By Andrea Mayer-Bruestle
Read Part 1 of this report
Read Part 2 of this report
Part 3: Egyptian-owned Iowa Fertilizer Company Plant Proposal…Continued
Looking into who owns Orascom, what connections do the owners have and do they really need USA and Iowa taxpayer-funded incentives to build the Iowa Fertilizer Company in the Green Bay Bottoms (a 14,000-acre tract of southeast Iowa farmland ravaged by a levee break here July 11, 1993) found in Lee County, Iowa?
The company proposing to build the nitrogen fertilizer plant in Iowa is Orascom Construction, Co. It is a subsidiary of Orascom Holdings – a construction company started by Osni Sawiris, who built it into the giant company it is today with the help of his three sons: Naguib Sawiris – CEO of Orascom Telecom, Samih Sawiris – CEO of Orascom Development Holdings, and Nassef Sawiris – CEO of Orascom Construction and Fertilizer.
The proposed fertilizer plant would be owned and run by Orascom Construction & Fertilizer, a company which, in 2011, grossed $8.4 Billion [*1], but it is still working every corporate welfare program being offered to it by the Iowa Economic Development and the politicians in Lee County.
According to the OCI website [*2]:
We are a leading international fertilizer producer and construction contractor based in Cairo, Egypt. We are one of the region’s largest corporations with projects and investments across Europe, the Middle East, North America, and North Africa.
Our Fertilizer Group is a strategic owner and operator of nitrogen fertilizer plants in Egypt, the Netherlands, the United States, and Algeria with an international distribution platform spanning Europe, North and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Our nitrogen fertilizer operations will reach 7.0 million metric tons of capacity by the end of 2012, positioning OCI among the top global nitrogen-based fertilizer producers. Our operations are also capable of producing a combined total of 1.0 million metric tons of melamine and methanol.
As you can clearly see, this isn’t some small, American start-up trying to break into the fertilizer industry, one of which might actually need all the tax-breaks and bonds that the IEDA and the Federal government are giving the huge OCI [*2]. No, this is a multi-national corporation owned by Forbes’ wealthiest Egyptian: Nassef Sawiris [*3]. The question one must ask is: Does it matter? Corporate welfare is still corporate welfare, regardless if the taxpayers’ money is being given to the new, smaller businesses or to foreign-owned global giants. So does it really matter which company receives millions or billions of taxpayer money? As was demonstrated in our previous article —– the return on the taxpayers’ investment (ROI) is going to be minimal from the Orascom company, as compared to the return that might come back to taxpayers when they invest in an American company: those dollars may be returned in the form of taxes the company pays on its profits, jobs will be created locally and stay in the area (as opposed to crews being brought in from the outside for a temporary economic boost). The other issue one must address is the connections the CEOs (and others involved) may have, that may not be in the best interest of our own country.
Please bear with me as I provide you with details which should help you to better understand my previous questions and statements.
The Rio+20 Summit and OCI
This week, global leaders and businessmen and women are converging upon Rio De Janero, Brazil for the Rio+20 Summit:
At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) is being organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236 (A/RES/64/236), and will take place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.
The Rio+20 Conference: It is envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government or other representatives. The Conference will result in a focused political document.
Themes of the Conference
The Conference will focus on two themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development. (Emphasis mine.)
Seven priority areas
The preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention; these include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.
The goals of the Rio+20 Summit are in accordance with the UN Global Compact Agenda 21 agreements put forth in previous UN Environmental Summits, and are implemented, in part, by the UN Global Compact program initiative [*4]:
….the Global Compact exists to assist the private sector in the management of increasingly complex risks and opportunities in the environmental, social and governance realms, seeking to embed markets and societies with universal principles and values for the benefit of all.
There are 10 Principles in the UN Global Compact:
The UN Global Compact’s ten principles [*5] in the areas of human rights, labour (Their spelling. Not mine.), the environment and anti-corruption enjoy universal consensus and are derived from:
The UN Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption:
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
What/Who connects Orascom to these issues?
