By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Hillary Clinton is being caught up in the Panama Papers scandal and the Mossack Fonseca leak. Among the information released are revelations concerning Russia’s biggest bank and their connection to the Podesta Group as their lobbyist in Washington, DC. That’s right… Podesta. The CEO, Tony Podesta, is well known within the DC beltway among movers and shakers and he has strong ties to Hillary Clinton. Tony founded the firm in 1998 with his brother John, who is formerly a chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Next, he was counselor to President Barack Obama. John Podesta is the very definition of a Democratic insider. They are power brokers within the Democratic Party.
The Podesta Group registered with the federal government as a lobbyist for Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution. Three Podesta Group staffers were on the registration: Tony Podesta, Stephen Rademaker and David Adams. The last two were former assistant secretaries of state. It should be noted that Tony Podesta is a big-money bundler for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, while his brother John is the chairman of that campaign and the chief architect of her plans to take the White House this November.
You might wonder why Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) would engage the Podesta Group. As I understand it, they supposedly wanted help with their image. Russia is not exactly known for being honest and untainted when it comes to corruption. More to the point, the Podesta’s were tasked with helping to get sanctions lifted from Russia that were imposed after their aggression in the Ukraine.
This indicates that the Russians have a very good grasp of American politics and that they are seeking to use fellow Marxists to accomplish their goals while providing a facade of respectability. It’s also easy to understand the allure of Sberbank’s money and the Podestas’ greed. That Sberbank or the Podestas wound up in the Panama Papers should be of no surprise to anyone. I would have been surprised if they didn’t. We are talking Russian mobsters and ill-gotten money here.
Sberbank was founded in the nineteenth century. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was reborn. In the 1990’s it grew to the largest bank in the country and today it controls nearly 30% of Russia’s aggregate banking assets. It employs nearly a quarter of a million people. The majority stockholder of Sberbank is Russia’s Central Bank, which for all intents and purposes is the Kremlin.
Our intelligence agencies are well acquainted with Sberbank as it has a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Along with the mob, money moving through the bank supports clandestine Russian intelligence operations. Abroad, the bank uses its offices as cover for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. A NATO counterintelligence official explained that Sberbank, which has outposts in almost two dozen foreign countries, “functions as a sort of arm of the SVR outside Russia, especially because many of its senior employees are ‘former’ Russian intelligence officers.” Inside the country, Sberbank has an equally cozy relationship with the Federal Security Service or FSB, Russia’s powerful domestic intelligence agency. The FSB used to be the KGB and guess who headed it? Vladimir Putin.
“Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior US intelligence official with extensive experience in Eastern Europe. The bank has been used to funnel funds that are used to support Russian terrorism against the Ukraine. Not only does it launder money for intelligence, it also does so for terrorism and military conflicts. The Russians are renowned for espionage, spy craft and fake and real terrorism. Whatever suits their needs at the moment. Ukrainian intelligence has alleged that the FSB collaborated with Sberbank in the bombings of two of the bank’s branches in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in June of 2015. The attacks caused no casualties, but got major coverage in Russian state media as “proof” of Ukraine’s instability and violent anti-Russian nature. Russian spies are known to plant bombs as a provocation, what the Kremlin terms provokatsiya.
Sberbank has denounced the Panama Papers as not even noteworthy. Is anyone surprised by that? Among Sberbank’s subsidiaries that the Podesta Group also represents are the Cayman Islands-based Troika Dialog Group Limited, the Cyprus-based SBGB Cyprus Limited and the Luxembourg-based SB International. Both Sberbank and Troika Dialog are used by members of Putin’s inner circle to shift funds into questionable ‘investments’. Everyone say it with me… money laundering.
Of course, the Podesta Group is claiming that Sberbank is simply a private institution. Well, yeah… if you can call a state-owned bank private. They do this so that they don’t have to register as agents of the Russian government under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. See how that works? John and Tony Podesta are lobbyists for Vladimir Putin, pure and simple. Last time I looked, that was treasonous since Russia is definitely an enemy of the state. Or at least, it used to be.
But there’s more…
Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian billionaire and former prime minister of the Caucasus state, is also named in the Panama Papers. A close ally of Vladimir Putin, Ivanishvili appeared in the Hillary Clinton email dump through her longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal. He played a middle-man role for Clinton and passed along a memo from Ivanishvili ahead of the 2012 Georgian elections. Ivanishvili was head of the Georgian Dream party, which successfully ousted then-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a US ally. Ivanishvili served as prime minister from Oct. 2012 through Nov. 2013.
Ivanishvili is also prominently mentioned in a separate report attached to the Panama Papers published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. He’s worth an estimated $4.8 billion, much of which he hid in an entity called Lynden Management. This is a man who wouldn’t even provide his passport to Mossack Fonseca to verify his address. Paranoia among mobsters is a common condition.
Ivanishvili is also at the center of a lobbying effort aimed at Clinton. On Sept. 3rd, 2012, Blumenthal emailed his friend Hillary Clinton memos written by Ivanishvili and John Kornblum, an attorney who served as Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Germany. Per those emails, Kornblum was “working with the political party in Georgia opposing Saakashvili.” Kornblum then tried to influence the US into distancing itself from Saakashvili. He also asserted that the regime was cracking down on opposition parties, such as the Ivanishvili-controlled Georgian Dream coalition. “There is a real chance Saakashvili could lose,” Kornblum wrote. “He is doing everything possible to avoid that indignity, including harassing Georgian Dream in ways described in the letters. If Saakshvili clearly steals the election, there could be public discontent, violence and maybe a ‘wag the dog’ scenario with Russia,” he added.
In a memo passed to Blumenthal through Kornblum, Ivanishvili urged Clinton to support Georgian Dream. “The first step back to the path of democracy must be an open and fair election that offers the hope of a peaceful transfer of power,” Ivanishvili wrote. “Recent polls suggest that Georgian Dream can make this happen, if the authorities give democracy a chance.”
No one knows for sure if Blumenthal was paid for bringing Kornblum and Invanishvili to Clinton, but I’d bet on it. It’s also unclear how Clinton responded to all this. She destroyed thousands of emails and probably tried to cover that up as well.
Remember Benghazi? Blumenthal was up to his hips in that too as I have pointed out before. Blumenthal frequently emailed Clinton with items ranging from political gossip to in-depth intelligence briefings gleaned from his deep reservoir of intelligence community sources. He lobbied heavily on behalf of a company called Osprey Global Solutions, which sought contracts in post-Gaddafi Libya. The whole thing was so Clinton and Blumenthal could make money there, but it backfired big time.
Clinton has not been directly implicated in the Panama Papers, but she is connected directly to people who are. A number of them are extremely close to her. And although none of them are charged with a crime, when you see lobbyists wallowing with mobsters who launder money and worse, you start to see that you are indeed who you keep company with. Hillary is ensnared now in the Panama Papers scandal and as more and more is revealed, she will find herself deeper and deeper in this scandal. I think Hillary has a lot of explaining to do, don’t you? And a whole lot of corruption and death to answer for. What does it say when a US presidential candidate and her campaign leaders are this intimate with Vladimir Putin and Russia? Nothing good and everything bad.