George Clooney discusses South Sudan with US Preisdent Barack Obama. Photo: Pete Souza, White House photographer.
George Clooney discusses South Sudan with US Preisdent Barack Obama. Photo: Pete Souza, White House photographer.

WASHINGTON — Movie star George Clooney is taking on major Chinese economic interests in Hollywood in his battle for human rights and government kleptocracy in the failed state of South Sudan.

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[George Clooney speaks Capitol Intelligence/CI Africa using CI Glass on China National Petroleum Corporation role in the South Sudan conflict following news conference at National Press Club in Washington, DC on September 12, 2016.]

Speaking to Capitol Intelligence/CI Africa, Clooney said he will not pull any punches highlighting any misdeeds by China’s state owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) because of the billions of dollars invested in Hollywood studios, films and movie theaters by China’s wealthiest businessman — Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin.

While Clooney and House of Lies star Don Cheadle only cited alleged improprieties by state-controlled Malaysian oil and gas group Petronas in its work in developing South Sudan’s oil fields, CNPC is the largest oil operator and thus largest source of revenue for the South Sudan regime led by President Salva Kiir.

Speaking to Capitol Intelligence during the IMF World Bank annual meeting, South Sudan Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said that his country is seeking international support to overcome the country’s current Fragile State classification following its independence on July 9, 2011.

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[Republic of South Sudan Finance Minister Hon. Stephen Dheiu Dau speaks to Capitol Intelligence/CI Africa using CI Glass on George Clooney’s corruption allegations during IMF World Bank Annual meetings in Washington, DC. October 8, 2016]

Clooney, along with the head of the US non-government organization Enough Project headed by John Prendergast, met with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security advisor Susan Rice and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew about putting pressure on the Republic of South Sudan by sanctioning corporations and banks doing business with the regime.

However, CNPC is the by far the easiest and largest target for any economic sanctions by the White House or Congress. CNPC is the parent company of China’s largest investment in the United States, the New York Stock Exchange listed PetroChina (NYSE: PTR).

PetroChina, with a market capitalization of US$188.84 billion, is listed on the NYSE through an American Depository Receipt (ADR) and subsequently regulated by the US Securities Exchange Commission.

“PetroChina is an easy target as the (US) government can use the SEC for leverage based on Dodd-Frank and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA),” a securities lawyer in New York City said.

However, legal and financial sources who work closely with major Chinese corporations, said Clooney is showing considerable courage by his willingness to target Chinese companies in his struggle for human rights in South Sudan.

“Chinese companies, which are all closely tied to the government, view any attack on one of them as an attack against all,” said a Wall Street banker involved with PetroChina. “PetroChina no doubt has asked Wang Jianlin to put pressure on Clooney.”

According to a cover story on Wang Jianlin in the Hollywood Reporter, Wang Jianlin paid US$2.6 billion to acquire North American theater chain AMC Entertainment in 2012, some US$3.5 billion for Burbank-based studio Legendary Entertainment and will pay some US$1 billion to acquire Dick Clark Productions.

The Hollywood studios are already making for China major features such as the recently released The Great Wall starring Matt Damon and produced by Wang Jialin’s film company, Legendary Entertainment.

“Every studio, bank and law firm is chasing the Chinese for Hollywood investment so Clooney may find himself very unloved, very quickly,” an entertainment lawyer at one of the US top law firms said.

Copyright of Capitol Intelligence Group — Turning Swords in Equity (®)

PK Semler

Peter K Semler is the chief executive editor and founder of Capitol Intelligence. Previously, he was the Washington, DC, bureau chief for Mergermarket (Dealreporter/Debtwire) of the Financial Times and headed political and economic coverage of the US House of Representatives and Senate.

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