More on Barrick Gold including a deeper look at the involvement of Barricks Barricudas, Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper, and John Baird in Peter Munks criminal syndicate. When ex Prime Ministers are helping run a global racketeering ring you know your nation is in trouble. Many of the current Conservative leadership candidates such as Kevin O-Leary are currently crying foul about Mr. Trudeau's financial policies however a look at the track record of the Conservative party with any sort of critical light would only reveal a party full of frauds who are running a massive frap around the globe.
Although the typical rhetoric you would hear would have you believe that the Conservatives are good for the economy, nothing could be further from the truth.
The markets enjoyed good times because of the price of oil however the folly of building Canada's economy on ONE commodity/industry segment when Canada is blessed with plenty of every commodity and talent/ability in every industry segment cannot be overstated. See Alberta's condition now. The only thing the CON-servative party under Harper was good at was making their buddies rich at the expense of both Canadians and Americans.
Will any of the Conservative Parties Leadership candidates step up and tell the truth about our regulatory system? Will any of them actually work for justice instead of their own pocket books?
Will the Conservative party simply continue looting Canadians?
See an exert from the International Reporter below.
Barrick Mining- Barricading Canadian Democracy
by Anthony James Hall Veterans Today:
The Debate Engineering by the Munk PR Machanics is Meant to Help Keep Contained the Stench of Scandal Swirling Around Two of Harper’s Key Operatives. The Tainted Duo, Comprised of Canada’s Former Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, and Harper’s Former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, Are Also Barrick Operatives. Another Aim of the Rigged Debate is to Divert Attention Away From the Manipulation of False Flag Terrorism Especially Now That the Harper Government Has Been Caught Helping ISIL With Recruitment.
Stephen Harper and the Closing of the Canadian Mind
A strong suggestion of fin du régime emanates from Stephen Marche’s essay, “The Closing of the Canadian Mind.” The New York Times published this item in mid-August just as Nigel “good to go” Wright was giving his long awaited testimony in the Mike Duffy trial.
The essay’s historic significance extends far beyond its Canadian subject matter. The think piece is emblematic of the end of a long cycle of neoconservative dominance in public discourse introduced in 1987 by Allan Bloom in his iconographic The Closing of the American Mind.
Bloom called for a return to the classic texts of Western Civilization and a turn away from pedagogy highlighting the evils of colonization, race and patriarchy. Marche’s contribution points to the failure of an intellectual project that morphed into a Dark Age of “know nothing conservatism” in Canada. In Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s realm, the “active promotion of ignorance” prevails. “The author adds, “All this secrecy and informational control have been at the service of no larger vision of the country.”
For Marche, the closing of the Canadian mind is epitomized by Harper’s burning of libraries, his muzzling of federal scientists, his termination of the federal long form census and an all-round hostility to any form of transparency and full disclosure in his conduct of the nation’s business.
Harper’s preoccupation with secrecy and control became especially surreal in the opening weeks of the federal election campaign. As Mike Duffy’s famed lawyer, Donald Bayne, expertly exposed the corrupt operations of the Prime Minister’s Office, Stephen Harper robotically repeated day after day the same implausible account of his own supposed isolation from the bribery scandal.
Ignoring in his daily campaign stops even the damning public testimony of his own lawyer, Benjamin Perrin, Harper assumed the guise of a dutiful disciplinarian who had turned Duffy into the cops and fired Wright for committing wrongs that in no way implicated him.
It is unclear how much longer Harper’s friends in the federal police force will extend to him and his accomplices stay-out-of-jail cards in the rigged Monopoly of Canada during the Harper years. As Andrew Coyne has observed, the whole matter highlights how deeply dishonesty has become embedded in our political culture. “The lies are so habitual, so instinctive, so much a part of the normal run of things that no one seems to think them even unusual, let alone unacceptable.”
The Barrick Flag Ship of Canada’s “Extractive Industries”
Harper has had the assistance of many allies and beneficiaries in the elaborate scheme to dull, incapacitate and close many Canadian minds. The Barrick Gold Company is one of the most corrupt centres of opportunism in Harpers circle of assets, hangers on, patrons and clients. Orbiting around the Barrick mother ship is an array of propaganda satellites that are deceptively presented as agencies of higher education and public affairs.
Barrick Gold has been lead navigator for an elaborate network of international “extraction industries.” Largely because of lax regulation and enforcement mechanisms in the stock exchanges of Vancouver and Toronto, Canada presently leads the world as the preferred headquarters for the transnational “extractive sector.” The core of Barrick’s business model is the trade in insider information. Strategic data is regularly brought to Barrick especially by former politicians seeking to cash in on their privileged access to state secrets and global contacts acquired in the days when they held public office.
Prominent among this genre of Barrick operative have been the former US President, George H.W. Bush, the former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, and, most recently, John Baird.
