What ever happened to Guangdong Zhenrong?

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Remember Guandong Zhenrong Energy (GZE), the Chinese state-backed energy merchant wanna-bee? Yep, them. The group that was able to spellbind Curaçao administrations from 2016 to 2018 with USD billions of “investments” in our refinery, a series of MoUs with local state companies in charge of garbage processing, the port, shipbuilding and what not. And, let’s not forget the casinos and a Las Vegas-style strip GZE had promised. 

Somehow the committee in charge of the future of the Curaçao refinery (MDPT) didn’t know that GZE’s debt crisis began unfolding in late 2014 when the company started to miss interest payments to banks. As of April 2017 -about 6 months before the above-mentioned series of MoUs were signed– GZE had defaulted on USD 3 billion of bank loans. According to sources in Singapore, GZE used fabricated trade documents to obtain massive loans. No wonder GZE was kicked out of Myanmar when the Burmese authorities saw “absolutely no progress due to GZE’s severe financial problems” two years after it was supposed to start construction of a refinery near the city of Dawei, according to Myanmar Times, 7 December 2017.

Bankrupt GZE has shown however that it won’t go quietly. In September 2019 it filed a claim to Mercuria Energy Group, a global Swiss energy trader, for USD 5.66 billion for breach of contract 5 years earlier in 2014. Insiders believe that GZE is again up to its usual tricks and that this claim is a hoax. Given the opaque dealings between GZE and our authorities, I sincerely hope we won’t get dragged into international courts as well.

What’s beyond my comprehension is why some politicians and ex-MDPT members still believe that GZE is the best thing since sliced bread. According to them we should go back to this bankrupt entity and human rights violators according to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar. 

On a different note,  the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, will be making a state visist to Myanmar tomorrow to talk about Chinese investments and Sino-Burmese cooperation. Clearly, Myanmar has moved on and has left GZE behind it for good. Hopefully we can learn from them.

Willemstad, Curaçao

#myanmar #mercuria #curacao #islarefinery

Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

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