Posts Tagged ‘bribery’

Turkey denies offering money for US extradition of Erdogan rival

November 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Did Michael Flynn discuss expelling Gulen in exchange for a secret payout?

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey has rejected as “ludicrous” allegations that it offered several million dollars to the United States to extradite a political rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US media reported that investigators in Washington are probing whether former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn discussed expelling Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen in exchange for a secret payout.

Ankara blames Gulen’s movement for the July 15, 2016 failed coup against Erdogan, and has pressed for his extradition from the United States, where he has lived since 1999.

Gulen, who has a large Turkish following, strongly denies the charges.

“All allegations that Turkey would resort to means external to the rule of law for his extradition are utterly false, ludicrous and groundless”, Turkey’s embassy in Washington said on Twitter Saturday.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal said Friday that US special prosecutor Robert Mueller is examining a meeting Flynn had with senior Turkish officials weeks after Donald Trump won the presidential race last year.

The meeting allegedly discussed a secret payout of up to $15 million dollars if, once in office, Flynn would engineer the deportation to Turkey of Gulen as well as help free Erdogan-linked Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab from prison.

NBC and the Journal both cited multiple people familiar with the probe by Mueller, who is leading the investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian meddling in the election.

The Journal said it is not clear how far the proposal went and that there was no sign that any payments were made.

Lawyers for Flynn have labelled the allegations “outrageous” and “false”.

According to the two reports, the discussions included details of how Gulen could be flown secretly by private jet to the isolated Turkish prison island of Imrali.

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Fethullah Gulen Says he Knows About Michael Flynn-Turkey Bribe Plan

November 12, 2017

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© FRANCE 24 Screengrab | Gulen is wanted by Turkey for allegedly instigating last year’s failed coup

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by Philip CROWTHER Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2017-11-12

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 in July, US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen said he had been informed of an alleged “bribe” meeting between ex-US national security advisor Michael Flynn and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that US Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating an alleged meeting between Flynn and senior Turkish officials in December last year, and during which they allegedly discussed a secret payout of $15 million if Flynn and his son would engineer the deportation of the Muslim cleric to Turkey.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of instigating last year’s failed military coup and has repeatedly asked the US to extradite him to Turkey to face trial. Gulen has denied all involvement in the botched coup.

In July, FRANCE 24’s Philip Crowther and Leela Jacinto met with the wanted Turkish cleric who told them that he had been informed of Flynn’s meetings with Turkish officials.

“I learned about the report of that meeting, that Erdogan’s son-in-law met with Flynn and they paid his company a considerable sum of money,” Gulen said. “Indeed for a person like Flynn, who served in high positions, who comes from the military and served in respectable positions, for him to accept such money — which might be considered a form of bribery — I don’t think it’s befitting for a person of his stature.”

Click on the player above to watch an excerpt of the exclusive interview.

Date created : 2017-11-12

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Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey

 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged role in a plan to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey in return for millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the investigation.

By James V. Grimaldi, Shane Harris and Aruna Viswanatha
The Wall Street Journal
Nov. 10, 2017 5:33 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged role in a plan to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey in return for millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Under the alleged proposal, Mr. Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million for delivering Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, according to people with knowledge of discussions Mr. Flynn had with Turkish representatives. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pressed the U.S. to extradite him, views the cleric as a political enemy.

Earlier Coverage

  • Ex-CIA Director: Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Erdogan Foe From U.S.
  • Mike Flynn’s Pro-Turkey Work: An Unfinished Documentary to Boost Country’s Image
  • FBI Probe Scrutinizing Flynn’s Work for Turkish Businessman

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have asked at least four individuals about a meeting in mid-December at the ‘21’ Club in New York City, where Mr. Flynn and representatives of the Turkish government discussed removing Mr. Gulen, according to people with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiries. The discussions allegedly involved the possibility of transporting Mr. Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali, according to one of the people who has spoken to the FBI.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported on efforts by Turkish officials to get Mr. Gulen to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition legal process, an effort that included an earlier meeting with Mr. Flynn in September 2016.

The investigation is being handled by Mr. Mueller as part of his probe of Trump campaign advisers and Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to those familiar with the investigation.

A spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment.

