DANGER: It's Time To Ask Again What Really Happened To Ukraine's Missing Gold - financialanalysis


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Sunday, February 9, 2020

DANGER: It's Time To Ask Again What Really Happened To Ukraine's Missing Gold

Now that the Trump impeachment farce is finally over, vindicating the president and in the process for the first time boosting the president's approval rating higher than where Obama was at this time in his first term much to the embarrassment of Nancy Pelosi, whose impeachment gambit has backfired spectacularly (just as Nancy knew it would, and is why she delayed triggering it until a critical mass of ultra left-wing demands in Congress made it impossible for her to ignore any longer)...
... the Democrats' great diversion from Trump's core question - did the Bidens willfully engage in, and benefit from corruption in the Ukraine, corruption which may have been enabled and facilitated by billions in taxpayer funds originating from the Obama administration no less - is over.
However, while Trump has finally moved on beyond what in retrospect was a remarkable, if failed presidential coup attempt, orchestrated by the Ukraine lobby in the US, backed by the Atlantic Council and various other "deep-state" institutions and apparatchiks, and implemented by Congressional democrats who are now watching the chances of the Democratic party winning the 2020 presidential election melt before their eyes, some long overdue questions surrounding the Bidens' involvement in Ukraine - one of the world's most corrupt nations according to the World Economic Forum - especially around the time of the 2014 presidential coup and the months immediately following, are about to be asked, and haunt Joe Biden and his son like a very angry and vengeful ghost, only this time there will be no Trump impeachment to distract from revealing the shocking answers.
Needless to say, we are delighted by this outcome because as regular readers will recall, there are many unanswered questions that emerged back in 2014, some from following the money both in and out of Ukraine, and some from following the country's gold, much of which was put on board a plane headed to the US in one cold, wintry night in March 2014, never to come back again.
But before we get there, first we need to a rather lengthy detour into the history of Ukraine corruption since the February 2014 Euromadian revolution, for the background on why Trump had to be stopped at all costs from asking either Ukraine, or anyone else, questions that may expose corruption involving Joe Biden in particular, and the Obama administration in general. To do that, we need to follow some $1.8 billion in US taxpayer funds that quietly went missing back in 2014, and most likely ended up in the offshore bank account of some Ukrainian oligarch; conveniently PJ Media's senior editor Tyler O'Neill did just that almost two years ago, in March 2018. Here's what he said back then, together with some additions from ZH:
In the last days of the Obama administration, then-Vice President Joe Biden took a "swan song" trip to Ukraine, a notoriously corrupt country where he had been the administration's "point person." On the eve of this trip, the country announced it would end a criminal investigation into an infamous company connected to the loss of $1.8 billion in aid funding — a company whose board of directors included Biden's son Hunter.
The Biden family's dealings with this Ukrainian company involved getting one of the country's most notorious mob bankers, Ihor Kolomoiski, off the U.S. government visa ban list. Under Biden's leadership, $3 billion in aid went to Ukraine, and his son's company was implicated in the disappearance of $1.8 billion of that money. Peter Schweizer revealed the former vice president's role in his new book "Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends."
Ihor Kolomoiski
Secretary of State John Kerry announced the U.S. support for Ukraine's nationalist government in March 2014, a month after a mass uprising pushed pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych out of office and inspired a corresponding pro-Russian uprising in the east. It was also at this time that a leaked recording between US assistant secretary of state Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland and the US envoy to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, emerged, a clip which as the FT said then "could also bolster [claims] that the protests that erupted against Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich last November are being funded and orchestrated by the US." In other words, the clip confirmed that the US was masterminding the entire "Euromaidan" process all along and deciding who should be in Ukraine's next government. In short: what happened in Ukraine in February 2014 was another CIA-staged presidential coup. Finally, it was also the time that Biden became the Obama administration's "point person" for the country.