Just one month before the former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister resigned suddenly from politics to follow Bush and Mulroney onto Barrick’s International Advisory Board, Baird handed over in early 2015 $9 million to a Barrick-related agency. The recipient of this heavily politicized handoff of public funds was the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. This institute has become a corporate Trojan Horse engineered to give a veneer of academic respectability to power-serving agendas.
The stench of conflict-of interest permeates every aspect of Baird’s handoff of federal funds. The amount involved is 100 times greater than the $90,000 check that lies at the heart of the Duffy trial. The RCMP alleges that this check was a bribe when received by Mike Duffy, but not when it was delivered by Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright.
George H. W. Bush’s Role in Jumping Barrick
from Obscurity to Dominance in the Global Gold Business
In Barrick’s own corporate publicity Peter Munk is described as its founder. Even superficial research reveals, however, that the primary founder of the Barrick operation was the notorious CIA asset and Saudi arms merchant, Adnan Khashoggi. Munk was inserted to replace the flamboyant Saudi playboy as Barrick’s primary public face once Khashoggi was made to become a fall guy in the Iran-Contra scandal. This episode exposed some sordid aspects of the US executive branch’s illegal activities during Ronald Reagan’s second term as US President in the late 1980s.
When he was in the Oval Office and in the years following his one-term US presidency, George Bush Sr. played a major role in the rise of Barrick’s fortunes. By virtually gifting Barrick the USA’s most lucrative gold mine on federal land in Nevada, Bush kick started a progression that projected the Canadian company in the 1990s from obscurity to dominance in the shrouded mysteries of money manipulation that permeate the global gold business.
In an effort to help wipe clean the infamy connected to his tainted fortune, Munk has plastered his name on philanthropies that conspicuously dominate key vistas of Toronto’s urban landscape. Prominent among his institutional progeny are the Munk Debates and the Munk School of Global Affairs. Both these enterprises are in fact cockpits for neocon lobbying and spin doctoring.
Many of Harper’s most controversial policies have been sold and implemented with the help of the Munk stable of institutes. Indeed, the Munk School and the Munk Debates have helped to dumb down, contain and slant public discourse. In the language of Stephen Marche, their role has been to contribute to the dulling, deceiving and closing the minds of many Canadians.
Excluding Women’s Voices From Debates
Is Profoundly Anti-Democratic
Stephen Marche leads off his New York Times essay by describing the upcoming Oct. 19 election in Canada as an event that Stephen Harper “doesn’t want anyone to talk about.” As an example of this effort to blunt critical scrutiny and commentary on Harper’s policies, Marche highlights the PM’s decision “not to participate in the traditional series of debates on national television, confronting his opponents [instead] in quieter, less public venues, like the Munk Debates.”
The finding in 2011 that put Harper in “contempt of Parliament” is being extended in the PM’s decision to overthrow established traditions of televised electoral debates with contenders for the country’s top job. In place of a series of debates overseen by a consortium of the country’s major broadcasters, including the besieged public broadcaster the CBC, Harper has adopted a format he has engineered along with his political friends for partisan advantage.
As Geoffrey Rafe Hall explains in iPolitics, the debating format was “designed to deliver a clear message that any debates would be on the PM’s terms, that the PMO would control and thereby shape the message.” The willingness of most of Canada’s punditry class to go along with this undermining of even a pretence of neutrality and objectivity in the structure of electoral debates has caused one media observer, Jason Koblovsky, to exclaim, “our democratic system looks more like a Third World two bit operation than a thriving democracy which depends on a free independent press.”
Elizabeth May may agree. Now entering her third federal election campaign, the Leader of the Green Party of Canada is emerging as Canada’s most high-profile whistle blower on Harper’s rapid disassembly of Canada’s
democratic system, imperfect as it may be. May has pointed out that the current PM has refused to debate in an event hosted by Canada’s public broadcaster and by the other private broadcasters. To add insult to injury the NDP Leader, Tom Mulcair, has joined with Stephen Harper in a response whose effect is to shut down a planned leaders’ debate on women’s issues that was to have taken place on September 21.
May’s whistle blowing on the rigged format of televised leaders’ debate has conjured up memories of the massive turn in public opinion in the late 1980s against Brian Mulroney’s plan to amend Canada’s constitution. One of the reasons for this popular revolt against the Meech Lake accord, the political instrument for a proposed alteration in Canada’s highest law, was the realization that it had been negotiated by an all-male panel of First Ministers.
On Aug. 25 Elizabeth May responded to the most recent round of female-excluding decisions on high. She asserted, “As the only woman leader of a federal party, I know women have deep concerns about all areas of public policy. Excluding women’s voices from debates is profoundly anti-democratic, yet the Conservatives and the NDP have now signaled repeatedly that the leaders’ debates they prefer are those with no woman present.”
