Paul Manafort

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Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:12 pm

.Doc:Paul Manafort was sued by fmr PM of Ukraine-she accused Manafort of taking cuts of Russia-Ukraine gas deals

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seemslikeadream » Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:43 pm wrote:
The Fates Of 5 Men Connected To The Trump-Russia Dossier
02/11/2017 02:27 pm ET | Updated 38 minutes ago

Seth Abramson

Attorney; Assistant Professor at University of New Hampshire; Poet; Editor, Best American Experimental Writing; Editor, Metamodern Studies.
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As President Trump begins his historic détente with Vladimir Putin, it seems a good time to check in with five other men who, along with Trump and Putin, were mentioned in the explosive “Steele Dossier” that hit U.S. media several weeks ago and has since been largely forgotten. The dossier, which accuses Mr. Trump and members of his campaign staff of treason against the United States, was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former high-ranking agent for Britain’s MI6 intelligence service—and the head of that service’s Russia desk.

Intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic say Steele is highly competent and thoroughly credible.

Reviewing the fates of the five men below, we find that, since their alleged involvement in the activities detailed in the Steele dossier, one of these men was fired from his job, while another was promoted. A third man was found dead in the back of his car the day after Christmas, while the whereabouts of a fourth are unknown—as he’s gone into hiding for fear of his own and his family’s safety.

A fifth met with Vladimir Putin as recently as two weeks ago.

This list of five men does not include former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was mysteriously pushed out by Trump after reports emerged that Manafort indirectly assisted Russia’s invasion of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine—the very international crime the Trump administration now opposes leveling sanctions to punish. Prior to his departure in August, it was widely reported that Manafort had also been behind the Trump campaign’s efforts, at the Republican convention in July, to amend the party’s platform to adopt a more favorable view of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Carter Page. On March 21, 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump told the editorial board of The Washington Post that Carter Page was a key member of his foreign policy team. To be clear, Trump cited Page, unprompted, by name—indeed, Page’s was one of the very first names Mr. Trump could think of in offering up his roster of foreign policy advisers. Four months later, Page travelled to Moscow to give a speech at the Higher Economic School. It was at this point, according to the Steele dossier, that the CEO of Russia’s national oil company, Igor Sechin, offered Page brokerage of a 19 percent stake in the oil company if he would convince Mr. Trump to lift U.S. sanctions on Russian oil.

Four days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Russia sold a 19.5 percent stake in its oil company to an undisclosed buyer.

U.S. media, which has repeatedly asserted that it cannot confirm any facts in the Steele dossier, seems to have done virtually no investigation of this uncanny coincidence.

Will the media change its tune, now that intelligence agencies have announced, this week, that in fact they can confirm some of the dossier?

In any case, the source for Mr. Steele’s inclusion of the Page-Sechin meeting in his dossier was “a trusted compatriot and close associate” of Sechin—now believed to be one of Mr. Sechin’s top aides, Oleg Erovinkin. Steele is no longer the only person to report on the meeting; last July, further confirmation of the meeting came from a U.S. intelligence source who spoke to Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff.

Politico reports that while in Moscow Page may also have met with Sergei Ivanov, the then-chief of Putin’s presidential administration. And Isikoff’s sources claim that Page also met with a third man—a senior Kremlin internal affairs official named Igor Diveykin.

Steele’s dossier, which also contends that Page met with Diveykin in Moscow, suggests that it was at this third meeting that Diveykin revealed to Page that the Russian government held compromising material (called kompromat in Russia) on Mr. Trump.

Page’s Moscow speech condemned—shockingly—the United States for its purportedly “hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change” in its Russia policy. Page was dumped from the Trump campaign in September—two months after his Russia trip—and President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer now insists that Mr. Trump “does not know” Page.

That appears to be a lie.

We needn’t take Donald Trump’s statements to The Washington Post as proof of this, however. Why? Because Page himself has spoken on the issue. Page now says that “I’ve certainly been in a number of meetings with Trump, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him.”

This wouldn’t be the first time high-level officials in the Trump administration have lied about who they know or have talked to; indeed, it was just revealed this week that Michael Flynn—Mr. Trump’s top adviser on Russia policy—seemingly lied to the vice president of the United States, the chief of staff to the president, and the White House press secretary about whether he was negotiating with the Russians prior to Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Did Mr. Flynn go rogue? Or did Mr. Trump—who now claims to be mystified about the news of Mr. Flynn’s pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.—order the conversation and then deny knowledge of it, much like he had many conversations with Carter Page and then denied knowing him at all?


Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, at an RT party with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Igor Diveykin. The former deputy head of the domestic politics department in Vladimir Putin’s presidential administration, who allegedly informed Carter Page of the compromising material on Mr. Trump held by Mr. Putin, soon after received a promotion. He is now the deputy chief of the State Duma Apparatus and chief administrator of Duma Affairs. He has told reporters in Russia that he wants to sue the U.S. media outlets that reported on his alleged meeting with Page.

Oddly, no such lawsuit has been forthcoming.

Igor Sechin. Sechin, a former deputy prime minister in Russia as well as the current head of its state oil company, remains in Putin’s good graces, having met with him as recently as a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, Sechin is now without the services of his “closest associate”: Oleg Erovinkin.

Oleg Erovinkin. Erovinkin, Sechin’s “closest associate” and reportedly a “key liaison” between Sechin and Putin, was long “suspected of helping former MI6 spy Christopher Steele compile his dossier,” according to The Telegraph.

And guess what? He’s dead now.

Erovinkin was found slain in his car the day after Christmas—and was immediately removed to a morgue run by Russia’s FSB, the successor to the KGB.

Per The Telegraph, multiple media reports in Russia allege that the death was a murder.

It’s just another “coincidence” related to the Steele dossier that U.S. media has not yet seen fit to investigate.

Christopher Steele. So what about Mr. Steele himself? Mr. Trump said the entire Steele dossier is “fake news” and “phony”—a claim we now know is untrue, based on the revelations this week that U.S. intelligence has confirmed many the dossier’s claims—so what sort of fate would we assume for a man who wrote a dossier that could bring down the two most powerful men in the world? Were the dossier entirely fake, as Mr. Trump has falsely stated, Mr. Steele would be of no danger to anyone—merely an annoyance. But if the dossier were entirely accurate or nearly so, Steele would be the most valuable witness in a criminal investigation currently alive, sought by both members of Putin’s government and allies to Mr. Trump to ensure that the former MI6 agent couldn’t provide U.S. intelligence agencies with any additional information about either his sources or his dossier.

So guess what?

Mr. Steele is now on the run for his life. And so is his family.

He believes he will be murdered, and that his family will be murdered.

No one knows where he is.

While none of the above proves the veracity of the most salacious claims made in the Steele Dossier—claims that Donald Trump sold away U.S. policy toward Russia to avoid Russian blackmail—the fates of these five men (as well as a sixth mentioned frequently in the dossier, Paul Manafort) seem inconsistent with President Trump’s insistence that the Steele dossier is “fake news.”

The information above seems inconsistent, too, with Mr. Putin’s concurrent claim that the document is “clearly fake.”

Indeed, it would not be unreasonable to observe that this is quite a lot of drama, death, and fear to be surrounding a document which, according to the U.S. president, is mere hooey. Nor would it be unreasonable to add that both our current president and Russia’s president have repeatedly been caught in lies—and seem disproportionately likely to put their own personal interests ahead of those of their respective nations.

The only question remaining, now, is whether U.S. intelligence agencies and/or the U.S. media can, with sufficient diligence in their investigations, begin to do something about it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the ... bf74f03cd6


Trump campaign manager’s Ukrainian clients have Panama Papers connections

By Adam Weinstein and Laura Juncadella
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GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump sent shudders through US foreign policy circles and the international community this week, when he suggested that, as president, he might not fulfill America’s promises to defend NATO members against a Russian attack. That departure from historical American policies, and Republican wisdom, came days after the Trump campaign reportedly softened the GOP platform’s hardline stance against pro-Russian rebels fighting to control Ukraine.

Those moves were less surprising to critics of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who for more than a decade has cultivated business ties to pro-Russian politicians and industrialists in Ukraine.

Now, Fusion has learned that the names of several of Manafort’s connections appear in shell company records from the notorious Panama Papers and the Offshore Leaks, troves of information on offshore companies unearthed in recent years by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

From Washington to Kiev

After several fairly conventional decades in conservative American politics, Manafort won headlines in 2007 for his paid work rebranding former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and his “Party of Regions” as mild-mannered reformers. That was no small feat for Yanukovych, a Ukrainian politician who had been described by the New York Times‘s Kiev reporter as “a divisive figure reviled by some here as a shady reactionary and Kremlin pawn,” and who was driven from power in 2005 amid allegations he’d tried to rig his re-election with Russian help. (His election opponent, Viktor Yushchenko, fell ill due to poisoning during the campaign — a mystery that still goes unsolved.)

“The West has not been willing to move beyond the cold war mentality and to see this man and the outreach that he has extended,” Manafort told the Times of Yanukovych.

Manafort’s efforts paid off: Over the next several years, the Party of Regions gained power in the legislative and judicial branches. By 2010, Yanukovych had made a stunning comeback, again winning the presidency, and overseeing a regime that held on to power by funneling government money to his “Family” of oligarchs and party apparatchiks. As a 2007 US embassy cable describing the Party of Regions inner circle put it: “Ukraine’s history is marred with non-transparent privatizations that have benefited a few well-connected insiders.”

Some of those party insiders were banned from travel to the United States or faced visa delays, based on allegations that they supported the pro-Russian forces who’ve occupied Eastern Ukraine since a 2014 popular uprising deposed Yanukovych, who remains in exile in Russia. Some of them have clear connections to Manafort. And some of them, or their relatives and associates, also appear in records of shell companies in the Panama Papers or Offshore Leaks.

As Fusion and its partners in the Panama Papers investigation have previously reported, there are benign reasons for individuals to set up offshore shell corporations. But the anonymity they provide owners, and the lack of transparency into where their money originates and is headed, make them attractive vehicles for funneling ill-gotten gains, concealing wealth, and sidestepping regulations and sanctions. A recent World Bank study of 213 major global corruption cases found that 70 percent of them involved the use of at least one secret corporation to hide true ownership.

It is unknown whether Manafort had any involvement with these shell companies; Fusion’s messages requesting comment from Manafort and the Trump campaign were not returned.

The Caribbean candy company

Manafort’s earliest engagement in Ukrainian affairs appears to have come in 2005, when he advised Rinat Akhmetov — the country’s richest man — on strategic communications for one of the billionaire’s many companies. But the pro-Russian Akhmetov quickly paired Manafort with his political ally, Yanukovych, for an image makeover.

Akhmetov, whose personal and political fortunes were allegedly enhanced by government funds and organized crime, does not appear in the Panama Papers — but his older brother, who stays out of the public limelight, does. Leaked records show that Igor Akhmetov was one of several secret beneficial owners of “Konti Confectionary Limited,” incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2014 and seeded with 23.4 million euros. The other beneficial owners included Boris Kolesnikov, another Yanukovich party insider and childhood friend of Rinat Ahkmetov’s who in 2007 praised Manafort as ‘one of a lot of good people” consulting Ukraine’s politicians.

The sour $26.3 million telecom deal

Many relationships Manafort made in Ukraine spilled over into US business relationships. These include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who has been called “Vladimir Putin’s favourite industrialist.” Deripaska, who is barred from US travel over alleged organized crime ties that he denies, partnered up with Manafort in 2007 to form a Cayman Islands-based investment company. Deripaska reportedly paid Manafort’s firm $7.4 million in fees, then invested $18.9 million to buy a Ukrainian telecom firm. But Deripaska eventually pulled out and asked for that money back; according to a lawsuit filed in Virginia by Cayman liquidators, Manafort never returned the cash. A lawyer for Manafort, Richard Hibert, did not answer Fusion’s request for comment, but he told Yahoo in April that Manafort had been deposed in the case, which is ongoing.

As Fusion’s reporting partners in the McClatchy DC bureau reported last April, Deripaska shows up in the Panama Papers as the secret owner of a Mongolian coal company formed in the British Virgin Islands that sold part of itself to another of Deripaska’s Russian metal companies in 2006. Deripaska’s mother, Valentina, is also listed in the ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks as a beneficial owner of the BVI-incorporated “Bennet Select Corporation,” whose activities are unclear.

The billion-dollar firm that couldn’t pay its employees

In another lawsuit against Manafort and several associates, former workers in company he formed with an ex-Trump real estate employee allege that they didn’t receive their promised salaries. That company, according to court filings, set up a billion-dollar US-based property-investment vehicle for Dmitro Firtash, another controversial Yanukovych insider and billionaire. The filings allege that Manafort and Firtash also worked together on other deals, including an abandoned $850 million plan to buy the Drake Hotel in New York.

Firtash is now wanted by authorities in Washington on suspicion of bribery and organized criminal activity; he was arrested in Austria in 2014 and the US has sought his extradition since. (His company has called the charges a “misunderstanding.”)

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Today in Panama Papers: Works of art, political backlash, bank CEO resigns

Firtash is listed in ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks database; he set up an offshore holding company in 2006 for assets related to his government-aided businesses.

He also has business ties to what the ICIJ calls one of the Panama Papers’ key “malefactors,” Ukrainian mob boss Semion Mogilevich — a man the FBI once called a “global con artist and ruthless criminal” implicated in “weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale.” According to an internal State Department cable, Firtash told the US ambassador to Ukraine “that he needed, and received, permission from Mogilievich when he established various businesses.”

Big government in Russia and Ukraine

Observers have long argued that one basis for most of these Russians’ and Ukrainians fortunes was their support for Yanukovych — and Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s desire for close coordination between the Moscow and Kiev regimes. Both times Yanukovych gained the presidency of Ukraine, Putin offered him incentives to keep the country in Russia’s orbit; those incentives included an eye-popping $15 billion aid package in 2013.

That same year, Forbes Ukraine reported that Yanukovych had taken advantage of relaxed government rules to award a lion’s share of state contracts to his inner circle. Two of the top contract-winners are former partners of Manafort’s: Akhmetov and Firtash. In the first 10 months of 2012 alone, they had raked in contracts worth billions of dollars.

In early 2014, just before Yanukovych and his cronies were thrown out of power for the last time — and several months before Akhmetov’s brother and other party associates set up the candy company listed in the Panama Papers — Akhmetov alone had won 31 percent of Ukraine’s state contracts, according to Forbes.

A murky record

How much money did Manafort make for his years of work on behalf of some of Ukraine’s richest, most influential pro-Moscow billionaires and politicians? The answer is unclear; consultants don’t have to publicly disclose their fees. Such campaign consulting relationships can typically command seven- or eight-fee figures. Department of Justice records show only that in 2008, Manafort hired the communications firm Edelman to lobby for Yanukovych’s party for $35,000 a month; the company collected $63,750 on the contract in the first half of that year.

Manafort “told a congressional oversight panel in 1989 that his firm normally accepted only clients who would pay at least $250,000 a year as a retainer,” according to Bloomberg View.

Manafort, the Trump campaign, Firtash, Deripaska, and Rinat Akhmetov did not respond Fusion’s requests for comment; Igor Akhmetov and Mogilevich could not be reached for comment, their whereabouts unknown.
http://fusion.net/story/328264/paul-man ... onnection/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:24 pm

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BLOOD MONEY04.13.16 12:00 AM ET
Top Trump Aide Led the ‘Torturers’ Lobby’

LOOD MONEY

Paul Manafort and the partners at his firm made a fortune repping some of the most despicable dictators of the 20th century.
BETSY WOODRUFF
TIM MAK
04.13.16 12:00 AM ET
Over the course of a long lobbying career in D.C., top Trump aide Paul Manafort and his firm made a fortune fronting for a group of clients once referred to as the “torturers’ lobby.”
So when Manafort accused opponent Ted Cruz of using “gestapo tactics” to court Republican delegates on Meet the Press this past Sunday—it’s something he may have quite a bit of experience with firsthand.
Manafort was a principal at the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly (along with another top Trump ally, Nixon alum Roger Stone), a K Street powerhouse with close ties to the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, as well as top Republicans on Capitol Hill.

But over the years, they made millions by representing a rogue’s gallery of clients far away from D.C.’s genteel corridors of power: dictators, guerilla groups, and despots with no regard for human rights—including one man responsible for mass amputations, and another who oversaw state-sanctioned rape.
One such client was Jonas Savimbi, who led a guerilla army trying to wrest control of the Angolan government from Marxists during the country’s brutal civil war. Savimbi hired Manafort’s lobbying firm to help him get financial support from the U.S. government for his guerilla army, UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola).
And Manafort and co. delivered.

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“What the firm achieved was quickly dubbed ‘Savimbi chic,’” reported Time magazine in 1986. “Doors swung open all over town for the guerrilla leader, who was dapperly attired in a Nehru suit and ferried about in a stretch limousine.”
Savimbi paid the firm $600,000 in 1985 for their trouble, The Washington Post reported. The lobbying paid off: then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole urged the State Department to send heavy arms to Savimbi’s guerilla army. Savimbi came back for more in 1989, putting the firm on retainer to orchestrate a media blitz. They got him booked on 60 Minutes and Nightline, as the Post noted, and they shelled out more than $200,000 to put him up at the Waldorf-Astoria and Grand Hotel.