On April 16, 2014, shortly after the February 2014 Ukrainian revolution which culminated with the overthrow of democratically-elected president Yanukovich, Biden met with Devon Archer, a former star fundraiser for John Kerry's 2004 presidential run and business partner in Rosemont Capital with Biden's son Hunter. (Federal agents would later arrest Archer in May 2016 for defrauding a Native American tribe.)
Less than a week later (April 22) came an announcement that Archer had joined the board of Burisma, a secretive Ukrainian natural gas company. On May 13, Hunter Biden would also join the company's board.
On the day before Archer's hiring, April 21, the vice president landed in Kiev for high-level meetings with Ukrainian officials. He spearheaded the effort to invest $1 billion from the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into Ukraine.
The vice president's presence helps explain a conundrum. Burisma hired his son and Archer despite the fact that neither of them had any experience in the energy sector. Schweizer notes, "The choice of Hunter Biden to handle transparency and corporate governance of Burisma is curious, because Biden had little if any experience in Ukrainian law, or professional legal counsel, period."
Furthermore, Hunter Biden "seemed undeterred by the fact that as he was joining the Burisma board the British government's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was seizing $23 million from [founder Mykola] Zlochevsky's bank accounts." Furthermore, a year after Biden joined the firm, "experienced industry observers warned investors that Burisma was still a company to be avoided."
Mykola Zlochevsky On the other hand, Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Out of 148 nations studied by the World Economic Forum, Ukraine ranks 143 for property rights, 130 for "irregular payments and bribes," 133 for "favoritism in decisions of government officials," and 146 for "protection of minority shareholders' interests."
Two major figures in this corruption feature prominently in Biden's Ukraine investment.
Zlochevsky founded Burisma in Cyprus in 2006. He served as natural resources minister under Yanukovych, and gave himself the licenses to develop the country's abundant gas fields. He also had a flare for lavishness, running a super-exclusive fashion boutique named after himself.
Burisma's major subsidiaries ended up sharing the same business address as the natural gas firm controlled by Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. He controlled the country's largest financial institution, PrivatBank, through which the Ukrainian military and government workers got paid. He also owned media companies and airlines. In violation of Ukraine law, he maintained Ukrainian, Israeli, and Cypriot passports.
Kolomoisky gained a reputation for violence and brutality, along with lawlessness. Rival oligarchs have sued him for alleged involvement in "murders and beheadings" related to a business deal. He also allegedly used "hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws" to take over a steel plant in 2006. He built his multibillion-dollar empire by "raiding" other companies, forcing them to merge with his own using brute force.
For these and other reasons, the U.S. government placed Kolomoisky on its visa ban list, prohibiting him from entering the country legally. In 2015, however, after Hunter Biden and Devon Archer had joined Burisma's board, Kolomoisky was given admittance back into the U.S. According to a follow-up report in 2016, "today, the oligarch mainly resides in Switzerland. He spends much time in the United States and is getting less and less involved in the Ukrainian affairs."
Archer and the younger Biden brought other benefits to Burisma, however. Archer represented the company at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition in 2015. Biden addressed the Energy Security for the Future conference in Monaco. The vice president's son brought much-needed legitimacy to the shoddy gas company. Less than a month after Archer joined Burisma's board, the company hired another Kerry lackey, David Leiter, as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. He successfully lobbied for more aid to the country.
And Both Biden and Kerry championed $1.8 billion in taxpayer-backed loans given to Ukraine in September 2014 courtesy of the IMF. That money would go directly through Kolomoisky's PrivatBank, and then it would disappear. According to the Ukrainian anti-corruption watchdog Nashi Groshi, "This transaction of $1.8 billion ... with the help of fake contracts was simply an asset siphoning operation."
