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By John Helmer, Moscow

Never in the field of American conflict with Russia has so much wool pulled over the eyes been owed to so few sheep.  That was during the losing presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Now, in the investigations of President Donald Trump and his family, it’s a case of so many sheep producing so little wool.

The case of the $13 million paid to the Clinton family by the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, in exchange for personal favours and escalation of the war against Russia, was reported in detail throughout 2014. Click to read the opener,  and more

Early this month there has been fresh investigation of Pinchuk’s money links with the Clintons, owing to the start of Ukrainian government inquiries into the theft of billions of dollars of International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans to Ukraine – money then transferred to  Ukrainian commercial banks including Pinchuk’s Credit Dnepr bank,  and then loaned to offshore entities controlled by Pinchuk but apparently not repaid.  Theft of the IMF money was first reported here  in connection with Igor Kolomoisky’s operation of Privat Bank.   

Credit Dnepr’s takings were reported here. Also on the receiving end was the IMF’s Kiev representative, Jerome Vacher. For the reporting of his relationship with Pinchuk, read this. Vacher was recently replaced in Kiev. He and the IMF management decline to explain why.

Last week, in an investigation of Pinchuk, Credit Dnepr, and the Clintons, a group known as CyberBerkut published what it says were emails hacked from the files of Pinchuk operative, Thomas Weihe. He is currently listed as head of the Pinchuk Foundation board and chief executive.  Read the emails here.   

Foundation business -- left: Weihe with Pinchuk; right: Pinchuk with Chelsea Clinton.

The BBC’s Ukrainian service reports that CyberBerkut is a “staunchly anti-Western group which takes its name from the riot police used against protesters during the unrest in Kiev that led to the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. The group’s declared goal is thwarting Ukraine’s military plans and thus stopping the “genocide” that it accuses Kiev of unleashing at America’s behest. Its motto is ‘We won’t forgive or forget’, and its rhetoric closely resembles that of Russian state media.”

The Wikipedia entry for CyberBerkut calls it “a modern organized group of pro-Russian hacktivists”, with a long list of cyber operations starting in March 2014. For details, read.  On July 13, Wikileaks tweeted the CyberBerkut report but qualified its conclusions, calling them “alleged”.

Russian press pick-up has yet to reach the mainstream Moscow media,  or the English-language outlets run by Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin press head.  If it did, they might correct factual errors in the CyberBerkut report, such as the linking of Pinchuk to the Ukrainian Delta Bank. Before its collapse in March 2015, Delta was owned by Nikolai Lagun.  Graham Stack’s investigation of Lagun’s looting of Delta Bank reveals plenty of crime, but no trace of Pinchuk. 

The first Russian publication of the CyberBerkut report is on the Novorussian website, Colonel Cassad;   this is no more than a re-publication of the original text.

This is how CyberBerkut charts the relationship between the Pinchuk outlays and Clinton receipts:

Source: https://cyber-berkut.org/img/ch.jpg

The evidence of the movement of IMF money through Credit Dnepr into the offshores, and from Pinchuk pockets into Clinton pockets,  has yet to be corroborated. What is revealed for the first time are emails between Clinton and Pinchuk operatives during the second half of 2014. These confirm the investigations, reported here three years ago, of what Pinchuk was doing to promote his steel-pipe trade with the US and his anti-Russian agenda, with the Clintons and the Obama Administration. At the same time, Pinchuk was using the demonstration of  support he was procuring from them in order to boost his political power in Kiev and financial favour from the National Bank of Ukraine.

Read the emails, commencing in July of 2014, clicking on the images to enlarge:

Douglas Schoen, Pinchuk’s lobbyist in the US, does not respond to queries. Nor does Weihe, the Pinchuk Foundation apparatchik. They have made no statement challenging the authenticity of these emails. Nor have the Clinton Foundation officials who sent or received the emails, and  who have been working to manage Clinton’s relationship with Pinchuk and satisfy his requests.

The three Clinton operatives, who remain at work at the foundation, are Amitabh Desai (pictured below, left), Robert Harrison (centre), and Craig Minassian (right).

Desai, according to the Clinton website, “has been with the Clinton Foundation for more than 10 years. As foreign policy adviser, Ami guides international strategy and relationships, and plays a central role in shaping and executing President Clinton’s vision. This includes managing relationships with heads of state, business leaders, philanthropists, and NGOs around the globe” Before taking his job at the foundation, Desai worked for Clinton when she was a US senator, and before that, for Senator Edward Kennedy.  

Last week’s report isn’t the first disclosure that in Desai’s emails he was selling access to Clinton for foreign money. More of them can be found here. Among the excerpts already published by US investigators, mainly from Freedom of Information Act pursuit of State Department files, there is no reference to Pinchuk or Ukraine. The US archive on reports of fraud at the Clinton Foundation is very large, and can be combed through here. Fraud involving Pinchuk isn’t reported in this database.  

Harrison is a lawyer with a banking career at Goldman Sachs before he became chief executive of the Clinton Global initiative (CGI). That’s the spending faucet of the Clinton operation, not the conduit for incoming cash.  American reporters have already uncovered emails from Harrison to the Democratic National Committee asking for guidance in the event Clinton won the presidential election.  Harrison was anxious, he said at the time, for the job security of the foundation’s employees. Read this for details.  