The people who described the alleged proposal said they didn’t attend the December meeting and didn’t have direct knowledge from Mr. Flynn or his associates about its purported details. It isn’t clear how advanced Mr. Mueller’s investigation of the alleged plan to remove Mr. Gulen is, nor is there any indication that any money changed hands, according to those familiar with the discussions and the FBI investigation.

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But federal investigators’ interest in whether Mr. Flynn was pursuing potentially illegal means to forcibly deal with Mr. Gulen indicates that the former Trump adviser faces another investigation stemming from his work on behalf of Turkish government interests, both before and after the presidential election.

After this article was published, Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, called the plot allegations “outrageous and prejudicial,” adding, “they are false.” A lawyer for Mr. Flynn Jr. declined to comment.

Before entering the Trump administration as the president’s national security adviser, Mr. Flynn was lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests in the U.S., including on the Gulen issue. He didn’t disclose that work until March of this year, after he was forced out of the White House for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Flynn served as national security adviser for just 24 days.

He is now facing military, congressional and criminal investigations into allegations that he improperly concealed his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, and into whether the ties played any role in his decisions as the president’s adviser, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.

One person familiar with the alleged discussions about Mr. Gulen said Mr. Flynn also was prepared to use his influence in the White House to further the legal extradition of the cleric, who lives in Pennsylvania.

Turkey has pressed the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, who lives in a compound in Saylorsburg, Pa.Photo: Sasha Maslov for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Gulen’s legal residency in the U.S. became a major irritant in American and Turkish relations during the Obama administration, and Turkish officials pressed for Mr. Gulen’s extradition so that he could face charges. Mr. Erdogan’s government has accused the cleric of masterminding a failed coup and have called him and his supporters a terrorist network. Mr. Gulen denies both accusations.

The alleged meeting in New York in December, which came after Mr. Flynn was tapped as national security adviser, was a follow-up to an earlier discussion, on Sept. 19, where Turkish officials first raised the possibility of forcibly removing Mr. Gulen. That September meeting, held in a hotel and attended by former CIA Director James Woolsey, was reported earlier by the Journal.

In an exclusive WSJ interview, former CIA Director James Woolsey describes a meeting where Mike Flynn and others discussed a covert plan to move Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey and avoid the U.S. extradition process. (March 27, 2017)

Mr. Gulen’s removal was discussed as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away,” according to Mr. Woolsey, who said he attended the meeting at the request of one of Mr. Flynn’s business associates.

Also present at the September meeting were Mr. Erdogan’s son-in-law and Turkey’s foreign minister, foreign-lobbying disclosure documents show. The Turkish Embassy has previously acknowledged that Turkish officials met with Mr. Flynn but declined to discuss the conversation.

A White House spokesman deferred all questions to a spokesman for the Trump transition process.

“We don’t have any evidence that such a meeting took place,” that spokesman said, referring to the December meeting. “And if it did take place it happened not withstanding the transition.”

At the time the plan was discussed, Turkey had been lobbying Obama administration officials for months to release Mr. Gulen to Turkish custody and wanted to avoid a legal extradition proceeding, according to a former official with direct knowledge of Turkish and American discussions. The Obama administration rebuffed those requests, the official said.

In Mr. Flynn, the Turks found a more sympathetic ear. Mr. Flynn wrote an op-ed published in The Hill on the day of the presidential election in which he praised Mr. Erdogan’s government and called the cleric “a shady Islamic mullah” and “radical Islamist” who may be running “a dangerous sleeper terror network” in the U.S.

“We should not provide him safe haven,” Mr. Flynn wrote.

Mr. Woolsey said he informed the U.S. government about the September meeting by notifying Vice President Joe Biden through a mutual friend.

The mutual friend confirmed to the Journal that he told Mr. Biden about the meeting. Mr. Biden’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter, other than to say Mr. Biden felt the Gulen matter should be handled through the courts.

Mr. Woolsey, who served briefly as an adviser to the Trump campaign, said he turned down a consulting fee from Mr. Flynn’s company because of what he heard at the meeting.