Barrick Gold Hosts a Debate When It Should Be
A Major Subject of Debate
The Munk Debates will host the televised federal election debate on foreign policy issues at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto on September 28. The Munk School of Global Affairs will contribute to the process of formulating questions. Dr. Janice Stein, the Founding Director of the Munk School, is currently on the Advisory Board of the Munk family’s Aurea Foundation that oversees the Munk Debates.
The Munk School and the Munk Debates should be precluded from hosting any electoral debate on foreign affairs among leaders of the federal parties because the Barrick Corporation is the source of the golden egg that hatched the Munk entities. Barrick’s exploitative mining operations in many countries throughout the world are, in the words of the activists of the Munk Out of U of T campaign, subject to accusations of “human rights violations, labour violations, environmental devastation and/or corruption.”
Yves Engler has identified the obvious conflict of interest in allowing a PR offshoot of a Canadian mining conglomerate to host a debate on Canadian foreign affairs at a time when Canada’s extractive industries are at the centre of a broad array of international contentions. In rabble.ca Engler writes, “while Canada’s status as a global mining superpower ought to be part of a foreign policy debate, don’t expect any discussion of regulating mining activities abroad on September 28…. Nor should we expect discussion about matters likely to embarrass the military or major corporations.”
Such topics will most likely be papered over because, as Engler predicts, a real spotlight on the reason for Canada’s dwindling stature and reputation internationally “might offend billionaire Peter Munk.” Munk is the real behind-the-scenes host of the mano a mano election debate on foreign affairs.
As John Baird knows well from his own extensive ministerial involvement with the relevant files, Barrick’s activities are themselves the subject of major turmoil and contention in the conduct of Canadian foreign policy. For instance, widely-reported revelations of environmental degradation together with Barrick’s corruption of Chilean politicians to promote the Canadian gold companies disastrous Pascau Lama project have energized an upsurge of condemnations blackening Canada’s reputation throughout Latin America.
The growing web of international controversy is extending to transnational networks of police forces, media, courts, government ministries, financiers and politicians. The prominent individuals being drawn into this maelstrom include former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, former Chilean President Ricardo Largos, banker Andronico Luksic Jr, and Peter Munk himself. How can the Munk Debates offer a platform of credible neutrality for a leaders’ debate on Canadian foreign policy when Barrick Gold has become such a toxic vehicle of Canada’s relationship with the global community?
“Corporate Social Responsibility” as a
Code for Government Deregulation
Steven Toope is the current director of the Munk School who ducked out of the presidency of UBC as the office was about to blow up in broadly publicized infamy. Sensing trouble ahead in his new job, Dr. Toope has tried to distance the University of Toronto from Stephen Harper’s decision to place the Munk institutes at the core of political exchange in the run up to the next federal election. Peter Munk himself, however, has worked at cross-purposes with Dr. Toope’s cautious manoeuvring.
The fact is that the University of Toronto like most other academic institutions in the Western world are suffering major funding shortfalls under the austerity programs that the neoconservative agenda has imposed on most public institutions. While national governments have been pressured to extract themselves from funding public health, public education and social services, they have been subjected to enormous new pressures to open funding spigots for military, police and surveillance operations.
The squeezing of public funding for universities has made these entities more dependent on the so-called private sector, a dependency that the likes of Peter Munk and other plutocrats of his ilk are exploiting with a vengeance. These captains of industry and finance are taking advantage of the very vulnerabilities in public institutions that they have themselves have helped to create and compound.
The major surgery being performed on the academic guts of University of Toronto, an institution meant to be a bastion of Canadian civilization, is in fact a kind of cannibalism devouring the public interest and the common good. Munk has set disastrous precedents by asserting inappropriate influence over the curriculum together with the hiring, research, publication, tenure and promotion decisions that lie at the very core of the academic mission of genuine universities.
The shape of things to come was signalled in 1997 when the University of Toronto bestowed an honorary Ph.D onformer US President George H. W. Bush at the behest of the primary beneficiaries of the Barrick Gold Company. Peter Munk and the interests he embodies gradually extended their influence from there. The Munk interests infiltrated the academy, imposing increased corporate control over the study of international affairs at the U of T.
Marketa Evans was an important scout in the quest to advance the Munk interests through manipulation of the machinery of academic governance. This Director of the Munk Centre of International Studies, the prelude to the Munk School of Global Affairs, introduced the buzz phrase, “corporate social responsibility” into the curriculum. This seemingly benign turn of phrase is meant to obfuscate the real agenda of removing government regulation from the international activities of many hundreds of Canadian-based companies in the so-called “extractive sector.”
Evans helped publicize and legitimize the Munk agenda of corporate deregulation through a series of meetings bringing corporate spokesmen together with members of NGOs to share perspectives on the international future of Canadian-based mining operations at home and abroad. This series of exchanges, known as the Devonshire Initiative, will deserve careful attention when the history is someday written of the role of the academy’s corporatization in the dulling and closing of the Canadian mind.