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“It greatly helped repackage Savimbi as a valiant anti-communist ‘freedom fighter,’” reported Nairobi’s The Daily Nation.
And that so-called freedom fight was quite lucrative for Manafort’s firm—so lucrative, in fact, that they didn’t want it to stop. Spy Magazine reported that the firm’s “hawkish congressional lobbying for more military aid” may have kept a ceasefire in the country’s civil war from coming sooner.
“Clearly, Savimbi wanted peace negotiations for a longer time than Black, Manafort wanted negotiations,” said one conservative Hill aide sympathetic with Savimbi, according to the magazine.
In his memoir, former Sen. Bill Bradley credited Savimbi’s lobbying team with lengthening the war.
“I thought we were making a colossal blunder in Angola,” he wrote. “I had no sense that Jonas Savimbi, our client guerilla warrior, was any more committed to democracy than was the country’s dictatorial leftist leadership. When Gorbachev pulled the plug on Soviet aid to the Angolan government, we had absolutely no reason to persist in aiding Savimbi. But by then he had hired an effective Washington lobbying firm, which successfully obtained further funding.”
The slow peace process meant protracted violence. From 1986 to 1987, the Reagan administration sent a total of $42 million to UNITA. According to Joy James’s book Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture, Savimbi’s army “maimed or killed tens of thousands, creating one of the largest amputee populations in the world through its laying of landmines in farm fields, roads, and school yards.”
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As is often the case, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. And Savimbi’s army was particularly violent.
“Indiscriminate killings, mutilation of limbs or ears, and beatings were used by rebels to punish suspected government sympathizers or as a warning against betraying UNITA,” reads a Human Rights Watch report. “UNITA continued to forcibly recruit men and teenage boys to fight. Girls were held in sexual slavery and used as a source of forced labor.”
Savimbi and UNITA were not the only Manafort clients comfortable with brutality.
A 1992 report from the Center for Public Integrity listed Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly as one of the lobbying firms to profit the most by doing business with foreign governments that violated their people’s human rights.
From 1991 to 1992, the firm made $3.3 million from what the Center for Public Integrity dubbed “the torturers’ lobby.”
From 1990 to 1993, the Kenyan government paid Manafort’s firm more than $1.4 million to lobby the U.S. government to send them more aid. In that window of time, the U.S. was highly critical of the country’s human rights record, as the Center for Public Integrity detailed.
Severe police brutality, prisoner abuse, and crackdowns on hunger strikers all drew opprobrium. The country still raked in $38.3 million in aid from the U.S. government—thanks in part to the hard work of Manafort and his partners.
Mobutu Sese Seko, dictator of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) also benefitted from Manafort’s lobbying expertise. The Guardian described him as “one of Africa’s most flamboyantly corrupt leaders.”
He was also one of its worst. Human-rights activists hold the dictator responsible for government-sanctioned torture, detainment, and rape.
“Quantitatively, I think Zaire has the worst human rights record in Africa,” one UN official told the Chicago Tribune in 1997. “In terms of social and economic rights and the number of state actors violating those rights, it’s massive. And the bulk of human rights violations in this country never will be known. It’s a black hole.”
And the black hole had a powerful ally. The dictator retained Manafort’s firm in 1989 to help remedy some longstanding PR problems—for a cool $1 million a year.
Manafort partner Charlie Black, who backs Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the presidential race, pushed back on the assertion that his firm’s foreign clients were anything but above board and said they “never (1981-present) accepted a foreign client without informally clearing with the State Department that our scope of work is in U.S. interests.”
“In the case of Mobutu, he told US he would have democratic elections for a parliament. US State asked us to organize those elections,” Black said. “We did. He did not like the results and fired us.”
But, of course, there’s more. In 1985, Manafort himself announced that his firm would take on the Chamber of Philippine Manufacturers, Exporters, and Tourists Associations as a client. That group had close ties with dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose regime put the country under martial law and was responsible for hundreds of cases of torture. In 2004, Transparency International listed him as one of the world’s 10 most notorious leaders of the previous two decades (along with Mobutu Sese Seko, another Manafort client). They estimate Marcos embezzled between $5 million and $10 million from his people. Almost 50,000 Filipinos have filed claims for reparations for crimes against them during Marcos’s era of martial law, according to the Philippine news site Rappler.com.
Marcos enlisted Manafort’s team as part of an effort to appear more democratic. Time reported that he paid the firm $900,000, and that they said they were trying to make Americans have more faith in the country’s democratic process.
“What we’ve tried to do is make it more of a Chicago-style election and not Mexico’s,” Manafort told the magazine.
When the Reagan administration finally soured on the dictator—the whole “Chicago-style election” thing didn’t exactly work out—they helped out their pals at the firm.
“The firm was so entwined with the Reagan White House that administration officials gave it a heads-up so it could cancel its contract with a client, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, two hours before Reagan withdrew his support,” reported The New York Times in 2008.
Another dictator who both made Transparency International’s list and Paul Manafort’s was Sani Abacha of Nigeria. He hired a different Manafort firm—Davis, Manafort & Freedman—in 1998 as part of “an aggressive public relations and lobbying campaign to persuade Americans that he was the leader of a progressive emerging democracy,” according to The New York Times. Richard Davis, one of the principals in that firm, took a leave of absence to run John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. When a reporter asked McCain’s campaign about his campaign manager’s association with Abacha, the campaign pointed to Manafort.
“Howard Opinsky, a press secretary for the McCain campaign, said tonight that Mr. Davis did not actually work on the Nigeria account and that it was handled by a partner, Paul Manafort,” The New York Times noted in a 2000 report.
Highlights of the Nigeria account include lots of torture. A 1997 State Department report detailed persistent torture and abuse under the Abacha regime.
“[D]etainees frequently died while in custody,” reads the report, “and there were credible reports that security officers seeking to extract confessions regularly beat suspects, detainees, and convicted prisoners. Security officers tortured prisoners with whippings, suspension by the limbs from the ceiling, burning with candles, and extraction of teeth.”
Then there was Manafort’s work for Putinite Viktor Yanukovych, who became president in 2010. Manafort had been introduced to Yanukovych by Ukraine’s richest man, an industrialist named Rinat Akhmetov, The New York Times reported.
It was Manafort’s most recent high-profile political consulting job, and while his candidate was victorious, Yanukovych was eventually drummed out of office in disgrace in 2014 after accusations that he undercut freedom of the press and tried to suppress opposition political parties.
At the time of the election, Manafort had spun that Yanukovych was merely misunderstood, and that “the West has not been willing to move beyond the cold war mentality and to see this man and the outreach that he has extended.”
As the seminal Euromaidan protests, which pressed the pro-Putin Yanukovych to develop closer ties with Europe, grew to a climax and reports of Yanukovych’s lavish spending became public, he was removed from the presidency—but not before being accused of using a special police force to violently disband protesters. Even his own political party would eventually condemn him and cast him out.
Supporters of transparency and reform in Ukraine are appalled that a former Yanukovych adviser is now involved with the American presidential elections.
“Now we hear that an adviser of Yanukovych, Paul Manafort, has been hired by the Donald Trump campaign. This is someone who took part in perversion of democracy in Ukraine and if [Manafort’s] role in that fiasco turns out to be substantial, then he should not be allowed within 100 feet of government buildings of any self-respecting democracy,” Pavel Yarmolenko, a spokesman for the Ukraine Freedom Support Group, told The Daily Beast. The UFSG is dedicated to urging Congress to approve aid to Ukraine.
The list of unsavory clients continues on: In the mid-1980s, during the Reagan era, Manafort peddled influence on behalf of Saudi Arabia, urging Congress not to pass legislation to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a longstanding contention in the broader Arab-Israeli dispute. Manafort’s lobbying then is counter to Trump’s current position on the issue, and most political candidates seeking support from the pro-Israel community have advocated for moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which Israel has declared to be its capital.
To this day, Saudi Arabia continues to have one of the world’s worst human rights records—but that never seemed to bother Manafort: Ultimately for his efforts to lobby for and advise the Saudi government, he was paid what with inflation would today be more than $1.5 million.
Manafort’s firm also made $450,000 a year from the now-deposed Somalian dictatorship of Siad Barre, according to the now-defunct Spy Magazine in 1992.
Barre, who took power as president through a coup, ruled for 22 years before he was overthrown during a civil war. The dictator sought ties with the Soviet Union and attempted to implement an official ideology called “scientific socialism,” but later attempted to switch course and seek U.S. aid. Barre’s exile left the country on the edge of mass starvation, The New York Times reported in the dictator’s obituary, and his time as its president was most notable for a war with Ethiopia and numerous human-rights abuses.
Trump’s campaign has stirred controversy not only for his contentious comments and puzzling proposals, but also for the company he keeps. He has hired as senior staffers a lawyer who doesn’t think spousal rape is a crime and a campaign manager who has been charged with assault, for example.
So a lobbyist to the world’s most reprehensible dictators might fit in just fine.



Mystery man: Ukraine's U.S. fixer
By ALEXANDER BURNS and MAGGIE HABERMAN 03/05/14 05:01 AM EST

His friends once called him the Count of Monte Cristo.
Today, Paul Manafort is more like The Invisible Man — a worldly political pro whose latest adventure, whispering in the ear of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, has handed him a supporting role in a bona fide international crisis.
Story Continued Below
Over three decades in Washington, Manafort built a storied career as a Beltway man of mystery: a famously discreet operative who worked for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, steered the 1996 GOP convention and built not one but two white-shoe D.C. lobbying shops, a pair of firms that bore Manafort’s name and catered to an eclectic stable of clients including anti-communist Angolan rebels and Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator of the Philippines.
Then, Manafort all but vanished from the Washington scene.
( PHOTOS: American political consultants in Ukraine)
Once-intimate colleagues say they have not seen Manafort, 64, in years and hear from him only in occasional email missives. His most recent firm, Davis Manafort, functionally broke up shortly after the 2008 presidential election.
As that campaign was unfolding in the United States, the notorious political fixer emerged overseas, playing a familiar role in an unfamiliar place: advising Yanukovych, the pro-Russian strongman whose ouster last month has triggered an international crisis reminiscent of a Cold War spy novel.
On Monday, as Russian gunships menaced the Ukrainian fleet in the Black Sea, Manafort’s former business partner Roger Stone sent out an email to a small group of friends asking wryly: “Where is Paul Manafort?”
A multiple-choice list of options followed, including: “Was seen chauffeuring Yanukovych around Moscow,” and “Was seen loading gold bullion on an Army Transport plane from a remote airstrip outside Kiev and taking off seconds before a mob arrived at the site.” The final option was: “Is playing Golf in Palm Beach.”
( Also on POLITICO: What the White House is thinking on Ukraine)
The answer to Stone’s query is currently unclear. Manafort’s current location and involvement in Ukraine, not surprisingly, are a mystery. He did not respond to messages sent to half a dozen email accounts or answer calls to nearly as many phone numbers at addresses in Virginia and South Florida.
What’s already certain is this: Even among the many American strategists who test their fortunes abroad, Manafort’s journey from the front lines of the Reagan revolution to the right hand of a Moscow-backed Eastern bloc pol straight out of central casting ranks as one of the more unusual escapades of the Washington consulting class.
To past associates of Manafort, it comes as little surprise that he would be tied into tumult half a world away.
“We fondly used to refer to him as ‘The Count’ — ‘The Count of Monte Cristo.’ It was just the whole air about him,” recalled Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. Another Manafort colleague said the nickname came from Manafort’s penchant for swirling his coat around his shoulders dramatically.
( PHOTOS: Ukraine turmoil)
Manafort’s friends describe his relationship with Yanukovych as a political love connection, born out of Yanukovych’s first downfall when he was driven from power by the 2004 Orange Revolution. Feeling that his domestic political advisers had failed him, Yanukovych turned to a foreign company, Davis Manafort, which was already doing work for the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. The former Ukrainian PM and Manafort, the Georgetown-educated son of a Connecticut politician, hit it off.
Manafort’s firm had a set of international clients and produced an analysis of the Orange Revolution that Yanukovych found instructive, according to one operative involved in Yanukovych’s political rehabilitation. Manafort became, in effect, a general consultant to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, shaping big-picture messaging, coaching Yanukovych to speak in punchy, American-style sound bites and managing teams of consultants and attorneys in both Ukraine and the United States ahead of an anticipated Yanukovych comeback. While it’s difficult to track payments in foreign elections, a former associate familiar with Manafort’s earnings say they ran into the seven figures over several years.
After Yanukovych’s 2010 victory, Manafort stayed on as an adviser to the Russia-friendly president and became involved in other business projects in Eastern Europe. In 2012, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft told the newspaper Ukrainska Pravda that he had met with Manafort, though he declined to elaborate on the American’s role there.
( On POLITICO Magazine: The steel in President Obama's spine)
Several consultants who worked with Manafort during the Yanukovych election say the Republican truly believed in the now-deposed politician’s capabilities as a leader and doubted that his competitors — widely seen as more pro-Western — had more productive aspirations for the country.
To view foreign political schisms less in terms of ideology than pure power politics would be characteristic, Manafort’s colleagues say, of such an experienced political mercenary — a deliberately secretive man who was advising Ferdinand Marcos a decade before Yanukovych even entered politics in the mid-1990s.
“Paul is a very, very smart and experienced political strategist,” said Charlie Black, the veteran Republican consigliere who co-founded the lobbying firm Black, Manafort and Stone in 1980. “I do know that Yanukovych kept him around as an adviser, so he must have thought he had done a good job for him.”
( Also on POLITICO: Putin: U.S. doing lab rat experiments)
When Black and Manafort worked together, the Yanukovych booster was no stranger to controversy. In 1989, Manafort was hauled in front of a congressional panel for allegedly working to steer funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development into a slum-like New Jersey real estate development. Manafort, caused a stir then on the Hill with a tart defense of his profession. “You might call it influence-peddling,” he said, according to reports. “I call it lobbying.”
Stone, another named partner of the long since disbanded firm, described his former collaborator as “charming, entertaining, well-tailored and he certainly understands power and how it works.” And Stone would know: Manafort, helped run Stone’s campaign to lead the Young Republicans.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:39 pm

Mob-Linked...remember that trumpty dumbty has Russian mob buddies built a hotel in Canada with them

Lawsuit: Trump Aide Funneled Mob-Linked Ukrainian Oligarch’s Fortune into U.S. Real Estate
Suit dismissed in 2014 highlighted financial activities of former Yanukovych adviser Paul Manafort


BY: Lachlan Markay
March 31, 2016 1:30 pm

A senior aide to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump helped a scandal-plagued Ukrainian oligarch with ties to political and criminal figures in Russia park millions of dollars in offshore real estate investments, according to documents released as part of a federal racketeering suit.

The lawsuit, brought by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, accused U.S. political consultant Paul Manafort of complicity in a complex scheme of retaliation against Tymoshenko and her political allies for impeding the business interests of Ukrainian gas tycoon Dmitry Firtash.

Manafort, a veteran GOP consultant and former adviser to recently-ousted Ukrainian president and Firtash ally Viktor Yanukovych, is now leading the Trump presidential campaign’s efforts to secure delegates at the Republican National Convention in July.

Trump’s praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin, who backed Yanukovych’s Kremlin-friendly government, has drawn criticism from Republican rivals and experts on U.S. policy toward Russia.

One of the GOP frontrunner’s top foreign policy advisers is also a staunch defender of Putin’s regime and highly critical of U.S. efforts to counter Russian influence in Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

Manafort’s involvement with Firtash in high-dollar business ventures could fuel criticism of Trump’s apparent affinity for Russian political interests, which U.S. military leaders say amount to the nation’s greatest strategic threat.

That involvement came to light through Tymoshenko’s lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 against Firtash and a number of his political and business associates. The suit alleged that Firtash had funneled ill-gotten gains from a Ukrainian gas monopoly through business interests that allowed him to shield income from authorities in that country.

A U.S. federal judge dismissed the suit in 2014, saying its racketeering allegations involved conduct in foreign countries that was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

The judge also ruled that Tymoshenko had failed to adequately demonstrate that Manafort’s business dealings with Firtash constituted a conscious effort to abet intimidation and harassment against his political critics in Ukraine.

However, documents revealed during court proceedings offer a glimpse of Manafort’s financial ties to Firtash, who is currently wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over bribery allegations.

The documents show how Manafort set up investment vehicles at Firtash’s behest in order to funnel his considerable fortune into real estate ventures in the United States and elsewhere.

Manafort was working on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in late 2008. He was also on the payroll of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Manafort is widely credited with rehabilitating Yanukovych’s image in Ukraine and helping to engineer his victory in the country’s 2010 presidential election.

At the same time, Manafort was arranging financial ventures with Firtash’s backing, emails show. On August 25, 2008, he emailed two other individuals who would be involved in some of these ventures. One of them, Brad Zackson, was a former manager of the Trump Organization under Fred Trump, Donald’s father.

Manafort hoped to get input from Zackson on a “vision statement” for a real estate investment firm called CMZ Ventures. According to its founding documents, CMZ was jointly owned by Zackson’s Barbara Ann Holdings LLC, Manafort’s XXX LLC, and Vulcan Properties, which was controlled by real estate developer Arthur G. Cohen and owned by his wife.

Manafort made clear that Firtash was deeply involved in the process. “We should have a checklist organized for me to review this week of what would be the next steps if DF signs off on the Vision Statement,” he wrote.

Manafort met with Firtash in Kiev in December 2008 to discuss the arrangement. One of his partners reported his success: Firtash’s holding company, Group DF, would invest $100 million in a global real estate fund, pay an initial fee of $1.5 million to CMZ to manage the fund, and set up offices for the firm in Kiev.

Manafort was back in Ukraine a few months later to discuss the arrangement with Firtash. “Basically, DF is still totally on board and a wire will be forthcoming … as a partial payment on the 1.5,” he wrote. “Obviously, there is a lot going on over there, some with DF some on politics but affecting DF,” he added. “Things are moving in a forward direction but slowly.”

At the same time, Manafort was arranging another major real estate deal on Firtash’s behalf. He and Group DF discussed plans in late 2008 to buy the site of New York’s famed Drake Hotel. Zackson had already met with the company in Monte Carlo. “It could not have gone better,” he reported.

David Brown, the chief executive of Group DF’s real estate division, laid out the terms of the deal in a letter dated November 8, 2008, four days after Manafort client McCain lost the U.S. presidential election.

Group DF was “prepared to provide $112 million in equity for the project” with an up-front commitment of $25 million, Brown wrote.

The $850 million Drake deal eventually fell through, despite Zackson’s last-minute attempts to get Donald Trump on board as an investor. Tymoshenko alleged that it was just part of a larger plan to funnel Firtash’s fortune into offshore real estate ventures.

“By inviting Firtash to utilize the various U.S. based companies to facilitate Firtash’s money laundering and political corruption activities, Manafort gave Firtash the opportunity to expand the scope of his money laundering activities into the United States,” her lawsuit alleged in claims that the judge eventually found wanting.

While Manafort was not found to have violated either the Alien Tort Statute or the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the two laws at issue in the suit, his involvement in Firtash’s interests could be a political liability for a Trump campaign that has already drawn fire for its closeness with Russia.

Tymoshenko claimed that CMZ and other Manafort-run firms were backed not just by Firtash but also by Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian national deeply involved in Russian organized crime. Tymoshenko’s lawsuit referred to Mogilevich as a “silent partner” in Group DF.

Mogilevich is “involved in weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale,” according to the FBI.

In a meeting with the American ambassador to Ukraine in late 2008, Firtash “acknowledged ties to Russian organized crime figure Seymon Mogilevich, stating he needed Mogilevich’s approval to get into business in the first place,” according to a State Department cable released by Wikileaks.

“Firtash acknowledged that he needed, and received, permission from Mogilievich when he established various businesses, but he denied any close relationship to him,” according to the cable.

Firtash is currently wanted by the FBI, which has sought to extradite him to the U.S. on bribery charges since his 2014 apprehension in Austria.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about its knowledge of Manafort’s work for Firtash, or the latter’s alleged criminality or ties to the Russian mob. Efforts to reach Manafort were not successful.


http://freebeacon.com/issues/lawsuit-tr ... e-ukraine/



Trump’s money mystery: Trump is definitely hiding something, but the question is what

Are we going to find deep ties to Russia in those long-awaited tax returns?
MICHAEL WINSHIP, BILLMOYERS.COM

First things first, Donald Trump: Release. Your. Tax. Returns.

No excuses.

Second, if we have to have a cartoon character running for president, I would prefer Bart Simpson. He has better writers and a healthier sense of self-awareness.

Like Donald Trump, Bart clings to a life’s philosophy best summed up as, “Whatever it is, I didn’t do it, unless it’s something good, in which case I did do it, even if I didn’t do it.”

