Not a celeb exactly, more an infamous bribe making and Labour backing businessman, Nadhmi Auchi – Britain’s 34th richest citizen worth £898m — has been asked to go to America to assist prosecutors probing a multi-million-pound deal to provide a mobile phone network in Iraq. He has become embroiled in a criminal investigation being conducted by the American government into allegations of bribery in Iraq. Auchi has previous, in 2003 he was convicted in France of making “improper payments” in a corruption case involving Elf, the oil company (numerous French politicians were involved). He received a 15-month suspended jail sentence and a £1.5m fine. Yet, in his office he proudly hangs a painting of parliament presented to him by Tony Blair and signed by 130 Labour MPs. LibDem MP Norman Lamb has long been requesting information on Blair’s links to Auchi. Embarrassingly, Lord Steel, the former Liberal leader has extensive links, he was hired help for Auchi. Steel was a director of the British arm of the Auchi empire, General Mediterranean Holdings, the new revelations will prove deeply embarrassing as the former Liberal leader has enjoyed thousands of pounds of Auchi’s generosity over the years. The register of interests in the Scottish parliament show that Steel flew first-class on Auchi’s private jet to Amman to attend a GMH board meeting and the formal opening of Le Royal hotel by King Abdullah of Jordan. He then stayed two nights at a company five-star Hotel in Amman at £268 a night. Steel received £10,000-15,000 a year as a director of GMH. New Labour politician and official sleazeball Keith Vaz was also a board a director of GMH, although he resigned when he became a minister. But it later emerged that Vaz remained in contact with Auchi when he was made Europe Minister in the Foreign Office and made enquiries on his behalf over the French extradition warrant – Auchi had called his minister mate Vaz at home for advice.
A report by the Pentagon’s International Armament and Technology Trade Directorate identifies cash payments made to two Iraqi officials, two British contractors and two Americans, totaling as much as $11.5 million. The contracts are worth an estimated $500 million annually. It describes Auchi as a billionaire who has “served as Saddam Hussein’s principle international financial manipulator and bag man” and says he was involved in European arms sales to Iraq for more than two decades. Just the kind of person to get a personal present from Blair signed by 130 honourable Labour members of parliament. Cosy eh?