DICK CHENEY, RUSSIAN OIL, AND ASIAN HEROIN
By the time you read this, former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney may be America's Vice President. Yet investigators have now tied the Russian oil deals he helped arrange to financial sleaze and the former Soviet Union's booming drug trade.
Cheney is CEO of Halliburton, a top global energy-services contractor, and has swung clout in Washington for high-stakes projects in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region. Last year, when the US Export-Import Bank guaranteed S489 million in loans to Russia's Tyumen Oil Co. [TNK], The Moscow Times identified Cheney as the "key powerbroker" in procuring the money.
The State Department halted the Ex-Im Bank guarantee after TNK's aggressive takeover of a subsidiary of Russian oil major Sidanko, burning the company's major foreign shareholder, BP-Amoco—which complained to the White House and Congress. BP-Amoco was said to have turned its own investigation into TNK over to the CIA for perusal.
"But,” wrote the Moscow Times' Catherine Belton, "TNK had a few tricks up its sleeue—and one of them
was Dick Cheney." SEBE million of the guarantee was slated for buying equipment from Halliburton to deuelop TNK's Samotlor oil field. "It is common knowledge that the CEO of Halliburton took a number of major steps in order to get the guarantees," TNK official Andrei Knuorotou told Belton. A new report by Washington's Center for Public Integrity now
links a major TNK shareholder—Russia's Alfa Group—with Central Asian drug trafficking. Alfa Group hotly denies the claims, but the center quotes a "US intelligence report" based on an interuiew with an unidentified ex-KGB agent as saying that Alfa Bank and its trading arm Alfa Eko were "deeply inuolued in the early '90s in the laundering of Russian and Colombian money and in the trafficking of drugs from the Far East to Europe." In 1337, Russian parliamentarian Uiktor Ilyukhin called upon the Interior Ministry to inuestigate Alfa, charging it "participated in the transit of drugs from Southeast Asia through Russia and into Europe." He also cited sources in the FSB, successor agency to the KGB. —Bill Weinberg