That said, while Bart rarely can discern right from wrong, he frowns on bad organization and a lack of finesse. Of the Trump campaign, he would look askance and dismissively pronounce, as he has of other fiascoes, “This is senseless destruction with none of my usual social commentary.”

Bart also has a finer comprehension than Trump of government and the U.S. Constitution, a document he supports and understands, but about which he forthrightly declares, “I’m pretty sure the Patriot Act killed it to ensure our freedoms.”

But back to those tax returns. According to experts, the old “I’m being audited and can’t release them” argument does not hold water. For the umpteenth time, what is Trump hiding?

Of course, many have speculated for months that his obfuscating is because he has much less money than he claims; some have suggested that the returns would reveal that Trump is a complete chiseler when it comes to contributing to charity.

No, what’s truly disturbing is the prospect of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, each an exemplar of thuggish ultra-nationalism, joining hands and merrily dragging the rest of us down the lane to a kleptocratic, even fascist hell. And in the end, it’s all about the money.
Like others, I believe that what’s in those documents would reveal how deeply in hock Trump is to overseas investors, especially the Russian oligarchs. How could we have a president with hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign debt? How effectively could Trump engage as a leader of the United States when he personally owes other countries’ financiers a fortune? This is almost as frightening as the prospect of Trump waking up in a cranky pants mood and eighty-sixing the planet. Almost.

The relationship among Trump, his advisors and Russia is deeply troubling and not because of Cold War-era paranoia about the Communist threat (although it is fascinating to see how the possible involvement of Russia in this election is both stirring up that nostalgic paranoia while at the same time opening old fissures on the left, as if we were back debating Khrushchev’s 1956 denunciation of Stalin and the cult of personality).

Bad enough that many intelligence and computer experts seem to agree that the recent cyberattacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign are the handiwork of hackers in the employ of Russian security services. The long-suspected machinations of several DNC staffers against the Bernie Sanders campaign that were revealed by the hacks, while indeed worthy of condemnation, do not justify the act itself. Nor do the many past acts of interference by the United States in the electoral process of friends and enemies. But as many have noted, we once voted to impeach a president after a break-in at Democratic headquarters; this current breach should be taken no less seriously and is, in many important ways, worse.

You don’t have to be a hawk on these issues or an hysteric on the dangers of Russia — and I’m neither — to be deeply concerned that outside influences could so easily manipulate a potential president.Worrying, too, to see the recent interference, reportedly by Trump staffers, with the Republican Party platform plank calling for the protection of Ukraine’s security against Russia, as well as Trump’s own comments praising Putin and Russia while questioning America’s continuing role as the linchpin member of NATO. Not to mention a campaign manager, Paul Manafort, whose work as a political consultant to former Ukrainian president and Putin pal Viktor Yanukovych is deeply suspect and an advisor, Carter Page, who has ties to Gazprom, the Russian, state-controlled energy giant. In July, Page spoke at Moscow’s New Economic School and said that the chance for better relations with Russia has been diminished because, “Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wrote a couple of weeks ago, “Those associations might simply be unsavory if the candidate were an experienced political figure or surrounded by knowledgable advisors. Neither is the case…My own concern is mainly that this kind of mix of ignorance, grifters and disorganization is the kind of seed bed where influence operations and malign influence tend to thrive and take root. We’ve seen more than enough to know this knot of connections requires deep scrutiny, extreme vetting as Trump might say. This is no joke.”

But most important, follow the money. Trump denies that he has any investments in Russia, which as many have pointed out is not for lack of trying, and which essentially raises the question, what have the Russians invested in Trump? “There is a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump’s coffers,” Marshall wrote late last month, “and he is conspicuously solicitous of Russian foreign policy priorities.”

We know that Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets…We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” The Guardian reports there are “several Russian billionaires tied to Trump” and notes Trump’s sale of a Palm Beach mansion for $95 million to Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, “who was reported in the Panama Papers leaks to have used offshore law firms to hid more than $2 billion worth of artworks, including pieces by Picasso, Van Gogh and Leonardo, from his wife in advance of their divorce.”

Perhaps most damning is The New York Times’s April account of accusations that arose from the building of Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo tower in downtown Manhattan, “one of several instances in which Mr. Trump’s boastfulness — a hallmark of his career and his campaign — has been accused of crossing the line into fraud.”

Times reporter Mike McIntire wrote that one of the associates at Bayrock, the development company behind the Trump project, “brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians ‘in favor with’ President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives.” Another lawsuit “was filled with unflattering details of how Bayrock operated, including allegations that it had occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.”

The aforementioned Josh Marshall has been taking all of this in and covering Trump’s Russia ties with the persistence and eagle eye of a superb investigative reporter. He writes:

“Trump has been blackballed by all major U.S. banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major U.S. presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

“…Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump’s financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That’s simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.”

Yes, the body of evidence, while large, is circumstantial. But where there’s smoke, which makes it all the more imperative that Trump let the press and public see his tax returns so we have a chance at piecing together the truth.

There is no sense in allowing a man with this potentially monstrous amount of foreign debt to be our president, especially when he is someone monumentally indifferent to understanding America’s place in the world, a fool whose entire worldview seems equivalent to that of the blowhard at the local tavern whose total knowledge comes from something he heard from a guy once.

Dump Trump, Republicans, and see if Bart Simpson will give you a tumble.

http://www.salon.com/2016/08/13/trumps- ... r_partner/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:42 am

Trump Campaign Is Still Playing Russian Roulette With Foreign Policy
Posted by Bill Conroy - August 21, 2016 at 5:44 pm
Post-Manafort, questions about the presidential candidate's Kremlin ties remain
Paul Manafort recently stepped down as campaign chairman for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. His departure came amid a swirl of media attention on his lobbying activities in support of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych — a Kremlin-backed strongman who was run out of office and fled to Russia in 2014 following civil protests.

The Trump campaign, now headed by Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News fame, is likely betting that Manafort’s departure will lessen the media focus on the Republican presidential candidate’s own connections to the Kremlin, and Russian money — which, according to Trump’s son, Donald Jr., “made up a pretty disproportionate section of a lot of our [the Trump Organization’s] assets,” at least as of 2008. Candidate Trump’s media spokesperson, Hope Hicks, however, has claimed in prior media statements that “Mr. Trump does not have any business dealings in/with Russia.”
Still, the Trump campaign continues to advocate a very pro-Russian foreign policy, which so far has not been modified in the wake of Manafort’s departure. Among the pro-Russian policy proposals advanced by the Republican presidential candidate included advocating measures that would weaken the NATO alliance; pursuing a strategy of US acquiescence to Russian aggressions in Ukraine and its Crimean Peninsula; and even seeking Russia’s help in meddling in the US presidential election — at one point calling on Russian intelligence agencies to find and release more Clinton emails.
In addition, it remains a fact that over the past 30 years, Trump has pursued various ill-fated plans to develop office towers or hotels in Russia. He did succeed, however, in staging his multimillion-dollar Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. That fete was organized with the help of billionaire Aras Agalarov, who is among the Russian aristocrats favored by President Vladimir Putin.
So all on his own, without the help of Manafort, Trump over the years and to this day has worked to advance his personal business interests by cozying up to Russian tycoons and President Putin – who has raised eyebrows by endorsing Trump’s presidential bid.
And Trump continues to refuse to make public his tax returns – as presidential candidates have done for decades – which only fuels the speculation that he has something to hide on the Russian front.
The resignation of Manafort, whom Trump has known since the 1980s, then, does nothing to address the nagging questions about Trump’s own connections and business interests in Russia, and whether those entangling alliances might compromise his ability to represent U.S. interests if elected president.
Big Deal
Bill Browder understands well the world of Putin and the Russian business class. From the mid-1990s until 2005, he operated Hermitage Capital Management, which oversaw the largest foreign-investment fund in Russia at the time. He had a falling out with the Kremlin, however, and was expelled from Russia in 2005, after being declared a national security threat — and his company’s assets were seized as part of what Browder alleges was an elaborate tax-fraud scheme perpetrated by Russian authorities.
Sergel Magnitsky, Browder’s Russian attorney, was later arrested by the same authorities his investigation had implicated in the alleged tax fraud against Hermitage. Magnitsky died in jail in late 2009 after months of alleged torture.
Magnitsky’s fate sparked international outrage, leading to President Barack Obama in 2012 signing into law the Magnitsky Act, which places visa sanctions and asset freezes on all those believed to be involved in the mistreatment and ultimate death of Magnitsky.
Browder, who now lives in London, asserts that Trump’s efforts to push a Kremlin-friendly foreign-policy agenda as a presidential candidate is revealing of a possible quid pro quo arrangement of some sort between Trump and the Kremlin.
“Trump is a dealmaker, and I can’t imagine that he would be doing this [promoting policies favorable to Russia] unless there was something in it for him,” Browder said in an interview with Narco News. “He doesn’t think of it as high treason. He thinks of it as a deal. What that deal is we don’t know.”
That’s only Broward’s opinion, of course, but as a businessman, like Trump, he is quite familiar with the art of the deal as well as with Russian investments, and the baggage that can come with them.
As part of his efforts some 10 years ago to develop the Trump Soho condominium complex in Manhattan and various related projects, Trump partnered with a company with Russian roots called the Bayrock Group, which is now the target of a civil-racketeering lawsuit filed by the company’s former finance director and another employee. The plaintiffs allege in the pleadings that Bayrock is “covertly mob-owned and operated” and accuse the company’s principals of engaging in “money laundering, conspiracy, bribery, extortion and embezzlement.”
Bayrock was founded by a native Russian named Tevfik Arif, who served as a commerce official during the Soviet era, according to the litigation, which is still pending and being contested by Bayrock’s attorneys in federal court in New York.
“[Arif] started Bayrock as a party apparatchik in Moscow in 1989 at the fall of communism, backed by oligarchs and money they stole from the Russian people,” the plaintiff’s pleadings allege. “He came to the United States in 2000 to establish a presence for Bayrock, forming Bayrock Group LLC in 2002.”
In 2005, Trump cut a business deal with Bayrock to build a hotel in Moscow, but the project didn’t pan out. He did later team with Bayrock, however, on the Trump Soho project, which in 2007 received a shot in the arm, along with several other Bayrock projects, in the form of a $50 million dollar investment from an Icelandic investment firm. That company, the FL Group, was backed by Russians “who were in favor with Putin,” pleadings in the racketeering lawsuit allege.
Playing With Fire
In the mid-2000s, while Trump was cutting deals with Russians in New York, Manafort also was working deals in Ukraine that involved Russian interests. Manafort initially began working in Ukraine in 2005 as advisor to Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who at the time was a major supporter of Kremilin-backed Ukrainian politician Yanukovych. Manafort’s relationship with Akhemtov eventually led to his multi-year advisor relationship with Yanukovych – whom Manafort helped to get elected as president of Ukraine in 2010.
A story in the June issue of the English-language international edition of Ukrainian Week, a news magazine published out of Kyiv since 2007, alleges that Akhmetov has a close relationship with the Russian secret services and employs “managers whose biographies are, above all, associated with the KGB/FSB.” The FSB, also known as the Federal Security Service, is the successor organization to the Soviet-era KGB, which served as the main national security and spy agency for the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Yanukovych also is allegedly linked to Russia’s FSB through a billionaire named Igor Kesaev, who controls the Russian conglomerate the Mercury Group, which operates a subsidiary called Megapolis that dominates the cigarette-distribution market in Russia and Ukraine. Kesaev also has business holdings in weapons manufacturing, retail merchandizing, real estate and more.
Sergiy Vysotskiy, a member of the Ukrainian parliament (or Verkhovna Rada), alleged in an interview with Narco News that Kesaev has close ties to the Russian FSB. A past investigation by the Center for Public Integrity explored those links in-depth — including Kesaev’s role as the head of a fund that provides financial assistance to former security-service officers and his partnership in the weapons business with former high-ranking Russian military officials.
In addition, Vysotskiy, a member of Ukraine’s People’s Front political party, contends that Yanukovych and various of his cronies are in business with Kesaev through the Russian magnate’s cigarette-distribution operations in Ukraine.
Narco News sent an email to Megapolis in Russia seeking a comment from Kesaev for this story. The spokesperson for Megapolis, Elena Ianova, sent the following reply:
“I forwarded your request to the Mercury Group, because I can’t help you. If they decide to answer, they will connect with you.”
Mercury Group officials had not contacted Narco News as of press time.
“As I see it, it's impossible that Manafort didn't know about Russia's program of bringing Yanukovych to power and then to occupy Ukraine,” Vysotskiy said.
Russian forces seized Crimea in southern Ukraine in March 2014, a move that led to US sanctions. Trump, however, says he will consider recognizing Putin’s seizure of Crimea if elected president.
“The heads of Ukraine intelligence and security services during the time of Yanukovych were all FSB-connected persons,” Vysotskiy said. “So, is he [Manafort] an idiot and didn't see what's was happening around him? Or he just didn't care that he is building a PR and foreign-relations strategy for criminal, corrupted government that was ready to sell out my country to Kremlin like it was a garage sale?”
Since Yanukovych’s ouster, Ukrainian anticorruption officials have uncovered logbooks showing Yanukovych paid some $2 billion in bribes while in office. Some $12.7 million worth of the bribes entered in the ledgers, according to recent media reports, were earmarked for Manafort between 2007-12. Manafort contends, however, that he never received any such payments.
Manafort, as a top advisor to Ukrainian President Yanukovych during his term in office (2010-2014) had a seat at the table among the elite in Ukraine, even having a voice in decisions about US investments in the country, according to the New York Times. He has deep connections to pro-Russian political and business leaders in the country.
Manafort has continued to do consulting work for a political group in Ukraine called the “Opposition Block,” Vysotskiy said, adding that the group is seeking to re-establish Russia’s proxy control over Ukraine.
“So, in fact, Manafort is now continuing to work for Kremlin,” Vysotskiy claimed.
Manafort has told the US media that his work in Ukraine “ceased following the country’s parliamentary elections in October 2014,’ after Yanukovych had fled the country.
Narco News did seek comment from Manafort and the Trump campaign for this story, but Trump spokesperson Hicks did not respond to those queries.
Whether Trump is seeking to appease the Kremlin because he has cut some deal with the Russians that would advance his interests, as Browder suggests, remains an open and legitimate question, particularly given Trump’s financial opaqueness to date. It should be explored further — despite Manafort’s departure from the Trump campaign.
Even if there is no quid pro quo deal involved, however, and Trump is simply following his “leadership” instincts when it comes to his policy of appeasement with Putin, he is still playing with fire, according to some observers.
Among them is Dmytro Potekhin, a pro-democracy organizer in Ukraine who was held captive by what he describes as Moscow-backed "terrorists" for nearly two months in 2014. Potekhin offered Narco News his take on the stakes of Trump’s bet with the Russians:
“This is a campaigning model Trump may try to use, 1) … creating the feeling that there is a real threat of a big war … between the US and Russia; and 2) solution: election of the candidate who is a friend with Russia able to overcome the threat.
“For Ukraine — as well as for the US — it will be a huge problem. Because to retain power, both sides — Putin in Russia and Trump in the US (if he wins, of course) — will be inclined to replay this threat again and again, pushing the whole system of international relations closer to a real violent escalation.”
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebo ... ign-policy
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
User avatar
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Posts: 32090
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby cptmarginal » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:48 pm

Spy Magazine reported that the firm’s “hawkish congressional lobbying for more military aid” may have kept a ceasefire in the country’s civil war from coming sooner.
“Clearly, Savimbi wanted peace negotiations for a longer time than Black, Manafort wanted negotiations,” said one conservative Hill aide sympathetic with Savimbi, according to the magazine.


A reminder to all interested parties: Spy Magazine's entire back archive is freely available online!

https://books.google.com/books?id=qnVC8yS4N_AC&pg=PA52

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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:42 pm

^^^^

that is great, I love it ...thanks for posting it cptmarginal

erosoplier » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:06 pm wrote:Deserves to be quoted in full:

'He behaved like a madman: My horrifying John Bolton story'
By Melody Townsel

04/18/05 - - Melody Townsel was stationed in Kyrgyzstan on a US AID project. During her stay there, she became embroiled in a controversy in which John Bolton was a key player. She described the incident in a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee members who are reviewing the Bolton nomination. Here's the entire text of her letter:

Dear Sir:

I'm writing to urge you to consider blocking in committee the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.

In the late summer of 1994, I worked as the subcontracted leader of a US AID project in Kyrgyzstan officially awarded to a HUB primary contractor. My own employer was Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, and I reported directly to Republican leader Charlie Black.

After months of incompetence, poor contract performance, inadequate in-country funding, and a general lack of interest or support in our work from the prime contractor, I was forced to make US AID officials aware of the prime contractor's poor performance.

I flew from Kyrgyzstan to Moscow to meet with other Black Manafort employees who were leading or subcontracted to other US AID projects. While there, I met with US AID officials and expressed my concerns about the project - chief among them, the prime contractor's inability to keep enough cash in country to allow us to pay bills, which directly resulted in armed threats by Kyrgyz contractors to me and my staff.

Within hours of sending a letter to US AID officials outlining my concerns, I met John Bolton, whom the prime contractor hired as legal counsel to represent them to US AID. And, so, within hours of dispatching that letter, my hell began.

Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel - throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.

When US AID asked me to return to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in advance of assuming leadership of a project in Kazakstan, I returned to my project to find that John Bolton had proceeded me by two days. Why? To meet with every other AID team leader as well as US foreign-service officials in Bishkek, claiming that I was under investigation for misuse of funds and likely was facing jail time. As US AID can confirm, nothing was further from the truth.

He indicated to key employees of or contractors to State that, based on his discussions with investigatory officials, I was headed for federal prison and, if they refused to cooperate with either him or the prime contractor's replacement team leader, they, too, would find themselves the subjects of federal investigation. As a further aside, he made unconscionable comments about my weight, my wardrobe and, with a couple of team leaders, my sexuality, hinting that I was a lesbian (for the record, I'm not).

When I resurfaced in Kyrgyzstan, I learned that he had done such a convincing job of smearing me that it took me weeks - with the direct intervention of US AID officials - to limit the damage. In fact, it was only US AID's appoinment of me as a project leader in Almaty, Kazakstan that largely put paid to the rumors Mr. Bolton maliciously circulated.

As a maligned whistleblower, I've learned firsthand the lengths Mr. Bolton will go to accomplish any goal he sets for himself. Truth flew out the window. Decency flew out the window. In his bid to smear me and promote the interests of his client, he went straight for the low road and stayed there.

John Bolton put me through hell - and he did everything he could to intimidate, malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn't just unforgivable, it was pathological.

I cannot believe that this is a man being seriously considered for any diplomatic position, let alone such a critical posting to the UN. Others you may call before your committee will be able to speak better to his stated dislike for and objection to stated UN goals. I write you to speak about the very character of the man.

It took me years to get over Mr. Bolton's actions in that Moscow hotel in 1994, his intensely personal attacks and his shocking attempts to malign my character.

I urge you from the bottom of my heart to use your ability to block Mr. Bolton's nomination in committee.

