NY Times|July 2018|Manafort’s Trial Isn’t About Russia, but It Will Be in the Air

[Note: Freeh has worked for Andriy Klyuyev and his brother Serhiy]

By Sharon LaFraniere

WASHINGTON — When they present their evidence in the financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort beginning this week, federal prosecutors have promised the judge, no government witness will even utter the word Russia.

Russia inevitably looms over the entire proceeding anyway.

Mr. Manafort, who was chairman of President Trump’s campaign, faces 18 charges of bank and tax fraud, largely stemming from his work as a political consultant in Ukraine and predating the campaign. The trial, scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning with jury selection in federal court in Alexandria, Va., will not be about collusion or Russian disinformation, even if a stray reference to the country inevitably creeps in.

In the trial that begins Tuesday, prosecutors have told Judge T. S. Ellis III of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that they will carefully steer clear of any political inferences that could prejudice the jury. But they do plan to show that a group of Ukrainian oligarchs financed his work to help elect Mr. Yanukovych and promote pro-Russian political interests.

They named four Ukrainian oligarchs: Rinat Akhmetov, Andriy Klyuyev, Borys Kolesnikov and Sergei Lyovochkin. Mr. Yanukovych appointed two of them to top government posts when he was elected president.

Read the story

Advertisements

Foreign Policy|July 2017|How Paul Manafort Helped Buy Washington Influence for Putin Crony

[Note: Serhiy Klyuyev and his brother Andriy are (or were) Freeh clients]

In May 2013, the Republican lobbyist Vin Weber welcomed Serhiy Klyuyev, one of Ukraine’s most powerful political operatives, to Washington. For two days, Weber squired the member of parliament around Capitol Hill to spread the message that then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was leading his country on the path to reform and was seeking to embrace the West.

Klyuyev had come to Washington as part of a lobbying campaign carried out on behalf of an obscure Brussels-based think tank, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), which was founded by veterans of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. On the recommendation of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman who worked as a political fixer for Yanukovych, ECFMU hired two powerhouse Washington lobbying firms, the Podesta Group and Mercury LLC.

Working with Manafort and his deputy, the two firms pushed Yanukovych’s agenda in Washington, but none at the time documented their work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) — passed to counter the influence of foreign propaganda on American politics. In the controversy that has ensued since Trump’s victory and allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Podesta, Mercury, and Manafort’s firm have all conceded that their work benefited the Ukrainian government and have filed paperwork under FARA.

On Capitol Hill, aides perceived the campaign as a run-of-the-mill lobbying effort. While in Washington, Klyuyev met with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), the co-founder of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, and later traveled to his Pennsylvania district, a hot spot of shale gas production. Ukraine at the time was eager to develop its own shale gas resources. “This kind of thing happens all the time,” said one Murphy aide.

Concerns over corruption, human rights, and governance had made European officials leery of propping the door wide open to Ukrainian EU membership. But the lobbyists’ message to Washington was, “Don’t let that get in the way of bringing Ukraine into the fold,” said one of the sources familiar with the lobbying effort.

When he refused to sign the EU deal at a summit meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Nov. 29, 2013, Ukrainians poured into city streets in protest, and the resulting popular uprising soon toppled Yanukovych and laid bare his regime’s fantastic corruption.

Documents revealed Klyuyev, the parliamentarian whom Weber had shepherded around Capitol Hill, as the owner of the president’s fantasyland estate, Mezhyhirya, complete with a private zoo, a collection of rare cars, and even a pirate ship. Ukrainian prosecutors have accused Klyuyev and his brother, who served as Yanukovych’s chief of staff, of fraud related to illegal privatizations and failing to repay loans in excess of $500 million.

Described by anti-corruption activists as one of the masterminds of Yanukovych’s kleptocracy, Klyuyev fled the country in 2015 before he could be arrested. That year, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Klyuyev’s brother, Andriy, for his role in raiding Ukrainian state coffers.