According to OCI, the company joined the UN Global Compact in 2002 [*6]:
In December 2002, OCI joined the Global Compact at the invitation of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The Global Compact is an international initiative to bring companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society to support ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. Through the power of collective action, the Global Compact seeks to advance responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalization. In this way, the private sector “in partnership with other social actors “can help realize a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. Today, nearly 2,000 companies and other stakeholders from more than 70 countries are engaged in the Global Compact. OCI is among several companies in Egypt to join in this global initiative.
Not only are they part of the UN Global Compact, but they also have one of the UN Global Compact’s Directors on the OCI board: Mr. Arif Masood Naqvi [*7]. Mr. Naqvi was appointed to the Global Compact board in April of 2012. His role with the UNGC is [*8]:
The new appointments bring the total number of Board members to 31, representing all regions of the world and a wide range of industry sectors. The increase in the number members reflects the Board’s expanded mandate to advise the Secretary-General on the rapidly evolving UN-business partnership agenda. As the UN’s central interface to the private sector, the Global Compact is currently leading a system-wide effort to build a portfolio of professional partnership services that will include matching, monitoring and evaluation, as well as acceleration of effective partnerships to reach further scale.
Arif Masood Naqvi isn’t the only questionable Orascom connection as one must look no further than Nassef Sawiris’ older brother and Orascom Development Holding CEO, Samih Sawiris, to find another hardcore environmentalist/sustainable developer dressed in an Armani suit (The following excerpt was taken DIRECTLY from the website of the Sawiris Foundation):
Eng. Samih Sawiris is Chairman & CEO of Orascom Development Holding (ODH), a newly established Swiss-incorporated company… ODH develops, constructs and manages fully integrated touristic towns. Its flagship is El Gouna on the Red Sea, which was initiated in 1989 and holds 15 hotels, real estate property, numerous recreational, entertainment and water & land-sport facilities, shopping arcades, more than 10 kilometers of beaches, its own marina, an international school, a hotel school, a hospital and an airport…El Gouna was awarded four “Green Globe 21″ certificates, granted by the World Travel & Tourism Council for its respect of environmental principles and conformity with Agenda 21…
The Sawiris Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by the Sawiris:
The Sawiris Foundation was founded on the belief that development is only sustainable when its beneficiaries are equal partners in the process. We aspire to be a recognized pioneer in the provision of innovative and sustainable development initiatives, promoting increased empowerment of, and participation by, the people of Egypt…Our mission is to contribute to Egypt’s development, create sustainable job opportunities, and empower citizens to build productive lives that realize their full potential.
The Foundation does do some very good work for the people of Egypt; however, its Board of Trustees is an interesting group and reads like a celebrity list of potential Global Compact/Agenda 21 Directors and has some very interesting connections themselves within the Sustainable Development and global governance arenas.
Take a moment to peruse the list for yourself, and do a Google search on a few, and you will see what I mean.
A list of OCI connections would not be complete without mentioning the fact that until late this spring, OCI was invested in US grains merchant Gavilon along with George Soros and hedge fund manager, Dwight Anderson. Gavilon was taken over by the Japanese firm, Murabeni, at a price (for OCI’s shares) of $605 million.
The whole irony of the situation:
Orascom is dedicated to the preservation of the environment and is anti-corruption as demonstrated by its involvement with the UN Global Compact; however, it is willing to forgo that dedication to build a nitrogen fertilizer plant on a known flood plain, known as the Green Bay Bottoms, using American taxpayers’ money. These issues cause one to question exactly what is really driving Orascom to go against all its principles and propose a project that could do long-term damage to the environment while only providing 160 permanent jobs to the Lee County area with the majority of the project’s funding coming from Iowan and U.S. Taxpayer dollars.
Stay tuned more to come…