For Immediate Release:
December 10, 2020
Congress Questions Administration Officials about Government Accountability Project’s Investigation into Corrupt Syrian Oil Company, but Key Records Withheld
Washington, DC— At 10 AM yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing to question Joel Rayburn, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Syria, about American policy in that country.
Fifteen minutes into the Syria hearing, and several days after missing an agreed upon deadline, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control released an important set of records in response to a Government Accountability Project Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. These files — a heavily redacted copy of an application, and approval, for a sanctions waiver for a Delaware shell company, Delta Crescent Energy, to deal in Syrian oil — could have informed committee members questions, had they been released earlier.
For all intents and purposes, America’s Syria policy is Delta Crescent. President Donald Trump has said, “We’re keeping the oil” repeatedly, as a condition for leaving American troops to protect Syrian oilfields. Issuing Delta Crescent a sanctions waiver to extract this oil is the implementation of the president’s oil looting policy.
House committee members had questions about this Delta Crescent policy. Citing a Government Accountability Project report, published in The New Republic, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), asked Rayburn if the Trump administration had been involved in lobbying foreign politicians, including the President of Iraqi Kurdistan Nechirvan Barzani on Delta Crescent’s behalf. During the hearing he asked, “Can you tell us why you met with Mr. Barzani to discuss this deal?”
But without publication of the Treasury Department documents, representatives were unable to ask certain follow-up questions to determine which regional kleptocrats have benefitted from the scheme. For example, a partial redaction of the names of parties granted the sanctions waiver indicates that Delta Crescent may have currently unknown beneficial owners.
The government is withholding that information along with other vital details about the company’s activities, under the guise that it is confidential business information. Government Accountability Project is calling on the Treasury Department to release documents without inappropriate redactions.
Government Accountability Project Investigator Zack Kopplin, commented:
“A private company receiving special privileges from the government is not a trade secret. Treasury must release the full sanctions waiver so the public can understand how official policy is being carried out through Delta Crescent.”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director
Phone: (202) 457-0034 x156
Government Accountability Project
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.
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