What is even more fascinating, is that in the chaos following the February 2014 revolution, Ukraine appears to have embezzled money from none other than the IMF (whose biggest source of funds is the US). As German newspaper Deutsche Wirtshafts Nachrichten reported in August 2015, a huge chunk of the $17 billion in bailout money the IMF granted to Ukraine in April 2014 was discovered in a bank account in Cyprus controlled by, who else, Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoisky. As the German publication went on to add, in April 2014, $3.2 billion was immediately disbursed to Ukraine, and over the following five months, another $4.5 billion was disbursed to the Ukrainian Central Bank in order to stabilize the country’s financial system. "The money should have been used to stabilize the country’s ailing banks, but $1.8 billion disappeared down murky channels," DWN wrote.
DWN also reported that according to the IMF, in January 2015 the equity ratio of Ukraine’s banking system had dropped to 13.8 percent, from 15.9 percent in late June 2014. By February 2015 even PrivatBank had to be saved from bankruptcy, and was given a 62 million Euro two-year loan from the Central Bank. "So where have the IMF’s billions gone?"
The racket executed by Kolomoiski’s PrivatBank was first uncovered by the Ukrainian anti-corruption initiative ‘Nashi Groshi,’ meaning ‘our money’ in Ukrainian.
According to Nashi Groshi’s investigations, PrivatBank has connections to 42 Ukrainian companies, which are owned by another 54 offshore companies based in the Caribbean, USA and Cyprus. These companies took out loans from PrivatBank totaling $1.8 billion.
These Ukrainian companies ordered investment products from six foreign suppliers based in the UK, the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean, and then transferred money to a branch of PrivatBank in Cyprus, ostensibly to pay for the products.The products were then used as collateral for the loans taken out from PrivatBank – however, the overseas suppliers never delivered the goods, and the 42 companies took legal action in court in Dnipropetrovsk, demanding reimbursement for payments made for the goods, and the termination of the loans from Privatbank. The court’s ruling was the same for all 42 companies; the foreign suppliers should return the money, but the credit agreement with Privatbank remains in place.
"Basically, this was a transaction of $1.8 billion abroad, with the help of fake contracts, the siphoning off of assets and violation of existing laws,” explained journalist Lesya Ivanovna of Nashi Groshi.
Then in March 2015, Kolomoiski, whom some have described as the Tony Soprano of Ukraine, and increasingly a pariah in the country that made him a billionaire was dismissed from his position as governor of Dnipropetrovsk after a power struggle with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko; the fraud was carried out while he was governor of the region in East-Central Ukraine.
“The whole story with the court case was only necessary to make it look like the bank itself was not involved in the fraud scheme. Officially it now looks like as if the bank has the products, but in reality they were never delivered,” said Ivanovna.
Such business practices, which earned Kolomoskyi a fortune estimated by Forbes in March 2012 to be $3 billion, were known to investigators beyond Ukraine’s borders; Kolomoiski was once banned from entering the US due to suspicions of connections with international organized crime but then Biden's involvement quietly lifted the visa ban.
Despite these suspicions, Kolomoiski is unlikely to face justice, as he is currently living in exile in Switzerland , Israel and the US, after he fled Ukraine in early 2015. Not long after Kolomoiski fled Ukraine, in December 2016, Ukraine's government nationalize his Privatbank in order to shore up Ukrainians' savings. A Ukrainian lawmaker called it the "greatest robbery of Ukraine's state budget of the millennium." A few months earlier, in February 2016, the government seized Burisma founder Zlochevsky's assets and placed him on Ukraine's wanted list. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office seized Burisma's gas wells.
Which brings us to January 2017, and when Joe Biden infamous arrived for his "swan song" visit and demanded, before the entire world, that the criminal investigation into Burisma was dropped.
Devon Archer left the scandal-plagued company at the end of 2016, although a clueless Hunter Biden remained on the board through October 2019 - well after his presence there sparked the biggest political scandal since the Bill Clinton impeachment - providing "legal assistance" in exchange for millions of dollars received from the gas giant. Archer and Biden have not been required to disclose their compensation from Burisma, but Bowling Green State University professor Oliver Boyd-Barrett wrote, "Potentially, the Biden family could become billionaires."

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