In 2009 Evans was hired by the Harper government as a “counsellor” assigned to glaze over the replacement of government regulation and enforcement with voluntarism. Rather than requiring extractive companies to adhere to a rules-based system, the Canadian government interpreted the Munk Centre’s Devonshire Initiative to mean that cubs’ honour promises of good corporate citizenship would suffice. No Canadian government policing of the extractive operations of Canadian companies outside Canada was required.
The process of removing legal conditions for the extractive activities of resource companies is giving Canada a black eye in many parts of the world suffering the predatory incursions of Barrick Gold and those many companies following its lead.
As Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks have outlined in The Trouble With Billionaires, Peter Munk was able to establish his most recent academic namesake with a core money transfer of $19 million after tax write-offs. The contract was negotiated in secret with U of T’s President, David Naylor. It gives Munk and the inheritors of his estate considerable leverage over the future direction and academic business of Barrick’s academic flag ship. This leveraged buyout of academic influence was purchased in a deal that still leaves taxpayers carrying at least 80% of the expense of the U of T’s main agency for the study of international relations.
The Role of the Munk Institutes in Demonizing
the Reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Adelson made a big splash recently when he called for nuclear attacks on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Relations with Iran have famously become a major point of contention in US-Israeli relations. The Canadian government, the Munk School of Global Affairs, and the Munk Debates have all sided with the Israeli government in eschewing any softening of relations with Iran. In all likelihood there will be no opening for this bias to be forthrightly exposed and considered in the forthcoming federal debate on Canada’s foreign policy.
In 2012 the Harper government broke off formal diplomatic ties with Iran after Canada’s Foreign Affairs Foreign Minister John Baird proclaimed that the Islamic Republic is “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” Baird added salt to the wound when in 2013 he announced “the [Iranian] regime is hollow. It does not have the depth, the intellect, the humanity or the humility to bring about a better future for its people.”
The Harper government’s mirroring of the Israeli government’s hard line position on Iran was implicit in the bias embedded in the contrived question posed by the organizers of the Munk Debates in November of 2012. The assumption beneath the debate question—“Can the world tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear weapons capability?”— posits that there is a secret malevolent agenda behind Iran’s contentious nuclear energy program.
This assumption runs against much documented evidence including the contentions of the Iranian government. Its leadership has repeatedly declared fatwas against nuclear weapons at home and abroad. Morever, the Munk Debates of 2012 steered away from any reckoning with the larger hypocrisy of highlighting nuclear power issues in Iran without any reference to the need to regulate and ultimately abolish nuclear weapons in the many countries that possess them. Israel is one such country. Although to this day the government of Israel denies having nuclear weapons, Israel is in fact is a nuclear-armed country not subject to any international inspection or regulation whatsoever including the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This Munk Debate of 2012 gave a Canadian platform for the extreme American Islamophobe, Charles Krauthammer, and Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin to advocate armed intervention in Iran. Then in early 2015 the Munk School accepted $9 million of public funds to promote and facilitate the Harper government’s advocacy of regime change within Iran. With the then-Munk School Director, Dr. Janice Stein, at his side, Foreign Affairs Minister Baird announced the transfer of federal funds to support the U of T’s so-called Digital Public Square initiative.
This Internet initiative can be characterized as a more polite and public facet of a very elaborate subterranean campaign of cyberwarfare whose existence has been brought to light by a number of sources including Gareth Porter in Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. The stated purpose of Baird’s federal grant to the Munk School follows Cold War precedents. The ultimate aim is to help dissidents in Iran and elsewhere bring about the kind of structural alterations—regime change— still advocated by government authorities in Canada even after the UN’s deal with the leadership of the Islamic Republic.
This intransigence puts Canada at odds with the US executive branch, all members of the UN Security Council, the UN itself, plus the government of Germany. Most significantly, it puts Canada on the sidelines of all sorts of political and economic transformations underway in and around the Persian heartland of Eurasia. The crude belligerence of the Harper government on Iran shows Canada to be at thuggish realm. Canada is becoming an international backwater sinking into a bitumen swamp. Meanwhile the elements of a New Silk Road between China and Europe are being woven together in our absence.
Only a country dominated by closed and backward minds could allow the abnegation of the positive international possibilities emerging from such a major geopolitical transformation. Given the history of the Munk Debates and the Munk School on relations with Iran, what chance is there that the Munk election debate on Canadian foreign policy will put the prospects of a new relationship with main centre of Persian civilization before Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau?
Who Is Killing Canadian Democracy?
Rudyard Griffiths is the organizer and moderator of the Munk Federal Election Debate on Foreign Affairs. Griffiths describes himself as a “social engineer.” He is Peter Munk’s designate heading up a network of interlinked agencies that extends incestuousness to new frontiers of corporatized narcissism.
