By ERIC LICHTBLAU, DAVID ROHDE and JAMES RISEN
WASHINGTON — In 2009, top aides to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi called together 15 executives from global energy companies operating in Libya’s oil fields and issued an extraordinary demand: Shell out the money for his country’s $1.5 billion bill for its role in the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 and other terrorist attacks.
If the companies did not comply, the Libyan officials warned, there would be “serious consequences” for their oil leases, according to a State Department summary of the meeting.
Many of those businesses balked, saying that covering Libya’s legal settlement with victims’ families for acts of terrorism was unthinkable. But some companies, including several based in the United States, appeared willing to give in to Libya’s coercion and make what amounted to payoffs to keep doing business, according to industry executives, American officials and State Department documents.
“You can trust your car to the man that wears the star” – Texaco, 1940s ad campaign
“You can be sure of Shell.”
“Put a Tiger in Your Tank” [but pack your own luggage] – Esso
It seems that these guys sure can be trusted…but for what?