Federal records show that the company, Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 for advocacy work that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”

Federal investigators are currently looking at whether Mr. Flynn’s work on behalf of Turkey violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires people to disclose when they are acting in the U.S. on behalf of foreign powers, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has been indicted by the special counsel on charges stemming from his work for the former government of Ukraine, which he didn’t properly disclose to U.S. authorities, according to federal charges disclosed last month. Mr. Manafort’s attorney has entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

The Journal reported in March that Mr. Flynn had sought immunity from investigators probing Russia’s interference in the presidential election in exchange for his testimony. Mr. Flynn’s attorney, Mr. Kelner, wouldn’t comment at the time on details of his discussions involving Mr. Flynn, but said “General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.”

Mr. Flynn, who was fired in 2014 as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is a central figure in the sprawling special counsel investigation, which is examining whether Trump campaign or business associates coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to steal private emails from political groups and campaigns and expose them publicly. Mr. Flynn’s contacts with the then-Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, have been scrutinized as part of that probe, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

President Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russia. The Russians have consistently denied interfering in the election.

Write to Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com and Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mueller-probes-flynns-role-in-alleged-plan-to-deliver-cleric-to-turkey-1510309982

Two Netanyahu confidantes detained for questioning in submarine scandal

November 5, 2017
Le premier ministre israélien Benyamin Nétanyahou lors de la livraison d’un sous-marin de fabrication allemande, en janvier 2016 à Haïfa
AFP
Israeli media has reported that it is likely that Netanyahu himself will be questioned during the probe

Two close confidantes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including his personal lawyer David Shimron, were detained for questioning on Sunday as part of an ongoing corruption probe into the purchase of three submarines from German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp.

A statement by Israel Police said that “two senior lawyers” had been detained for questioning, without providing any further details.

The arrests are the latest twist in the submarine affair, also known as ‘Case 3000’, to differentiate it from the other corruption probes surrounding senior government officials including Netanyahu.

Case 3000 centers on allegations that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, pushed for multi-billion shekel deals in favor of German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, which is his client in Israel.

Israel navy

Israel’s fourth submarine is en route to the navy’s Haifa base from Germany. (photo credit:IDF SPOKESMAN’S OFFICE)

The case has been shrouded in controversy following the arrests of several Israelis on suspicion of offences including bribery and money laundering.

Israeli media has reported that it is likely that Netanyahu himself will be questioned during the investigation, although he is not considered a suspect.

Germany and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding last month green-lighting the submarine purchases, with a caveat that the deal will be scrapped should corruption charges be proven at the end of the investigation.

http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/159442-171105-two-netanyahu-confidantes-detained-for-questioning-in-submarine-scandal

See also:

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Senior-lawyers-close-to-Netanyahu-detained-in-corruption-probe-513357

See also:

Former Israeli defense minister slams Netanyahu over submarine scandal

Ex-ThyssenKrupp employee in Israel turns state witness in submarine graft probe

What you need to know about Hillary Clinton, Russia, and uranium

October 24, 2017

By Louis JacobsonJohn Kruzel on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at 11:57 a.m.

A 2016 campaign attack involving former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her role in a uranium sale that involved Russia is back in the news.

With new revelations, increased media attention and reader requests, we decided to take another look. Because the details of the story are murky and based in part on anonymous sources, we won’t put any claims to the Truth-O-Meter.

Instead, we’ll explain what we knew previously, what new information has come to light, and what we still don’t know.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton.  CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

What we knew before

This complex tale involves a company with significant U.S. uranium assets, the Clinton Foundation, and a decision by several federal agencies to allow greater Russian influence in the United States’ uranium market.

It first emerged in the book Clinton Cash, a 2015 investigation by Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Peter Schweizer. The book looked into donations to the Clinton Foundation; an April 2015 New York Times article also documented the connections.

In 2007, Frank Giustra, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, sold his company, UrAsia, to another company, Uranium One, and unloaded his personal stake in it. The combined company kept Uranium One as its name but Toronto as its base. Under the terms of the deal, the shareholders of UrAsia retained a 60 percent stake in the new company.

Uranium One had mines, mills and tracts of land in WyomingUtah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. Its actual production is a smaller portion of uranium produced in the United States, at 11 percent in 2014, according to Oilprice.com.

In 2009, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, bought a 17 percent share of Uranium One. In 2010, Rosatom sought to secure enough shares to give it a 51 percent stake.

