Oleg V. Deripaska is a Russian aluminum magnate and oligarch. Deripaska is one of seven with long-standing ties to Vladimir Putin added to the U.S. sanctions list in 2018. Paul Manafort lobbied on Deripaska’s behalf.
Deripaska is president of United Company RUSAL, and is considered to be one of the richest men in the world worth an estimated at $5.1 billion, according to Forbes.
Deripaska has long denied any wrongdoing, recently suing the Associated Press for suggesting he worked with Manafort to help Putin and implying he was somehow involved in the Trump controversy. Deripaska also has said the US blocking of his visa was unwarranted, and reportedly offered to cooperate with the recent congressional probes into Russia interference in the U.S. 2016 election.
Adam Waldman, a Washington DC lawyer and lobbyist is a registered foreign agent for Oleg Deripaska and Sergey Lavrov. In Spring 2017 Waldman offered ranking Democrat Sen. Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee access to Clinton-Steele dossier author Christopher Steele.
Paul Hauser is a British national who reportedly serves as Deripaska’s attorney.
In 2009, when Robert Mueller ran the FBI, the bureau asked Deripaska to spend millions of his own dollars funding an FBI-supervised operation to rescue a retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, captured in Iran while working for the CIA in 2007.
FBI agents courted Deripaska in 2009 in a series of secret hotel meetings in Paris; Vienna; Budapest, Hungary, and Washington. Deripaska ultimately spent $25 million assembling a private search and rescue team that worked with Iranian contacts under the FBI's watchful eye.Robyn Gritz, the retired FBI agent who supervised the case in 2009 said
"I kept Director Mueller and Deputy Director [John] Pistole informed of the various efforts and operations, and they offered to intervene with State, if necessary."
The FBI had three reasons for choosing Deripaska for a mission worthy of a spy novel. First, his aluminum empire had business in Iran. Second, the FBI wanted a foreigner to fund the operation because spending money in Iran might violate U.S. sanctions and other laws. Third, agents knew Deripaska had been banished since 2006 from the United States by State over reports he had ties to organized crime.Melanie Sloan, a former Clinton Justice Department lawyer and longtime ethics watchdog said s "far more significant issue" is whether the earlier FBI operation was even legal:
"It's possible the bureau's arrangement with Mr. Deripaska violated the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits the government from accepting voluntary services."
In fall 2009, according to U.S. entry records, Deripaska visited Washington on a rare law enforcement parole visa. And since 2011, he has been granted entry at least eight times on a diplomatic passport, even though he doesn't work for the Russian Foreign Ministry. Former FBI officials confirm they arranged the access.
Deripaskaska once hired Paul Manafort as a political adviser and invested money with him in a business venture that went bad. Deripaska sued Manafort.
Mueller’s indictment of Manafort makes no mention of Deripaska, even though prosecutors have evidence that Manafort contemplated inviting his old Russian client for a 2016 Trump campaign briefing.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Robert Mueller has a conflict of interest because his FBI previously accepted financial help from a Russian that is, at the very least, a witness in the current probe.
“The real question becomes whether it was proper to leave [Deripaska] out of the Manafort indictment, and whether that omission was to avoid the kind of transparency that is really required by the law,” Dershowitz said.
Sen. John McCain met twice with Deripaska, whose visa was blocked by the United States amidst intelligence community concerns. The meetings were arranged by Paul Manafort and his lobbying firm partner Rick Davis, who later became McCain's campaign manager. Davis was McCain's campaign manager in both 2000 and 2008.
In the mid-2000s Davis connected with Deripaska. At the time, the Davis-Manafort firm was advising with pro-Russian political figures in Ukraine and also doing work in Montenegro, another former Soviet satellite that Putin was trying to influence.
While Davis was building the political connections with the oligarch, he was handing off the commercial side of the relationship to Manafort, his longtime lobbying partner. Manafort came to work on the commercial side for Deripaska through Davis.
U.S intelligence raised concerns to McCain's staff about the Davis Manafort work. McCain’s office also was warned about possible Russian military connections to one of his policy advisers at the International Republican Institute (IRI), a think tank which McCain chairs. In 2005, McCain’s inner circle was encouraged to distance itself from the adviser, causing aides to scramble to separate Deripaska from McCain.
In 2006, Davis and Manafort arranged two meetings with McCain and Deripaska. The first occurred in January 2006 in Davos, Switzerland.
Deripaska showed up by McCain a second time, during an official trip to Montenegro, another place where the Davis-Manafort firm was offering advice. Deripaska and Davis joined McCain and other officials at a dinner hosted by the country’s government in August 2006, and some of the attendees went on to take a cruise aboard a yacht where drinks and pastry were served in honor of McCain’s 70th birthday.
Deripaska’s visa to travel to the United States had been blocked by the State Department because of concerns about his ties to Russian businesses and government. The U.S. embassy in Moscow monitored Deripaska’s business dealings during the time, reporting back to Washington they believed the oligarch was close to Putin.
“Deripaska enjoys a favorable relationship with President Putin -- he is a more or less permanent fixture on Putin's trips abroad, and he is widely acknowledged by our contacts to be among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis,”one 2006 cable from the Moscow embassy to Washington declared.
The oligarch’s visa controversy dragged on for years and reached the highest levels of both governments. A February 2008 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks shows that Putin was so concerned about the matter that he had then-Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak lobby then U.S. Ambassador to Moscow William Burns to try win Deripaska’s entry to the United States.
