The Export Credits Guarantee Department has a rich history of supporting dodgy deals. Here are three examples of projects that met their criteria for support.
Supporting Oppression In Indonesia
The ECGD insured exports of Hawk aircraft, Scorpion tanks and other military equipment to the brutal dictatorship of General Suharto in Indonesia. Evidence shows that this equipment was used against the civilian population, including during the vicious attacks on East Timor. Today, the people of Indonesia are repaying hundreds of millions of pounds in debt to the British government for this equipment – in effect, paying for their former repression so that British arms firms could profit.
Helping To Rip Off Kenyans
The involvement of a British company in a hydro-electric power station at the Turkwel Gorge, Kenya was supported by the ECGD, despite concerns that the power station was to be constructed on a known earthquake fault in a region which suffers from droughts. The plant ended up costing four times what it should have, owing to corruption and incompetence, while producing only half the power expected. The Kenyan press described it as “the whitest of white elephants” and a “stinking scandal.”
Fuelling Conflict In The Caucasus
Despite warnings by NGOs, the ECGD insured the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline by British oil giant BP. The warnings were vindicated, as the creation of the pipeline led to human rights abuses, environmental devastation and, campaigners claim, was a significant factor in the escalation to war between Russia and Georgia. In failing to properly consider these risks the ECGD put the profit of a multi-billion pound company ahead of regional stability.
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