Respectfully yours,
Melody Townsel


http://www.informationclearinghouse.inf ... le8577.htm



seemslikeadream » Wed May 25, 2016 12:16 pm wrote:
Trump’s Top Campaign Advisor Made Millions From Arms Dealers, Warlords, Dictators and Oligarchs
Report: “Manafort was responsible for representing some of the world’s most unsavory clients.”
By Steven Rosenfeld / AlterNet May 25, 2016


Donald Trump’s top presidential campaign advisor is a world-class thug.

Paul Manafort, who Trump brought on in March as his Republican Convention strategist and recently elevated to campaign chairman, has worked for notorious arms dealers, warlords, dictators and international tycoons who have left trails of unrest mayhem and death or looted their country’s treasuries, according to a new report by the American Bridge 21st Century PAC, which is primarily funded by a who’s who of Democratic donors including George Soros.

“In 1981, the Trump Organization had employed Manafort’s lobbying firm Black, Manafort, and Stone – which included Trump accolyte Roger Stone – making it one of the firm’s very first clients,” said the PAC’s research summary. “There and on his own, Manafort was responsible for representing some of the world’s most unsavory clients on behalf of what the press called the ‘Torturers’ Lobby.’

The PAC then gave more than a dozen examples from the past three decades of Manafort’s career as a lobbyist, influence peddler and deal-maker, starting with being an international arms dealer to pocketing millions from eastern block clients who sought to park their assets in the West.

What follows is American Bridge’s research summary:

• Manafort represented Middle Eastern arms dealer Abdul Rahman El-Assir in the 1990s and even used his house as collateral in 2004 to secure a loan from El-Assir. Manafort claimed to French investigators that he received payment for advising the 1995 French presidential campaign of hopeful Édouard Balladur from the bank account of El-Assir. El-Assir was the middleman in the sale of French submarines to Pakistan.

• Manafort also claimed that his translator while advising Balladur was Ziad Takieddine, who was also involved in the arms deal. As of 2013, Takieddine was in prison for trying to procure a false passport. To the knowledge of American Bridge, the nature of Manafort’s translator has not been reported in the American press.

• Manafort’s firm represented Angolan guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi, making over $600,000 in 1985 alone. Savimbi and his UNITA army engaged in a decades-long civil war that terrorized and murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, with UNITA engaging in bodily mutilations, sexual slavery, child kidnapping, and witch burning. Sambivi funded his role in the gruesome civil war with proceeds of smuggled diamonds, aid from apartheid South Africa, and aid from the United States.

• Zaire dictator Mobutu Sese Seko retained Manafort’s firm in 1989 for $1 million annually to help address his PR issues: at the time, he was one of Africa’s most corrupt leaders, he had one of the worst human rights records, and his regime regularly engaged in torture, detainment, and rape.

• Manafort’s firm was hired to lobby on behalf of Nigeria and Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha in 1998. Manafort signed the contract himself and personally handled the account of President Abacha. His role was to present Nigeria as an emerging progressive democracy to American influencers in order to improve bilateral affairs between the countries, but just the year before, the U.S. State Department had outlined how the Abacha regime had engaged in persistent torture and abuse of detainees.

• Manafort’s firm represented the Kenyan government from 1990 to 1993, a period during which it received $38.3 million in U.S. aid. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kenya’s dictatorial president Daniel arap Moi had silenced political opponents who supported a multi-party democracy with sham trials, torture, and indefinite detention. He also forcibly relocated thousands of people from an ethnic minority. The U.S. government briefly froze military aid in response to human rights abuses in 1990, but ultimately restored that aid by 1991, leading a State Department official to admit that “we compromised our human rights policy in Kenya somewhat.”

• Manafort had lobbied on behalf of Saudi Arabia, ultimately receiving what would in 2016 be worth $1.5 million. One of Saudi’s legislative priorities on which Manafort personally lobbied was to keep the U.S. Embassy in Israel from moving to Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Today, Trump has announced his belief that the embassy should in fact be located in Jerusalem.

• Paul Manafort’s lobbying firm had a $900,000 contract on behalf of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos to sell a more democratic image to Americans and ultimately help Philippine elites better influence American foreign policy. Manafort dropped the contract on the advice of the Reagan Administration just two hours before it announced it was pulling its support for the Marcos regime.

• By 1992, Manafort’s firm was making $450,000 per year from now-deposed Somalian dictator Said Barre, whose official ideology of “scientific socialism” was responsible for numerous human rights abuses and had left the country on the edge of mass starvation by the time of his ouster.

• Manafort’s firm represented Argentinian politician Alberto Pierri in 1997. In 1993, a number of journalists were beaten or received threats within days of publishing articles alleging that Pierri had recruited armed groups from gang members to act as “political thugs.” Pierri also called a journalist who wrote an article criticizing his role in drug money laundering in Argentina a “lousy Jew” and a “Jewish flea-bag” in 1994.

• Under Argentinian President Menem, Spain’s Gas Natural Co. was granted one of eight distribution zones when it broke apart the Gas del Estado. Pierri was a close ally of and powerful figure in the Menem government. In 1993, Spanish newspaper El Mundo accused Pierri of trying to extort executives at Gas Natural Co.’s Argentinean branch. An official at Gas Natural confirmed that there had been “some problems” with Pierri.

• In 2006, Manafort’s firm took on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska as a client. Manafort helped arrange meetings between Deripaska and John McCain as McCain started his presidential run in August 2006 despite the fact that the U.S. had revoked Deripaska’s visa in July 2006 amid concerns he was linked to organized crime.

• In 2007, Manafort’s firm set up a private equity partnership with Deripaska in the Cayman Islands, which was supposed to include $19 million of investments. The firm received $7.5 million in management fees for the partnership, but Deripsaka sued the firm in 2008 for failing to invest, return, or even account for the $19 million. While Deripsaka failed to retrieve his investment, he had reported that Manafort and his partners had purchased a stake in Ukrainian cable television and Internet ventures with it.

• In 2008, Manafort tried to develop a 65-story Manhattan luxury apartment building with funding from Dimitry Firtash, Ukrainian energy tycoon with a mixed and troubled international legal history. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko sued Manafort in 2011 for helping Firtash hide his ill-gotten millions in offshore real estate investments.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:08 am

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Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief
By ANDREW E. KRAMER, MIKE McINTIRE and BARRY MEIERAUG. 14, 2016

Paul Manafort, Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, ran a political consulting operation out of a first-floor office on Sofiivska Street in Kiev, Ukraine. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
KIEV, Ukraine — On a leafy side street off Independence Square in Kiev is an office used for years by Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, when he consulted for Ukraine’s ruling political party. His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.

And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

Hand-written ledgers show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from the pro-Russian political party of Viktor F. Yanukovych. Mr. Manafort did not receive “any such cash payments,” his lawyer said. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times
Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.

Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.

“He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” said Vitaliy Kasko, a former senior official with the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”

Mr. Kasko added, “It’s impossible to imagine a person would look at this and think, ‘Everything is all right.’”


Mr. Manafort did not respond to interview requests or written questions from The New York Times. But his lawyer, Richard A. Hibey, said Mr. Manafort had not received “any such cash payments” described by the anti-corruption officials.

Mr. Hibey also disputed Mr. Kasko’s suggestion that Mr. Manafort might have countenanced corruption or been involved with people who took part in illegal activities.

“These are suspicions, and probably heavily politically tinged ones,” said Mr. Hibey, a member of the Washington law firm Miller & Chevalier. “It is difficult to respect any kind of allegation of the sort being made here to smear someone when there is no proof and we deny there ever could be such proof.”

Mysterious Payments

The developments in Ukraine underscore the risky nature of the international consulting that has been a staple of Mr. Manafort’s business since the 1980s, when he went to work for the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Before joining Mr. Trump’s campaign this spring, Mr. Manafort’s most prominent recent client was Mr. Yanukovych, who — like Mr. Marcos — was deposed in a popular uprising.

Photo

Visitors at Mr. Yanukovych’s estate in Kiev, which was abandoned in 2014. Credit Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images
Before he fled to Russia two years ago, Mr. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions relied heavily on the advice of Mr. Manafort and his firm, who helped them win several elections. During that period, Mr. Manafort never registered as a foreign agent with the United States Justice Department — as required of those seeking to influence American policy on behalf of foreign clients — although one of his subcontractors did.

It is unclear if Mr. Manafort’s activities necessitated registering. If they were limited to advising the Party of Regions in Ukraine, he probably would not have had to. But he also worked to burnish his client’s image in the West and helped Mr. Yanukovych’s administration draft a report defending its prosecution of his chief rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, in 2012.

Whatever the case, absent a registration — which requires disclosure of how much the registrant is being paid and by whom — Mr. Manafort’s compensation has remained a mystery. However, a cache of documents discovered after the fall of Mr. Yanukovych’s government may provide some answers.

The papers, known in Ukraine as the “black ledger,” are a chicken-scratch of Cyrillic covering about 400 pages taken from books once kept in a third-floor room in the former Party of Regions headquarters on Lipskaya Street in Kiev. The room held two safes stuffed with $100 bills, said Taras V. Chornovil, a former party leader who was also a recipient of the money at times. He said in an interview that he had once received $10,000 in a “wad of cash” for a trip to Europe.

Photo

A page from the “black ledger,” released by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. This page does not include Mr. Manafort’s name.
“This was our cash,” he said, adding that he had left the party in part over concerns about off-the-books activity. “They had it on the table, stacks of money, and they had lists of who to pay.”

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which obtained the ledger, said in a statement that Mr. Manafort’s name appeared 22 times in the documents over five years, with payments totaling $12.7 million. The purpose of the payments is not clear. Nor is the outcome, since the handwritten entries cannot be cross-referenced against banking records, and the signatures for receipt have not yet been verified.

“Paul Manafort is among those names on the list of so-called ‘black accounts of the Party of Regions,’ which the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine are investigating,” the statement said. “We emphasize that the presence of P. Manafort’s name in the list does not mean that he actually got the money, because the signatures that appear in the column of recipients could belong to other people.”

The accounting records surfaced this year, when Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who said he had received a partial copy from a source he did not identify, published line items covering six months of outlays in 2012 totaling $66 million. In an interview, Mr. Leshchenko said another source had provided the entire multiyear ledger to Viktor M. Trepak, a former deputy director of the domestic intelligence agency of Ukraine, the S.B.U., who passed it to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Photo

Anti-corruption groups in Ukraine said the black ledger detailing payments was probably seized when protesters ransacked the Party of Regions headquarters in February 2014. Credit Oleg Petrasyuk/European Pressphoto Agency
The bureau, whose government funding is mandated under American and European Union aid programs and which has an evidence-sharing agreement with the F.B.I., has investigatory powers but cannot indict suspects. Only if it passes its findings to prosecutors — which has not happened with Mr. Manafort — does a subject of its inquiry become part of a criminal case.

Individual disbursements reflected in the ledgers ranged from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. Of the records released from 2012, one shows a payment of $67,000 for a watch and another of $8.4 million to the owner of an advertising agency for campaign work for the party before elections that year.

“It’s a very vivid example of how political parties are financed in Ukraine,” said Daria N. Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev. “It represents the very dirty cash economy in Ukraine.”

Offshore Companies

While working in Ukraine, Mr. Manafort had also positioned himself to profit from business deals that benefited from connections he had gained through his political consulting. One of them, according to court filings, involved a network of offshore companies that government investigators and independent journalists in Ukraine have said was used to launder public money and assets purportedly stolen by cronies of the government.

Photo

A helicopter pad on a building in central Kiev was built when Mr. Yanukovych was president. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
The network comprised shell companies whose ultimate owners were shielded by the secrecy laws of the offshore jurisdictions where they were registered, including the British Virgin Islands, Belize and the Seychelles.

In a recent interview, Serhiy V. Gorbatyuk, Ukraine’s special prosecutor for high-level corruption cases, pointed to an open file on his desk containing paperwork for one of the shell companies, Milltown Corporate Services Ltd., which played a central role in the state’s purchase of two oil derricks for $785 million, or about double what they were said to be worth.

“This,” he said, “was an offshore used often by Mr. Yanukovych’s entourage.”

The role of the offshore companies in business dealings involving Mr. Manafort came to light because of court filings in the Cayman Islands and in a federal court in Virginia related to an investment fund, Pericles Emerging Markets. Mr. Manafort and several partners started the fund in 2007, and its major backer was Mr. Deripaska, the Russian mogul, to whom the State Department has refused to issue a visa, apparently because of allegations linking him to Russian organized crime, a charge he has denied.

Mr. Deripaska agreed to commit as much as $100 million to Pericles so it could buy assets in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, including a regional cable television and communications company called Black Sea Cable. But corporate records and court filings show that it was hardly a straightforward transaction.

Photo

Vladimir V. Putin, left, then Russia’s prime minister, in 2008 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally. Credit Pool photo by Ilia Pitalev
The Black Sea Cable assets were controlled by a rotating cast of offshore companies that led back to the Yanukovych network, including, at various times, Milltown Corporate Services and two other companies well known to law enforcement officials, Monohold A.G. and Intrahold A.G. Those two companies won inflated contracts with a state-run agricultural company, and also acquired a business center in Kiev with a helicopter pad on the roof that would ease Mr. Yanukovych’s commute from his country estate to the presidential offices.

A Disputed Investment

Mr. Deripaska would later say he invested $18.9 million in Pericles in 2008 to complete the acquisition of Black Sea Cable. But the planned purchase — including the question of who ended up with the Black Sea assets — has since become the subject of a dispute between Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Manafort.

In 2014, Mr. Deripaska filed a legal action in a Cayman Islands court seeking to recover his investment in Pericles, which is now defunct. He also said he had paid about $7.3 million in management fees to the fund over two years. Mr. Deripaska did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyer, Mr. Hibey, disputed the account of the Black Sea Cable deal contained in Mr. Deripaska’s Cayman filings, and said the Russian oligarch had overseen details of the final transaction involving the acquisition. He denied that Mr. Manafort had received management fees from Pericles during its operation, but said that one of Mr. Manafort’s partners, Rick Gates, who is also working on the Trump campaign, had received a “nominal” sum.

Court papers indicate that Pericles’ only deal involved Black Sea Cable.

Mr. Manafort continued working in Ukraine after the demise of Mr. Yanukovych’s government, helping allies of the ousted president and others form a political bloc that opposed the new pro-Western administration. Some of his aides were in Ukraine as recently as this year, and Ukrainian company records give no indication that Mr. Manafort has formally dissolved the local branch of his company, Davis Manafort International, directed by a longtime assistant, Konstantin V. Kilimnik.

At Mr. Manafort’s old office on Sofiivska Street, new tenants said they had discovered several curiosities apparently left behind, including a knee X-ray signed by Mr. Yanukovych, possibly referring to tennis matches played between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Yanukovych, who had spoken publicly of a knee ailment affecting his game.

There was another item with Mr. Yanukovych’s autograph: a piece of white paper bearing a rough sketch of Independence Square, the site of the 2014 uprising that drove him from power.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/us/p ... .html?_r=0


Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief
By ANDREW E. KRAMER, MIKE McINTIRE and BARRY MEIERAUG. 14, 2016

Paul Manafort, Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, ran a political consulting operation out of a first-floor office on Sofiivska Street in Kiev, Ukraine. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
KIEV, Ukraine — On a leafy side street off Independence Square in Kiev is an office used for years by Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, when he consulted for Ukraine’s ruling political party. His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.

And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

Photo

Hand-written ledgers show $12.7 million in cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from the pro-Russian political party of Viktor F. Yanukovych. Mr. Manafort did not receive “any such cash payments,” his lawyer said. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times
Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.

Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.

“He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” said Vitaliy Kasko, a former senior official with the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”

Mr. Kasko added, “It’s impossible to imagine a person would look at this and think, ‘Everything is all right.’”

The chief of Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Artem Sytnyk, spoke on Monday after Paul Manafort’s name appeared on a list showing cash payments of more than $12 million. By REUTERS on Publish Date
Mr. Manafort did not respond to interview requests or written questions from The New York Times. But his lawyer, Richard A. Hibey, said Mr. Manafort had not received “any such cash payments” described by the anti-corruption officials.

Mr. Hibey also disputed Mr. Kasko’s suggestion that Mr. Manafort might have countenanced corruption or been involved with people who took part in illegal activities.

“These are suspicions, and probably heavily politically tinged ones,” said Mr. Hibey, a member of the Washington law firm Miller & Chevalier. “It is difficult to respect any kind of allegation of the sort being made here to smear someone when there is no proof and we deny there ever could be such proof.”

Mysterious Payments

The developments in Ukraine underscore the risky nature of the international consulting that has been a staple of Mr. Manafort’s business since the 1980s, when he went to work for the Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Before joining Mr. Trump’s campaign this spring, Mr. Manafort’s most prominent recent client was Mr. Yanukovych, who — like Mr. Marcos — was deposed in a popular uprising.

Photo

Visitors at Mr. Yanukovych’s estate in Kiev, which was abandoned in 2014. Credit Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images
Before he fled to Russia two years ago, Mr. Yanukovych and his Party of Regions relied heavily on the advice of Mr. Manafort and his firm, who helped them win several elections. During that period, Mr. Manafort never registered as a foreign agent with the United States Justice Department — as required of those seeking to influence American policy on behalf of foreign clients — although one of his subcontractors did.

It is unclear if Mr. Manafort’s activities necessitated registering. If they were limited to advising the Party of Regions in Ukraine, he probably would not have had to. But he also worked to burnish his client’s image in the West and helped Mr. Yanukovych’s administration draft a report defending its prosecution of his chief rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, in 2012.

Whatever the case, absent a registration — which requires disclosure of how much the registrant is being paid and by whom — Mr. Manafort’s compensation has remained a mystery. However, a cache of documents discovered after the fall of Mr. Yanukovych’s government may provide some answers.

The papers, known in Ukraine as the “black ledger,” are a chicken-scratch of Cyrillic covering about 400 pages taken from books once kept in a third-floor room in the former Party of Regions headquarters on Lipskaya Street in Kiev. The room held two safes stuffed with $100 bills, said Taras V. Chornovil, a former party leader who was also a recipient of the money at times. He said in an interview that he had once received $10,000 in a “wad of cash” for a trip to Europe.

Photo

A page from the “black ledger,” released by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. This page does not include Mr. Manafort’s name.
“This was our cash,” he said, adding that he had left the party in part over concerns about off-the-books activity. “They had it on the table, stacks of money, and they had lists of who to pay.”

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which obtained the ledger, said in a statement that Mr. Manafort’s name appeared 22 times in the documents over five years, with payments totaling $12.7 million. The purpose of the payments is not clear. Nor is the outcome, since the handwritten entries cannot be cross-referenced against banking records, and the signatures for receipt have not yet been verified.

“Paul Manafort is among those names on the list of so-called ‘black accounts of the Party of Regions,’ which the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine are investigating,” the statement said. “We emphasize that the presence of P. Manafort’s name in the list does not mean that he actually got the money, because the signatures that appear in the column of recipients could belong to other people.”

