent measures to regulate how access to natural resources is given. It must be clear who won the deal, how they won it, and who stands to profit. This shift towards more sustainable business practice would benefit the citizens of resource rich countries and legitimate businesses.
Terms of natural resources deals should be made public – particularly RFI deals given their potentially transformational impact on development if implemented properly.
Resource rich countries must:
Key consuming countries should:
Global Witness is available to comment in detail on the implications of this problem and what is required from policy-makers and others to tackle it.
Read the Global Witness briefing on how the lack of transparency in resource for infrastructure deals facilitates corruption and undermines development