On the one hand, Russia doesn’t have a license to export uranium outside the United States, so, as Oilprice.org noted, “it’s somewhat disingenuous to say this uranium is now Russia’s, to do with what it pleases.”

That said, the possibility that a foreign entity would take a majority stake in the uranium operation meant that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, had to approve the deal. So did the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Utah’s nuclear regulator.

The membership of CFIUS includes the State Department, meaning that the Secretary of State would have had a voice. The panel also includes the attorney general and the secretaries of the Treasury (who chairs the committee), Defense, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as the the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

CFIUS did approve the proposal, and in 2013, Russia assumed 100 percent ownership of Uranium One and renamed the company Uranium One Holding.

Why would the United States allow the transfer of a uranium company?

As others, including a New York Times’ investigation, have suggested, the United States was still seeking to “reset” its relationship with Russia and trying to get the Kremlin on board with its Iran nuclear deal. But another factor may have been that, at the end of the day, the Russian deal wasn’t that big.

Russia’s purchase of the company “had as much of an impact on national security as it would have if they set the money on fire,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute and former director at the New America Foundation, in an interview with PolitiFact last year. “That’s probably why (CFIUS and the NRC) approved it.”

Why some of the critics’ charges during the campaign went too far

In June 2016, we fact-checked a statement by then-candidate Donald Trump — who was running against Clinton for president — that Clinton’s State Department “approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”

We gave the statement a rating of Mostly False. While the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Russian deal may appear fishy, there was simply no proof of any quid pro quo.

Trump’s allegation went too far in two ways.

One, Trump seemed to say that Clinton bears all of the responsibility for the deal’s approval. That is incorrect.

Clinton told a New Hampshire TV station in June 2015 that “I was not personally involved because that wasn’t something the secretary of state did.” And Jose Fernandez, who served as assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs under Clinton and represented the department on the panel, told the Times that Clinton “never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

But even if you don’t take either Clinton or Fernandez at their word, the reality is that the State Department was just one of nine government agencies that signed off on the transaction.

Second, while we concluded that nine people related the company did at some point donate to the Clinton Foundation, we found that the bulk of the $145 million came from Giustra. Guistra said he sold all of his stakes in Uranium One in the fall of 2007, “at least 18 months before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state” and three years before the Russian deal.

We couldn’t independently verify Giustra’s claim, but if he is telling the truth, the donation amount to the Clinton Foundation from confirmed Uranium One investors drops from more than $145 million to $4 million.

The main exception is Ian Telfer, an investor who the New York Times found donated between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the Clinton Foundation during and after the review process for the Russian deal.

So while Trump was within his right to question links between foundation donors and their ties to Uranium one, his specific charge was exaggerated.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post Fact Checker subsequently looked at a similar Trump statement: “Remember that Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of American uranium and, you know, she was paid a fortune. You know, they got a tremendous amount of money.”

The Fact Checker came to the same conclusion about Trump’s misleading language, giving Trump’s assertion its worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

Why this story is coming up again

After Trump won the presidency, the Uranium One story received relatively little attention — perhaps because Clinton is now a private citizen rather than serving as president. But that changed in the wake of a report published in the Hill newspaper on Oct. 17, 2017.

The article’s key finding was that by the time CFIUS was weighing the deal, the FBI had been investigating whether Russia was trying to gain influence in the U.S. nuclear industry. The report said that the FBI has already “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The implication of the Hill article is that Clinton either did know, or should have known, about problems with the Russian bid for Uranium One before deciding whether to let it go forward. (Clinton, the FBI and the Justice Department did not provide a comment on this story.)

The article cited FBI, Energy Department and court documents showing that the FBI had gathered “substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.”

However, rather than bringing immediate charges in 2010, the article said, the Justice Department “continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.”

What remains unclear after the newest report?

The relevance of the Hill report  for Clinton’s role would be whether she knew anything about this investigation at a time when she could have used her role in CFIUS to block the Russian deal. (It could also be relevant for the actions by then-Attorney General Eric Holder, whose department has a seat on CFIUS.)

For now at least, we aren’t aware of any evidence that Clinton knew anything about the FBI investigation. If anything, the Hill’s reporting suggests the opposite.

The Hill article quoted Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, saying that he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case.

