Skip to comments.Maurice Strong steps aside from UN post
Posted on 04/21/2005 1:30:58 PM PDT by Shermy
WASHINGTON and TORONTO Canadian Maurice Strong agreed to step aside Wednesday as a special envoy for the United Nations, but vowed to clear his name after being linked to Tongsun Park, a Korean lobbyist charged in connection with the Iraq oil-for-food scandal.
At the same time, new details emerged about a Calgary oil company in which Mr. Strong and his son, Fred, were major investors during the 1990s together with Mr. Park -- whom the younger Mr. Strong described as "a spooky guy."
Shareholders in Cordex Petroleums Inc. also included CSL Group Inc., the holding company owned by Prime Minister Paul Martin and his family. A spokesman for the Prime Minister, Melanie Gruer, said the shares were placed in a blind management agreement in 1993.
That was the year Mr. Martin became finance minister, and Ms. Gruer said he had "ceased to have anything to do with the operations of the company" five years earlier.
In his first interview since his name surfaced in the widening oil-for-food affair, Mr. Strong said he has nothing to hide in his financial relationship with Mr. Park, who is accused of acting illegally as an unregistered agent by trying to curry favour with senior UN officials on behalf of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
"Whatever I did was perfectly proper, had nothing to do with oil-for-food," Mr. Strong said in a telephone interview from a resort hotel in the Dominican Republic, where he is vacationing. "I had nothing to do with that whatsoever."
Mr. Strong, who is 75 and recovering from pneumonia, confirmed that Mr. Park invested in Cordex in 1997. The company went bankrupt two years later and Mr. Park is believed to have lost the money he sank into it.
Mr. Martin's family links with Mr. Strong go back to the 1960s. Mr. Strong was picked to head Canada's foreign-aid program when Mr. Martin's father, Paul Martin Sr., was Canada's external affairs minister.
There are no allegations linking Mr. Martin with either Mr. Park or the oil-for-food program.
Earlier this week, the independent inquiry into the program headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker said it was seeking information about Mr. Strong's connections.
Mr. Park, who formerly worked for the South Korean intelligence service, was a major figure in a 1970s influence-peddling scandal in Washington.
New York prosecutors say he travelled to Iraq in 1997 and 1998 and later sought to promote the UN-supervised oil-for-food program, which allowed Iraq to export oil in exchange for food and humanitarian supplies.
In documents filed in a U.S. federal court, they say he invested $1-million (U.S.) received from Iraqi sources in an unidentified Canadian energy company set up by the son of a senior UN official. Mr. Strong identified the company as Cordex.
He did not dispute the $1-million figure but said in the interview that it was "a perfectly normal investment." He said Mr. Park bought the Cordex shares from another investor, rather than giving the firm a fresh injection of cash.
At UN headquarters in New York yesterday, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Mr. Strong had agreed to step aside as Korean envoy until his association with Mr. Park "is clarified and resolved."
Mr. Strong said his relationship with Mr. Park, who was born in North Korea, was related solely to the Korea mission. Yet the relationship between the two men pre-dates that assignment, which began in 2003.
Fred Strong said yesterday that he spoke to Mr. Park by telephone during the 1990s, and that he appeared anxious to maintain close ties to the Strong family.
"He would call all the time and I didn't return his calls as best I could," said the younger Mr. Strong, a Toronto entrepreneur who is involved in a handful of small environmental companies.
"He was very keen to demonstrate his situation, that he's an important guy and all the rest of it. He would be after anyone to do whatever," Fred Strong added.
He said he had only one face-to-face meeting with Mr. Park, who "gave me the willies" and behaved like a spy. "That's their stock in trade, getting in and doing things that could be sensitive and who knows what," he said.
Cordex's main investments were in oil properties in Chile and Argentina. Initially a director of the company, Fred Strong later served as president and was in that position when it filed for bankruptcy protection in 1999.
"I was involved off and on with Cordex, more off than on," he said. As for Cordex itself, it "really didn't have much to do with anything, and certainly nothing to do with Iraq, that's for sure."
He said he is convinced his father has been "blindsided" by recent publicity about his links to Mr. Park. "It's an occupational hazard, when you are moving in those circles," he added.
Charles Cavness, who was Cordex's president and chief executive until he was asked to leave the company in January, 1997, recalls meeting Mr. Park in Washington in the mid-1990s at Mr. Strong's suggestion. "He was certainly a friend" of Mr. Strong, Mr. Cavness recalled in a telephone interview from Denver.
"It was with a view to his investing in the company, but it was more oriented to him trying to find some Korean investors" to put money into Cordex as it explored for oil, Mr. Cavness said. He added that this initial approach did not lead immediately to an investment.
Mr. Strong was appointed as a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1996 with responsibility for UN reform, later taking over the Korea file. He was initially paid $1 a year for his services but since 2002 has received an unspecified daily rate for UN work.
This story has new info.
Some more details.
That's very interesting.
he's taking off before they find out he's linked to Paul Martin or Chretien, and the whole lot of them are involved...