Griffiths is President of the Peter and Melanie Munk Foundation and the Aurea Foundation that hosts the MunkDebates. Besides supporting the Munk School, the Munk Foundation supports the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Fraser Institute. A favourite think tank of the Koch Brothers, the Kansas-based owners of oil rights and infrastructures in and around the Alberta Tar Sands, the Fraser Institute awarded Munk a major prize in 2010.
Griffiths first drew the attention of his patron by latching onto the controversy generated in the late 1990s by Prof. Jack Granatstein’s polemic, Who Killed Canadian History? Granatstein applied in the Canadian context many criticisms similar to those marshalled by Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind. Granatstein called for a return to what he considered the basics in the teaching of Canadian history. He wanted more attention on wars, leaders and politics, less emphasis on First Nations, class and gender. He wanted to see a warm embrace of, rather than a distrustful response to, the enormous US influence on Canadian affairs.
In his tireless self-promotions Griffiths took the hard edges off of Granatstein’s diatribes. With backing from the Donner Foundation he founded the Dominion Institute to combine surveys with history quizzes thereby advancing a glossy view of a simplified past. Griffiths conjured up historical sanction for a range of neoconservative policies including those promoted by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
As Munk’s hand-picked “social engineer,” Griffith has assumed responsibility for various PR initiatives that serve the interests of the Harper government’s favoured corporate conglomerates. The decision to exclude the Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, from the Munk Debate of Sept. 28 was one of the first calls made by Griffiths. He characterized the sidelining of May, without a doubt one of Canada’s most experienced, adept and outspoken parliamentarians, as “streamlining.”
Founding Members of Barrick’s Barricudas
A large section of the Jan. 1997 issue of Executive Intelligence Review was devoted to exposing the deep state activities of George H. W. Bush, a former US President, Vice-President, and CIA Director. Bush is well known for his war profiteering right up to this day. Through the Carlyle Corporation and other entities Bush’s partnerships include many Saudi elites. The leading members of the bin Laden family are prominently among them.
Many of the articles in the EIR highlight Bush’s elaborate web of connections to the Barrick Gold Corporation during an era when the USA was replacing its gold-backed currency with Saudi-American petrodollars. A survey of some of the titles and subtitles helps to encapsulate the astonishing contents of the investigative reports.
They include: “George Bush’s $10 Billion Giveaway to Barrick Gold;” “Kashoggi, Barrick and the ayatollahs;” “Bush Cashes in His Gold Chips.” The caption beside one of the published photographs reads, “Former President George Bush, accompanied by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in Elko Nevada on Sept 17, 1996 visiting the Goldstrike property owned by Barrick Gold Corporation.”
One of the articles identifies Bush and Mulroney as leading members of “Barrick’s Barricudas.” In teaming up in the mid-1990s under Barrick’s auspices, the duo maintained a collaboration that continued their prior negotiations as elected leaders instrumental in bringing about the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. The joint intention of Bush and Mulroney was to widen NAFTA beyond its USA-Canada-Mexico framework to include the rest of Latin America. Their main Barricuda ally in this project was Andronico Luksic, father of Andronico Luksic Jr. who is presently near the centre of an unfolding scandal in Chile highlighting Barrick Gold’s corrupt infiltration of the governing party of Michelle Bachelet.
The EIR article refers to two phone calls made by Mulroney in 1994 to Chilean President Eduardo Frei and to Argentinian President Carlos Menem. Mulroney’s aim was to help Barrick Gold take over from the Canadian-based Lac Minerals its supposed rights to mine one of Latin America’s—indeed the world’s— largest known deposits of gold, silver and copper.
In hindsight Mulroney’s phone call helped set in motion one of the greatest environmental, financial, legal and political debacles in all of mining history, a debacle whose larger implications are only now beginning to come to light internationally. Canada’s central role in this debacle should be the subject of heated debate in this Canadian federal election as should the astonishing improprieties of giving a Barrick-related entity, the Munk Debates, major influence over a televised leaders’ debate devoted to Canadian foreign policy.
As Canada’s previous Foreign Minister, and now as a member of Barrick’s International Advisory Board, John Baird is deeply implicated in many facets of this debacle. The substance and the scope of Barrick’s vile conduct in Chile has been the subject of much media coverage in Chile including a major TV documentary directed by Ricardo Insunza and produced by CNN Chile. The stupendous lies and crimes involved in the Pascua Lama project extend to serial frauds in stock market reporting, insider trading, and the raiding of $billions in share value diminishing the life’s savings of many hard-working people in their pension funds and mutual funds.