” ‘I had no idea this case was being conducted,’ a surprised Hosko said in an interview,” the Hill article reported.

At least one key lawmaker — then-Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who chaired the House Intelligence Committee at the time — also said he did not know about the investigation.

If the assistant FBI director at the time knew nothing of the investigation, then Clinton — someone in a different department and several rungs higher in the organizational chart — might not have known about it.

Stewart A. Baker, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, was skeptical that such information would have reached the Secretary of State — “at least not until she was asked to weigh in on the transaction, and that would only happen if it were deeply controversial, which it was not. In my experience, the State Department was always one of the quickest agencies to urge approval of a deal, and they did that without checking with the Secretary.”

The vast majority of cases that CFIUS reviews are handled by lower-ranking staffers and appointees, added Stephen Heifetz, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson who specializes in CFIUS law.

“Even though the heads of the CFIUS agencies comprise CFIUS as a matter of law,” he said, “it is relatively rare to have a cabinet secretary directly involved in a CFIUS case.”

That said, several experts said they were surprised that word had not filtered up from the FBI.

The FBI “is well represented as part of the Justice Department’s CFIUS team,” Baker said. “It would be somewhat surprising to me if a company was under scrutiny as a buyer in CFIUS and simultaneously under investigation for criminal behavior by the FBI, but the criminal investigation was not known to the FBI’s representatives on CFIUS.”

In addition, it’s Justice Department policy to consolidate all Foreign Corrupt Practices Act inquiries within department headquarters in Washington, said Michael Koehler, a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law and an expert on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This makes word of those cases more likely to reach top officials than other types of investigations.

And the fact that the Mikerin case included a confidential informant makes it “more likely than not that top Justice Department or FBI officials either knew of the inquiry or should have known of the inquiry,” Koehler said.

Even if word had filtered up to CFIUS this way, it might not have been enough to scuttle the deal, Heifetz added.

“CFIUS often has cleared transactions when there is adverse information about foreign investors but no apparent risk to national security,” he said.

Ultimately, we don’t know enough to be able to say whether the apparent lack of information about the FBI investigation among higher ups was due to internal reporting failures or the more mundane reality that ground-level FBI investigations take time to mature and solidify.

But for now, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that Clinton’s actions — ill-advised as they might have been — were any more problematic than it seemed they were a year ago.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/oct/24/what-you-need-know-about-hillary-clinton-and-urani/

Related:

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Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn’t 

Is The Clinton Foundation Doomed? 

Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/senate-investigates-russia-hillary-clinton-obama-uranium-and-bribes-and-its-about-time/

Related here at Peace and Freedom:

AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Putin always thought she was very smart.

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House committees announce probe into Russia uranium deal

October 24, 2017

By KATIE BO WILLIAMS – 

The Hill

Two powerful House committees on Tuesday announced a joint investigation into the 2010 sale of a U.S. uranium company to a Russian company.

The two panels, the House Intelligence and Oversight and Government Reform Committees, will first probe whether there was an FBI investigation into the deal, approved when former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) on Monday cited “very, very real concerns about why we would allow a Russian-owned company to get access to 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.”

“It’s important we find out why that deal went through,” he said.

A confidential informant has come forward to the committees, according to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and the two panels are currently in discussions with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release that individual from a nondisclosure agreement.

The renewed interest in the so-called Uranium One deal came after The Hill reported last week that the FBI had gathered solid evidence that Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks as part of an effort to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The company controlled land equal to about 20 percent of the U.S.’s uranium capacity, according to Oilprice.com — although experts note that the U.S. doesn’t actually produce a significant amount of the world’s uranium stock.

The State Department did not take unilateral action but instead was one of a nine-agency review board, known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The Clinton campaign has maintained that the then-secretary of State was not directly involved in the process.

Clinton told C-SPAN on Monday that renewed focus on Russian uranium deals approved during her tenure is nothing more than debunked “baloney” — and signals that Republicans are getting nervous about the federal investigation into Russia’s attempts to swing the 2016 election. That probe includes looking for any signs of collusion with the Trump campaign itself.

Intelligence Committee head Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) declined on Tuesday to say whether the committees expect to call forward Clinton to testify.

