New documents show holes in revolving door regulation
New documents released by Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire, today show that Tony Blair’s Iraq envoy, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, lobbied the Iraqi prime minister on behalf of BP just three months after leaving Iraq. On joining BP as special adviser in June 2004, Greenstock was ordered by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments not to visit Iraq on business, nor have dealings with companies there, for six months. Just three months later however, he met Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on BP business in London. The meeting was also attended by then BP chief executive Lord Browne.
Greenstock, who as UK Ambassador to the United Nations had made the case for war in 2002, served as UK Special Representative to Iraq from September 2003 to June 2004.
At the September 2004 meeting, the BP team including Greenstock are believed to have pushed for a contract to study the Rumaila field near Basra, Iraq’s largest oilfield. Documents released today also reveal that in August 2004 UK Ambassador Edward Chaplin lobbied the Iraqi Oil Minister to award the deal to BP. In January 2005, BP won the contract. The company’s subsequent studies of the field are believed to be what gave it the advantage to win a 20-year deal to manage it, at an auction in June 2009. Under the contract, BP and its partner CNPC are set to receive returns of up to $660 million per year after tax.
The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Greg Muttitt, author of the book Fuel on the Fire – Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, which was published last month. Muttitt said:
“In June 2004, Jeremy Greenstock dealt with Iraqi politicians as Tony Blair’s envoy, while nearly 9,000 British troops occupied the country. Three months later, he met Allawi on behalf of BP. His lobbying weight so soon after leaving will have been immense, and demonstrates again how BP operates at the very heart of government. No wonder BP is doing so well out of Iraq.”
The revelations will give further weight to calls by campaigners Transparency International in a report on Tuesday for replacing the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments with a tougher system.
“The ruling that Greenstock could not do business within Iraq shows up how limp the regulatory system is. All business at the time was being done outside Iraq, for security reasons. And the Committee must have known that BP’s most important business dealings are with governments, not other companies. The Committee allowed Greenstock to comply with the letter of its ruling, while abusing his previous position in exactly the way the Committee was supposed to prevent.”
Greenstock twice gave evidence to the Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot, but was not quizzed on his BP role.