TV Preacher Robertson Strikes Gold Deal With Liberian Dictator (fwd)

rosaphil (rugosa@interport.net)
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 11:29:43 -0400 (EDT)


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From: Michelle Steiner <michelle@michelle.org>


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NEWS SOURCE: Another GLBT-NEWS list reader forwarded this to us.
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http://www.au.org/pr6399.htm

June 3, 1999 

Contact
Joseph Conn
Steve Benen

           TV PREACHER ROBERTSON STRIKES GOLD DEAL
                      WITH LIBERIAN DICTATOR

             ROBERTSON'S GREED 'KNOWS NO BOUNDS,' 
                           SAYS AU'S LYNN

Liberian President Charles Taylor is known for many things: accused
embezzler, jail escapee, human rights abuser and rebel leader
responsible for starting a bloody civil war.  Taylor can now add a new
title to his resume: Pat Robertson business partner.

According to a report published yesterday in The Virginian Pilot, the
TV preacher reached a deal with Taylor that allows a Robertson-owned
company, Freedom Gold Ltd., to mine for gold in the Bukon Jedeh region
of Liberia. The company, which lists Robertson as its president and
sole director, was reportedly formed offshore in the Cayman Islands
last December.

"Clearly, Robertson's greed knows no bounds," said Barry W. Lynn,
executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and
State, a Religious Right watchdog group.  "This gold-mining deal with
a vicious tyrant is shocking even by his standards.

"If there's profit to be made, it seems Robertson doesn't care who he
has to deal with," Lynn added. "Despite all the rhetoric and
grandstanding, this deal shows Robertson is more interested in money
than morality."

The Virginian Pilot story reports that Taylor fled to the United
States in 1983 after allegedly stealing $1 million from the Liberian
government. After being arrested by U.S.  officials, he escaped from a
Massachusetts jail in 1985. Four years later, backed by armed rebels,
Taylor began a civil war in which half of Liberia's 3 million people
were killed or displaced.

Human rights observers have reported extensively on the appalling
atrocities that took place during the seven years of fighting,
including the killing, torture and forced labor of Liberian
civilians. The Virginian Pilot reported one incident in which Taylor
critic Samuel Dokie, his wife and two others were killed after being
taken into custody by members of Taylor's special security bodyguards.

Two weeks ago, Taylor temporarily removed virtually his entire Cabinet
and several heads of public corporations after these employees failed
to attend a prayer service ordered by Taylor. "Any government official
who does not know God will not serve in my government," the Virginian
Pilot quoted Taylor as saying.

According to the Norfolk newspaper, the new financial deal will need
ratification from the Liberian legislature. If it passes, the
country's government will receive a 10 percent equity interest in
Robertson's gold-mining company. After an exploration period, 15
percent of shares in the company will be available to Liberian
investors.

Robertson's interest in African mining is not new. In the early 1990s,
another African dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, gave Robertson
diamond-mining rights in Congo (a country then known as Zaire). That
enterprise ultimately led to a Virginia state investigation when two
pilots reported that Robertson relief planes intended for humanitarian
purposes were actually used to transport equipment for the
diamond-mining operation. The results of that investigation are still
pending.

Robertson, who heads the Christian Coalition and serves as president
of the Christian Broadcasting Network, is claiming the gold-mining
deal is intended to benefit the Liberian economy.

Americans United is a church-state watchdog group based in Washington,
D.C. that monitors the Religious Right. Founded in 1947, the
organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in
all 50 states.

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