Serhiy Leshchenko, a crusading Ukrainian journalist and now a member of parliament, described the Klyuyev brothers as Yanukovych’s “most loyal and permanent allies.”

“They were architects of Yanukovych’s autocracy and widespread corruption,” Leshchenko said. “They were not only political partners but also in business with Yanukovych.”

Read the story

 

Kyiv Post|June 2015|After he disappears, ex-Yanukovych ally Klyuyev put on wanted list

[Note: Serhiy Klyuyev is a Freeh client]

By Oleg Sukhov

The announcement was made after Klyuyev, who is accused of fraud and embezzlement, reportedly fled abroad after being stripped of parliamentary immunity. Ukrainian authorities have faced intense criticism for failing to arrest him and prevent his flight.

Critics say that the situation highlights a lack of progress in corruption cases against former Yanukovych allies, none of which has been sent to court so far.

Serhiy Klyuyev is a multimillionaire who, in September 2013, was the nominal owner of Mezhyhirya – the palatial 140-hectare, billion-dollar estate that Yanukovych occupied during his presidency. Authorities say the ex-president took over the property via a series of illegal transactions. Prosecutors accuse Serhiy Klyuyev of fraud, misappropriation of property, and abuse of power. Before disappearing, Klyuyev denied any wrongdoing.

A notice that Klyuyev was wanted initially appeared on the Interior Ministry’s website on June 8 but subsequently disappeared.

On June 5, the EU helped Ukrainian authorities by extending sanctions against Klyuyev, former Justice Minister Olena Lukash and former Education and Science Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk until Oct. 6.

Serhiy Klyuev, a Donetsk native and a businessman, could not be reached by phone. He is the brother of former presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Klyuev, who is wanted in Ukraine for alleged embezzlement and participation in a crackdown on EuroMaidan protesters in November 2013.

Read the story

Radio Free Europe|July 2018|EU Court Clears Ex-Yanukovych Aide Of Past Sanctions, Upholds Current Measures Against Him

[Note: Freeh and Sullivan worked for Andriy and Serhiy Kluyev’s holding company, Slav AG, dating back to at least 2014]

BRUSSELS — The European Union has retroactively canceled some sanctions against Andriy Klyuyev, the former head of the ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration, but did not lift sanctions against him that were prolonged in March.

The EU’s general court on July 11 ruled that restrictive measures imposed by the Brussels against Klyuyev for the period March 2017- March 2018 that consist of asset freezes should be annulled.

Those sanctions against Klyuyev and 12 others were extended in March 2018 for another year, and Klyuyev will not be completely removed from the sanctions list unless the extension of sanctions beyond March is also canceled.

Klyuyev has appealed the current measures and a ruling is expected later this year.

The court concluded that, since Klyuyev informed the European Council that Ukrainian criminal proceedings against him had been suspended before the renewal of the bloc’s restrictive measures, the council should have sought clarification on the issue from the Ukrainian authorities.

Klyuyev, Yanukovych, and 11 associates of the former president remain under EU sanctions for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds.

The EU imposed the asset freezes shortly after the collapse of Yanukovych’s government in February 2014.

Andriy’s brother, Serhiy Klyuyev, was removed from the list earlier this year. Serhiy, who was a businessman and lawmaker from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, was the nominal owner of Mezhyhirya, the lavish Yanukovych residence outside Kyiv which is now a museum.

The New Republic|Feb 2014|Disgraced Penn State Hires a Mammoth P.R. Firm. And Gets What it Paid For.

by Alec Macgillis

In August 2012, the head of the world’s largest public relations firm, Edelman, made a pitch to Penn State University’s Board of Trustees to take on one of the biggest p.r. jobs in recent history: resurrecting the university’s image in the wake of the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

“We will visit national media, stories on first anniversaries we have to shape,” said Richard Edelman. “Stand up specific set of allies-those people always called by NYT, CNN, etc. e.g. Sonnenfeld re governance. Then when he goes on TV he’ll say good things about Penn State.”

