| Nadhmi Auchi |
(businessman, fraudster, oligarch)
|Born||Nadhmi Shakir Auchi|
11 June 1937
|Alma mater||Al-Mustansiriya University|
|Member of||Le Cercle|
Nadhmi Shakir Auchi is a British Iraqi billionaire businessman and member of Le Cercle. He is the founder and chairman of General Mediterranean Holding (GMH), a conglomerate of 120 companies worldwide. In 2003 the French government convicted him of fraud, fining him €2m and giving him a 15 month suspended jail sentence for his involvement in "the biggest political and corporate sleaze scandal to hit a western democracy since the second world war".
Education and career
Auchi graduated in Economics and Political Science from the Mustansiriyah University, Baghdad, in 1967. He also worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, becoming Director of Planning and Development. In 1979 he founded General Mediterranean Holding SA in Luxembourg. He was Vice-Chair of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University between 1996 and 2000.
He has been president of the Anglo Arab Organisation (AAO), since its foundation in 2002. The AAO is a private non-profit making organisation, promoting the integration of British Arabs into mainstream British society, whilst retaining their identity. AAO's works include donating money to families affected by the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, building a school in the earthquake-devastated town of Hoceima, Morocco and hosting a charity gala that collected £35,000 in donations to the benefit of the Cancer Research Unit of the Kingston Hospital in London. Auchi and AAO have also led and sponsored high level delegations made up of Arab, British and French dignitaries, religious and political figures pressing for the release of hostages in Baghdad, including securing the release of two French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot and their Syrian driver in 2004.
In 2007, Auchi, in collaboration with the American University in Cairo (AUC) announced the launch of the 'Nadhmi Auchi fellowship for young Arab leaders', a fellowship dedicated to the development of the abilities of Arab youth in institution management and leadership. Auchi pays the full study and living costs of 10 students from Egypt and other Arab states. The fellowship plan was announced during an annual ceremony at the Egyptian Embassy in London to celebrate AUC achievements.
Honours, awards and affiliations
In 1996, the now-deposed President of the Tunisian Republic, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, made him an Officer of the Order of the Republic. In 2002, he was also awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of Independence by King Abdullah II of Jordan.
In 2003, Auchi was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Francis (GCFO) by Prince Carlo, Duke of Castro, this was in recognition of his contributions to inter-church and inter-faith dialogue. Queen Elizabeth II granted him a Coat of Arms in 2004. In the same year the president of the Republic of Lebanon, Émile Lahoud, awarded Auchi with the First Grade of the Lebanese Order of Merit, having already appointed him as a Commander of the National Order of the Cedar in 2000. He was made a Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester (KSS) by Pope John Paul II in 2004.
In 2005 Auchi was made Grao-Mestre da Ordem do Merito Anhanguera in Brazil and was elected as an Honorary Member in the International College of Surgeons in Chicago, Illinois.
Auchi was awarded 'The Presidential Prize' in 2007 by the President of the American University in Cairo, this in appreciation of his efforts in supporting higher education in the Arab World.
Conviction for fraud
In 2003, Auchi was convicted of fraud following his involvement in a €350m corruption scandal centred around the French oil company Elf Aquitaine, described as "the biggest political and corporate sleaze scandal to hit a western democracy since the second world war".  Auchi was given a €2m fine, together with a 15 month suspended jail sentence, for his involvement in the 1991 purchase by Elf Aquitaine of various Spanish oil refineries and petrol stations, having been accused by prosecutors of funnelling 1.4bn pesetas of illegal commissions back to the Elf executives who had initially set up the deal. 
Following the verdict, Elf (at this point merged with TotalFina and re-named Total) decided to take legal action against Auchi in France; Auchi responded by suing Total for £200m in turn, this time in the UK.
Sensitivity to adverse publicity
In May 2008 Auchi was named in the US fraud trial of Chicago businessman Antoin Rezko, a friend of then US presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Court documents revealed that Rezko lobbied government officials for Auchi to be permitted entry to the US after he was banned following his fraud conviction in France. Auchi denied any connection to Rezko's activities and was also at pains to point out that his conviction was being appealed (final result still awaited - April 2011).
The publicity surrounding the Rezko trial generated many articles referencing the alleged relationship and financial dealings between Auchi and Rezko. Auchi took grave exception to many of them and instructed London libel lawyers Carter Ruck to issue libel proceeding threats unless the articles were removed and certain other undertakings made. Most publications, in the UK notably the New Statesman, The Guardian, the Observer and the Sunday Times complied, such that substantive references to the matter are difficult to find in the commercially-controlled media. Wikileaks subsequently made many of the articles, legal threats and other documents available online.
In the Sunday Times Rich List 2008 ranking of the wealthiest people in the UK he was placed 27th with an estimated fortune of £2.15 billion. In 2009 he was ranked 32nd, with a worth of only £1.2 billion.
- "Corruption scandal hits senior politicians" The Guardian 23 Nov, 2003.
- "Auchi launches fellowship for young Arab leaders". Middle East Online. 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
- "The College of Arms Newsletter". The College of Arms. 2004. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
- The Grand Magistral Delegation for Inter Religious Relations - The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George
- "Gigantic sleaze scandal winds up as former Elf oil chiefs are jailed" The Guardian 13 Nov, 2003
- "Oil scandal billionaire tells French court of bribes" The Guardian 7 May 2003.
- "Unwelcome publicity for oil giant in legal battle with billionaire" The Independent 4 May 2008.
- Search the Sunday Times Rich List 2009 Times Online
- "Rich-List" profile Nadhmi Auchi - The Sunday Times
- General Mediterranean Holding website
- Anglo Arab Organisation
- Anti-Israel Iraqi billionaire's dinner with Nick Clegg - Jewish Chronicle 22 April 2010. An article confirming the anti-Zionist credentials of Nadhmi Auchi - A creditable counter-balance to his otherwise impeccable Western Establishment credentials.