The accounting records surfaced this year, when Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who said he had received a partial copy from a source he did not identify, published line items covering six months of outlays in 2012 totaling $66 million. In an interview, Mr. Leshchenko said another source had provided the entire multiyear ledger to Viktor M. Trepak, a former deputy director of the domestic intelligence agency of Ukraine, the S.B.U., who passed it to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Photo

Anti-corruption groups in Ukraine said the black ledger detailing payments was probably seized when protesters ransacked the Party of Regions headquarters in February 2014. Credit Oleg Petrasyuk/European Pressphoto Agency
The bureau, whose government funding is mandated under American and European Union aid programs and which has an evidence-sharing agreement with the F.B.I., has investigatory powers but cannot indict suspects. Only if it passes its findings to prosecutors — which has not happened with Mr. Manafort — does a subject of its inquiry become part of a criminal case.

Individual disbursements reflected in the ledgers ranged from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars. Of the records released from 2012, one shows a payment of $67,000 for a watch and another of $8.4 million to the owner of an advertising agency for campaign work for the party before elections that year.

“It’s a very vivid example of how political parties are financed in Ukraine,” said Daria N. Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kiev. “It represents the very dirty cash economy in Ukraine.”

Offshore Companies

While working in Ukraine, Mr. Manafort had also positioned himself to profit from business deals that benefited from connections he had gained through his political consulting. One of them, according to court filings, involved a network of offshore companies that government investigators and independent journalists in Ukraine have said was used to launder public money and assets purportedly stolen by cronies of the government.

Photo

A helicopter pad on a building in central Kiev was built when Mr. Yanukovych was president. Credit Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
The network comprised shell companies whose ultimate owners were shielded by the secrecy laws of the offshore jurisdictions where they were registered, including the British Virgin Islands, Belize and the Seychelles.

In a recent interview, Serhiy V. Gorbatyuk, Ukraine’s special prosecutor for high-level corruption cases, pointed to an open file on his desk containing paperwork for one of the shell companies, Milltown Corporate Services Ltd., which played a central role in the state’s purchase of two oil derricks for $785 million, or about double what they were said to be worth.

“This,” he said, “was an offshore used often by Mr. Yanukovych’s entourage.”

The role of the offshore companies in business dealings involving Mr. Manafort came to light because of court filings in the Cayman Islands and in a federal court in Virginia related to an investment fund, Pericles Emerging Markets. Mr. Manafort and several partners started the fund in 2007, and its major backer was Mr. Deripaska, the Russian mogul, to whom the State Department has refused to issue a visa, apparently because of allegations linking him to Russian organized crime, a charge he has denied.

Mr. Deripaska agreed to commit as much as $100 million to Pericles so it could buy assets in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, including a regional cable television and communications company called Black Sea Cable. But corporate records and court filings show that it was hardly a straightforward transaction.

Photo

Vladimir V. Putin, left, then Russia’s prime minister, in 2008 with the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally. Credit Pool photo by Ilia Pitalev
The Black Sea Cable assets were controlled by a rotating cast of offshore companies that led back to the Yanukovych network, including, at various times, Milltown Corporate Services and two other companies well known to law enforcement officials, Monohold A.G. and Intrahold A.G. Those two companies won inflated contracts with a state-run agricultural company, and also acquired a business center in Kiev with a helicopter pad on the roof that would ease Mr. Yanukovych’s commute from his country estate to the presidential offices.

A Disputed Investment

Mr. Deripaska would later say he invested $18.9 million in Pericles in 2008 to complete the acquisition of Black Sea Cable. But the planned purchase — including the question of who ended up with the Black Sea assets — has since become the subject of a dispute between Mr. Deripaska and Mr. Manafort.

In 2014, Mr. Deripaska filed a legal action in a Cayman Islands court seeking to recover his investment in Pericles, which is now defunct. He also said he had paid about $7.3 million in management fees to the fund over two years. Mr. Deripaska did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyer, Mr. Hibey, disputed the account of the Black Sea Cable deal contained in Mr. Deripaska’s Cayman filings, and said the Russian oligarch had overseen details of the final transaction involving the acquisition. He denied that Mr. Manafort had received management fees from Pericles during its operation, but said that one of Mr. Manafort’s partners, Rick Gates, who is also working on the Trump campaign, had received a “nominal” sum.

Court papers indicate that Pericles’ only deal involved Black Sea Cable.

Mr. Manafort continued working in Ukraine after the demise of Mr. Yanukovych’s government, helping allies of the ousted president and others form a political bloc that opposed the new pro-Western administration. Some of his aides were in Ukraine as recently as this year, and Ukrainian company records give no indication that Mr. Manafort has formally dissolved the local branch of his company, Davis Manafort International, directed by a longtime assistant, Konstantin V. Kilimnik.

At Mr. Manafort’s old office on Sofiivska Street, new tenants said they had discovered several curiosities apparently left behind, including a knee X-ray signed by Mr. Yanukovych, possibly referring to tennis matches played between Mr. Manafort and Mr. Yanukovych, who had spoken publicly of a knee ailment affecting his game.

There was another item with Mr. Yanukovych’s autograph: a piece of white paper bearing a rough sketch of Independence Square, the site of the 2014 uprising that drove him from power.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/us/p ... .html?_r=0


The World’s Most Powerful Mobster That You Probably Never Heard Of
BY PALASH GHOSH @GOOCH700 ON 12/30/12 AT 10:54 AM

Imagine a mobster that comprised the cunning of Lucky Luciano, the brilliance of Meyer Lansky, the ferocity of Vito Genovese, the duplicity of Carmine Galante and the massive wealth of Pablo Escobar. Such a person is not the fantasy creation of some novelist or screenwriter, but rather a real-life flesh-and-blood monster that lives among us.

Semion Mogilevich looks nothing like Marlon Brando nor Al Pacino. The short, bald, pockmarked, grossly obese, 66-year-old Ukrainian is believed by international law enforcement agencies to be one of the most powerful criminals on earth.

The Moscow resident reportedly holds Russian, Ukrainian, Greek and Israeli passports.

Among a litany of crimes, Mogilevich allegedly defrauded thousands of investors in the US and Canada in the 1990s, netting him at least $150 million. He also served as the chief of Inkombank, a Russian financial institution, which was accused of money laundering.

Indicted in 2003, Mogilevich is currently one of the FBI’s ten most wanted fugitives, wanted for wire fraud, RICO conspiracy, mail fraud, money laundering, securities fraud, among other offenses.

With a $100,000 bounty on his head, Mogilevich is also suspected of involvement in murder-for-hire, arms dealing and drug trafficking. The FBI noted that he holds a degree in economics (quite unlike most mobsters) and smokes heavily (quite common for Russians and Ukrainians).

He was arrested in Moscow in 2008 for tax evasion, but released the following year. Russia subsequently rejected a request by U.S. authorities to extradite Mogilevich to answer charges related to the aforementioned massive stock swindle.

A website called Gangstersinc. reported that Semion Mogilevich’s criminal career began slowly and with little initial success. As a young man in the early 1970s, he belonged to the Lyubertskaya group, a band of small-time crooks in Moscow. He apparently served two separate jail terms during this period for a plethora of petty crimes.

His fortunes improved dramatically during the 1980s when the Russian government allowed thousands of Jews to depart for Israel, Europe and the U.S. Seeing a grand business opportunity, Mogilevich defrauded his fellow Jews by buying their possessions at discount prices (exploiting their eagerness to leave) and promising to sell them on the market and send the profits fron such nonexistent sales overseas at a later date. Mogilevich scored millions of dollars on this scheme and used these funds to invest in the highly lucrative areas of weapons and drugs smuggling, prostitution and gambling.

In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union empire in the early 1990s, scores of organized crime gangs took advantage of the chaos, but Mogilevich fled to Israel.

However, he did not relinquish his criminal activities. Indeed, Mogilevich made contacts with other mobsters while still running various illegal enterprises and investing his ill-gotten cash in myriad businesses. After marrying his Hungarian girlfriend Katalin Papp, Mogilevich relocated to Budapest, where he formed a criminal empire based on the structural model of the Sicilian Mafia.

Eventually, the tentacles of Mogilevich's criminal empire expanded across Europe, into North and South America and even Pakistan and Japan.

Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (now in jail herself) accused Mogilevich of illegally profiting from the Russia-Ukraine gas deals.

"He has access to so much, including funding, including other criminal organizations, that he can, with a telephone call and order, affect the global economy," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Peter Kowenhoven told CNN.

FBI Special Agent Mike Dixon declared: "[Mogilevich]'s a big man. He's a very powerful man. I think more powerful than a John Gotti would be, because he has the ability to influence nations. Gotti never reached that stature."

The FBI has labeled Mogilevich as the “most dangerous mobster in the world.”

Like virtually all powerful organized criminals, Mogilevich is closely linked with top politicians. According to reports, he has been allied with Yury Luzhkov, a former Mayor of Moscow, Dmytro Firtash and Leonid Derkach, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, and Oleksandr Turchynov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine.

"Semion Mogilevich is as serious an organized criminal as I have ever encountered and I am confident that he is responsible for contract killings,” said Jon Winer, a former anti-crime official with the Clinton Administration, in 2006.

At least one analyst has linked Semion Mogilevich to the most powerful man in Russia, Vladimir Putin.

Roman Kupchinsky wrote in the Eurasia Daily Monitor that Leonid Derkach, the former chief of the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, characterized Mogilevich as a close friend of Putin while conversing with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.

"[Mogilevich]'s on good terms with Putin,” Derkach allegedly said. “He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad… They have their own affairs."

Mogilevich remains a free man.
http://www.ibtimes.com/worlds-most-powe ... ard-980488

The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World
TUESDAY, MAY 26, 1998 AT 4 A.M. BY ROBERT I. FRIEDMAN
In two posh villas outside the small town of Ricany, near Prague, one of the most dreaded mob families in the world savagely murders its terrified victims. The mob's young enforcers, trained by veterans of the Afghanistan war, are infamous for their extreme brutality. Their quarry, usually businessmen who have balked at extortion demands, are repeatedly stabbed and tortured, then mutilated before they are butchered. The carnage is so hideous that it has scared the daylights out of competing crime groups in the area.

The torture chambers are run by what international police officials call the Red Mafia, a notorious Russian mob family that in only six years has become a nefarious global crime cartel. Based in Budapest, it has key centers in New York, Pennsylvania, Southern California, and as far away as New Zealand.

The enigmatic leader of the Red Mafia is a 52-year-old Ukrainian-born Jew named Semion Mogilevich. He is a shadowy figure known as the ''Brainy Don''--he holds an economics degree from the University of Lvov--and until now, he has never been exposed by the media. But the Voice has obtained hundreds of pages of classified FBI and Israeli intelligence documents from August 1996, and these documents--as well as recent interviews with a key criminal associate and with dozens of law enforcement sources here and abroad--describe him as someone who has become a grave threat to the stability of Israel and Eastern Europe.

''He's the most powerful mobster in the world,'' crows Monya Elson, who is listed in classified documents as one of Mogilevich's closest associates and partners in prostitution and money laundering rings. The Brighton Beach­based Elson, who once led a pack of thugs and killers known as Monya's Brigada, is currently in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan awaiting trial for three murders and numerous extortions.

Sun., Feb. 26, 5:00pm
In July 1993, after Elson was grievously wounded by rival mobsters in a bloody shoot-out outside his Brooklyn apartment building, Mogilevich spirited him out of the country. Mogilevich then set up his Russian Jewish refugee friend in an alleged massive money-laundering scheme in Fano, Italy, where he was eventually arrested and extradited back to America. Elson, an integral part of the Red Mafia, had been one of the most feared mobsters in Brighton Beach, ground zero for Russian organized crime in America, which has exploded here following perestroika.

''If I tell on Mogilevich, Interpol will give me $20 million,'' boasted Elson. ''I lived with him. I'm his partner, don't forget. We are very, very close friends. I don't mean close, I mean very, very close. He's my best friend.'' Nevertheless, after extensive interviews over the course of the last six months, Elson ultimately confirmed some of the details about Mogilevich contained in the classified FBI and Israeli documents.

Allegations of Mogilevich's devilish array of criminal activities are extensively detailed in the reports:The FBI and Israeli intelligence assert that he traffics in nuclear materials, drugs, prostitutes, precious gems, and stolen art. His contract hit squads operate in the U.S. and Europe. He controls everything that goes in and out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, a ''smugglers' paradise,'' says Elson. Mogilevich bought a bankrupt airline in a former Central Asian Soviet republic for millions of dollars in cash so he could haul heroin out of the Golden Triangle. Most worrisome to U.S. authorities is Mogilevich's apparently legal purchase of virtually the entire Hungarian armaments industry, jeopardizing regional security, NATO, and the war against terrorism.

In one typical criminal deal, Mogilevich and two Moscow-based gangsters sold $20 million worth of pilfered Warsaw Pact weapons from East Germany, including ground-to-air missiles and 12 armored troop carriers, according to the classified Israeli and FBI documents. The buyer was Iran, says a top-level U.S. Customs official who requested anonymity.

In another deal, an FBI informant told the bureau that one of Mogilevich's chief lieutenants in Los Angeles met two Russians from New York City with Genovese crime family ties to broker a scheme to dump American toxic waste in Russia. Mogilevich's man from L.A. said the Red Mafia would dispose of the toxic waste in the Chernobyl region, ''probably through payoffs to the decontamination authorities there,'' says a classified FBI report.

Mogilevich is particularly intrigued by art fraud. In early 1993, he reached an agreement with the leaders of the powerful Solntsevskaya crime family in Moscow to invest huge sums of money in a joint venture: acquiring a jewelry business in Moscow and Budapest. The business, according to classified FBI documents, was to serve as a front for the acquisition of jewelry, antiques, and art, which the Solntsevskaya mob had stolen from churches and museums in Russia, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. The gangsters also robbed the homes of art collectors and even broke into synagogues in Germany and Eastern Europe to steal rare religious books and Torahs.

Mogilevich's operation, again in collusion with the Solntsevskaya mob, also purchased a large jewelry factory in Budapest. Russian antiques, such as Faberge eggs, are sent to Budapest for ''restoration.'' Mogilevich's men ship the genuine Faberge eggs to an unwitting Sotheby's auction house in London for sale, then send fake Faberge eggs as well as other ''restored'' objects back to Moscow.

Mogilevich's early years are murky. Soviet authorities first learned of his criminal activities in the 1970s, when he was a member of the Liubertskaya crime group that operated in the Moscow suburb of the same name. He was involved in petty thefts and counterfeiting.

But Mogilevich made his first millions fleecing fellow Jews. In the mid 1980s, when tens of thousands of Jewish refugees were hurriedly immigrating to Israel and America, Mogilevich made deals to buy their assets--rubles, furniture, and art--cheaply, promising to exchange the goods for fair market value and send refugees the proceeds in ''hard'' currency. Instead, he sold their valuables and pocketed the considerable profits.

In the 1980s, he established a petroleum import-export company, Arbat International, and registered it in Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, which is known to be a tax haven. One of his partners--with a quarter share of the company--was Vyacheslav Ivankov, the legendary Russian criminal who in March 1992 became Godfather of the Russian mob in America. Ivankov was convicted in 1996 of extorting two Russian-born Wall Street stockbrokers. He now resides in Raybrook, a Federal prison in upstate New York.

In early 1990, Mogilevich fled Moscow, as did many other dons, to avoid the gangland wars that were then roiling the capital. Mogilevich and his top henchmen settled in Israel, where they received Israeli citizenship. He ''succeeded in building a bridgehead in Israel'' and ''developing significant and influential [political] ties,'' says an Israeli intelligence report.

Mogilevich is married to a Hungarian national, Katalin Papp. That marriage allowed him to legally emigrate to Budapest, Hungary, in 1991, where he began to build the foundations of his global criminal empire. He bought a string of nightclubs in Prague, Riga, and Kiev--called the ''Black and White Clubs''--that has become one of the world's foremost centers of prostitution. Monya Elson is a partner in the clubs, according to his own admission and classified FBI documents. The Black and White Club in Budapest became the hub of Mogilevich's operations. He quickly built a highly structured criminal organization, in the mode of a traditional American mafia family. Indeed, many of the organization's 250 members are his relatives.

To the consternation of international law enforcement officials, Mogilevich began to legally purchase much of Hungary's arms industry. The legitimate companies he bought include:

Magnex 2000: a giant magnet manufacturer.
Digep General Machine Works: an artillery shell, mortar, and fire equipment manufacturer, which was financed by a $3.8 million loan from the London branch of Banque Francaise De L'orean.
Army Co-op: a mortar and anti-aircraft gun factory. Army Co-op was established in 1991 by two Hungarian nationals, both in the local arms industry, who were looking for a partner. Mogilevich has bought 95 per cent of Army Co-op through another Channel Island holding company, Arigon, Ltd., and also deals extensively with the Ukraine, selling oil products to the Ukrainian railway administration.
These transactions enabled the Mogilevich organization to become a direct owner of the Hungarian armaments industry. In 1994, he purchased a license enabling him to buy and sell weapons. Now a legitimate armaments manufacturer, one of his companies participated in at least one arms exhibition in the U.S., where it displayed mortars modified by Israel.

Like mob bosses everywhere, Mogilevich couldn't sustain his empire without the help of corrupt police and politicians. There is one documented example of a criminal associate of Mogilevich mingling with American politicians. In March 1994, Vahtang Ubiriya, one of Mogilevich's top lieutenants, was photographed by the FBI at a tony Republican Party fundraiser in Dallas, says an FBI report. Ubiriya, a high-ranking official in the Ukrainian railway administration, has a prior conviction for bribery in the Ukraine.

In Europe and Russia, the ''corruption of police and public officials has been part of the Semion Mogilevich Organization's modus operandi,'' says a classified FBI document. ''The corruptive influence of the Mogilevich organization apparently extends to the Russian security system. During 1995, two colonels from Department of the Russian Presidential Security Service . . . traveled to Hungary under commercial cover to meet with Mogilevich . . . seeking information for use in the Russian political campaign.'' An Israeli associate of Mogilevich met with the two colonels and provided intelligence. Mogilevich also paid off a Russian judge to secure Vyacheslav Ivankov's early release from a Siberian prison, where he was doing hard time for robbery and torture, according to U.S. court records and classified FBI documents.

On April 28, the German national television network ZDF reported that the BND (the German intelligence agency) had entered into a secret contract with Mogilevich to provide information on the Russian mob. The charges were made by several sources, including Pierre Delilez, a highly regarded Belgium police investigator who specializes in Russian Organized Crime. Because of this deal with the BND, police in Belgium, Germany, and Austria have complained that it is now impossible to investigate the ''Brainy Don.'' If the television report is accurate, one possible motive for BND's deal, says a U.S. law enforcement expert on the Russian mob, is that the Germans recently ''pulled their people out of Moscow because they didn't like the level of cooperation they were getting from the Russian authorities on the Russian mob.'' Gangsters, said this source, often talk to intelligence agencies about their rivals.