Edelman got the job. And lo and behold, last week USA Today ran an op-ed by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, a frequent TV commentator on corporate governance, and a college classmate and friend of Edelman’s, under the headline: “Penn State deserves great praise.” The column overflows with plaudits for the university leadership’s attempts to rebuild after the Sandusky scandal:

Read the story

The Economist|Dec 2014|Crying foul in Guinea

“AN emblematic tragedy” is how Sir Paul Collier, an adviser to the British government, describes the situation in Guinea—referring not to the Ebola outbreak (awful though he considers that to be) but the saga of Simandou, a mining project mired in allegations of corruption, expropriation and corporate espionage.

The saga oozes intrigue. Among its cast of characters: two of the world’s biggest mining groups, the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto and Vale of Brazil; Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli diamond tycoon; George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist; Mark Malloch-Brown, a former deputy head of the UN; the wife of Guinea’s former leader; and, possibly, members of South Africa’s elite and security services. It is, as one lawyer involved in the case wryly puts it, “a slightly Hollywood story”.

The opening chapter was the awarding of exploration licences for four blocks at Simandou to Rio Tinto in 1997. The northern two blocks were snatched back from the company in 2008, as the then dictator, Lansana Conté, lay on his deathbed. The ostensible reason was that Rio was not developing the site quickly enough. Months later the rights to these blocks were assigned to BSG Resources (BSGR), a firm indirectly owned by a Steinmetz family trust. With no upfront payment required, the deal appeared to be very attractive for BSGR. Mo Ibrahim, an African billionaire, asked whether the Guinean officials who agreed to it were “idiots, or criminals, or both”. After Conté’s death, BSGR sold 51% of its interest to Vale for $2.5 billion, $500m of which was paid immediately.

Rio’s legal complaint is spicy stuff. It alleges that BSGR doled out $100m in bribes and that Frédéric Cilins, an associate of Mr Steinmetz, befriended staff at the business centre of the Novotel hotel in Conakry, the Guinean capital, to obtain copies of faxes detailing Rio’s plans at Simandou. The complaint also claims that Vale feigned interest in buying assets from Rio, months after the Brazilian group had begun secret negotiations with BSGR, in order to hoodwink Rio into showing it confidential information about Simandou’s geology. Seeing an opportunity to wrest control of part of the site from its rival “on the cheap”, Vale shared this data with BSGR in violation of a confidentiality agreement, Rio alleges.

As for Rio’s racketeering claims, a lawyer for BSGR describes them as “amazingly fictitious”. Nevertheless, the trust that controls BSGR is said to have hired Joe Lieberman, a former United States senator, and Louis Freeh, former head of the FBI, to conduct an internal probe of the bribery allegations—though the firm will not say whether they have begun their work.

Read the story

Guardian|Aug 2018|Giuliani says firm defending corrupt Romanian-American is paying him

Trump’s attorney said he wrote to the Romanian president under a retainer paid by Freeh Group, who represent Gabriel Popoviciu

by Jon Swaine

Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani is being paid to assist lawyers working to free a wealthy Romanian-American real estate magnate who was convicted and sentenced to prison over a corrupt land deal.

Giuliani last week wrote to Romania’s president and prime minister to complain about the nature of their country’s efforts to tackle corruption. He called for an amnesty for people convicted under what he called the “excesses” of the Romanian anticorruption authorities.

The former New York City mayor said on Tuesday that he wrote the letter under a retainer he is paid by Freeh Group, a private consultancy run by Giuliani’s friend Louis Freeh, a former FBI director and federal judge. Giuliani declined to say how much he was paid.

Freeh represents Gabriel “Puiu” Popoviciu, who was convicted in 2016 of crimes relating to his purchase of land in Bucharest that he developed into a shopping mall. The conviction was upheld last year by an appeals court and Popoviciu was sentenced to seven years in prison. After police struggled to find him, he was located in London and arrested.

In a statement last year, Freeh said he had concluded that Popoviciu’s conviction and sentence were “not supported by either the facts or the law” after reviewing the case with a team that included former federal prosecutors.

Read the story