“It’s a little premature. Let us first determine whether or not there was an open investigation by FBI or DOJ and then we’ll get back to you with more information,” Nunes told reporters.

House leadership is fully behind the Uranium One probe, DeSantis said Tuesday. Republicans view the Uranium One probe as distinct from the broader House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian election meddling, long stymied by partisan infighting.

Nunes, who stepped back from leading that probe this spring, said that he has as of yet had no contact with the White House on this investigation. Nunes in April faced accusations from Democrats of carrying water for Trump when he announced that he had briefed the White House on information that turned out to have come from staff on the president’s National Security Council.

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Includes video:
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http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/356885-house-committees-announce-probe-into-russia-uranium-deal
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Related:
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Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn’t 

Is The Clinton Foundation Doomed? 

Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/senate-investigates-russia-hillary-clinton-obama-uranium-and-bribes-and-its-about-time/

Related here at Peace and Freedom:

AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Putin always thought she was very smart.

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China’s Pursuit of Fugitive Businessman Guo Wengui Kicks Off Manhattan Caper Worthy of Spy Thriller

October 23, 2017

Pressure from Beijing officials seeking Mr. Guo’s return sparks frantic response from Trump administration—and Pennsylvania Station, JFK airport standoffs

Exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui at the Manhattan hotel where he now lives, Sept. 30. Photo: Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal

Guo Wengui, a wealthy Chinese businessman, sat in the sun room of his apartment on the 18th-floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on New York’s Fifth Avenue. With him were four officials from China’s Ministry of State Security, whom Mr. Guo had agreed to meet.

For many months, Mr. Guo, from his self-imposed exile, had been using Twitter to make allegations of corruption against senior Chinese officials and tycoons. During the hourslong conversation, the officials urged him to quit his activism and return home, after which the government would release assets it had frozen and leave his relatives in peace.

Chinese businessman Guo Wengui at his apartment at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in Manhattan, where he says he was visited by officials from China’s Ministry of State Security.

Chinese businessman Guo Wengui at his apartment at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in Manhattan, where he says he was visited by officials from China’s Ministry of State Security

Liu Yanping, the lead official, said he had come on behalf of Beijing “to find a solution,” according to Mr. Guo and a partial audio recording Mr. Guo said he made of the May encounter and posted online in September.

Mr. Liu’s demeanor made clear this wasn’t a friendly negotiation, and he hinted at the risks for Mr. Guo. “You can’t keep doing this forever,” Mr. Liu can be heard telling Mr. Guo on the audio recording, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “I’m worried about you, to tell you the truth.”

The dramatic meeting sparked an unresolved debate within the Trump administration over the Guo case and laid bare broader divisions over how to handle the U.S.’s top economic and military rival, according to people familiar with the matter. U.S.-China relations have been upset by disagreements over trade, cyberespionage and policy toward North Korea, and Mr. Guo’s New York stay is only adding to the tension.

Mr. Guo shows a video he says he made of the visit to his home by Chinese state security officials.  Photo: Michael Bucher/The Wall Street Journal

The Chinese officials, who were in the U.S. on visas that didn’t allow them to conduct official business, caught the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which wanted to move against them, according to people familiar with the matter. The bureau’s effort ran into friction with other U.S. officials, including those at the State Department, who have tended to favor a less-confrontational approach, according to the people.

Some U.S. national security officials view Mr. Guo, who claims to have potentially valuable information on top Chinese officials and business magnates and on North Korea, as a useful bargaining chip to use with Beijing, the people said.

The episode took a twist when President Donald Trump received a letter from the Chinese government, hand-delivered by Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino magnate with interests in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. Mr. Trump initially expressed interest in helping the Chinese government by deporting Mr. Guo, but other senior officials worked to block any such move, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chief Marketing Officer Michael Weaver said in a written statement to the Journal: “[T]hat report regarding Mr. Wynn is false. Beyond that, he doesn’t have any comment.”

