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Dr Matt Prescott @mattprescott
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I've been looking into AllToKnow . com and found that it links to Seabeco... This article about the “voucher privatization” of Gazprom (sold off for $230 million, despite possessing 1/3 of known global gas reserves) makes fascinating reading the-american-interest.com/2016/12/19/the… @karaswisher
In 1994–96, under the infamous “loans-for-shares” program, Russia privatized 150 state-owned companies for just $12 billion, most of which was loaned to a handful of well-connected buyers by the state—and indirectly by the World Bank and the IMF
A majority of Gazprom, the state energy company that controlled a third of the world’s gas reserves, was sold for $230 million; Russia’s entire national electric grid was privatized for $630 million;
The principal beneficiaries of this “privatization”—actually, cartelization—were initially just 25 or so budding oligarchs with the insider connections to buy these properties and the muscle to hold them.
For the vast majority of ordinary Russian citizens, this extreme re-concentration of wealth coincided with nothing less than a full-scale 1930s-type depression, a “shock therapy” [#Brexit]
The few dissenting voices included some of the West’s best economic brains—Nobel laureates like James Tobin, Kenneth Arrow, Lawrence Klein, and @JosephEStiglitz.
They also included Moscow University’s Sergei Glaziev, who now serves as President Putin’s chief economic advisor. Unfortunately, they were no match for the folks with the cash.
[NOTE: The Chandler Brothers of @LegatumInst and #Brexit fame were the 4th biggest owners of Gazprom until 2002 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christoph…] @BBCr4today
Very few outside Russia questioned the wisdom of this blatant intervention in post-Soviet Russia’s first democratic election, or the West’s right to do it in order to protect itself.
By the late 1990s the actual chaos that resulted from Yeltsin’s warped policies had laid the foundations for a strong counterrevolution, including the rise of ex-KGB officer Putin and a massive outpouring of oligarchic flight capital that has continued virtually up to the present
But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms, and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, as well as for needy borrowers like the Trump Organization, the opportunity to feed on post-Soviet spoils was a godsend.
This was vulture capitalism at its worst.
The 9-lived Trump, in particular, had just suffered a string of 6 successive bankruptcies. So the massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich FSU members like Kazahkstan + Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed
TRUMP "[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.'
All this helps to explain one of the most intriguing puzzles about Donald Trump’s long, turbulent business career: how he managed to keep financing it, despite a dismal track record of failed projects.
According to the “official story,” this was simply due to a combination of brilliant deal-making, Trump’s gold-plated brand, and raw animal spirits—with $916 million of creative tax dodging as a kicker.
But this official story is hokum. The truth is that, since the late 1990s, Trump was also greatly assisted by these abundant new sources of global finance, especially from “submerging markets” like Russia
Note that none of the activities and business connections related here necessarily involved criminal conduct.
when it comes to evaluating the probity of senior public officials, the public has the right to know about any material allegations—true, false or, most commonly, unprovable about their business partners and associates, so long as this information is clearly labeled as unverified
<!!!!!> the global networks of influence and finance, licit and illicit, that exist among business people, investors, kleptocrats, organized criminals, and politicians, as well as the “enablers”—banks, accounting firms, law firms, and havens. <!!!!!!> #Brexit #Trump
We’ll begin our tour of Trump’s Russian/FSU connections with several business relationships that evolved out of the curious case of Bayrock Group LLC
Tevfik Arif was not Bayrock’s only connection to Kazakhstan.
A 2007 Bayrock investor presentation refers to Alexander Mashevich’s “Eurasia Group” as a strategic partner for Bayrock’s equity finance. Together with two other prominent Kazakh billionaires, Patokh Chodiev (aka “Shodiyev”) and Alijan Ibragimov,
It was during this period that they first acquired a significant degree of control over Kazakhstan’s vast mineral and gas reserves. Naturally they found it useful to become friends with Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s long-time ruler.
According to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Chodiev and Mashkevich also became close associates of a curious Russian-Canadian businessman, Boris J. Birshtein. who happens to have been the father-in-law of another key Russian-Canadian business associate of Donald Trump in Toronto.