Other founding members of Barrick’s Barricudas include Edward N. Nye, one of George Bush Sr’s chief spin doctors and deep state operatives. Nye helped the former CIA Director win the presidency in 1988 in spite of the fact that Bush was one of the most important hands-on operatives in the chain of illegal actions leading to the Iran-Contra scandal. Nye is the founder of the Burson-Marsteller PR company whose clients often require the manufacturing of benign imagery to cover over many deep state operations.
Another founding member of Barrick’s Barricudas was Karl Otto Pohl, a former president of the Bundesbank as well as a top official in the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of International Settlements. While Barrick has advertised itself as a mining company, which it is in part, there is much more to its business model than taking gold from the ground, refining it and selling it.
There is much evidence that a big part of Barrick’s operations has had much to do with fixing gold prices, significantly by flooding markets to force prices lower during the period of the company’s greatest profitability and fastest growth through the acquisition of new mining properties on several continents. This price fixing was, it appears, accompanied by arranging gold transfers between central banks as well as putting huge quantities of gold derivatives and real gold, sometimes from secret sources, on the market. In the process Barrick became a laboratory for inventing, manipulating, rigging and marketing new instruments of paper speculation. Many of these activities included the necessity of intervening to influence lawmakers, regulators and jurists in many countries in both overt and covert fashions.
While there has certainly been a wide array of interests and agendas at play in these transactions, an underlying theme of the engineering of the global gold trade seems to have been to maintain the viability of US currency as the world’s primary medium of international exchange. This imperative arose during a period when the USA was losing its competitive edge in many fields even as many businesses moved productive capacity offshore with a resulting deindustrializing across many areas of manufacturing.
The primary factor to heed in preventing a precipitous plunge in the value of US money, however, involved maintaining a degree of continuity during a period of transformation from gold-backed US currency to Saudi-American petro dollars. Weaving throughout the story are changing interactions between key platforms of power in an era when Cold War animosity with the Soviet Union gave way to the Global War on Terror and altered relations with Russia, itself an important producer of gold.
Barrick’s Canadian Barricudas included Power Corporation’s Paul Demarais Jr., the primary financial force behind Jean Chretien in his run as Liberal Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003. Also on Barrick’s International Advisory Board was J. Trevor Eyton. The key executive of Brascan, a Canadian company providing public utilities throughout Latin America but especially Brazil, Eyton was widely viewed as a major agent and caretaker of the Bronfman family fortune.
The origins of this renowned family dynasty go back to Samuel Bronfman’s trafficking of liquor out of Saskatchewan to supply the illegal clubs of Al Capone’s Chicago mob during the 1920s, the era of Prohibition in the United Sates. The rise of the Bronfmans to the big leagues of international finance and geopolitical influence extended to Edgar Bronfman’s strong leadership of the World Jewish Congress from 1979 to 2007.
To understand Munk’s acumen in the more rough and tumble quarters of the business world, one has to appreciate the ability of this Jewish Canadian of Hungarian ancestry to move as an intermediary between two major poles of interest and orientation. Munk thrived on the interface between the Saudi connections of Khashoggi and Bush and the Israeli connections of the Bronfman clan and its representatives.
As pillars of the Jewish community especially in Montreal and New York, the Bronfmans have very significant stakes in banking, media, real estate, public utilities, and the first component of their empire, the liquor trade. Some of their involvement in the gold business, including Edgar’s key role in obtaining reparations from Swiss banks that had benefited from the elimination and dispossession of European Jews in WWII, are matters of public record. The Bronfman embodiment of the rags to riches saga in the American Dream forms an important subtext to the rise and falling fortunes of Munk’s financial empire.
From Celebrity to Disgrace:
Adnan Khashoggi in the First Years of Barrick Gold
The story of the original partnership at the roots of Barrick Gold sheds light on the spinning of connections linking the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The development of this unlikely alliance between the Jewish state and the Wahhabi Kingdom forms an essential factor over recent decades in the renewal of the informal Anglo-American empire whose main point of geographic contact is Canada. An important key to understanding the deep politics of one stage in the life of the informal Anglo-American empire lies in the career of Munk’s business partner, Adnan Khashoggi.
Khashoggi’s primary CIA handler is reputed to have been Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of US
PresidentTheodore Roosevelt. The descendant of the gregarious Teddy Roosevelt is best known for his central role as the main operative on the ground in Tehran who orchestrated the Anglo-American backed coup in 1953. This external intervention into the domestic politics of Iran resulted in the replacement of Mohammad Mossedegh, a proponent of the nationalization of Iranian oil resources, with the puppet regime of the Shah of Iran.
The deep state aspects of US-Iranian relations would explode into public notoriety again with news of the sensational substance of the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. Once Khashoggi was discovered to have been a key operative in the Reagan White House’s illegal transfer of arms from Israel to Iran with the involvement of the Toronto-based CIA-connected Jetborne corporation, it became necessary to remove Khashoggi from his front-and-centre role in Barrick enterprises.
