The corporate crime wave in the US threatened to drown even the Bush administration, until President Bush began diverting attention abroad by ramping up his military campaign against Iraq.
This week, Enron is back in the headlines for disguising billions of dollars of loans as asset sales. Enron’s former CEO Kenneth Lay was one of the closest advisors and fundraisers for the Bush presidential campaign.
But there’s another story about Enron, Halliburton and other companies like them.
While the World Bank has often been the target of criticism for the social and environmental impacts of its lending practices, another type of international financial institution has escaped much public attention.
They are Export Credit and Investment Insurance Agencies. ECAs are like department store credit cards. Rich countries use them to provide credit (loans) to poor countries so that they will buy the goods and services from the rich country and its corporations, like Halliburton, Boeing, Enron. The result is that nearly half of the debt incurred by developing countries to the industrial world, is because of ECAs.
The US companies even have a lobbying group, the Coalition for Employment Through Exports, that lobby Congress to make sure the money keeps flowing. Since 1994, Enron received more than $650 million dollars from the ECAs. The Justice Department is currently investigating Enron’s dealings with all federal agencies.
- U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
- Aaron Goldzimer, social scientist with the organization Environmental Defense in its International Environment and Finance division. He has done extensive research on ECAs and in particular, their relationship to Enron, one of their biggest clients.