Chodiev paid €23 million to obtain a “Class B” banking license for this same company, permitting it to make international currency trades. In the words of a leading Belgian financial regulator, that would “make all money laundering undetectable.”
As for Arif, his most recent visible brush with the law came in 2010, when he and other members of Bayrock’s Eurasian Trio were arrested together in Turkey during a police raid on a suspected prostitution ring,
At the time, Turkish investigators reportedly asserted that Arif might be the head of a criminal organization that was trafficking in Russian and Ukrainian escorts, allegedly including some as young as 13.
According to these assertions, big-ticket clients were making their selections by way of a modeling agency website, with Arif allegedly handling the logistics.
controversial business of advancing funds to cash-strapped high-profile soccer players in exchange for a share of their future marketing revenues and team transfer fees.... including the Brazilian star Neymar.
“White Rock Partners,” an innovative joint venture among four New York crime families and the Russian mob aimed at bringing state-of-the art financial fraud to Wall Street.
In 2016 Klotsman was reportedly placed on a “top-ten list” of Americans that the Russians were willing to exchange for high-value Russian prisoners in U.S. custody, like the infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Iceland is not usually thought of as a major offshore financial center. It is a small snowy island in the North Atlantic, closer to Greenland than to the UK or Europe, with only 330,000 citizens and a total GDP of just $17 billion.
it alleges that FLG agreed to provide the $50 million in exchange for a 62 percent stake in the four Bayrock Trump projects, but Bayrock would structure the contract as a “loan.”
This meant that Bayrock would not have to pay taxes on the initial proceeds, while FLG’s anticipated $250 million of dividends would be channeled through a Delaware company and characterized as “interest payments,”
it turns out that FL Group, Iceland’s largest private investment fund until it crashed in 2008, had several owners/investors with deep Russian business connections, including several key investors in all three top Iceland banks.
FL Group had constructed an incredible maze of cross-shareholding, lending, and cross-derivatives relationships with all these major banks, as illustrated by the following snapshot of cross-shareholding among Iceland’s financial institutions and companies as of 2008
This thicket of cross-dealing made it almost impossible to regulate “control fraud,” where insiders at leading financial institutions went on a self-serving binge, borrowing and lending to finance risky investments of all kinds. [#Brexit]
Alex Shnaider, the Russian-Canadian billionaire who later became Donald Trump’s Toronto business partner, secured a €45.8 million loan to buy a yacht from Kaupthing Bank [NOTE: Donald TRUMP bought Adnan KASHOGGI's Yacht, The Nabila @Ian_Fraser] @ObiWokKanobe
... there are unconfirmed accounts of a secret U.S. Federal Reserve report that unnamed Iceland banks were being used for Russian money laundering. Furthermore, Kaupthing Bank’s repeated requests to open a New York branch in 2007-08 were rejected by the Fed.
Similar unconfirmed rumors repeatedly appeared in Danish and German publications...
... when Iceland’s banks went belly-up in October 2008, their private banking subsidiaries in Luxembourg, which were managing at least €8 billion of private assets, were suddenly seized by Luxembourg banking authorities and transferred to a new bank, Banque Havilland.
This happened so fast that Iceland’s Central Bank was prevented from learning anything about the identities or portfolio sizes of the Iceland banks’ private offshore clients. But again, there were rumors of some important Russian names.
According to the PM’s own account, the Russian Ambassador informed him that then-Prime Minister Putin was willing to consider offering Iceland a €4 billion Russian bailout
Overall, therefore, with respect to these odd “Russia-Iceland” connections, the proverbial jury is still out. But all these Icelandic puzzles are intriguing and bear further investigation.
NOTE: These insightful snippets are coming from a 2016 article entitled "The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections" by James S. Henry published in @aminterest
the-american-interest.com/2016/12/19/the…
Our fourth case study of Trump’s business associates concerns the 48-year-old Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider, who co-financed the seventy-story Trump Tower and Hotel, Canada’s tallest building
According to an online profile of Shnaider by a Ukrainian news agency, Alex Shnaider was born in Leningrad in 1968, the son of “Евсей Шнайдер,” or “Evsei Shnaider” in Russian
A recent Forbes article says that he and his family emigrated to Israel from Russia when he was four and then relocated to Toronto when he was 13-14.