Khashoggi’s importance in making Toronto the official headquarters of the Barrick operations was captured on film in 1984. In this clip published on the Internet, Khashoggi is shown meeting with Ontario’s Tory Premier Bill Davis and the rest of his cabinet. The purpose of this photo op was to prepare the mental environment for a public offering of Barrick Gold shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The top leadership of the Ontario government is caught on camera fawning all over the visitor who in that era was often described as the richest man in the world.
The Ontario government’s guest was sufficiently famous for the rock band Queen to write and record a song called “Khashoggi’s Ship.” This luxury yacht, Nabia, was used as a set for the James Bond thriller, “Never Say Never Again.” Robin Leach, host of the American TV blockbuster, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, declared his episode on Khashoggi to be his favourite show in the entire series.
Flash forward to 1989 when Peter Munk came up with $4 million to bail out Khashoggi from a New York jail after the arms merchant had been arrested for getting caught up in the unorthodox gold transactions involving the wife of the former president and kleptocrat-in-chief of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. By this time Khashoggi had already been identified in the Iran-Contra scandal as a key facilitator in the transfer of Israeli arms to the Islamic government of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini. The funds from these prohibited arms sale were then secretly deployed to arm the US-backed agents of regime change in Nicaragua in transactions extending to collaboration between the Contras and CIA in selling illicit drugs in the USA.
George H.W. Bush and the Privatization
of the National Security State
As the investigators at the EIR explain, Munk and Khashoggi were originally introduced and helped along in their partnership by key inheritors of the wealth derived from the opium trade. This trade provided the basis for the formation and growth of many important enterprises including the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the HSBC. Some of these same circles of intrigue provided the context for the rise of the Bush family of bankers, politicians, and war profiteers.
As CIA Director, as both the number 2 and number 1 man in the US White House, and as Barrick’s most highly-placed operative, George H.W. Bush was instrumental in privatizing many facets of the most secret branches of the national security state. This process of privatization was part of a growing merger which continues yet of organized crime with the so-called intelligence services and counter-intelligence operations of national governments. Any close observers of both Bush presidencies would have difficulty missing signs of this creep of criminalization into deep state activities and agencies.
The transformation in the infrastructure of geopolitical power has included many reforms aimed at financing the CIA and its attending agencies, both public and private, with illicit drug money rather than with public funds obtained through more visible channels requiring Congressional approval. This model of privatized and corporatized “national security” is being replicated by many national governments including that of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Corporate Crime and Executive Immunity
The corporate outgrowth of the Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century grew up along with the rise of the British colony of Hong Kong. There are strong echoes of this history in the recent appointment of John Thornton to replace Peter Munk as the new Chair of Barrick Gold. Known for his strong links to the Chinese business community, Thornton is a former top executive of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
The HSBC has recently been convicted of knowingly and systematically laundering money for major Mexico-based drug cartels. The Bank was ordered to pay a $1.9 billion fine in the United States. This transaction was calculated to shut down further embarrassment to the banking establishment in a way that avoided charges and convictions directed at specific executives with names, addresses, and titles. The effect of indicting financial institutions but not the corporate executives that put their companies outside the law is to extend legal immunity to top banking and brokerage officials.
This immense, often colour-coded hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed especially among those populations mostdisproportionately criminalized by agencies of law enforcement. While impunity is extended to drug lords who spend their time in places like HSBC board rooms and offices, the oft’ privatized jails are being overstuffed with users and small-time merchants of illicit substances.
A variation of this pattern of criminalizing corporations but not the officials that signed off on illegal acts took place in Canada when a Crown prosecution for accounting fraud against the financial branch of the Conservative Party of Canada ended in a plea bargain in 2011. The illegal acts took place during the federal election of 2006 in what became known as the In and Out case. The charges resulted in a conviction against the Conservative Fund of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Charges were dropped, however, against the four individuals responsible for the accounting fraud including the Conservative Party’s financial chief, Senator Irving Gerstein. Gerstein is currently implicated as well in Canada’s Senate scandal because he is known to have tried to shut down an external audit by Deloitte Inc. of Mike Duffy’s contested expenses.
A case similar to the HSBC’s payment of a huge fine to close down an embarrassing investigation occurred when Khashoggi’s close associate, Saudi intelligence chief Kamal Adham, paid a legal penalty of $105 million in 1992 to the US criminal justice system. Adham’s payment helped give closure to a series of revelations exposing connections between drug dealing, pipeline planning, the trade in nuclear secrets, and CIA-sponsored Islamic jihad in Afghanistan, all through the financial medium of Saudi-backed Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the BCCI. Adham, Khashoggi, and several other Saudi CIA assets were major shareholders in this bank serving myriad deep state transactions.