Yep...Paul Martin owns a lot of shipping, none of which is registered in Canada, most of it is registered in foreign ports...
Do you know which foreign ports he's registered in?
I'll give the Canadians credit. They ran Food for Oil with their UN lackeys, and when the UN decided to investigate itself what did they do? Stack the investigation with Canadians and others linked to the very same corporations and figures being investigated.
Who'd expect the Canadians were so corrupt? Let's see if the MSM drops the hammer on them.
The only reason anything is coming of this is the US investigation related to our own citizens. Just getting Samir Vincent to talk brought down Boutros-Ghali and Maurice Strong. No other country is doing anything about their own citizens involvement. If they did, Food for Oil and Saddam's bribes would be the biggest international crime story in history, BCCI times 1,000.
Look at the long list at the end of this article.
Je ne suis pas un voleur!
The donors' list shows that Mr. Martin's support from the business world is transnational, with Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing and Hong Kong airline operate David TK Ho donors to the Martin leadership campaign, through Canadian companies.
Tangshan Jinshan Marine Company (China) -- 35 per cent owned.
Yep...one of the Chinese guys made a bid into Air Canada too a while back, the Liberal Government is slowly selling Canada part and parcel to China...pretty sad way to make a few campaign bucks...brings new meaning to the Liberals "Red Book"...No wonder Clinton and Chretien got along so well...they were reading each others cheat sheets.
One of the interesting things is that the liberals seem to hate him, too - I just ran into this on google:
I wonder if they'll have to start liking him now that he's been stealing money? :)
I will need to dig up where I read it, but I recall reading Li Ka Shing and some Triad business associates of his have also been working on penetrating some Canadian banks over the past ten years or so.
Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation of Canada?
HSBC Bank Canada
The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd
Address: GPO Box 64,
1 Queen's Road Central,
Hong Kong SAR, China
Telex: +852 2822 1111
+852 2810 1112
73201 HKBG HX
That might be it. I will look it up later and see if I can find it--about to log off for supper here.
The Province (Vancouver) 9/30/99 Fabian Dawson ".....A secret study by Canada's spy agency tracked a myriad of companies linked to Asian tycoons to determine if they were fronts for Chinese espionage activities. The study also looked at "hundreds of thousands of dollars" that were being pumped into political parties to see if Canada's lawmakers were being unduly influenced. ...... The Province has learned that among those probed were Macao casino king Stanley Ho, who has extensive interests in Canada, and Li Ka-shing, one of the world's wealthiest men, known in Vancouver for his purchase of the Expo lands. Other companies tracked were linked to tycoons Robert Kuok, Cheng Yu Tung and Henry Fok and firms with connections to CITIC -- the investment arm of the Chinese military....... Sources used by CSIS and the RCMP said the study of Chinese tycoons with close links to Beijing showed that together they owned in Canada: - More land, commercial properties and hotels than any other owner. - Major banks and brokerage houses. - All the Chinese language television and radio stations and major video outlets, plus control of the Chinese print media. - Shipping lines, including the giant COSCO which recently struck a deal with the Vancouver Port Corp. to make Vancouver its gateway to North America. - At least 16 data-processing and hi-tech companies servicing corporations including those doing classified work for federal and provincial agencies. - The operation of the databases used by university libraries. - Almost half the shares in three of Canada's major telephone and telecommunications companies. - About 25 major oil and gas companies. - Some immigrant-investor funds. - Large retail distribution companies. In addition, companies linked directly to Chinese state-owned enterprises and Beijing-friendly tycoons have bought a large tract of land at a Scarborough, Ont., industrial area and set up companies in Western Canada to make cell phones, manufacture TVs and export fax machines. Holly Porteous, an Ottawa-based security analyst and former Pentagon writer, said the companies in Canada that can be linked to Beijing is a national security concern....."
The Province (Vancouver) 9/30/99 Fabian Dawson "..... Among other things the U.S. Senate probe found many of the Beijing-linked front companies were specifically set up for "technology acquisitions" In one case, according to declassified American documents, a Chinese military-owned company tried to use a Canadian intermediary to hire former Pratt & Whitney engineers in the U.S. to help develop an indigenous Chinese jet engine. The initial approach was under the guise of a civilian project, and the U.S. engineers were initially not told they would be working on a military engine. The U.S. engineers pulled out when they learned what they would be doing....."
The Straits Times 10/3/99 AFP "...Hongkong billionaire Li Ka Shing and Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho were among a number of Asian tycoons who were investigated secretly by Canada's spy agency, a newspaper here said. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) probe, called Project Sidewinder, looked at a number of Hongkong and Macau companies to see if they were covers for Beijing-backed Chinese espionage into Canada, the Province newspaper reported. Project Sidewinder was started in 1994 and lasted for two years. No charges were laid and the probe was stopped after allegations of political influence were deemed to be unfounded. The probe also focused on alleged contributions from Chinese tycoons to political parties in Canada and any possible influence that might have had on lawmakers. But sources told the newspaper the project was halted abruptly because of "political influence".....Secret papers obtained by the newspaper showed that Chinese with strong links to Beijing collectively owned more land, commercial properties and hotels in Canada than Canadian-born businessmen....."
