Ex-Diplomat Who Advised Kurds Gets Millions in Oil Deal
By JAMES GLANZ
Published: October 6, 2010
A British court has awarded between $55 million and $75 million to Peter W. Galbraith, the former United States diplomat who advised the Kurds during the negotiations on Iraq’s Constitution, and a Yemeni investor for their stake in a widely criticized oil deal involving Iraq’s rich northern fields, the oil company ordered to pay the award said Wednesday.
U.S. Adviser to Kurds Stands to Reap Oil Profits (November 12, 2009)
Mr. Galbraith, who described himself as an unpaid adviser to the Kurds, helped the Kurds — rather than Iraq’s central government in Baghdad — gain nearly complete control over all new oil finds in the north.
The New York Times and the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv reported last year that during constitutional negotiations in 2005 that addressed, among other things, control of oil fields, Mr. Galbraith had been a paid adviser to the Norwegian oil company DNO, and that Mr. Galbraith had acted as an mediator between DNO and the Kurdish government in talks that won the company a potentially lucrative contract to work those northern fields.
The court decision on Wednesday stems from a stake in that deal claimed by Mr. Galbraith and the Yemeni investor, Shaher Abdulhak, according to DNO. A Norwegian business associate who worked with Mr. Galbraith in the original talks has said that he sold his interest in the deal to Mr. Abdulhak, accounting for the dual award.
Iraqi government officials and American analysts have asserted that Mr. Galbraith’s dual role during the constitutional negotiations implied a conflict of interest, since the provisions he championed could have increased the value of his own interests. But he has rejected such claims, saying that he was merely helping the Kurds press their long-stated policy goals. “So, while I may have had interests, I see no conflict,” Mr. Galbraith said last year.
DNO said that while the court did not formulate the award as a specific dollar value, the company was able to calculate its likely range. The award fell between the $12 million proposed by DNO and the $144 million proposed by the two claimants, the company said.
Tracey Brinson, a spokeswoman for Porcupine, a company that records in Delaware from 2009 show is registered to Mr. Galbraith, said, “While we do not know the size of the award, it is related to the value created for DNO’s shareholders and the people of Kurdistan.”
When asked whether DNO now had second thoughts about having hired Mr. Galbraith, given his dual roles at the time, a spokesman for the company, Tom Bratlie, said: “I see no point in regretting anything. What is important is that we are fully financially able to cover this and that we are able to put this thing behind us and to continue to develop the company.”
A version of this article appeared in print on October 7, 2010