How Pink Floyd was connected to the Chevron Shakedown

There’s a headline you probably didn’t see coming, huh? Over the past several years we’ve written extensively about the failed Chevron Shakedown and how New York attorney Steven Donziger fell from grace in a corrupt attempt to pick the pockets of Chevron to the tune of billions of dollars. That story is pretty much over, with the case having been declared a product of fraud around the globe and Donziger losing his licenses to practice law anywhere in the country.

But in the aftermath of this fiasco, detailed investigations have revealed all manner of surprising odds and ends. This includes the number of people who signed on and invested money in the scheme, anticipating a cut of the payoff if Chevron agreed to settle out of court. Perhaps one of the strangest names on the list was that of Roger Waters, legendary singer and bass player for Pink Floyd. Kevin D. Williamson of National Review has a lengthy summary of the case, including a number of investors in the scheme, but the Pink Floyd connection is particularly startling.

Roger Waters, the rock musician, has denounced Chevron for its “greed,” complaining that it is “disquietingly apparent that the rich and powerful are still much attached to the feathering of their own nests at any cost to others.” Well. Documents submitted to the court show “George R. Waters” taking two equity positions in the case, one for 0.76 percent and one for 0.25 percent, through “Fenwick,” presumably the firm of Mark Fenwick, Rogers’s manager and an heir to the Fenwick department-store chain in the United Kingdom. That would come to roughly $9.6 million of a $9.5 billion judgment. You could feather a lot of nests with that. (I was unable to contact Waters or Fenwick for comment. Rock stars are really hard to get on the phone.) If taking in a few million dollars via an investment in extortion and bribery is not greed, then what is?

Williamson’s list of “investors” in the fraudulent scheme includes plenty of other interesting characters, including one aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. But Waters may be the most disappointing one for me personally. I’ve never made any secret of the fact that Pink Floyd has always been one of my favorite bands going back to my teenage years. I was obsessed with their music and went to quite a few of their concerts as a young man.

I’ve long since become used to my rock and roll idols having liberal views and sticking their noses into politics on the progressive side. And I always manage to shrug it off. As long as the music is good, they are entitled to their own opinions just like anyone else. And rock musicians tend to skew toward the liberal side anyway. (Or at least pretend to because they believe the majority of their fans lean that way.)

But Waters was doing more than opining here. As Williamson notes, after repeatedly calling out Chevron for their “greed,” he didn’t just criticize them. He invested a significant amount of his own money in the shakedown scheme with the expectation of receiving nearly ten million dollars in return when the energy giant was forced to pay up. So you’re fighting greed with… more greed?

Perhaps there’s a good lesson in all of this. All of those people listed in the report gave significant amounts of money to Donziger. Now the case is lost and all that money is gone. There will be no return on their illicit investments. (Donziger is reportedly massively in debt after the collapse of the attempted fraud.) If these activists were so worried about Chevron’s “greed” they should probably have kept their own house in order on the greed front.

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