Jim Armitage: Don't mess with Gaston – he's still got his hand on the Glock
Saturday 13 July 2013
'Cause I put away the shotgun/ Borrow me a Glock/ Took a little trip to the funky weed spot/ Tried to jack me/ But homie got shot.
Hardly Tennyson in the poetry stakes, you may argue, but in the US the likes of megastar rap acts Cypress Hill, the Wu-Tang Clan, and the late Biggie Smalls have done more for sales of handguns made by Austria's Glock than any amount of advertising: a Glock is the must-have accessory for any self-respecting gangsta. Former SAS sniper Danny Nightingale was hardly Cheshire's answer to Tupac, but even he kept that military issue Glock in his bedroom.
While Nightingale's pistol has been on the front pages in the UK this week, in the business pages on Wall Street it has been the travails of Glock's former US chief executive that have been making headlines. A court in gun-loving Georgia has just dramatically reversed the embezzlement and theft conviction of Paul Jannuzzo, who was widely credited for the huge explosion of popularity of the Glock on the streets of the US in the 1990s and 2000s. He was a regular fixture on the TV and radio circuit, extolling the benefits of a gun-owning democracy.
That was until he had his falling out with his boss, company founder Gaston Glock – a row which, according to the author Paul M Barrett's book Glock: The Rise of America's Gun, was in no small part due to a squabble over the affections of the woman to whom Jannuzzo was later married. Pretty soon after the bust-up, Jannuzzo found himself the subject of a racketeering investigation. The allegations were serious – the theft from the Glock company of millions of dollars and a pistol. He was jailed for seven years and is still awaiting release today.
While his team is hailing this week's decision of the appeals judge as a resounding victory, it doesn't entirely clear Jannuzzo's name. The guilty verdict was only overturned because the crime took place too many years ago, meaning the state was in breach of the Statute of Limitations.
This kind of courtroom drama is nothing new to the gun maker.
Gaston Glock has also been having a long-running fight with his ex-wife Helga over hundreds of millions of dollars and control of the business. Helga, it seems, was cross at 82-year-old Gaston for allegedly transferring her 15 per cent of the business to his new, 30-something wife Kathrin Tschikof. She also claimed her three adult children with Gaston have been kicked out of the family business.
And that's far from all: back in 1999 Gaston survived an assassination attempt organised by his trusted tax adviser in Luxembourg. The adviser lured him into a car park where the would-be killer waited, springing out of the shadows and repeatedly battering him around the head with a hammer. According to the prosecutors, the then 68-year-old Gaston fought back, punching his assailant in the eye, then in the mouth, knocking out a bunch of teeth. The attacker fell, "arms outstretched like Jesus" according to the prosecutor, on top of Glock. And that was how the two men were found when the police turned up.
Both the assailant and Glock's tax adviser ended up with lengthy jail sentences.
It all sounds like a drama fit to be turned into a modern rap anthem, but don't expect LA's finest to do Gaston that honour. They are still sore after he wrote legal letters to all the big record-company bosses, ordering them to stop using his company's name in their songs. Many complied.
To quote the charming rapper C-Murder (currently, and aptly, in jail for homicide): "You don't wanna mess with that Glock, boy."
Mugabe mixes it with the Israelis ... and the Iranians
Mud is flying in all directions in Zimbabwe, ahead of elections on 31 July. And it's hard to see which rumours to consider and which to ignore.
One that strikes me as curious, though, filters through from sources in Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party. Tsvangirai has been banging the drum about Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF using a "shadowy Israeli company" called Nikuv to rig the elections with its polling technology. Nothing new here – he levelled the same accusations against Nikuv at the last election. Along with claims – not altogether without credence – that former Mossad agents are employees of the firm.
On that occasion, the Israeli government was moved to deny that Mossad had interfered with the poll. However, put Tsvangirai's recent protests about Nikuv together with another tale in this most rumour-rich of countries – that Mugabe is still considering an oil-for-uranium deal with Iran – and one begins to wonder what Jerusalem thinks about Nikuv's activities in the country.
The mining tycoon's new chum: Lord Mancroft
Say what you will about Dan Gertler, the controversial mining tycoon at the heart of the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation corruption allegations, he never ceases to surprise. The Israeli billionaire, who is said to have obtained mineral rights in Africa for knockdown prices, is rarely shy of talking up his philanthropic activities. So a two-page press release announcing a new adviser to his charitable work was just grist to the mill. But it was the appointee himself that lifted my beetling brow a touch: Lord Mancroft, the leading Tory hereditary peer and director of the Countryside Alliance. You may remember him as being the one who, a couple of years ago, was so rude about NHS nurses that even David Cameron gave him a dressing down. Nurses were, he informed the House of Lords, "mostly grubby ... slipshod, lazy and worst of all, drunken and promiscuous... An accurate reflection of many young women in Britain today." An old Etonian aristocrat and an orthodox Israeli mining tycoon. What an odd couple.
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