Monday, February 13, 2017

Wilbur Ross & the Russians

Why was Wilbur Ross confirmed as Secretary of Commerce in 45's cabinet?

Here are some reasons why he should not have been confirmed:

1)  He's the top investor in the Bank of Cyprus, which has many ties with Russian investors, who in turn are close to Vladimir Putin. Ross was the bank's vice chairman until he separated from the bank to take the commerce position under dt.

"Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as his commerce secretary, has been the top shareholder in a Cypriot bank with deep Russian ties and investors who made their fortunes under Russian President Vladimir Putin," reports Kevin G. Hall of McClatchy newspapers' Washington, D.C., bureau.

2) The Bank of Cyprus is used by Putin and other oligarchs to launder money and evade taxes.

Read more here:

3) This bank is run by an ex-KGB friend of Putin, according to Grant Stern on the Occupy Democrats website.

4) Putin has increased his killing of Russians who oppose his regime--such as Alexander Litvinenko, killed by radioactive poisoning in November 2006, Boris Nemtsov, who was shot on a street close to the Kremlin in February 2015, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison in 2009, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was poisoned but survived in January 2015 and then poisoned again on February 2, 2017.  He uncovered Russia to Cyprus money laundering and has begun to recover after a week in a coma.

5) This bank's chairman Josef Ackermann was appointed by Ross and once headed Deutsche Bank, which is a major money-lender to 45's business empire.

6) The second-largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus is Renova Corp., which according to Hall "is headed by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire and associate of Putin who served on the management board of Russian oil giant Rosneft, which was under U.S. financial sanctions in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Vekselberg, with a fortune estimated at more than $14 billion, was featured by Esquire magazine as the richest Russian who doesn’t live abroad."

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To sum up, says Hall, the roles of Ross and Vekselberg in the Bank of Cyprus underscore the overlapping financial interests of associates of Trump and Putin."

7) Deutsche Bank went belly-up and accepted a settlement from New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission in December, as Hall reports:

"Deutsche Bank agreed to a $37 million settlement last week with the New York Attorney General’s Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of poor record-keeping on complex trades. Those problems began while Ackermann was still CEO in 2012.
In addition, Deutsche Bank is reportedly the subject of an ongoing probe by regulators in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom for so-called mirror trades from 2011 to 2015. That complex scheme allowed wealthy Russian clients to buy securities in their native rubles in Moscow and simultaneously sell identical ones for foreign currency in London.
Regulators say they suspect allies of Putin used these trades to get hard currency and evade financial sanctions. Reuters, citing anonymous sources, has said these trades in Russia surpassed $6 billion."

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In addition, we have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with all his Russian financial ties.

And don't forget that Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign advisor for several months, was sued by Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, alleging that Manafort had stolen $19 million from him in an offshore investment in the Cayman Islands, exposed in the Panama papers.

Unraveling all these financial connections just goes on and on.

We now have a Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of State with these Russian ties.

And we have a president with abundant Russian ties who owes $364 million to Deutsche Bank.

Here's Hall's summary: "Trump’s financial disclosures show he has borrowed as much as $364 million from Deutsche Bank for hotels in Chicago and the nation’s capital and for his Doral golf club in Miami. These loans come due by 2024. The bank may have lent Trump more than $3 billion since the 1990s."

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No wonder the admininstration of 45 is not continuing Obama's investigation of Russian tampering with the 2016 election.  Their friends in Russia wouldn't like it.

One might ask a blog on women's lives and women's rights has to spend so much time identifying the compromised financial history of Ross, Tillerson, and 45.

If these guys and their friends plunge us into a war or another great recession, it will affect women as well as men.

If we want to impeach 45 or otherwise drive him out of office, his financial entanglements, his refusal to reveal his tax returns, and his continued defiance of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution are the surest route to achieving that goal.

We all need to call and email and write to our senators and Congressional representatives expressing our concerns over the financial liabilities and Russian connections of 45, Ross, and Tillerson.

Below are a few more reports on the shady status of the Bank of Cyprus, finally admitted to the London Stock exchange in January despite its bankruptcy in 2013 and its continued exposure to bad loans.

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