PREVENT THE CORRUPT IN LEBANON FROM STEALING THE OIL / GAS
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TOTAL has signed two Exploration and Production Agreements.
We don't want the newly elected government, which still represents the Corrupt, from looting the Oil/Gas. If positive discovery is made the already 'sticky' Corrupt would be further emboldened and further entrench their hold on power and contribute to the worsening of the socio-economic situation of the country.
Therefore we need to put TOTAL on notice, and warn them.
Below Open Letter to :
TOTAL E&P (LEBANON)
Messrs. Darré, Mr. Pouyanné, and Mr. Douglas,
TOTAL, as part of the Consortium incl. ENI and NOVATEK, has signed through its subsidiary - referred herein as TOTAL - two EPA contracts in 2017, for Block 4&9, with the Lebanese Republic, prior to the October 17, 2019, the day of the so-called ‘Revolution’.
The Revolution (or ‘Thawra’ ) by the People of Lebanon, is against bad governance, economic unfairness and the corrupt ruling elite, referred herein as ‘the Cartel’, who have transformed the country into a nearly failed and severely corrupt one.
In a serious quest for change to implement proper governance, the People have forced the resignation of the cabinet (on October 29, 2019) through peaceful and non-violent means. The popular revolt is asking for real change in governance (people and systems) via the formation of a new ‘Clean’ government of politically independent (from the ruling Political Parties) specialists.
In 2018 Lebanon ranked as 138/180 with a score of 28/100, on the Corruption Perceptions index, as per Transparency International , an indicator of the high level of corruption and lack of proper governance.
The caretaker Prime Minister after his resignation, and the current President in their televised speeches have also both acknowledged the extent to which corruption has run rampant on all levels of government, even during their tenure. Moreover, the head of most political parties have also paid lip service to corruption as a major issue in governing Lebanon.
The country is today experiencing severe economic distress. Around 160,000-200,000 jobs have been lost since October and 10% of companies have closed since, while hospitals are struggling to get supplies and stay afloat, notwithstanding informal capital controls, liquidity and a potential banking melt down. Lebanon’s has accrued a massive debt of c. 86 billion US Dollars as of July 2019, 152+% of GDP, while the rating agency Fitch estimates a possible default at 88 Billion US Dollars, the third most indebted nation after Japan and Greece.
The potential donor countries at the CEDRE (Paris 2018) and GIS (Paris 2019) conferences to assist Lebanon, have also withheld aid (i.e. : c.11 Billion US Dollars from CEDRE) until ‘real’ socio-economic reforms are instituted, starting with the formation of an “effective and credible government capable of meeting the aspirations expressed by all the Lebanese that will have the capacity and credibility to deliver the necessary substantive policy package of economic reforms, and that will be committed to dissociate the country from regional tensions and crisis. It is urgent for the new government to be in place as quickly as possible.
A new government was just recently formed but is a proxy government disguised as an independent one, and has been rejected by the People. Even on the 22nd of January the day it was declared serious street riots broke out. This new ‘proxy’ government - clearly biased to the Hezbollah / CPL / Amal coalition - still represents the political parties headed by the civil war war-lords does not represent the aspirations of the people. The majority of the ministers, although, so-called ‘technocrats’ are directly connected to and act as subordinates to the Political corrupt ‘elite’. The newly formed government, which does not meet the demands, will surely fail.
If positive discovery is made via exploration, the Cartel would be further emboldened and further entrench their hold on power and contribute to the worsening of the socio-economic situation of the country.
We acknowledge TOTAL’S zero tolerance, stringent governance and compliance measures / standards. However, we believe that TOTAL and its partners should not put itself / themselves in a position of aiding and abetting the Cartel and unnecessarily exposing itself / themselves to unforeseen liabilities..
TOTAL is surely not responsible for corruption in Lebanon. Yet in order to avert the ‘Resource Curse’ and so as not to offer the Cartel any pretext to retain power and potentially loot Lebanon’s resources (if any) for personal enrichment, we advise TOTAL to align with the demands of the People (and Donor countries), which are: the nomination of a truly “clean independent government’, independent judiciary, and the enactment of full Transparency and Accountability reforms .
We therefore caution that if TOTAL proceeds in any Exploration and/or Production, with this newly elected government, it would be doing so at its own risk and peril, and that if any past or future deals which would have involved direct and/or indirect bribes, ‘sweeteners’, or money laundering activity, involving PEP’s could be cancelled by future administrations, and could expose TOTAL to future liabilities from prosecutions or otherwise, even retroactively, and highly recommend that TOTAL publish all payments as per EU directives and mandates.
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