There were many powerful individuals, including then-President George Bush Sr., who did not want Adham to go on giving testimony in the criminal prosecution of the BCCI and its officers. Bush tried to put the Iran-Contra matter to sleep in 1989 when, after winning the US Presidency, he quietly ended many of the trials of the protagonists, including Adnan Khashoggi, by offering pardons. The trial of Adham and his associates in the closely related BCCI case effectively extended the Iran-Contra scandal. The revelations and cover-ups in the Iran-Contra-BCCI fiasco were influential in helping to create the conditions for Munk’s rapid rise in the business world.
Thornton thus comes to his new job at Barrick under a heavy cloud of suspicion consistent with the HSBC’s recent and older history as a financial facilitator of the kind of transactions in illicit drugs that figure especially in the CIA career of Barrick operative George H.W. Bush. Moreover, Thornton’s background suggests that Barrick Gold is becoming a vehicle of the move by Chinese investors to acquire stronger ownership positions over natural resources especially throughout Latin America.
Barrick at the Centre of a Firestorm
of Criticism and Hostile Litigation
Whatever baggage Thornton is carrying from HSBC and his prior post as Goldman Sachs president, the new Chair of Barrick Gold is entering a firestorm of hostility as he takes over Peter Munk’s old job. Munk is leaving behind a lingering residue of bad publicity epitomized by his nomination by Mother Jones as piggy number one in its rundown of America’s top ten embodiments of corporate pork.
As Munk saw it, the US-backed installation of General Augusto Pinochet’s fascist regime in Chile was a good thing. Moreover the sexual assault by Barrick’s security police on women in Papua New Guinea was understandable in Munk’s opinion because, “gang rape is a cultural habit” in that country.
Increasingly hostility is being directed not only at Barrick and its sister firms in the international operations of Canadian-based extractive industries but at the Canadian government as well. For instance the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights responded to Canada’s instant backing of the primary beneficiaries of the military coup in Honduras in 2009 by condemning the role of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs.
Following the overthrow of President Manuel Zalaya’s government Canada’s foreign affairs ministry is alleged to have gone to work to help the Honduran coup leaders write “new mining laws” even as “targeted violence” was being pointed against “communities, lawyers, journalists, and activists.” The Harper government was the first national government in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, to extend formal recognition to the post-coup usurpers of Honduran sovereignty.
The UK’s Guardian has paraphrased the Commission’s serious charges that Barrick and other Canadian mining companies active in nine Latin American countries have been, with the backing and support of the Canadian government, “destroying glaciers, contaminating water and rivers, cutting down forests, forcibly displacing people, dividing and impoverishing communities, making false promises about economic benefits, endangering people’s health, and fraudulently acquiring property.” Those who protest such assaults “have been killed or seriously wounded while others have been persecuted, threatened or accused of being terrorists.”
Barrick Gold’s headquarters and its international subsidiaries are facing a barrage of litigation from a variety of sources. One class of litigants are those on the receiving end of Barrick’s mining incursions, Indigenous peoples prominent among them. Another category of litigation comes from various combinations of shareholders alleging the company misled them and stripped value from their investments in a number of improper and illegal ways.
Barrick’s annual shareholders’ meetings have become events of great acrimony and strife because of the growing array of individuals, groups and associations claiming that the company has hurt them. At the low end of the scale are accusations that Barrick’s directors and executives are too highly paid and rewarded with lucrative stock options too generously. At the high end of the scale are accusations that the company has repeatedly and systematically committed fraud by making false reports to security regulators and investors in a variety of countries. This line of investigation should, but often does not, lead to subsets of inquiry involving scrutiny of regulatory agencies and their officials for failing to do due diligence in checking the veracity of Barrick’s reports.
Barrick’s Pascua Lama Project, One of the
Greatest All-Round Debacles in All of Mining History
Ground zero in this litigious mess of claims and counterclaims is the Pascau Lama mine. Having been closed down by order of the Chilean judiciary, the failure of Barrick’s Pascau Lama project may very well lead to the unmaking of the entire Barrick empire. Barrick’s serial displays of incompetence, malfeasance and outright contempt for victims of the company’s recklessness have assumed epic proportions. Peter Koven at Canada’s Financial Post accused Barrick in 2013 of “screwing up the Pascua Lama project about as badly as any mining company has ever screwed up a major project.”
The company claims to have invested $8.5 billion in its Pascua Lama project with almost no return so far. There is virtually nothing in Barrick’s own accounting concerning this project, however, that can be taken at face value. The evidence continues to grow suggesting that the books have been cooked and that shareholders have been robbed and defrauded.
At the root of the fraud is evidence that fictitious titles have been fabricated while the actual tiles to the mineral resources of Pascua Lama have been misrepresented and covered up. As a result, Barrick is being accused of making public offerings of shares and financially leveraging in international money markets proprietary claims to gold and other precious minerals it never really possessed.
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