WASHINGTON, D.C. – NBC News announced Monday that Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion has expanded to include Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary’s 2016 campaign manager, after Infowars.com reported on Friday that documents prove Tony Podesta’s Podesta Group, a Washington-based consulting and lobbying firm, were also on Russia’s payroll.
On Friday, Infowars.com reported that among the revelations made public through the 11.5 million documents leaked by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists detailing the legal and financial arrangements behind secretive off-shore banking transactions dating back to the 1970s was the disclosure Russia’s largest bank, the state-owned Sherbank, uses the Podesta Group as its registered lobbyist in Washington.
Infowars.com can now confirm that in 2011, Sberbank invested $800 million in Skolnovo, Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley that Putin established to facilitate technology transfer from the United States to Russia after the Obama administration established the “Russia Reset” policy, quarterbacked by Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Hillary transfers military technology to Russian “Silicon Valley” under “Reset”
To head Skolkovo, Putin appointed Viktor Vekselberg, one of Russia’s most wealthy oligarchs with close ties to Putin, who had become a multi-billionaire through controlling the Renova Group, a Russian conglomerate with extensive investments in mining, oil and natural gas, and telecommunications. In 2011, Vekselberg not only headed Skolnovo, he also arranged through Sberbank a syndicated loan facility for Renova in Swiss Francs valued at over $2 billion USD.
The U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies program at Fort Leavenworth concluded in 2012 the purpose of Skolokovo was to serve as a vehicle for worldwide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, as well as nuclear technology.
Soon, the U.S. government was aware the Obama administration was approving the transfer of classified, sensitive, and emerging military technology to Russia, including approving the first weapons-related project in the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine.
A 2006 report entitled “From Russia With Money,” released in August by the Government Accountability Institute where “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer is president and Steve Bannon, a key advisor to Donald Trump’s campaign and White House, was a director, charged that Secretary Clinton used the “Russian Reset” and the Skolkovo Project to funnel U.S. military technology to Russia.
Clinton Foundation ties to U.S. firms partnering with Skolnovo
Dozens of U.S. tech firms, including Clinton Foundation donors like Google, Intel, and Cisco made major financial contributions to Skolkovo, with Cisco committing $1 billion.
Skolkovo had assembled 28 Russian, American, and European “Key Partners,” 17 of whom (60 percent) had made financial commitments totaling tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, or sponsored speeches by Bill Clinton.
State Department emails obtained by Citizens United revealed that three-months after Putin appointed Vekselberg to head the Skolkovo Project, a Clinton Foundation employee began pushing the State Department to approve a planned trip by Bill Clinton to Russia to meet with Vekselberg and a handful of other Russian investments.
Donor records show Vekselberg’s Renova group had contributed between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, with another firm associated with Vekselberg, OC Oerlikon, donating $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Sherbank ties to Russian intelligence
“Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image—leading Moscow financial institutions not exactly being known for their propriety and wholesomeness—and specifically to help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector,” wrote former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John R. Schindler in an article entitled “Panama Papers Reveal Clinton’s Kremlin Connection” published by the Observer on April 7, 2016.
“It’s hardly surprising that Sberbank sought the help of Democratic insiders like the Podesta Group to aid them in this difficult hour, since they clearly understand how American politics work,” Schindler continued.
“The question is why the Podesta Group took Sberbank’s money,” Schindler asked. “That financial institution isn’t exactly hiding in the shadows—it’s the biggest bank in Russia, and its reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Nobody acquainted with Russian finance was surprised that Sberbank wound up in the Panama Papers.”
Schindler noted that since the 1990s, Sberbank has grown to be Russia’s dominant bank, controlling nearly 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets and employing a quarter-million people. The majority stockholder in Sberbank is Russia’s Central Bank, making Sberbank functionally an arm of the Russian government, though officially Sberbank is a private institution.
“Certainly, Western intelligence is well acquainted with Sberbank, noting its close relationship with Vladimir Putin and his regime. Funds moving through Sberbank are regularly used to support clandestine Russian intelligence operations, while the bank uses its offices abroad as cover for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service or SVR,” Schindler pointed out.
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.
On April 17, 2014, the Moscow Times reported Ukraine opened criminal proceedings against Sberbank and 13 other banks on suspicion of “financing terrorism.”
Schindler noted the Ukrainian criminal infestation concluded Sberbank had distributed millions of dollars in illegal aid to Russian-backed separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, with the bank serving as “a witting supporter of Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
On April 5, 2016, Lachlan Markay reporting in the Washington Free Beacon published the lobbying registration form the Podesta Group filed with the U.S. government proving Sberbank had contracted with the Podesta Group to advance their interests with banking, trade, and foreign relations.
Markay further reported that according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of journalists exploring the Panama Papers leak, Sberbank and Troika Dialog have ties to companies used by members of Putin’s inner circle to funnel state resources into lucrative private investments.
“Some of these companies were initially connected to the Troika Dialog investment fund, which was controlled and run by Sberbank after the bank bought the Troika Dialog investment bank. Troika and Sberbank declined to comment,” Markay noted the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project concluded in a report published in April 2016.
On March 30, 2016, Politico reported the Podesta Group registered to lobby for the U.S. subsidiary of Sherbank to see if relief could be obtained for the bank in the easing of U.S. sanctions against Russia for Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict.