6 October 2009

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG.org) - Today KRG.org interviewed Mr Nechirvan Barzani, the outgoing Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, regarding the recent media speculation surrounding the KRG and DNO. 

What is your opinion of the media speculation on the DNO issue and the involvement of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Natural Resources? 

This was a very unfair media campaign against the KRG and its oil and gas policy, but particularly against the Minister of Natural Resources Dr Ashti Hawrami. If you look at the whole event, you wonder what was released, why it was released in that manner and why it was reported the way it was. 

I would like to make it clear that Dr Hawrami has always acted in his capacity as a Minister and with my knowledge and the guidelines approved by myself. 

I have now received a letter from our bank, HSBC, in which they say that using a nominee account is absolutely normal and legal, that HSBC acted on behalf of the KRG using an official KRG account when the shares were purchased. 

In their letter to me HSBC confirms that: 

“All the accounts have been duly setup in the name of Ministry Natural Resources-Kurdistan Regional Government, Council of Ministers, Kurdistan Region-Iraq.” 

“The accounts have been at all times operated in accordance with the agreed KRG mandates with HSBC and authorised signatures, which have always included your own written instructions received by HSBC in their original forms.” 

“The shares purchases account was an official KRG account, only KRG funds were used for the shares purchases and all the sales proceeds were deposited back to KRG’s respective accounts.” 

“For the purposes of purchasing shares, HSBC acted on behalf of KRG and a nominee account was used for those purposes. This was done in consultation with the Minister of Natural Resources, and in accordance with our advice and recommendations.” 

“Using a nominee account instead of the direct client name is absolutely normal, legal and often chosen by many governmental organisations, companies and investors to protect their privacy.”

These are crucial facts that should not have allowed any speculation. 

We have also learned from our bank that the Oslo Stock Exchange (OSE) was informed on 3rd November 2008 that the buyer was the “Kurdistan Regional Government - Ministry of Natural Resources. The order was placed by Dr Ashti Hawrami, the Minister of Natural Resources for the KRG. Their address is: Council of Ministers, Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq”. 

For some reasons beyond our comprehension, this fact was not released by the OSE. Fair and just reporting based on the facts would not have provided any grounds for the kind of speculation the KRG and the Minister of Natural Resources were subjected to. 

It was clear from the beginning that everything was done properly, legally and according to the practices and recommendations of our bank. There was no doubt at any time about the process. This also was made clear in the meeting between my Senior Adviser Dr Khaled Salih and the OSE which was made public on 28th September in which they confirmed that OSE “does not have any issues with the KRG, and that KRG has not at any time been the subject of investigations” by OSE. [Click here to see the OSE statement

What can we expect to happen next in this context? 

We have the facts in our hands and we can provide the accurate picture of what the KRG did and what happened with the release of information by the OSE that led to all the speculation. We have also received two letters from DNO in which they indicate that there were specific motives for these deliberate and unjust actions that were orchestrated from Norway and the fact that the share purchases helped the company to carry out their working programme. [DNO letter to Kurdistan Region leadership and DNO letter to Ministry of Natural Resources

In order to verify what has happened here, I will ask our Parliament to form a committee to look at the facts as soon as possible. The reason for that is very simple: I have no doubt in my mind about the Minister’s actions. As Prime Minister I was responsible for the KRG’s oil and gas policy. I am proud of our achievements. If some people are trying to undermine our policy and in desperation targeting the Minister, I can assure our people that our strategy and policy will continue to be as unwavering as before.


As per KRG's agreement with the Iraqi government and under the 2015 Budget Law


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