Mogilevich's main activity in the U.S. appears to be money laundering, says a classified FBI report. He has set up companies in Los Angeles--FNJ Trade Management--and Newton, Pennsylvania--YBM Magnex International--as well as dozens of shell companies, which have received more than $30 million from Arigon, Ltd., the center of Mogilevich's financial operations.

Last Friday, U.S. Attorney Robert Courtney, head of the organized-crime strike force, led a a joint FBI, IRS, INS, and Customs raid of YBM's offices in Newton. Cartons of documents were seized, with Canadian and U.S. police citing the company's alleged ties to Russian organized crime. YBM is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and two days before Friday's raid, trading in its stock was suspended by Canadian authorities.

The president and CEO of YBM is Jacob Bogatin, a professor of physical metallurgy. In May 1996, he contacted the FBI in Philadelphia to find out why the INS had denied visas to YBM employees arriving from Hungary and the Ukraine. When he was rebuffed, he had intermediaries step forward and pester the FBI. The State Department has banned Mogilevich himself from obtaining a U.S. visa because he's on the department's watch list of international organized-crime figures. Nevertheless, he has surreptitiously entered America under aliases and on visitor visas issued in Tel Aviv to visit Elson and Ivankov.

Bogatin admitted during a telephone interview that Mogilevich owns his company. When asked if he knew that numerous law enforcement agencies here and abroad considered Mogilevich to be a leader of one of the most ruthless organized-crime families in recent times, Bogatin replied, ''We have an investors relations guy. You want to talk with him about this stuff.'' He added that he had read allegations in the Eastern European press that his boss was a Mafia don, but didn't believe them. YBM vehemently denies that it is connected to Russian organized crime or has engaged in any criminal activities.

Bogatin is no stranger to the mob, however. His brother, David, a top Russian crime figure who once served in North Vietnam for the Soviets in an anti-aircraft unit, is now serving an eight-year term in a New York State prison for a multimillion-dollar gasoline tax fraud scheme. Just prior to trial, he had jumped bail, fleeing to Poland. There he set up the first commercial banks, which moved vast sums of money controlled by Russian wiseguys. (This after handing over his mortgages for five pricey Trump Tower apartments to a Genovese associate. The mortgages were liquidated and the funds were moved through a mafia-controlled bank in Chelsea.) Eventually he was caught and returned to the U.S. In the meantime, he lived like royalty in a five-star Viennese hotel, surrounded by a praetorian guard of 125 Polish parachutists, some of them bedecked in shiny gold uniforms.

Mogilevich has not refrained from associating with known killers in America, prime among them Elson and Ivankov. A confidential informant told the FBI that Vladimir Berkovich, an L.A. resident, is a chief lieutenant in Mogilevich's organization and has arranged contract killings here, supplying the weapons and spiriting the killers out of the country. The visas, says the report, were obtained through the Palm Terrace restaurant, a watering hole for Russian gangsters, which Berkovich owns. Berkovich told the Voice that he is aware of the government's charges, and that they are ''total bullshit.'' Although he has no criminal record in the U.S., Berkovich's son, Oleg, was convicted in Los Angeles of solicitation to commit murder on October 11, 1989. He was sentenced to four years. Oleg's business card identified his employer as Magnex, Ltd., a company owned by Mogilevich in Budapest. Oleg was recently arrested in Hungary on unspecified charges but was released.

Oleg's uncle, the colorful Lazar Berkovich, whose last known address was New York City, arrived in the Big Apple after having survived a shootout with Italian gangsters, says his brother Vladimir. The FBI report claims that Lazar was head of Russian criminal activities in Italy prior to his coming to America to recuperate from his wounds, though Vladimir Bercovich denies that Lazar was ever connected to the Russian mob.

Israeli and U.S. law enforcement sources agree that the Red Mafia, though in existence for a mere six years, has become one of the most formidable Russian organized-crime families in the world. Strongest in the Ukraine, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the U.S., Mogilevich has increased his strength by forging ties with other powerful Russian mob groups as well as with the Italian Camorra. His reported ties to the German BND and ex­police officers in Hungary keep him informed of police efforts to penetrate his organization. ''He also ingratiates himself with the police by providing information on other [Russian crime] groups' activities, thus appearing to be a cooperative good citizen,'' says a classfied FBI report. This, along with his strong leadership qualities, his acute financial skills, his talented and highly educated associates, and his use of cutting-edge technology, has so far made the ''Brainy Don'' impervious to prosecution.



In 2008, Firtash and Manafort were reported to have had plans together to invest $900 million into revamping New York City’s Drake Hotel that never came to fruition. It has been alleged that the entire deal was conceived as a way for Dmitry Firtash to “park his ill-gotten billions that he had siphoned out of Ukraine.”


Austria grants US request to extradite Ukrainian mogul Dmytro Firtash
Vienna court overturns previous decision to reject extradition on grounds it was politically motivated

Reuters and Associated Press in Vienna

Tuesday 21 February 2017 08.55 EST First published on Tuesday 21 February 2017 08.44 EST
An Austrian court has granted a US request to extradite Ukrainian mogul Dmytro Firtash over bribery allegations.

On Tuesday, the court in Vienna overturned a previous Austrian court decision to reject the extradition request on the grounds that it was politically motivated.

“The [appeal against the previous decision] has been granted,” the judge told the court, which was packed with journalists and Firtash’s family. “This does not mean that somebody is being pre-judged as guilty, but rather that it will be decided in another country whether they are guilty or innocent.”

Firtash is a former supporter of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow Ukrainian president who was ousted in 2014. The mogul, who made a fortune selling Russian gas to the Ukrainian government, denies the US allegations.

He was indicted in Chicago by a US grand jury in 2012 for allegedly paying millions of dollars in bribes to Indian officials through US banks in a failed attempt to secure titanium mining rights in India.

Arrested a year later in Vienna, Firtash posted bail of €125m (more than £106m) shortly afterwards, leaving him free but unable to leave Austria.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/ ... ro-firtash


Will Trump Rescue the Oligarch in the Gilded Cage?
Dmitry Firtash’s extradition case will test the administration’s intentions toward Russia. Flynn’s ouster just complicated it.
by Robert Kolker
February 15, 2017, 11:01 PM CST
Image

The oligarch is hungry. So Dmitry Firtash crams into a small elevator with his entourage. Slowly, they rise to the private rooftop level of Do & Co, a modernist hotel in the otherwise Old World tourist heart of Vienna. The doors open into a tiny, glass-walled private dining room that seems like a long catwalk suspended in air, affording the oligarch a 360-degree view of the European capital he’s called home the past three years. Downstairs, he’s left behind his two bodyguards, who will spend the evening glowering at anyone entering or leaving the elevator. Up here, he’s exposed yet insulated—a billionaire in a gilded cage.

The waiters bring sushi and crispy shrimp, followed by bouillabaisse, fish, and steak. Firtash says no to a lot of it, including wine. Seated at the table, he pinches his belly self-consciously. A firefighter in his younger days, he says he still trains in martial arts six days a week. He’s 51, pale, burly, and broad-shouldered, with a shock of salt-and-pepper hair and a fighter’s crooked nose. Sipping water, he works to refute, or at least neutralize, the various stories that have been told about him. “I have never been to the U.S.,” he says in Russian, an interpreter by his side. “I don’t understand clearly the priorities of people there, what drives them. I’m sure that what they think about me is negative, because there was a special machine of propaganda organized against me.”


Outside of a John le Carré novel, there may be no more perfectly embroiled middleman than Firtash. Russia and the former Soviet republics have more than a few embattled oligarchs, but only one stands accused of being the missing link between Vladimir Putin and the Trump administration. Last summer, in the thick of the U.S. presidential campaign, a host of news reports noted that Firtash, a Ukrainian natural gas magnate, was the onetime business partner of Donald Trump adviser Paul Manafort, the Washington political operative who’d worked in Ukraine for Viktor Yanukovych, the country’s Russia-friendly kleptocratic president. (Yanukovych, for his part, appeared in the explosive, unverified opposition research dossier on Trump that went public just before the inauguration: He was the Ukrainian politician who was said to have assured Putin that no one would ever trace alleged cash payments to Manafort back to the Russian president.)

But the connection to Manafort, and Manafort’s connection to Trump, represent just the latest alleged entanglement for Firtash. There are the reports that, as a 50-50 partner in Ukraine’s natural gas business with Russia’s state-run Gazprom, he made his billions as Putin’s handpicked surrogate. There are the accusations, leveled by the U.S. Department of Justice, that Firtash benefited from an association with one of the world’s most powerful organized crime figures, Semion Mogilevich, who has appeared on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Then, paradoxically, there are the warm friendships Firtash has cultivated with members of the British Foreign Office and the praise he’s received from cultural figures such as the French author and public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy. (“Frankly speaking,” Lévy tells me, “I do not believe all the terrible things I read about him.”)

Finally, there’s the criminal case Firtash is facing in the U.S.—a case with an imminent court date that, given the seemingly never-ending stream of allegations about the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia, is sure to be seen as a foreign policy test. The three-year-old indictment, out of a federal court in Chicago, accuses Firtash of plotting a bribery scheme to set up a $500 million titanium business in India, with Boeing as a potential client. (The deal never happened.) Firtash was arrested in Vienna in March 2014, three weeks after Ukraine’s Maidan Revolution ousted Yanukovych from office. But almost right away, an Austrian judge took the unusual step of denying the U.S. government’s extradition request, which he described as possibly politically motivated: “The aim was clearly to prevent [Firtash] from undermining the political interests of the U.S.,” the judge wrote at the time, “and with his arrest [he] was to be removed from Ukrainian politics.” Firtash was known to have supported Yanukovych, whom the U.S. opposed.

The U.S. Department of State disputed the judge’s decision, saying the case fits squarely under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the Justice Department announced plans to appeal. Since then, Firtash has been a sort of prisoner in Austria, unable to leave the country for fear the U.S. will have more success extraditing him from wherever else he may go. Ukraine isn’t an option, either; the current government has turned its back on him. For now, Firtash is a very rich man without a country. Not that he doesn’t continue to maintain a proprietary interest in his native land: In addition to his natural gas interests, he owns TV stations and dominates the country’s fertilizer and chemical industries. “First of all, I’ve never left,” Firtash tells me. “I work with Ukrainian businesses and people. My plants keep on working. People come here, to me, to discuss everything. Many people cannot understand—I live for Ukraine.”
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Yanukovych and Firtash at the opening of a chemical plant in 2012.
The U.S. is scheduled to appeal Austria’s extradition decision in a Vienna courtroom on Feb. 21, just as Ukraine has once again become a flashpoint in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after allegedly concealing that before the inauguration he consulted with the Russian ambassador about the future of U.S. sanctions. The White House’s position on Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists is hopelessly muddled: First, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, blamed the violence on Russia; then Trump downplayed that position in a statement of his own. The FBI, meanwhile, is continuing to investigate Russia’s influence on the Trump campaign.

In all this, Firtash again finds himself the man in the middle—a canary in a coal mine for the Trump Justice Department. After Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, the Obama administration was widely perceived to be retaliating against Putin by going after his oligarchs. Should Firtash be forced into the U.S. to face charges, many observers have wondered, what might he have to offer the U.S. in exchange for a plea? Perhaps intelligence about Putin? About others in his inner circle? The U.S. has fought for extradition for three years—but there is a new president now. The Justice and State departments aren’t commenting on the case. But if the administration reverses course and no longer pushes hard on the Firtash prosecution, that would send a pretty clear signal that the president’s embrace of Russia and Putin is real.

“First of all, I don’t understand this word, ‘oligarch,’ ” Firtash says over dinner. “I would never call myself an oligarch. In my view, oligarchs are the servants of the state.”

So much talk about corruption and buying political influence, he says, gets it backwards. “Business doesn’t create corruption,” he says. “It’s civil servants and the politicians that create corruption in the country. Show me any businessman who would be willingly giving out money.” Businessmen such as he, Firtash argues, are what’s needed to keep a society stable, to create jobs and pay taxes. “From my point of view,” he says, “rich people have to be supported.”

Firtash spent his childhood in rural Ukraine and admits to certain Luddite inclinations: He doesn’t text, send e-mails, or operate computers, smartphones, or tablets. The one cell phone I see him use looks to be at least 10 years old. “I don’t want to live in the virtual world,” he tells me, “and waste time on this technological stuff.” Then again, his critics would say he has more reasons than most of us to avoid leaving a digital trail.

Firtash’s primary objection with most of what’s said about him, it seems, is the suggestion that he’s anybody’s stooge. He became rich, he says, through a combination of hard work and excellent timing. His favorite childhood story, one he’s told many times, is about how his family grew tomatoes and sold them in their village in Western Ukraine to supplement their paltry income under Soviet rule. “Today it would be called entrepreneurial dexterity,” he says. He leaves out some of the less flattering career highlights, like the time in 1995 he reportedly was jailed for three months for smuggling contraband alcohol.

After attending technical school and serving in the Soviet Army, Firtash married (the first of three marriages) and started a family. When the USSR collapsed, he was in his mid-20s and, like everyone around him, penniless. He moved to Moscow and slowly developed enough contacts to make money in the emerging barter economy that sustained the newly independent republics. With no reliable currency, every transaction required a middleman. His first major deal, he says, was trading Ukrainian powdered milk for Uzbeki cotton, then selling the cotton abroad, taking a cut for himself.

His big break came in the early ’90s with natural gas in Turkmenistan. “Turkmenistan had lots of gas,” he says, “but they had no idea how to sell it.” He offered a way to do it that was independent of Russia. According to Viktor Yushchenko, the governor of Ukraine’s central bank at the time, Firtash’s Turkmenistan gas deal was an important first step toward establishing Ukraine’s independence from Russian natural gas. “We were 100 percent dependent on Russian gas, Russian oil, so many products coming from Russia,” says Yushchenko, who served as Ukraine’s president from 2005 to 2010. “The biggest thing Russia wanted to see then was the failure of Ukraine. Russia started to block the energy supply to Ukraine, and we didn’t have any alternate supply. We had to fight for a long time to get rid of that monopoly.”
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Friends and Foes (from left)—Paul Manafort: Trump’s former campaign chairman and Firtash did business together. Viktor Yanukovych: The kleptocratic ex-president gave Firtash back his gas business. Viktor Yushchenko: This former Ukraine president is now a supporter of Firtash’s.
By the end of the ’90s, Firtash’s barter arrangements had gradually converted to cash. He became, despite his current protestations, an oligarch, personally controlling the transfer each year of 68 billion cubic meters of Central Asian gas. Some 14 billion cubic meters to 17 billion cubic meters, he estimates, were resold to Europe; the rest went to Ukrainian consumers. Then, by his account, in 2003, Putin swooped in to wet his beak. This wasn’t Putin handing him a piece of the gas industry, Firtash argues; it was Putin taking a piece of Firtash’s gas interests for himself. After a year of negotiations, Firtash emerged with control of half of a new company, RosUkrEnergo (RUE). The other half was owned by Gazprom. This was, in Firtash’s estimation, the big squeeze. “I didn’t enter their business,” he says. “They entered my business. All that I earned myself, I was supposed to share with Gazprom.”

Firtash says he never spoke with Putin personally about the arrangement. “I saw him, of course, but we never met, no,” he says, trying to dispel the notion that he’s close to the Russian president. (Russian government sources, too, have officially denied that Firtash is close to Putin.) But Putin, Firtash says, is in complete control of Gazprom; the deal couldn’t have happened without his say-so. Yushchenko agrees: “The only person in Russia who knows where and how much gas is to be supplied, that’s Putin.”

In the years that followed, many in Ukraine would call Firtash’s agreement a sweetheart deal. A Reuters investigation in 2014 showed that Gazprom sold more than 20 billion cubic meters of gas to Firtash over four years, four times more than publicly acknowledged, at a price so low that Firtash’s companies stood to make $3 billion. Following the pattern of Russian oligarchs in Putin’s circle, Firtash also, according to Reuters, received credit lines of as much as $11 billion, enough to expand his businesses from gas to other industries. “That again shows you the extremely close ties to Moscow,” says Taras Kuzio, a Toronto-based Ukrainian politics scholar. Firtash’s defenders have noted that Ukraine still got gas at below-market rates that sustained jobs in the country.


Russia was never satisfied with their partnership, Firtash argues. After a few years, he says, Gazprom attempted to cut side deals with the other former republics. Then came Yulia Tymoshenko, prime minister in the Yushchenko government, who canceled the RUE deal in 2009 in the name of liberating Ukraine from unnecessary “intermediaries.” In the West, Tymoshenko is known as one of the heroes of Ukraine’s 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution; but in Firtash’s telling, she is a venal politician who targeted him for her own financial gain. “She opened a public war against me,” Firtash says, and then she allowed Russia to drive up the price of gas immediately. “For Russia, this was a great solution,” he says. “All they tried to achieve in 2004 [with the RUE deal], they finished successfully in 2009 and got rid of me.”

When Tymoshenko mentioned intermediaries, she didn’t mean just Firtash. She also meant Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian businessman who the FBI has said runs a crime ring that spans 30 countries and has a hand in murder, public corruption, money laundering, and weapons trafficking. As early as 2006, an ally of Tymoshenko’s made a statement in Ukraine’s parliament accusing RUE of having Mogilevich as a silent partner. The question of Firtash’s ties to Mogilevich circulated for years until finally, in 2010, WikiLeaks released a confidential memo written two years earlier by William Taylor Jr., then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, recounting a meeting he had with Firtash. In that meeting, Taylor wrote, Firtash said that he wouldn’t have gotten far in the gas business without the blessing of Mogilevich. Firtash has maintained that his comments were taken out of context and he has no link to Mogilevich. In my interview with Firtash, he refuses to comment on Mogilevich and the bribery case—in fact, those are the only matters his lawyers persuaded him not to comment on in advance of the extradition hearing.
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(From left) Petro Poroshenko: Ukraine’s president supports deoligarchization—so, not a friend. Semion Mogilevich: Wanted by the FBI; Firtash battles whispers that they’re connected. Yulia Tymoshenko: A Ukrainian cause célèbre, she’s clashed with Firtash.
In 2010, Firtash’s gas business was restored, thanks to a new president, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Firtash supported and who won his election with help from a paid political consultant, Manafort. This is the part of the story that came to light last summer in an exposé in the New York Times: The paper discovered ledgers suggesting that Yanukovych paid $13 million to Manafort in cash. No one has proved conclusively that those payments happened. Firtash’s name emerged as a possible connection, thanks, once again, to his old adversary Tymoshenko, when reports surfaced of a lawsuit she’d filed against Firtash and Manafort in civil court in the U.S. in 2011. In the complaint, which was rejected on jurisdictional grounds, Tymoshenko said a real estate project that Manafort and Firtash planned—a hotel and luxury shopping mall on the site of the Drake Hotel in Midtown Manhattan—was little more than a money-laundering operation. In the words of the complaint, it helped Firtash “to hide illegal kickbacks paid to government officials”—later specified as Yanukovych—“and place a significant portion of the proceeds from the gas contracts outside the reach of Ukrainian courts.”

“She was wrong in everything,” Firtash says of Tymoshenko. “She lies all the time. In order to money launder, you need to have dirty money to start with. I always had clean money.”

