At a time when fixing the big international decisions are revealed yet again to have a highly personalised twist to them (witness the blackballing of Brown for the IMF job because of his personal antipathy towards Cameron-Osborne before the election, though fear of future IMF hostility towards the Tory cuts programme if Brown got the job almost certainly played a part), another angle on this familiar tale has emerged. I have been told, from as they say reliable sources, that the notorious party on Oleg Deripaska’s yacht moored off Corfu was even more interesting than previously thought. Significantly it included another member who has since come into prominence for wholly different reasons.
That person was Saif al-Islam, the (as was thought then) urbane pro-Western son of Gadaffi who was following up the rehabilitation of his father’s Libyan regime by extending his contacts among the rich and powerful on the Western scene. It is then worth asking why each of the various parties were closeted together on Deripaska’s boat. Deripaska himself, once Russia’s richest oligarch, was at the time desperate to buy out his partner in one of his ventures, and as his fortunes were then on the slide badly wanted a large chunk of funds. One of those who might help out was Saif since he had his finger firmly on the Libyan state treasury. However, sovereign funds don’t come without a price, and Saif’s price was that he, and the Libyan government, wanted al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, returned to his homeland.
That presented a big problem, but perhaps not one that was insuperable. Nat Rothschild, scion of an ultra-rich banking family, had invited his good old friend, Peter Mandelson, to his compound on Corfu. Mandelson is recognised in such circles as a fixer who can unlock a few doors among the political elites. So why was George Osborne there too? Partly becuase the urgency of Deripaska’s financial troubles made him anxious to cultivate whatever political friends he could in high places, partly perhaps to ensure the broadest support for any plan that might be evolved.
Because the motivations of the parties involved are obviously deniable, it is impossible to prove the nature of this encounter. But the reasons that brought these five persons together have never been satisfactorily explained. This account however is plausible as well as revealing, and certainly casts all the figures concerned in a new light.