... it also appears that for a time he got significant helping hand from his (now reportedly ex-) father-in-law, another colorful Russian-Canadian, Boris J. Birshtein.
Originally from Lithuania, Birshtein, now about 69, has been a Canadian citizen since at least 1982.31 He resided in Zurich for a time in the early 1990s, but then returned to Toronto and New York.
One of his key companies was called Seabeco SA, a “trading” company that was registered in Zurich in December 1982. [NOTE: ToKnowAll / AllToKnow / ProjectAlamo / Parscale / @Redrum_of_Crows ]
By the early 1990s Birshtein and his partners had started many other Seabeco-related companies in a wide variety of locations, inclding Antwerp, Toronto, Winnipeg, Moscow, Delaware, Panama, and Zurich.
He often staffed them with directors and officers from a far-flung network of Russians, emissaries from other FSU countries like Kyrgyzstan and Moldova, and recent Russia/FSU emigres to Canada.
According to the Financial Times + the @FBI, in addition to running Seabeco, Birshtein was a close business associate of Sergei Mikhaylov, the reputed head of Solntsevskaya Bratva, the Russian mob’s largest branch, and the world’s highest-grossing organized crime group as of 2014
As of December 2016, a search of the Panama Papers database found no fewer than 28 offshore companies that have been associated with “Midland Resources Holding Limited.”
Our fifth Trump associate profile concerns the Russo/Ukrainian connections of Paul Manafort, the former Washington lobbyist who served as Donald Trump’s national campaign director from April 2016 to August 2016.
Manafort’s partner, Rick Davis, also served as national campaign manager for Senator John McCain in 2008, so this may not just be a Trump association.
One of Manafort’s biggest clients was the dubious pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash.
Otherwise it is difficult to explain how this former used-car salesman could gain a lock on trading goods for gas in Turkmenistan and also become a lynchpin investor in the Swiss company RosUrEnergo, which controls Gazprom’s gas sales to Europe
In 2008, Manafort teamed up with a former manager of the Trump Organization to purchase the Drake Hotel in New York for up to $850 million, with Firtash agreeing to invest $112 million.
According to a lawsuit brought against Manafort and Firtash, the key point of the deal was not to make a carefully-planned investment in real estate, but to simply launder part of the huge profits... skimmed while brokering dodgy natural gas deals between Russia and Ukraine
Trump Tower in New York has received press attention for including among its many honest residents tax-dodgers, bribers, arms dealers, convicted cocaine traffickers, and corrupt former FIFA officials.
Of course, all of these curious relationships may just be meaningless coincidences. i1.wp.com/www.the-americ…
YBM, ostensibly a world-class manufacturer of industrial magnets, was founded indirectly in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1995 by the “boss of bosses,”
... he boasts an undergraduate economics degree from Lviv University, and is reported to take special pride in designing sophisticated, virtually undetectable financial frauds that take years to put in place.
In YBM’s... spent years in the 1990s launching a product-free, fictitious company on the still-badly under-regulated Toronto Stock Exchange. They also paid the “Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte Touche very handsomely in exchange for glowing audits. @ianfraser @premnsikka
For our purposes, one of the most interesting things to note about this YBM Magnex case is that its CEO was a Russian-American named Jacob Bogatin, who was also indicted in the Philadelphia case.
His brother... served in the Soviet Army in a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft unit, helping to shoot down American pilots like Senator John McCain.
At one point, David Bogatin owned five separate condos in Trump Tower that Donald Trump had reportedly sold to him personally
First, the President-elect really is very “well-connected,” with an extensive network of unsavory global underground connections that may well be unprecedented in White House history.
Second, Donald Trump has also literally spent decades cultivating senior relationships of all kinds with Russia + the FSU And public and private senior Russian figures of all kinds have likewise spent decades cultivating him not only as a business partner but as a “useful idiot”
Robert Gates.... former Director and Deputy Director of the CIA—criticized the response of Congress and the White House to the alleged Putin-backed hacking as far too “laid back.” @AOC
I suspect a lot of the activities and connections outlined in this article will end up explaining many of the actions and choices of Donald Trump during his tenure as President of the United States... the-american-interest.com/2016/12/19/the…
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