The allegations of a financial arrangement between Firtash and Manafort became a weapon for Democrats last year. Manafort resigned as Trump’s campaign manager in August, shortly after the ledgers were uncovered. Reached on the phone in February, Manafort hotly denies ever receiving cash from Yanukovych, laundering Firtash’s money, or serving any Russian agenda. “Making Yanukovych Putin’s stooge, and me a link to Putin, is the antithesis of the facts,” Manafort says. “I was integrally involved in the process that resulted in Ukraine becoming a part of the West. This was the opposite of what Russia wanted.” The real estate deal with Firtash, he says, “never got off the ground. Nothing ever was formalized, nothing was ever signed, no money ever transferred hands.”

At dinner with Firtash, I ask how he came to invest in the Drake Hotel project.

“I never invested,” he says.

Then what about the reports that he put $25 million in an escrow account for the developers? And the $100 million investment fund that Manafort helped him set up?

“We were considering that project,” he replies. “I wanted to be involved. I thought that America, at some stage, can be an interesting platform for investment.” But then, he says, he changed his mind.

From the start, Firtash’s legal team has argued that the timing of the U.S. indictment, issued in October 2013, was suspicious. In his 2014 decision to deny the extradition, the Austrian judge, Christoph Bauer, noted that a U.S. State Department delegation had just traveled to Kiev to push then-President Yanukovych to sign an association agreement with the European Union that would pull Ukraine further away from Putin’s influence. As soon as Yanukovych indicated he might not sign, the U.S. called on Austria to arrest Firtash. The U.S. diplomats knew he had influence on Yanukovych, the Vienna judge said, and the intent seemed to be to remove Firtash from circulation and weaken Yanukovych’s position.

Firtash got out of jail a week later on $174 million bail furnished by a friend of his: Russian billionaire Vasily Anisimov, who—stand by for more entanglements here—is a business partner of one of Putin’s closest allies, Arkady Rotenberg, who in turn had helped Firtash rebuild his natural gas business in 2010. The current Ukrainian government, under President Petro Poroshenko, is in the middle of a campaign of “deoligarchization” and has vowed to arrest Firtash on behalf of the U.S. if he comes home. “My view is in the nearest future, it will not be possible for him to return,” says Leonid Kravchuk, who from 1991 to 1994 was the first president of Ukraine. “They need to send him a message.”


Vladimir Putin: The real reason the Obama administration went after Firtash?
Yanukovych turned out to be a kleptocrat of the first order, building a $250 million estate for his family with public money, and as Ukrainians took to the streets, he fled to Moscow. Firtash has never stopped trying to influence Ukraine’s fate from abroad. In op-eds and interviews, he’s explained his belief that Ukraine should be like Switzerland, a neutral bridge between East and West, with allegiances neither to Russia nor to Europe and the U.S. At first, he supported Poroshenko, but has since changed his mind. Poroshenko, meanwhile, has defied Putin not only through his deoligarchization program but also by supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, which puts Poroshenko in a difficult spot now.

The Trump transition team and administration appear to have spent the past several months in contact with forces that would work to destabilize the Poroshenko government—an outcome that, depending on who replaces him, could serve the interests of Putin. Tymoshenko is still in the mix, too, her profile bigger than ever after a prison sentence during the Yanukovych presidency turned her into more of a cause célèbre. Certainly if regime change happens in Ukraine, Firtash stands ready to step in and put his billions to work. His factories employ 110,000 people there—some of whom, he says, he continues to pay even as the continuing war has forced the factories to close temporarily. In Vienna last year he sponsored a conference to propose a plan for modernizing the Ukrainian economy—an effort that includes, among other measures, creating a less erratic tax policy that would make the country more hospitable to investment from foreign business. His efforts have won praise from two of Ukraine’s past presidents, Yushchenko and Kravchuk, as well as the French intellectual Lévy, who’s attached himself to the idea of Ukraine’s reinvention.

“Old Ukraine has been cannibalized by its oligarchs, that’s sure,” Lévy writes in an e-mail. “But I am sure, too, that Firtash is not worse than the others! There is clearly, among the Ukrainian political class, some sort of a settling of accounts turning against him. And there is also the fact that he has the reputation of being pro-Putin. But the impression I always had during our conversations about my dream of a Marshall Plan for Ukraine is that he is, in his way, a true Ukrainian patriot, with a very touching attachment to his country. I find this man a truly novelistic character,” Lévy concludes. “This, being who I am, is a real compliment.”

In Vienna, where his wife and two small children fly in from Kiev to see him on weekends, Firtash has set up a well-appointed base of operations. His mansion on Edenstrasse, near the Vienna State Opera, is the former home of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a wealthy patron of the arts whose portrait by Gustav Klimt was stolen by the Nazis and became known as Woman in Gold. When Firtash first moved in, he wasn’t aware that the Hollywood movie about the painting (also called Woman in Gold) had just come out. He assumed all the people taking pictures outside his house were from the CIA.

As our dinner ends, Firtash maintains that the real problem with Ukraine now is with the people in power. “These people will go—today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow,” he says. “The country will stay.” He has a different vision for Ukraine, a nationalist vision. “I think it’s best for Ukraine to be on its own. Ukraine, historically and geographically, has a strong territorial position. It needs to use it. We can become the industrial platform for Europe.”

It’s a vision not unlike that of the president who’s in a position to help him. “What is Trump doing?” Firtash says as waiters clear the dessert cart. “He’s saying, ‘We need to make our own production. We will sell what we produce. We will give you loans, and you will serve the loans and give the money back to us.’ I perfectly understand what he’s saying. That signal is clear to me. Ukraine is a small country, and clearly we cannot do like the U.S., but I understand what he’s doing.”

If the Austrian court beats back the extradition again, Firtash’s legal team will move to have the indictment against him dismissed. There is no indication from the Justice Department that it might back off, and doing so would be especially provocative right now in the wake of the Michael Flynn blowup. But this may be what Firtash has to offer Trump, should the case against him end up withering away: a chance to make Ukraine great again, with someone else footing the bill, and a new government willing to do business with both Russia and the West. How could Trump refuse an offer like that?
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features ... ilded-cage



Media: Policeman and ‘private detective,’ who helped Firtash, condemned for corruption

By Interfax-Ukraine. Published Jan. 30. Updated Jan. 30 at 4:24 pm

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 30, 2015 shows Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine's most influential oligarchs attending a trial on April 30, 2015 in Vienna. An Austrian appeals court authorised on February 21, 2017 the extradition to the United States of Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash on bribery charges, overturning an earlier ruling. Firtash, 51, one of Ukraine's richest men and previously an ally of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, was arrested in Austria in March 2014.

A former state police commissioner and a detective, who rendered services to Ukrainian businessman Dmytro Firtash, have been convicted of corruption on a large scale in Germany, according to the German edition Deutsche Welle (DW)
https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politi ... ption.html.



google translate

German "spies" Firtash sentenced to prison
Former police commissioner of land and "detektyvku" services are used, in particular, Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash in Germany found guilty of corruption in a large scale.
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In the trial devoted to consideration of one of the biggest corruption scandals in Germany last year, which involved, in particular, the famous Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, the set point. On Friday, January 27, the Land Court in the North German city of Schwerin sentenced in the case of the former Chief Commissioner of Criminal Police of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Heinz-Peter Handorfa (Heinz-Peter Hahndorf) and former GDR secret service ahentky "Stasi" Christina (Nina ) Vilkeninґ (Christina Wilkening).
The former civil servant was sentenced to three years in prison for taking bribes on a large scale, the disclosure of official secrets and tax evasion. Vilkeninґ, which calls itself "private detektyvkoyu" will have to spend in prison for two years and ten months. Except in bribes, it also recognized guilty of incitement to issuance of official secrets, DW reported in the press service of the court.
Traces tycoon
For seven years spilnytstva prisoners during which the civil servant received the "detektyvky" round sum for the provision of various kinds of service information, and the case was associated with Firtash. It is at this stage Vilkeninґ Handorf and caught the attention of investigators. To avoid his extradition from Austria to the United States, where he faces the confiscation of property and long prison on corruption charges, the oligarch, according to prosecutors Schwerin, requested the services of Vilkeninґ.
 Firtash
Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash
The same, in turn, gave instructions to the then Commissioner for contact with American law enforcement and intelligence agencies and get the inside information on the case oligarch. Although the deal ultimately fell through, the woman, according to the charges, paid accomplices to work 26 thousand euros. Total in connection with the Firtash, as prosecutors said in court Vilkeninґ received about 420 thousand euros. However she admitted in court that he personally received about 110 thousand euros for work connected with business tycoon.
750 thousand euros for services
Overall, performing various assignments former commissioner, according to investigators, during spilnytstva received from former ahentky about 270 thousand euros. If Firtash order was made for the work Vilkeninґ could get from a businessman to a total of 750 thousand euros, said in court charges.
DW.COM

The failure of "Operation stuffed cabbage": German spies tried Firtash
Austria is studying a request for extradition to Spain Firtash
In the German case Firtash arising komprometuvalni documents
Sentence prisoners during the course of the process are significantly reduced due to the fact that both pleaded guilty. At first they threatened to ten years in prison. The latest charges were demanding three years and two months in prison for ex-commissioner and three years - for Vilkeninґ.
However, before the opening of the criminal case against Firtash trial in Germany so far did not succeed. Although the "spy" case and added instructions for the signature of Dmitry Firtash, issued by the then Commissioner and his assistant, confirmed that DW and lawyers oligarch potential criminal action component of the oligarch was the theme of the court session, the court said. Representatives of billionaire last year rejected any accusations, citing the fact that Firtash supposedly did not know that in fact these people were police officers, and they were represented by lawyers as a businessman.
http://www.dw.com/uk/німецьких-шпигунів-фірташа-засудили-до-позбавлення-волі/a-37299866
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:56 pm

Dossier claims ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovych told Putin he paid Manafort money
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Paul Manafort was paid $12.7 million in cash by pro-Russian, Ukrainian leaders as alleged in the dossier below is a ledger presented by the country of Ukraine as evidence against Manafort
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Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:29 pm

Russian Influence: Additional, incriminating evidence on Manafort's ties to Moscow uncovered on darknet by @krypt3ia

(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)

About That Manafort Leak…

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Paul Manafort, campaign worker for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, speaks with the press during an election night event in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. Trump, the billionaire real-estate mogul, got a major boost in his quest to secure the Republican nomination with a majority of delegates but could not eliminate the possibility of a contested convention. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Paul Manafort, campaign worker for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, speaks with the press during an election night event in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 19, 2016. Trump, the billionaire real-estate mogul, got a major boost in his quest to secure the Republican nomination with a majority of delegates but could not eliminate the possibility of a contested convention. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

So yeah, I posted a story last week about how a dump of data in the darknet seemed to be in fact Paul Manaforts daughter’s iPhone. It seems that this story was just too good to lose for Politico and the unscrupulous reporter there lifted not only my story but also my images! (yes the hashes match, he just saved them local and re-named them) Politico has done nothing to remedy this and they are churnalists of the worst kind, but they did at least call some people in the Manafort court to see if they would admit to the hack and they did. I could have told them that the hack was real because there was more that I did not post on the blog last time. The fact of the matter is that in the dump there was also a SQL dbase that I got hold of, and in that dump there’s one little interesting factoid. Paul Manafort has an email address that seems to be on a personal domain that isn’t really known about. In the dump connecting with his daughter is a personal iPhone for Paul and in that connection via text is his email address (pmanafort@dmpint.com) when you look up this domain you can see it is one of a few that belong to the Manafort family but registered by another party; one Todd Hankins. Now it seems to me that in an era of “BUT HER EMAILS” this factoid might be of interest to say, I dunno, the IC that he has this and his email is being sent to and from this cutout domain.

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Now the domain has never had a site on it and as far as I can see with the limited looking I have done this domain has been kept kinda on the downlow as the Manafort name is not on it like the others. The ONLY thing connecting it to Paul now is the email address and the fact that Todd there set it up for him in 2010. I personally find that interesting… You? I have passed this little tidbit to the right people but now I am going to go wide with it… One wonders as to what emails might lay within that pesky little email system at dmpint.com

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Let the FISA WARRANTS FLY!

K.

PS!!!

Google that domain and see what you get… It comes up all Ukraine travel sites… What does Google know hmmmmm?
https://krypt3ia.wordpress.com/2017/02/ ... fort-leak/
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:40 pm

Krypt3ia
(Greek: κρυπτεία / krupteía, from κρυπτός / kruptós, “hidden, secret things”)
The Russia Connection: Paul Manafort

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Back when the Russian hacking revelations started around the DNC hack people started to ask questions about Trump’s connections to Russia. Personally for me one of the more spooky connections was in fact Paul Manafort. His connections to Russia come from his connections to Ukraine and Viktor F. Yanukovych. Of course I had heard about Manafort before he had become the campaign chairman for Trump so once he was installed I had to wonder about those ties to Ukraine and it’s leader, who fled to Russia because he is Putin”s boy. What flashed in my head though when this all started was the fact that some documents had come to light about Manafort’s access to monies by proxy of Yanukovych (and being paid about 12 million dollars for his services there) which as it turns out, once his (Yanukovych) files were searched a slush fund was found and the fact that Manafort had access to that slush fund as well.

Fast forward to today and now we have leaks talking about a “number” of Trump acolytes talking consistently with Russian intelligence officers and Manafort making the comment that “How should I know if they are Russian intelligence? it is not like they wear badges!” Well Paul, it seems that maybe you should just have assumed they all were because you were working for Yanukovych in Ukraine during the last days before he fled to Russia, an unstable place because Russian intelligence and the army have made it so. See, the whole point of Putin’s plan is to destabilize Ukraine and take it over. So yeah, you were surrounded by Russian officers man. So Manafort was there, working with the Putin puppet and he claims he had no knowledge of Russian intelligence being close to him… Right. Who knows what kompromat they have on you and since you were placed at the right hand of Trump for this election (until the heat came on over your ties) you were perfectly placed to run Trump and his minions as a de-facto case agent.

Then today I am trawling the Darknet, as is my wont, when I come across a tantalizing dump about you! On February 8th on a darknet site to be named later, Anon’s have given us a taste of their hacking of your daughter it seems. From the look of the data presented, they owned her phone and they owned some other SQL system with data as well. (pics below) In the dump there are allegations of someone using a mail.ru address and a mail.pravda@icloud email address sending messages to your daughter about your misdeeds in Ukraine. Allegations of monies being taken and things like that. I have looked at these and for what it’s worth these look to be potentially real, but there isn’t much else to go on than some screen captures and then there is the SQLi dbase. In the screen captures though, we can see your daughter responding to all the allegations on the iPhone and then we can see in the dbase dump phone numbers for her and others as well as an email address.

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I have withheld the images with the phone numbers in full for obvious reasons but to those who dumped this, I would like to see more if you have it that can prove that these are bona fide dumps. I also contacted someone who has hacked the Ukraine government in the past and asked if they had had any additional data in their dumps concerning Manafort and I am waiting on more. It would be interesting if more dox showed up connecting Manafort to the FSB in Ukraine huh?

Well I would be interested….

K.
https://krypt3ia.wordpress.com/2017/02/ ... -manafort/




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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:32 am

Paul Manafort allegedly paid to set up 2012 meeting between Donald Trump and Kremlin rep
By Bill Palmer | February 27, 2017 | 0

Just how many years back does Russia’s plot to install Donald Trump as president go? This week it was uncovered that while Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, a member of the Ukrainian government tried to blackmail him over two allegations. We’ve already heard one of them: the Kremlin paid Manafort millions of dollars in off the books payments. But the second is that Manafort was doing the Kremlin’s bidding with regard to Trump as far back as five years ago.

The blackmail threat allegedly came from Serhiy Leshchenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, though he denies being involved. One of the claims made is that while Paul Manafort was being paid by the Kremlin to get Russian puppet Viktor Yanukovych elected in the Ukraine, it also had Manafort set up a meeting between Yanukovych’s close associate Serhiy Tulub and Donald Trump.

Even if the allegation is true that the Kremlin had its paid employee Paul Manafort set up this 2012 meeting between Trump and Tulub, it’s yet known whether the meeting actually took place, or what it was about, or what came of it. But at the time, Tulub (along with Yanukovych) was working as a Kremlin puppet. And the 2012 timeframe fits rather oddly with the claim in the infamous Trump-Russia dossier that the Kremlin had invoked a five year plan for the purpose of cultivating Trump ahead of his political run. It gets stranger.

Paul Manafort is now admitting that his daughter did in fact receive the blackmail texts purporting to be from Serhiy Leshchenko. According to Politico, which first broke the story, he’s denying that he’s guilty of any of the allegations made against him. But he’s offering no explanation as to why he didn’t notify U.S. authorities when a foreign operative tried to blackmail him while he was running a major presidential campaign.
http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/kre ... rump/1691/
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:03 pm

Authorities looked into Manafort protégé

An associate of an ex-Trump campaign chairman is suspected of connections to Russian intelligence.

By KENNETH P. VOGEL and DAVID STERN 03/08/17 06:23 PM EST

Paul Manafort summarily rejected questions about whether Konstantin Kilimnik might be in league with Russian intelligence. | Getty

By BILL SCHER
U.S. and Ukrainian authorities have expressed interest in the activities of a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence who consulted regularly with Paul Manafort last year while Manafort was running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The operative, Konstantin Kilimnik, came under scrutiny from officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Department partly because of at least two trips he took to the U.S. during the presidential campaign, according to three international political operatives familiar with the agencies’ interest in Kilimnik.

Kilimnik, a joint Russian-Ukrainian citizen who trained in the Russian army as a linguist, told operatives in Kiev and Washington that he met with Manafort during an April trip to the United States. And, after a late summer trip to the U.S., Kilimnik suggested that he had played a role in gutting a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform that would have staked out a more adversarial stance towards Russia, according to a Kiev operative.

The FBI declined to comment on Kilimnik, while the State Department did not respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear if either agency launched any kind of official inquiry into Kilimnik, nor is it clear whether the interest from the U.S. authorities is ongoing.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general in August did launch a formal investigation into Kilimnik’s suspected ties to Russian intelligence, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. The prosecutor’s office subsequently told POLITICO that it has cleared Kilimnik, though the Ukrainian parliamentarian who requested the investigation questioned its thoroughness and suggested the agency was trying to avoid an investigation that could have had implications in the U.S. presidential race.

The revelations about the authorities' interest in Kilimnik come amid ongoing FBI and congressional investigations into Russia’s alleged meddling in the presidential race, as well as probes into ties between Russia and President Trump’s associates.

Trump, who has downplayed U.S. intelligence findings that Russia, in an effort to help his campaign, engineered cyberhacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, has blasted the investigations as a witch hunt. And on Saturday, Trump accused former President Barack Obama without evidence of ordering the tapping of the phones at Trump’s New York campaign headquarters.

Manafort summarily rejected questions about whether Kilimnik might be in league with Russian intelligence, declaring Kilimnik “pro-Ukraine,” and casting the inquiries into his associate as politically motivated “smears.”

