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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Panama Hat

Tongsun_park_1 A Jan. 23 editorial in The Panama News is asking questions about alleged Oil-for-Food briber Tongsun Park. They want to know why Park was headed to Panama and did it have anything to do with the expansion of the canal:

...some good investigative work by La Prensa journalists Mónica Palm and Betty Brannan Jaén has uncovered the fact that Vice President Samuel Lewis Navarro and Panama Canal administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta did indeed meet in Korea with Tongsun Park to discuss the Panama Canal expansion project.

Whether the canal ought to be modernized is one question. Most Panamanians think that it ought to be. But then how to do it, whether we can do it in an economically advantageous manner, and whether we can trust the current Panamanian authorities to do the job without turning it into a ruinous orgy of corruption are also questions that need to be answered...

The editorial also notes that Canadians want to know what Park was doing in Canada.

He was nabbed using an Interpol warrant on a stopover in Mexico while flying from Canada to Panama. From the editorial:

How, why and for how long had he been in Canada? Many Canadian voters want to know, given that elections are coming there and their country’s embattled Prime Minister Paul Martin also happens to be a shareholder in one of Park’s companies.

I have tried to find out what Canadian airport Park departed from but so far have been unsuccessful--spent a morning trying to reach--and then talking to--authorities at the international airport in Mexico City and got the real run-around. The FBI and the prosecutor's office for the Southern District of New York have clammed up on the matter as well.

The company referred to in the editorial--Cordex Petroleum Inc.--was run by Kenneth Strong, son of Canadian Maurice Strong, special advisor to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Park took nearly $1 million of Saddam Hussein's money and handed it over to Maurice, who then used the money to discharge an obligation to a Cordex shareholder. Considering Tongsun Park's past and reputation (Koreagate, lobbyist for Panamanian general Noriega, etc.) a lot of people have wondered why Maurice Strong would get himself involved with the Korean.

Gifts_of_deceit_cover_2 I have written a piece for the Western Standard on the arrest of Park. For that article I read through parts of Gifts of Deceit: Sun Myung Moon, Tongsun Park and the Koreagate Scandal. The book was published in 1980 so of course there was no answer to the question about why Strong would associate with Park. But the book did provide an answer to another question; what type of people did Park like to hang out with? In the chapter titled "Tongsun and His Congressmen" (page 105) it refers to New Jersey congressman Neil Gallagher:

However, Tongsun said his first meeting with Gallagher was a kind of "love at first sight." Gallagher had a basic view of reality that Tongsun liked: he could be bought.

Posted by Kevin Steel on January 25, 2006 in International Affairs | Permalink


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The fact that Tognsun Park is involved already may be telling!

Posted by: PGP | 2006-01-26 5:30:59 PM

Here's our take on the whole Park thing at the Panama Guide...


Posted by: Don Winner | 2006-01-27 2:30:09 PM

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