31st January

Fighting Talk

CHAIRMAN: Mr Humbelby, these are serious matters. You have not been summoned before this committee in order to avoid answering the legitimate questions that we have to put to you.

WITNESS: I am not avoiding the questions.

CHAIRMAN: You are treating these proceedings as a game, as if we are trying to catch you out and you are trying not to be caught.

WITNESS: It certainly feels like that. Like you are trying to catch me out.

CHAIRMAN: Mr Humbelby, let me ask you again. When your company paid this very substantial amount to your agent, did you or did you not know who would be the ultimate recipient of that payment?

WITNESS: We did not know.

CHAIRMAN: Did you try to find out?

WITNESS: That was a matter for our agent. It was down to him to seal the deal.

CHAIRMAN: You didn’t care how that was done?

WITNESS: We are not talking about a contract to supply library books here. This is tricky negotiating territory.

CHAIRMAN: Involving enormous sums of money and the delivery of sophisticated, lethal weaponry, which your company was introducing into an extremely volatile political situation.

WITNESS: The political situation was not of our making. We did nothing illegal in fulfilling that contract, if that is what you are implying.

CHAIRMAN: I am not implying anything. You must admit, though, that it seems strange that you, as CEO of a very large organisation, having responsibility to the board and your shareholders, should have neither knowledge nor curiosity as to where several million dollars of the organisation’s money should end up.

WITNESS: I don’t admit that at all. It was good for business, good for our shareholders. In that region of the world, you have to cut your middlemen some slack. We knew where the money was going.

CHAIRMAN: I don’t understand. A minute ago you said you did not know.

WITNESS: I mean, we knew in a general sense. We made the payment. If you have to make a payment to secure a contract and the payment is made and the contract is secured, well then, you needed to make the payment. Which part of that do you not get?

Reader: Tam Dean Burn
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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