Kilimnik declined to answer questions about any interest by authorities into his activities. Instead, he attributed scrutiny of him to “a heated political environment [that has] led to exaggerated and out of context reporting in the hope of establishing connections that, to the best of my knowledge, have not yet been proven.”

He added that “Ukraine and Ukrainians are being used as scapegoats in the U.S. political and media battles” — a dynamic that he said has been made “abundantly evident from how my own circumstantial relationships were misrepresented, exaggerated and overblown.”

The White House declined to respond to questions about Manafort’s relationship with Kilimnik, or whether there were any inquiries into it by U.S. authorities.

But two international political consultants who work in Kiev said that U.S. authorities became increasingly interested in Kilimnik after he made a trip to the U.S. in April 2016. Several people said Kilimnik told them that he met with Manafort during that trip, which came as Manafort was guiding Trump’s campaign through the bitter Republican presidential primaries, and trying to distance himself from his work in Ukraine.

Kilimnik’s relationship with Manafort traces back to 2005. That’s when Manafort hired Kilimnik to work for him in Ukraine after Kilimnik was forced out of a position he held for about a decade in Moscow with the U.S.-based International Republican Institute amid suspicion over his ties to Russia.

Manafort and Kilimnik were part of a group that formed a private equity fund that used millions of dollars contributed by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to purchase a Ukrainian cable and internet company. And they did work on behalf of the businesses owned by Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov.

Their work in Ukraine became political when Akhmetov began funding the political comeback of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. With Manafort’s help, Yanukovych was elected prime minister in 2006 and president in 2010 as the leader of the Russia-aligned Party of Regions. Multiple sources said the party paid millions of dollars a year to Manafort’s firm, for which Kilimnik eventually came to run the Kiev office.

Manafort stressed that his work in Ukraine was intended to steer Yanukovych towards more pro-Western policies and more engagement with the European Union policies. And Kilimnik told POLITICO that “one thing that was grossly underreported to date is the effort that Paul Manafort undertook to help Ukrainian leaders defend Ukraine’s interests and move the country towards [a European Union] Free Trade Agreement.”

Yet Yanukovych in 2013 backed away from a commitment to that agreement, and fled Ukraine for Russia under the protection of Russian President Vladimir Putin amid widespread protests over government corruption.

Manafort and Kilimnik started working for a Russia-aligned party that arose from the ashes of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, operatives close to Kilimnik and Manafort told POLITICO. The new party, Opposition Bloc, stopped paying Manafort’s company, and the effort to collect unpaid invoices was part of the reason Manafort and Kilimnik remained in contact during the presidential race, the operatives said.

But Kilimnik last month also told RadioFreeEurope that “every couple months” during the campaign he “was briefing [Manafort] on Ukraine,” though he subsequently clarified his comments, adding that he wasn’t formally advising Manafort.

Manafort told POLITICO that he called Kilimnik to discuss what he called the “the smear campaign against me coming out of Ukraine” — a reference to the publication by Ukrainian investigators and the media of ledgers appearing to show $12.7 million in cash earmarked for him by the Party of Regions. (Manafort has said he never received the cash and has questioned the authenticity of the ledgers, as have some Ukrainian officials).

During their conversations last year, Manafort said he and Kilimnik also discussed an array of subjects related to the presidential campaign, including the hacking of the DNC’s emails, though Manafort stressed that at the time of the conversations, neither he nor other Trump campaign officials knew that Russia was involved in the hacking.

When Kilimnik traveled to the U.S. in late summer, he drew the attention of U.S. authorities, according to a Washington consultant with ties to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

And when Kilimnik returned to Ukraine after that trip, he suggested to Kiev political operatives that he played a role in a move by Trump’s representatives to dilute a proposed amendment to the GOP platform calling for the U.S. to provide “lethal defensive weapons” for Ukraine to defend itself against Russian incursion.

“He led me to believe that he was involved in the platform fight, but not necessarily through Paul,” said a Kiev-based operative who travels in the same circles as Kilimnik. The operative added that Kilimnik could have been “just bullshitting like political consultants do.”

A Trump campaign adviser familiar with the platform debate said he was not aware of Kilimnik playing any role in the proceedings and, in fact, hadn’t even met Kilimnik.

In Kiev, Kilimnik continued representing Opposition Bloc in meetings with international diplomats, according to several people in the international business and diplomat communities in Ukraine’s capital. Kilimnik is regarded there and in some U.S. foreign policy circles as a trustworthy liaison to the party and to an influential oligarch who is helping to fund it.

Several people who’ve worked with Kilimnik told POLITICO he was not particularly ideological and never betrayed either a strong bias towards or against the Kremlin as it grew increasingly hostile towards Ukraine under Putin.

But after a POLITICO expose in August revealed Kilimnik’s suspected ties to Russian intelligence, and other media followed the story, Volodymyr Ariev, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, formally requested that the country’s prosecutor general investigate Kilimnik.

“This person, from his biographical details, could be connected to Russian special services, and could possess valuable information about the criminal activities of … former members of the Party of Regions and the government at the time of Yanukovych, who are being investigated by the general prosecutor,” Ariev wrote in a letter to the general prosecutor.

The prosecutor’s office, which is obligated to investigate any inquiry from a member of parliament, for years has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into government spending under Yanukovych. And, even before Ariev’s letter, it had questioned at least one person about the work of Kilimnik, Manafort and their associates on behalf of Yanukovych, according to a political operative in Kiev briefed on the inquiry.

Ariev’s letter was dated August 19 — a day after POLITICO’s expose, and the same day as a Financial Times follow-up that Ariev cited in his letter. Later that same day, the general prosecutor’s office responded with a letter of its own, writing Ariev that his requested inquiry related to Kilimnik and Manafort’s company, Davis Manafort International LLC, “has been considered.”

The letter indicated that the Kilimnik matter “has been combined” with the “criminal proceeding” into government spending under Yanukovych. But the press office for the prosecutor on Tuesday told POLITICO that “Kilimnik is not being processed now as a witness, suspect or accused.”

Ariev told POLITICO “This is one of the shortest answers I've received from the general prosecutor's office. I think the reason is that the government did not want to be involved in the U.S. elections.”

Nonetheless, the mounting scrutiny of Manafort’s work in Ukraine, and alleged cash payments from the Party of Regions, forced him to resign from the Trump campaign the same day that the prosecutor general’s office responded to Ariev.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/t ... ort-235850


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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:22 pm

Konstantin Kilimnik: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Published 9:01 pm EST, March 8, 2017 Updated 10:55 am EST, March 9, 2017
By Chris Bucher
Image

Paul Manafort, advisor to Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, had numerous conversations with Konstantin Kilimnik. POLITICO is reporting that Kilimnik was or is the subject of the FBI’s investigation into connections of the Trump administration to Russia. (Getty)

A report from POLITICO on March 8 said that the FBI is investigating an operative from Ukraine that has suspected ties to Russian intelligence.

Konstantin Kilimnik was an associate of Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and had conversations about collecting “unpaid fees owed to Manafort’s company,” POLITICO wrote. Manafort is notably under FBI investigation for communicating with Russian intelligence officials during Trump’s presidential campaign, forcing him to resign.

Now, Kilimnik is reportedly under scrutiny from officials in the U.S. because of a couple of those meetings with Manafort. It’s currently unknown if the investigation and interest in Kilimnik is still going on.

Kilimnik didn’t answer any questions from POLITICO, but suggested that any scrutiny he receives from the media is because of the “heated political environment” in America.

Here’s what you need to know about Kilimnik:

1. The Meetings In Question Reportedly Took Place During the Campaign

In an interview February 22, Kilimnik said that he and Manafort would meet “every couple months” during the election, but denied the meetings having anything to do with Russia. Instead, he said that he was briefing Manafort on matters in Ukraine.

One of the meetings in question took place during an April 2016 trip to the U.S. by Kilimnik. During one of the conversations they had a year ago, one of the subjects was the hacking of the emails of the Democratic National Committee, POLITICO’s story wrote. But Manafort had said it was unknown at the time which nation was behind the act.

Kilimnik said in the interview that even though the two had been meeting, he was never “formally advising” Manafort during the election campaign. He argued in an interview that Manafort has been misread by the media and has no Russian ties. He reiterated to The Wall Street Journal in January that he has no relationship with the government in Russia or its intelligence officials.


2. Kilimnik Started Working for Manafort In 2005

Manafort was a consultant to former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted and left the country — twice — after several large, violent protests took place in the streets. Yanukovych sought cover in Russia, allowing Russia President Vladamir Putin to annex Crimea and incite a war in the country.

Kilimnik met Manafort in the early 2000s and started working for him in 2005. He told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an interview how fondly he thinks of Manafort:

Manafort is a guy who can merge strategy and messages into something that will work for victory. He is very skillful.

The pair worked together for Yanukovych’s presidential campaign in 2010, which he won. Kilimnik told RFE/RL that he worked in the administration assisting Manafort.

In July 2016, Trump’s campaign notably changed its stance on giving Ukraine weapons to fight Russian and rebel forces, The Washington Post reported. Kilimnik then reportedly suggested in a summer trip to the U.S. that he played a role in the GOP doing so.

Just one month later in August, The New York Times reported that handwritten ledgers showed $12.7 million in cash payments designated to Manafort that were undisclosed from Yanukovych’s political party, which is notably pro-Russian. The payments took place from 2007-2012.

Amid the controversy, Trump cut his ties with Manafort.

However Kilimnik said that — outside of the briefings during the campaign — he hasn’t been on Manafort’s payroll since 2014.

3. Kilimnik Studied at a Military University in Russia
Image
Paul Manafort (Getty)

Kilimnik is 46-years old and studied at the Military University of the Ministry of Defense, then known as The Military University for Foreign Languages in Russia. The school holds the administrative and operational leadership of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and is similar to military academies in the U.S.

Kilimnik was trained in the Russian army as a linguist, POLITICO reported.

The college was formed in 1717 as the College of War. Its headquarters are in Moscow, and it’s under the jurisdiction of Putin. The current minister of Defense for Russia is Sergey Shoygu.

4. He Advised Members of Yanukovych’s Former Party

After Yanukovych was forced out once again in 2013 by protests, both Manafort and Kilimnik began to work for an affiliate of Yanukovych’s old political party, the Party of Regions.

The Party of Regions is a centrist pro-Russia party that was created in 1997. Soon enough, it swelled to become the biggest political party in Ukraine, though most of their representatives left in 2014.

Therefore, Opposition Bloc was founded and instantly made a mark, winning 29 seats in its first election. Manafort was “instrumental” in creating the political party, the New York Times reported.

Back in Kiev, Kilimnik would reportedly represent the party in meetings with foreign diplomats.

5. Kilimnik Was Forced Out of a Job in Moscow

Kilimnik worked for the U.S.-based International Republican Institute out of Moscow for almost 10 years before he was forced out. He was reportedly forced out of his job because of suspicion about his ties to Russia. He then started working with Manafort.

According to its “About Us” page on its website, the organization is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that is committed to freedom and democracy worldwide by helping political parties to become more issue-based and responsive, assisting citizens to participate in government planning, and working to increase the role of marginalized groups in the political process –- including women and youth.”

It has a staff of about 400 people and is headquartered out of Washington D.C. Its president is Mark Green, a former Republican congressman and former candidate for governor in Wisconsin.

The IRI is funded by the U.S. government and reported a budget of $78 million in 2008. The chairman of the board is U.S. Senator John McCain and its board boasts such members as Rep. Kay Granger and Sen. Tom Cotton.
http://heavy.com/news/2017/03/konstanti ... py-who-is/
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:33 am

Ukraine probes Trump manager Paul Manafort after his daughter accuses him of killing people
By Bill Palmer | March 10, 2017 | 0

It’s long been established that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort previously ran the Ukrainian presidential campaign of Kremlin puppet Viktor Yanukovich. It’s also long been alleged that Manafort took millions of dollars in illegal secret payments from the Kremlin during that campaign. But now CNN is reporting that, according to his own daughter, Manafort killed people in Ukraine as a political strategy to help Yanukovich.

The text messages of Paul Manafort’s daughter Andrea Manafort have been hacked and released publicly. In one of them, she alleges that her father masterminded a strategy to send Ukrainian citizens out to protest, knowing that the police would mow them down. And she didn’t mince words about it in a series of texts to her sister: “You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not.”

This has prompted a Ukrainian human rights attorney to launch a probe into Paul Manafort’s role in the death of those protesters, and he’s asked Ukrainian government prosecutors to do the same. The government there has long wanted to charge Yanukovich himself for the deaths of the protesters, but that’s been fruitless because he’s been hiding in Russia since he was ousted from power. So now that Paul Manafort’s own daughter has alleged that he was behind the plot to get the protesters killed, it’s not a surprise to see Ukraine going after Manafort.

CNN has the full report on it. Manafort is also under investigation in the United States by the FBI, both for the payments he allegedly took from the Kremlin while working for Yanukovich, and for the role he appears to have played in colluding with the Kremlin while he was later working for Donald Trump
http://www.palmerreport.com/news/ukrain ... here/1872/



Ukraine lawyer seeks probe of alleged hacked texts of Manafort's daughter
By Simon Ostrovsky, CNN
Updated 8:15 PM ET, Fri March 10, 2017

The texts point to Paul Manafort's possible influence in Ukraine, the lawyer says
A hacker website posted thousands of texts, apparently from Andrea Manafort
Kiev, Ukraine (CNN)A Ukrainian human rights attorney representing the victims of mass police shootings in Kiev in 2014 has asked prosecutors to investigate what are purported to be the hacked text messages of one of Paul Manafort's daughters, saying the texts point to possible influence Manafort had with Ukraine's president during that period.

"You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly," Andrea Manafort allegedly wrote of her father in March 2015 in an angry series of texts to her sister, Jessica, about her father's personal and professional life.
"Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not," reads another text in reference to the bloodshed in Kiev.
"Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered."
"He has no moral or legal compass," Andrea allegedly wrote about her father earlier as part of the same conversation.
The messages were obtained from a hacker website that in February posted four years' worth of texts, consisting of 300,000 messages, apparently taken from Andrea Manafort's iPhone.
Paul Manafort: No comment
Paul Manafort currently faces an FBI investigation over millions of dollars' worth of payments he allegedly received while working as a political strategist for Ukraine's Russia-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort has denied receiving the undeclared cash payments.
Protesters descended on Kiev's central square in a peaceful protest in the winter of 2013 when Yanukovych unexpectedly backed out of a trade deal with the European Union under pressure from the Kremlin. Close to 100 people died in the shootings in the weeks before Yanukovych fled in February 2014.
Ukrainian authorities say Yanukovych created conditions that allowed security forces to kill the pro-Western protesters in Kiev, but so far have not been able to charge him because he is in Russia.
Manafort has not been linked to the shootings.
Asked by CNN to comment, Manafort said via text message: "Comment on what. There is nothing."
Manafort would not confirm whether the texts were genuine, but in a Politico story last month on the texts, he indicated that some of them were.
The texts suggest that Manafort and his daughter were together in Florida on the day of the worst violence in Kiev on February 20th, when close to 50 people died.
Manafort already influential in Ukraine
Thursday, the human rights lawyer, Eugenia Zakrevska, filed a motion in Kiev requesting that prosecutors verify the contents of the text message dump and take measures to compel US authorities to question Manafort.
"I call on Mr. Manafort to clarify the allegations contained in the text messages and to contact us with any information he may have on those events," Zakrevska told CNN.
Zakrevska and a special prosecution unit have been working together on several concurrent cases looking into the violence in and around Kiev's Independence Square.
Zakrevska said all of the killings would have already taken place by the time Manafort met his daughter the evening of the 20th, if the texts' timestamps are accurate, and she thought it was unlikely that Andrea actually witnessed Paul Manafort personally directing Kiev police forces.
"But this doesn't rule out Manafort's influence on Yanukovych's actions and decisions during that period," Zakrevska said.
Serhiy Gorbatyuk, Ukraine's prosecutor for special investigations, confirmed to CNN that his office received Zakrevska's motion and said the text messages would be investigated and potentially entered into evidence. "We will check thoroughly to verify if they are real or not."
Asked by CNN about the prospect of an investigation by the general prosecutors' office, Manafort replied: "Total BS on GP (general prosecutor)."
Manafort began working for Yanukovych in 2004 and grew to be an influential figure in Ukraine who had the ear of the President. After Yanukovych was ousted and pro-Western forces took the reins, Manafort stayed on in the country to help rebrand Yanukovych's Party of Regions as "Opposition Bloc."
Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 and was pushed out in August.
Covert methods and 'shady email'
The text messages, if genuine, shed light both on the last days of the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine and a turbulent period in the Trump campaign last summer, when Trump shook up his team's leadership structure.
They also cover the time period when Russia, according to US intelligence agencies, may have been conducting hacks into email accounts associated with the Democratic Party.
In the same 2015 conversation with her sister, Andrea allegedly suggests to Jessica that their father used covert methods to send messages to Ukraine.
"I was there when it happened. I saw him on his shady email," she allegedly wrote. "They don't write emails. They log on and write in the drafts So it's never transmitted over any servers."
In another alleged exchange with Jessica, in June 2016, Andrea plays down her father's involvement in the hacks of the Democratic Party emails.
"Pretty crazy about all the email hacking huh?" the texts read. "Dad must be over the moon."
"Oh i saw." is the reply. "The russians."
"Well it wasn't dad's doing. It was hackers," Andrea allegedly writes back. "No clue who the hackers were. Fbi is looking into it."
http://www.palmerreport.com/news/ukrain ... here/1872/
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Re: Paul Manafort

Postby SonicG » Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:53 am

Will be interesting to see if Manafort has a sudden, erm, illness like may others connected on the RUssian side...
Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was paid £8 million yearly in secret deal to help Vladimir Putin
President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million (£8 million) annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

...
Manafort's work with Deripaska continued for years, though they had a falling out laid bare in 2014 in a Cayman Islands bankruptcy court. The billionaire gave Manafort nearly $19 million (£15.2 million) to invest in a Ukrainian TV company called Black Sea Cable, according to legal filings by Deripaska's representatives. It said that after taking the money, Manafort and his associates stopped responding to Deripaska's queries about how the funds had been used.

Early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Deripaska's representatives openly accused Manafort of fraud and pledged to recover the money from him. After Trump earned the nomination, Deripaska's representatives said they would no longer discuss the case.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03 ... 0-million/


And lest we forget those hacked emails of his daughter...
In a series of texts reviewed by Business Insider that appear to have been sent by Andrea to her sister, Jessica, in March 2015, Andrea said their father had "no moral or legal compass."

"Don't fool yourself," Andrea wrote to her sister, according to the texts. "That money we have is blood money."

"You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly," she continued, according to the reviewed texts. "As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered."
...
Manafort, a Republican operative who had advised authoritarian leaders like the Democratic Republic of Congo's Mobutu Sese Seko and the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos, is credited with revamping Yanukovych's image and helping him win the presidency in 2010.
http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-man ... ine-2017-3
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