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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI413,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI413 2009-05-21 08:08 2011-01-31 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
VZCZCXRO9691
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0413/01 1410807
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 210807Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4845
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHHH/OPEC COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5375
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TRIPOLI 000413 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/MAG AND L (SCHWARTZ); COMMERCE FOR NATE MASON; 
ENERGY FOR GINA 
ERICKSON; CAIRO FOR ALEX SEVERENS; PARIS AND LONDON FOR NEA 
WATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 5/19/2019 TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EFIN EPET EINV KCOR LY QA

1. (C) Summary: Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) recently convoked the major international oil companies (IOCs) in Libya and presented a new law establishing a fund for charitable contributions. While the stated purpose of the law is to gather contributions to support charitable, social and humanitarian aid programs, NOC officials - including Chairman Shukri Ghanem - openly conceded that the new law was the government's latest attempt to prompt IOCs to make "voluntary" contributions to the fund established under the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Compensation Agreement, which is to compensate victims of terrorism and their families. Citing concerns about potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), IOC heads here told the Ambassador and emboffs they do not plan to make any contributions to the new fund. IOCs in Libya are already obligated under the terms of their contracts to spend a certain amount on social programs and have initiated programs to fight diabetes (a growing problem in Libya), and promote road safety. End summary.

LIBYAN NATIONAL OIL COMPANY CALLS INTERNATIONAL OIL COMPANIES TO CARPET

2. (C) On May 4, the National Oil Company (NOC) convoked the Libyan deputy managers of IOCs to a presention on a new law establishing a charitable contribution fund (Decision number 148-2009). (Note: In Libya, the deputies of IOCs must be Libyan nationals. End note). The stated purpose of the law is to gather donations to support charitable, social and humanitarian aid programs. The fund would manage and monitor charity contributions coming from all foreign companies and would encourage them to contribute grants, donations, and support to the fund. The fund is to be managed by a Management Committee comprised of a General Manager and four members nominated by the General People's Committee (cabinet-equivalent). In addition to "voluntary" contributions, 40 per cent of environmental fines paid by foreign companies, including oil companies, would go into the fund.

NEW "CHARITY FUND" A THINLY-VEILED VERSION OF OLD CLAIMS COMPENSATION FUND

3. (C) The NOC officials chairing the meeting admitted the law was the government's latest attempt to spur the IOCs to make "voluntary" contributions to the fund created under the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Compensation Agreement (see refs A and B). The deputy managers were told their companies would get 'better treatment' if they made early contributions to the charity fund. In discussing potential consequences if they declined to make such contributions, it was suggested that the companies could be fined for infringing Libya's environmental laws, or their employees could be stopped by police for (alleged) traffic infractions. (Note: The latter is a common practice here. Police frequently stop vehicles with foreign commerical license plates and fine their drivers on the spot. End note.) Since the meeting, the major IOCs have remained resolute and have not contributed to either the old compensation fund or the new charity fund. There are persistent rumors, however, that Gazprom and a few small oil services companies have contributed to the compensation fund and possibly to the new charity fund as well. (Note: Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller announced publicly earlier this week that Gazprom expected to conclude an agreement with the NOC in the near future to develop a large gas field. End note.)

SHUKHRI GHANEM TO MARATHON: BE A "GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND GIVE TO THE NEW FUND

4. (C) In a recent meeting, xxxxxxxxxxxx admitted xxxxxxxxxxxx that the GOL had simply renamed the old compensation fund and presented it as a charity fund. Noting that neither the Libyan government nor the USG had wanted to contribute to the fund, he said it had become apparent that IOCs were not inclined to contribute to it, either. He blamed the refusal of American companies to pay for the reluctance of other IOCs to contribute. xxxxxxxxxxxx explained that the new charity fund would give companies an opportunity to show they are "good neighbors" by supporting charitable, social and humanitarian aid programs. The issue of IOCs contributing to the fund had been elevated to the highest levels and went beyond just the NOC, he said, in an implicit reference to Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. Separately, senior xxxxxxxxxxxx executives and a Libyan contact with excellent ties to xxxxxxxxxxxx recently told Emboffs that xxxxxxxxxxxx and the NOC were TRIPOLI 00000413 002.2 OF 003 under pressure from Muammar al-Qadhafi and Prime Minister al-Baghdad al-Mahmoudi. (Note: The latter was tasked immediately after finalization of the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Compensation Agreement with "accreting" contributions to the fund for victims of terrorism. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx

5. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx told the Ambassador his company did not see any way it could participate in the new fund since its lawyers assessed that contributions could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practises Act (FCPA). xxxxxxxxxxxx was worried that if they contributed to the fund this time, it would establish a dangerous precedent for further solicitations in Libya and elsewhere. (Note: Post read with interest ref C, which suggests the Qataris and Libyans may be using the same play book. End note.) The Oasis Group (also known by its Arabic name as the Waha Group), which includes Marathon, Amerada Hess, and ConocoPhillips, already paid Libya USD 1.8 billion in signing bonuses to re-enter Libya. The request for additional payment to the charity fund is not something xxxxxxxxxxxx is in a position to do. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, the company is strongly committed to fulfilling its corporate social responsibility obligations, but is unwilling to simply hand out cash to a less-than-transparent charity fund. Some provisions in the new law call for using the fines paid by companies for breaching environmental codes to fund sustainable development programs. Contacts at xxxxxxxxxxxx said this would not affect xxxxxxxxxxxx or its xxxxxxxxxxxx since they are only investors (vice operating companies). In addition, xxxxxxxxxxxx's operations are xxxxxxxxxxxx and therefore less prone to environmental infractions.

THE VIEW FROM OTHER IOCS

6. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx agreed that the new fund is simply a new name for the old compensation claims fund. He noted xxxxxxxxxxxx is already devoting resources to social programs in Libya, including a diabetes awareness and treatment project with experts affiliated with Harvard University. To require the company to "voluntarily" pay into a new fund would be a non-starter for xxxxxxxxxxxx. xxxxxxxxxxxx wondered why the government did not simply levy a new tax on the IOCs rather than create the new fund. While the companies would not have liked this, it would have simplified collecting the funds and provided a more tenable approach with respect to FCPA issues. xxxxxxxxxxxx told the Ambassador he was concerned by the NOC's decision to convoke Libyan national deputy GM's, an approach he viewed as "targeting" Libyan colleagues in the belief that they would be more susceptible to strong-arm tactics. (Note: He personally assessed that his locally-engaged staff were even more loyal to the IOCs than the expatriate staff. End note.) He noted that the NOC typically convoked expatriate general managers. Even though xxxxxxxxxxxx in Libya was not directly impacted by the Lockerbie compensation issue, xxxxxxxxxxxx agreed the IOCs needed to "hold rank" and not succumb to pressure to pay into the new fund. As xxxxxxxxxxxx is only involved in xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx, its susceptibility to potential environmental fines is also slight. He noted xxxxxxxxxxxx is already supporting several social programs in Libya. They are proud of their road safety program and believe this program could be partly credited with the government's recently-enacted requirement that drivers wear seat-belts not only on highways but also within Tripoli. xxxxxxxxxxxx Payments into the new fund would be very difficult to justify to xxxxxxxxxxxx shareholders and lawyers, who are concerned with the bottom line and FCPA issues, respectively.

7. (C) Comment: Efforts to solicit contributions under the new law reflect the intense pressure xxxxxxxxxxxx the NOC are under from the most senior levels - likely including Muammar al-Qadhafi himself- to generate money for the claims compensation fund. If the law for the new charity fund had been rolled out a few months from now and had not been blatantly connected to the compensation fund, IOCs may have been able to seriously consider contributing. In addition to the fact that the NOC didn't bother to try to maintain the fiction that the new fund was different from the claims compensation fund, slumping oil prices, the global recession and disappointment with meager oil and gas discoveries in Libya by IOCs to date make it difficult to impossible for IOCs to seriously entertain TRIPOLI 00000413 003.2 OF 003 this latest demand. End comment. CRETZ