A sensitive probe of Chinese espionage and organized crime operations by Canada's intelligence service [CSIS] and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police team, code-named Project Sidewinder, concluded that China posed the largest "multifaceted" threat to Canada's security, the Toronto Globe reports. The report is defended as "based on concrete documented evidence," by the team's chief analyst, Michael Juneau, who joined criticism of a reputed politically biased revision of the 1997 report by a government review committee.
Some of the report's information, Juneau said, came from a Chinese intelligence officer who worked in the United Front Work Department and was ordered to go to Hong Kong to form a pact between Beijing and transnational criminal organizations known as Triads. The information was combined with extensive reports by the RCMP and Canadian immigration security officials. Mr. Juneau noted that other Western intelligence organizations have since produced reports with similar findings as Project Sidewinder. [Editor: The report identified numerous Triad members and Hong Kong tycoons with known connections to the Beijing leadership and Triads who traveled frequently and set up residences in Canada. Some of these migrants bought interests in strategic Canadian industries.]
A European parliament report on Hong Kong has voiced concern over the power and influence wielded by tycoon Li Ka-shing, the South China Morning Post reports. It notes that a number of tycoons [Editor: who have close ties to the Beijing leadership] have an undue and dominant influence in certain sectors of Hong Kong's economy, and calls for "fair competition laws" to level the playing field. "The influence of the Li Ka-shing family on Hong Kong business life has been the subject of criticism from a number of sources in Hong Kong itself," stated the report. [Editor: Li Ka-shing, also mentioned in Canada's Sidewinder study, is the owner of the Hutchison Whampoa which gained the controversial contract to control both ends of the Panama Canal, as well as Freeport, Bahamas.]
The European Commission will take action against Hutchison Atlantic, a port operating division of Hutchison Whampoa, for its takeover of the European Combined Terminals in the Netherlands, mainly operating in Rotterdam, the South China Morning Post reports. The Commission is worried about the dominance of Hutchison Whampoa, and its chairman Li Ka-shing, in key northern European ports.
Codenamed "Sidewinder, the report is officially titled "Canadian Intelligence Services and Triads Financial Links in Canada. . .
Confirmation of the explosive nature of the report has come from two senior Canadian investigators.
One is Brian McAdam, an internationally renowned expert on Chinese Triads networks of professional criminals dating back to Imperial times. The other is Michel Juneau, a former high-ranking French-Canadian intelligence officer who has spent 21 years monitoring Chinese intelligence activities in the Asia-Pacific region.
"As well as what the Sidewinder report states, both men confirm that China is using Canada as the prime base for world hegemony, beginning with the United States, says Thomas.
Copies of the original "Sidewinder report were shredded. Those on disc were electronically destroyed.
But a copy survived and was passed to Gordon Thomas. He says the document reveals:
*Triads own one-third of downtown Vancouver.
*China had invested over one billion dollars in 2001 to buy Canadian businesses in strategic areas. A number have links to U.S. corporations.
*China is one of the largest stockholders 10 percent in Canada's Imperial Bank.
Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong billionaire was the largest foreign shareholder in the bank for over two decades, but sold his portion (est. C$1.2 Billion) to established a Canadian charity, the Li Ka Shing Foundation. CIBC was Mr. Li's choice for financing many of his Canadian ventures, like Husky Energy.
A Hong Kong-based businessman is selling off more than $1 billion worth of shares in CIBC, and plans to use the proceeds to establish a charitable foundation in Canada.
In a statement, 75-year-old Li Ka Shing said he plans to sell his long-held 4.9 per cent stake in the Canadian Imperial bank as a means of paying tribute to the ties he's developed with Canada.
"It is an honour to have the opportunity to establish the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation in recognition of the warm welcome Canada has extended to me and to our group of companies over the years,'' he said from Hong Kong.
All income generated by the foundation, he said, "would be spent in pursuit of charitable objectives, which include education, medical care, relief of poverty and cultural and religious causes.
An unknown portion will also go to Li's already-established Hong Kong-based charity.
Although the precise timing of the sale hasn't been announced, if Li sold his 17 million common shares at Wednesday's closing price of $71.17 he would gross approximately $1.2 billion.
Responding to word of the sale by its largest single stakeholder, the CIBC has said it intends to buy approximately 6 million of Li's shares, with the rest to be offered for sale through its investment division.
Listed as one of the richest men in the world, with businesses in a diverse range of industries, Li began his career as a Chinese refugee sweeping factory floors in Hong Kong.
Last year, Forbes said his fortune of $12.4 billion was enough to rank him 19th richest in the world.
In Canada, his family controls the Calgary-based oil and gasoline company, Husky Energy Ltd. And last year, the Lis grabbed headlines when son Victor backed away from a $650 million investment in Air Canada that would have made him the largest investor in the struggling airline.