Donation to New Labour
Enron, the huge US energy corporation which disintegrated into bankruptcy in December 2001, gave the Labour Party almost £30,000 in sponsorship in 1997 and 1998, and paid more than £5,000 for "tickets for dinners" in 1999-2000. In total they gave the Labour Party £36,000 for tables at Labour Party events since 1997.
They hosted the pre-dinner drinks for the Gala Dinner at the Labour Party Conference in 1998 for £15,000 and paid £7,500 for a table at the Labour Party Gala Dinner at the Hilton in 1997 (they paid £5,000 for sponsorship at the same event). Thomas Cook, the Travel Agents, paid £25,000 for the pre-dinner champagne reception. At Enron's table, the Labour Party provided notables such as Home Office Minister Paul Boateng, novelist Ken Follet and his wife, Stevenage MP Barbara Follet, and several other Labour MPs with power stations in their constituencies.
At the time of the 1998 donation, Enron were bidding to take over the Wessex Water utlity company. Peter Mandelson, then Trade Secretary at the DTI, allowed the takeover, despite consumers pressure group Waterwatch's objection that the transfer of the UK water company to a US corporation was not in the public interest. The Chairman of Enron Europe, Ralph Noel Hodge, received a CBE in the New Years Honours List in 2000. Enron Europe paid the Labour Party more than £5,000 for "Tickets for Dinners" in 2000-2001. Geoff Norris, a Special Adviser on Energy in the Downing Street Policy Directorate, met Enron executives in April 1998 at a meeting where he was described as 'understanding' about Enron's position (they wanted a ban on gas-fired power stations removed). Subsequently the Labour Government's moratorium was watered-down in 1998 and by November 2000 it had been removed completely.
In 1995 'Multinational Monitor' named Enron as one of the world's ten worst corporations. The Chief Executive of Enron, Jeffrey Skilling, once said of his employees, 'You must cut jobs ruthlessly by 50 or 60 per cent. Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works.'
In Dhobal, near Bombay in India, villagers opposed to an Enron power plant (the largest in India) suffered beatings from their local police and Enron security staff in 1988 - the subject of the only Amnesty International report about a corporation (rather than a dictatorship). Protestor's homes were broken into and they were warned they would be killed if they continued to oppose the power station. The 'police' had been paid $3.50 a day by Enron to act as its agents. Enron also loaned the police a helicopter to watch the protestors, who were complaining because their wells were being emptied by the plant and the pollution was affecting local fishermen. The company charged the Indian Government £1.75 million for the power station, twice what it charged for a similar plant in Teeside (2 workers at the Teeside plant almost died after a fuel explosion, for which Enron was fined £10,000). Two other workers were killed and two were seriously injured in an explosion at the Teeside plant in August 2001.
Enron contributed huge amounts to George Bush's US election campaigns, and the company spent millions of dollars lobbying federal officials and financing their political campaigns to get them to privatise and de-regulate the US energy industry - since 1990 the company spent $10.2 million (75% to Republicans). In the current Congress, 71 senators and nearly half the House have received money from Enron, and in return Enron received rewards such as an exemption from regulations on commodity futures trading passed in 2000. George Bush received $100,000 from Enron's CEO Kenneth Lay for his 2000 election campaign, followed by another $100,000 from Enron for his inaugural Gala (also matched by Kenneth Lay). In total, George Bush (a frequent-flier on Enron's corporate jets) received $774,100 from both Enron management figures and the company itself. When Bill Clinton won the election, Enron also rewarded his vigorous support for their exploitation of Mozambique's gas reserves (he threatened to withdraw all US Government aid if Mozambique blocked Enron's plans) with a $142,000 contribution to Clinton's 1996 election campaign (what was known as 'hedging your bets'). Job applicants for the federal energy regulatory commission were vetted by the Enron Corporation, and was a key member of the US Coalition of Service Industries, which played a major role in WTO (World Trade Organisation) negotiations towards privatisation and dregulation of essential services across the world.
In 1998 Wessex Water were fined a total of £36,500 by the Environment Agency for illegal discharge of raw sewage in 5 seperate locations. They also face charges in Puerto Rico after a propane gas plant blew up. In Florida the company was fined for pollution so bad that the State Government said it was 'the worst environmental damage from a single project' it had ever seen.
Lord Colin Moynihan, the former Tory Sport Minister who tried to introduce identity cards for football supporters, was a Director of both Enron and Ranger Oil. Lord Wakeham, millionaire former Tory Energy Minister was a Non-Executive Director and also sat on the audit committee of the corporation. After Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, laying off 5,000 workers with payments of $4,500 each, it paid out $55 million in bonuses to 500 other staff members.