Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark Thatcher & Simon Mann's African Coup

The Other Players

David Hart, also named in Simon Mann's prison note, is a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher with broad access to figures in the British and American governments. He has sometimes acted as a go-between in negotiations between governments and defense contractors. Hart, 60, lives in Suffolk, England, and is another Old Etonian. 

Equatorial Guinea has issued an arrest warrant naming Hart as a player in the coup plot. President Obiang claims he has evidence that Hart helped finance the coup. The "Smelly" of Mann's prison note is Ely Calil, 58, a naturalized British citizen who made millions trading Nigerian oil.

Tim Bell
Tim Bell

Obiang also named Calil as a conspirator, and the Guardian newspaper reported that Calil paid $750,000 toward the coup plot. Calil hired Tim Bell, Margaret Thatcher's former public relations man, to tout his innocence. Calil said through Bell that he was the victim of "an elaborate set-up."

It was not Calil's first brush with international intrigue scented with oil. French police arrested Calil in 2002 in connection with oil-related bribes paid to Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha. He has not been charged, although French authorities say the investigation remains open.

Another possible player in the coup financing was Greg Wales, a London businessman whose alleged involvement is perhaps the most titillating for those trying to divine American political links to the scheme.

Simon Mann referred to Wales by his initials "GW" in the prison note. His role, if any, in the coup plot is not clear. The Guinean government has alleged that Mann paid Wales $8,000 but could not explain why.

Wales admitted to the media that he often did business with Mann, although he denied involvement in the Guinea plot, which he called "stupid." But according to Newsweek magazine and the Guardian, Wales met twice in Washington in late 2003 with Theresa Whelan, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs. Wales reportedly briefed her on the impending trouble in Equatorial Guinea. Whelan acknowledged the conversation but downplayed its importance.

Wales was in Washington to attend a conference of the International Peace Operations Association, a Washington-based group that describes itself as "an association of private sector service companies engaged in international peace operations around the world."

The group says its members "are involved in all sectors of peace and stability operations including mine clearance, logistics, security, training, and emergency humanitarian services."

Participants have said the subject of Equatorial Guinea came up both formally and informally during the 2003 conference, at which secretary Whelan spoke.

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