SULAIMANI – A former member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) politburo and the former Kurdish minister of natural resources have personally benefited from multi-million dollar deals with oil giant Gulf Keystone Petroleum, The Telegraph reported.
“A secret deal,” which was first revealed by the daily broadsheet newspaper, cast a shadow over the GKP which is the operator of the Shaikan Field, situated about 60 km to the north-west of Erbil covering an area of 109 square miles.
According to the deal, which had been signed in November 2007, the company paid “10pc of net profits from Shaikan to the Dabin Group, a development company led by Izzeddin Berwari, a retired member of the Kurdistan regional government and senior member of the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party).”
The deal has terms indicating that the former chief executive of GKP Todd Kozel has received $66m as remuneration to discover and develop one of the region’s richest oilfields, Shaikan Field.
Payments allocated within the deal between KDP’s Berwari and GKP, spent for “general consulting and government relations services related to securing and managing the PSC [production sharing contract with the Kurdistan regional government],” as well as arranging meetings and introductions to political and financial organizations.
The Telegraph said the agreement with Dabin Group may amount to corruption, citing an individual working in Iraq, Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in London and Wall Street regulators.
“The SFO met with the whistle-blower [the Iraqi man] in London in 2015, but have not publicly pursued the matter. Now there are calls for them to look again.”
A litigation by the US firm Excalibur accuses former minister of natural resources of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ashti Hawrami of involvement in the “illegal” deal for being “a man whom it was agreed on all sides.”
Former GKP executive chief Kozel was arrested in 2018 over charges of of hiding millions of dollars worth of assets, fraud and money-laundering in oil deals with the Kurdistan Region officials.
“This summer he faces a potential jail sentence in New York after pleading guilty to failing to file personal tax returns including on his earnings as GKP chief executive,” Telegraph reported.
Gulf Keystone Petroleum is now governed by a new management who seek to distance themselves from the Kozel era. The company said in January oil production at its Shaikan field in the Kurdistan Region hit its highest annual average in 2020, and is set to beat that this year with its new guidance laid out.
GKP is producing 40,000-44,000 barrels a day.