Peter Munk, a former stereo manufacturer with his company Clairtone, first made a splash in the Canadian press when he disposed of his shares in the company shortly before it was declared insolvent. As founder and chairman of Barrick Gold, he now leads the world’s largest gold mining company (which boasts the highest paid CEO in Canada). His fortune has allowed him to buy a reputation as a philanthropist and he has even been honored by the Canadian government by receiving the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor.
However, a look into Munk’s political connections reveals a shady past with questionable connections. For instance, former US President and CIA director George Bush Sr. was the former chairman of Barrick’s International Advisory Board, a post likely connected to the honorary degree he received from the University of Toronto in 1997. Gustavo Ciscneros, a Venezuelan Media mogul implicated in the coup attempt against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, sits on Barrick’s board of directors. And Adnan Khashoggi, a notorious Saudi arms dealer and known conduit in the Iran-Contra Scandal, was one of Barrick’s first major financiers. In fact, when Peter Munk was asked why he named former PM Brian Mulroney to sit on his board of directors, he famously responded, “he knows every dictator in the world on a first-name basis.”
With the help of grassroots campaigning, Munk’s own arrogance, and technology allowing communities impacted by Barrick’s operations to have their voice heard, Munk’s image as a philanthropist is quickly giving way to a reputation as a racist and a greedy tycoon. When Toronto’s NOW magazine chose their year’s top sell-outs (as in selling your soul to the devil), Munk is the only candidate that ranked alongside Mayor Rob Ford at the top of the list.
SOME CHOICE MUNKISMS
- On Feb 18 2011, in response to Barrick Security personnel being implicated in the gang rape of local women in Porgera, Papua New Guinea, Munk was quoted in the Globe and Mail saying that it would be impossible to police the behaviour of 5,550 employees, particularly in countries where, “gang rape is a cultural habit.”
note: Impacted communities from PNG have traveled to Barrick’s AGM in Toronto every year since 2008 to complain of human rights abuses at the hands of Barrick Security, such as gang rapes, only to have these allegations repeatedly denied by Barrick Gold.
- At a shareholders’ meeting in Toronto on May 9, 1996, Peter Munk, Chairman of Barrick Gold corporation, praised General Augusto Pinochet for “trans- forming Chile from a wealth-destroying socialist state to a capital-friendly model that is being copied around the world.” Regarding Pinochet’s human rights record Munk said, “they can put people in jail, I have no comment on that, I think that may be true…I think [the end justifies the means] because it brought wealth to an enormous number of people. If you ask somebody who is in jail, he’ll say no. But that’s the wonderful thing about our world; we can have the freedom to disagree.”
- To defend his praise of Pinochet, Peter Munk is quoted in Time Magazine saying, “Maybe I’m less sensitive to these issues because I see that what people need first is economic security, and only when they have that can they afford to focus on human rights.” The alternative to liberalized economies, he argues, “is the true enslavement of the people.”check out peter munk in his own words… (background slideshow courtesy of ProtestBarrick.net)