“Kislyak parried with a demand for more information on the U.S. refusal to issue Oleg Deripaska a visa. Ambassador said he had already provided our response,” the cable said. Putin eventually dispatched Kislyak to be his ambassador in Washington.
During the 2008 campaign, the Davis Manafort firm disclosed through its U.S. partner Daniel J. Edelman Inc., that it was working for the political party in Ukraine supporting Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by Putin.
"Davis Manafort International LLC is directed by a foreign political party, the Ukraine Parties of Regions, to consult on the political campaign in Ukraine," the January 2008 Foreign Agent Registration Act filing showed.
The work included developing "a communications campaign to increase Prime Minister Yanukovych's visibility in the U.S. and Europe," the report added, indicating that Davis and Manafort were being paid a $35,000 a month retainer for the work that began in spring 2007.
Manafort was first questioned by the FBI about his Russian and Ukrainian ties in 2014, two years before he became Trump’s campaign manager, and agents probed him on how he first came to work for Deripaska through McCain’s top political adviser, Davis.
Before Andrew McCabe's meteoric rise in the FBI’s Washington D.C. offices, he led the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, a joint operation with the New York City Police Department (NYPD). run out of the FBI’s New York Field Office in Manhattan. McCabe supervised the task force who were aggressively chasing and flipping, and in many cases – paying Russian organized crime figures as snitches to make high profile cases.
Like Robert Hanssen, McCabe always seemed to have his fingers in all things Russia that the FBI was doing. Hanssen worked the same angle for over $1 million in cash and diamonds, working as an inside counterintelligence agent, reporting back to Russia the FBI's as a double-agent.
While in New York, McCabe worked in tandem with Bruce Ohr who often coordinated with McCabe’s Russian organized crime task force. Ohr worked Organized Crime too for DOJ.
McCabe maintained an alliance with Deripaska. McCabe met with Deripaska in Europe without proper clearance from FBI, while Deripaska was a possible target on a FBI organized crime probe.
During McCabe’s liaisons with Deripaska, Peter Strzok was running the FBI’s Post-Adjudication Risk Management plan, or PARM, a program initiated to catch problematic and criminal associations of FBI agents. Strzok and PARM should have snagged McCabe’s Russian associations, especially Deripaska. Many agents were fired for far less, under the stringent internal program.
And by 2015 even officials at the Central Intelligence Agency became concerned about McCabe’s contact with Russian officials, according the federal law enforcement sources. The CIA’s Counter Espionage Division may have opened a formal a case on McCabe, after intelligence about his contacts with Russians sparked a review of his foreign associates, sources said.
"There may have been an official case. I know for a fact he was looked at informally, where we would see what he was doing with foreign contacts. A formal case would be classified and I couldn’t get into the details if it hinged on Russian organized crime,"one CIA source confirmed. The agency source said McCabe was on the CIA’s radar after 2009 and 2010 when agency officials got word McCabe may have he met with Deripaska in Europe.
FBI organized crime investigators had apparently been looking at Oleg Deripaska at the time of the meeting, FBI sources said and McCabe, as FBI brass, did not seek the proper approval from FBI Dir. Robert Mueller or DOJ brass to sit down with the Deripaska.
"He really had no business meeting with Deripaska and sort of forced his way into the trip at the last minute. He kept in touch with Deripaska and was very touchy about anyone else (from the FBI) speaking to him. Andy took an active role (with Deripaska).”
Two FBI Agents were sanctioned by Mueller’s office to interview Deripaska in Europe. McCabe was FBI upper echelon and was not approved to speak to Deripaska, sources said. In fact, it appears FBI policy would have required McCabe to get a waiver signed by DOJ officials to be permitted to meet with Deripaska, especially since Deripaska was a potential player in an open FBI investigation.
"You #$?%π€¥ need really high level approvals for that. These people are potential targets in a FBI investigation.”
Many FBI sources too questioned why Robert Mueller would sign off on McCabe’s trip to Europe to meet with Deripaska. But McCabe acknowledged to FBI agents that Deripaska was a were old friends.
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Deripaska also appears to be one of the first Russians the FBI asked for help when it began investigating the now-infamous Fusion GPS "Steele Dossier." Adam Waldman gave a detailed account, some of which U.S. officials confirm separately.
Two months before Donald Trump was elected president, Deripaska was in New York as part of Russia's United Nations delegation when three FBI agents awakened him in his home; at least one agent had worked with Deripaska on the aborted effort to rescue Levinson. During an hour-long visit, the agents posited a theory that Trump's campaign was secretly colluding with Russia to hijack the U.S. election.
"Deripaska laughed but realized, despite the joviality, that they were serious," Waldman said. "So he told them in his informed opinion the idea they were proposing was false. 'You are trying to create something out of nothing,' he told them."The agents left though the FBI sought more information in 2017 from the Russian. Waldman declined to say if Deripaska has been in contact with the FBI since Sept, 2016.
The U.S. government in April 2018 imposed sanctions on Deripaska, one of several prominent Russians targeted to punish Vladimir Putin - using the same sort of allegations that the State Department used from 2006 to 2009. Yet, between those two episodes, Deripaska seemed good enough for the FBI to ask him to fund that multimillion-dollar rescue mission. And to seek his help on a sensitive political investigation. And to allow him into the country eight times.