In no case of emails spilling into the public domain from the Clinton Foundation have those who have been hacked charged forgery of their emails.  But they have denied their computer servers and email archives were hacked. Not this time, though.

In June last year, with only weeks to go before election day on November 8, Bloomberg and Fortune  reported  “the Democratic National Committee isn’t the only political target allegedly under attack by Russian hackers. The Clinton Foundation’s computer network has reportedly suffered a breach as well. Government investigators discovered the compromise ‘as recently as last week” Bloomberg reports, citing three unnamed people familiar with the matter. The intrusion is believed to be part of a broader hacking campaign allegedly sponsored by Russia ahead of the United States presidential election in November. Craig Minassian, communications chief of the foundation, denied the claim in a statement provided to Fortune. ‘We have no evidence Clinton Foundation systems were breached and have not been notified by law enforcement of an issue.’”

On August 26, 2016, Associated Press (AP) in New York published a report on how the records of Clinton’s official diary as Secretary of State paralleled money flows into the Clinton Foundation.  AP concluded that Clinton was meeting  in her official capacity with those giving cash to the foundation.    “At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.”

Even this much from the AP had taken three years of pursuing Clinton’s meeting records and stonewalling by the State Department.   In the AP report, and in the archive it had investigated, there is no mention of the Ukraine or Pinchuk.

September 2013 -- Pinchuk pays Clinton to appear at one of his foundation events promoting Ukrainian membership of the European Union, break with Russia, and regime change in  Kiev and Moscow.  

Minassian publishes  a Twitter stream reacting to published allegations of corruption against Clinton. He went into overdrive after the AP report appeared.

But Minassian was untalkative last September, when evidence of State Department emails linking the Clinton Foundation to Russian lobbying by Oleg Deripaska (pictured below) for the takeover of General Motoros’ Opel division was being reviewed by State and the US Treasury. That story, and Minassian’s refusal to respond, can be read here

Days after Minassian was staying shtum on Clinton’s relationship with Deripaska in the Opel deal, Minassian told CNN   that Clinton and the foundation had been cleared of conflict of interest by the New York (NY) State Attorney-General, Eric Schneiderman.

On September 17, 2016, Minassian claimed that if Clinton won the presidency, then the foundation would stop receiving foreign donations. He didn’t answer when asked why the appearance of a breach of conflict had not been remedied when Clinton was Secretary of State, except to say there was an agreement with the Obama White House that a vetting process was in place at State’s Ethics Office and at the White House general counsel’s office to keep an eye out. After Clinton had left office, according to Minassian, “the Clinton Foundation certainly hasn’t suffered from lack of scrutiny…I believe the New York Attorney-General himself said he did look into the Clinton Foundation, and saw that  how we did things is consistent with the guidelines they put forth.”

Left: March 2014 – NY Attorney-General Schneiderman with Clinton at an American Jewish Congress ceremony honouring Clinton for “Lifetime Achievement”. Right: September 2016 – Schneiderman refuses to investigate Clinton Foundation records. For the second story, read this

On November 3, the week before the election, AP broke the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been pursuing an investigation of Clinton’s government favours for foundation donations, but that the Justice Department stopped it. “Though agents believed they had grounds to move forward with an investigation, Justice Department lawyers were more skeptical. The lawyers did not direct the FBI to stop looking into the matter during the meeting, but public-corruption prosecutors in Washington expressed disinterest in a Clinton Foundation-related investigation based on the information presented.” 

In all the email evidence which US media investigations pursued to expose Clinton’s foreign favour trading, there was no focus on the Pinchuk emails and the flow of Pinchuk money. Conflict of interest was the Clinton offence the US investigators were after. But in the Pinchuk case, there was another potential offence, and that was reported on February 17, 2014. Pinchuk had looted his Moscow-based Rossiya Insurance Company of up to $200 million, according to investigations by Russian insurance regulators and prosecutors, before the company’s licence was cancelled in October 2013. 

The subsequent question was: did that money find its way through Pinchuk’s foundation into Clinton’s foundation, to be traded for political and personal favours? 

The release of the CyberBerkut emails last week provides fresh evidence of this trading, but CyperBerkut doesn’t mention the Rossiya Insurance Company crime. As well-known as the crime was in 2013 and 2014, no US media investigator, nor any Russian government investigation has reported pursuing the Rossiya money-trail through Pinchuk’s accounts into Clinton’s. So the big question for the FBI and the Department of Justice —  what check did the Clinton Foundation carry out of the legality of the money it took from Pinchuk? – has never been asked. Or if the US Government did ask the question, the Clinton answer has been concealed.

Note: Thomas Weihe comments:  “First, it is obviously a lie that I dont respond to queries. Every more or less professional and honest journalist gets an answer from me quickly, and I reply honestly. Second, the whole story is completely wrong. It is so wrong that individual corrections cannot improve it. Everything is invented. There is no truth to anything you say. The so-called evidence proves absolutely none of the claims you make. You should be ashamed of publishing such crap.” 

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