Highlights

  • WHO: Guo Wengui, also known as Miles Kwok, is a wealthy Chinese businessman who fled China in 2014 and entered the U.S. the following year.
  • WHY HE MATTERS: In 2017, Mr. Guo launched an aggressive campaign to expose alleged corruption among China’s business and political elites, which has elicited sharp rebukes from the Chinese government. Beijing’s subsequent alleged efforts to remove Mr. Guo from the U.S. and bring him back to China have become a flashpoint in the U.S.-China relationship.
  • TARGETS: Among others, Mr. Guo is taking aim at Wang Qishan, the Communist Party’s top anticorruption official and a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr. Guo claims the Wang family owns a large interest in HNA Group, one of the country’s largest and most acquisitive conglomerates. HNA has denied the charge and sued Mr. Guo for defamation.
  • ALLEGATIONS: China is investigating Mr. Guo in at least 19 major criminal cases that involve bribery, kidnapping, fraud, money laundering and rape. Mr. Guo has denied the allegations and said they are part of a misinformation campaign against him being waged by Chinese officials.
  • LEGAL STATUS: Mr. Guo applied for asylum in the U.S. in September and his application is pending. Beijing has declared him a criminal suspect and has requested an Interpol arrest notice against him.

Mr. Guo, who built a real-estate empire in Beijing, has said he fled China in 2014 after hearing that a state security official to whom he was close would soon be arrested. Beijing has said it is investigating Mr. Guo in at least 19 major criminal cases that involve bribery, kidnapping, fraud, money laundering and rape, allegations that Mr. Guo denies.

Beijing has branded Mr. Guo as an attention-seeking criminal. Beginning this year, his near daily broadcasts on Twitter alleging official corruption have attracted many followers in China, who find ways to bypass China’s internet firewall.

Mr. Guo’s application for asylum in the U.S. is pending. He settled at the Sherry-Netherland in 2015, paying $67.5 million for the apartment overlooking Central Park.

The account of Mr. Guo’s interactions with U.S. and Chinese officials is based on a review of audio and video recordings he said he made of some conversations, discussions with Mr. Guo and with U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The recent chapter in China’s pursuit of Mr. Guo began May 24, when Mr. Liu, a top official in charge of discipline at the security ministry—China’s equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency—went with his colleagues to the fugitive’s New York home. They entered the U.S. on transit visas, which allow foreign government officials only to travel through the U.S. for a short period en route to another destination.

Mr. Guo said he had agreed to meet the officials because Mr. Liu had permitted Mr. Guo’s wife to leave China and join him in the U.S.

The Chinese officials spoke to Mr. Guo at length, touching on subjects including employees and family members who had been detained in China. Mr. Guo said the officials told him the government would treat him favorably only if he would stop inciting anti-Communist Party sentiment.

Mr. Guo didn’t agree to the officials’ demands.

Later that afternoon, at the beginning of rush hour around 5 p.m., agents from the FBI confronted the Chinese officials at New York’s Pennsylvania Station, according to people familiar with the incident.

At first, the Chinese said they were cultural affairs diplomats. Then they admitted to being security agents. The FBI agents instructed them to leave the country, saying they were in violation of their visas and weren’t to speak to Mr. Guo again.

The Chinese got on the train to Washington. The FBI assumed they would be gone in 24 hours.

Two days later, on May 26, Mr. Liu and the other Chinese officials returned to Mr. Guo’s apartment ahead of a planned flight back to China in the late afternoon.

U.S. law-enforcement authorities, whom Mr. Guo had told about the impending visit, decided it was time to act. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn prepared charges alleging visa fraud and extortion, according to people familiar with the matter. FBI agents raced to John F. Kennedy International airport ahead of the officials’ scheduled 4:50 p.m. Air China flight.

Meanwhile, the Chinese officials dined on dumplings prepared by Mr. Guo’s wife, who was still grateful to Mr. Liu for letting her leave China, according to her husband. Mr. Guo said he again declined the officials’ offer of clemency in exchange for silence, and walked the group out of the building.

Prosecutors were still scrambling to secure final signoff from Washington to go ahead with the planned arrests at the airport.

The Sherry-Netherland Hotel in Manhattan.  Photo: Michael Bucher/The Wall Street Journal

With the flight preparing to board and FBI agents taking positions on the jet bridge, White House national security officials convened a conference call with participants from the State and Justice Departments, the Pentagon and the intelligence community.

State Department officials, worried about collateral consequences for U.S. personnel in China, hesitated to approve the Justice Department’s plan to make arrests.

An alternative was presented: Subject the Chinese officials to additional screening, which would cause them to miss their flight and buy some time, people familiar with the call said.

U.S. officials couldn’t fashion a consensus to approve either plan, and the FBI agents were permitted only to confiscate the Chinese officials’ phones before the plane took off.

A State Department representative said in a written statement: “Decisions on these kinds of matters are based on interagency consensus.”

In a written statement about the events provided to the Journal, a Justice Department spokesman said: “It is a criminal offense for an individual, other than a diplomatic or consular officer or attaché, to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign power without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

The spokesman added that the U.S. is “committed to continuing cooperation with China” on fugitive cases, and that the U.S. “is not a safe haven for fugitives from any nation.”

The U.S. and China have no extradition treaty, a recurring point of tension. Since 2014, China has escalated its global efforts to capture Chinese fugitives accused of corruption, including those who have fled to the U.S. The initiative, dubbed “Operation Fox Hunt,” often involves pressuring relatives in China, confiscating the target’s assets and sending agents to deliver personal threats.

Beijing officials tell their American counterparts they are justified in engaging in such activities because the U.S. carries out similar operations on foreign soil as well, U.S. law-enforcement officials say.

In June, U.S. officials revisited the JFK incident during a policy coordination meeting that grew heated.

Mr. Guo shows documents he says expose corruption in the Chinese government.Photo: Michael Bucher/The Wall Street Journal

Ezra Cohen-Watnick, then senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, confronted Susan Thornton, an East Asia expert who serves as Acting Assistant Secretary of State, charging her agency was improperly hindering law-enforcement efforts to address China’s repeated violations of U.S. sovereignty and law, according to people familiar with the discussion.

State department officials criticized the FBI for not seeking permission from them before initially engaging the Chinese officials, the people said.

State Department official Laura Stone said she was already facing retaliation from Beijing, saying Chinese officials had allegedly confiscated her notebook as she was trying to leave the country, the people said.

The FBI’s assistant director of the counterintelligence division, Bill Priestap, deadpanned in response: “Was it because you had been trying to kidnap and extort someone in China?”

Separately, at a June meeting in the Oval Office, counterintelligence officials briefed President Trump on Beijing’s alleged efforts to steal cutting-edge research from labs and trade secrets from U.S. companies, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The president, surrounded by his top aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon and other national security and economic advisers, asked to see policy options in 90 days. In the meantime, he said he knew of at least one “Chinese criminal” the U.S. needed to immediately deport, according to the people.

“Where’s the letter that Steve brought?” Mr. Trump called to his secretary. “We need to get this criminal out of the country,” Mr. Trump said, according to the people. Aides assumed the letter, which was brought into the Oval Office, might reference a Chinese national in trouble with U.S. law enforcement, the people said.

The letter, in fact, was from the Chinese government, urging the U.S. to return Mr. Guo to China.

The document had been presented to Mr. Trump at a recent private dinner at the White House, the people said. It was hand-delivered to the president by Mr. Wynn, the Republican National Committee finance chairman, whose Macau casino empire cannot operate without a license from the Chinese territory.

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Some aides tried to shut the topic of conversation down, including by noting Mr. Guo is a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to the people familiar with the meeting. The aides later worked to prevent any possible attempts to deport Mr. Guo, an action they believed would deprive the U.S. of a key point of leverage to use against Beijing, the people said.

Mr. Guo in his apartment in New York. Photo: Michael Bucher/The Wall Street Journal

In early September, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz, who supervises the international affairs office at the Justice Department, traveled to China for an anticorruption conference and lodged a protest with Chinese law-enforcement authorities about China’s aggressive efforts to force alleged fugitives to return from the U.S., people familiar with the matter said.

While he was there, Beijing attempted to force another Chinese national to return from the U.S., the people said, without providing details.

On Oct. 4, Mr. Guo was scheduled to speak at the Hudson Institute, a prominent Washington think tank, the same day China’s Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun was scheduled to meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others for high-level talks on law enforcement and cybersecurity.

In the days leading up to the speech, the Hudson Institute detected a Shanghai-based attack aimed at shutting down access to its website, according to a spokesman. The Chinese Embassy also called Hudson personnel warning them not to give Mr. Guo the opportunity to speak, according to several people who received such calls.

The institute canceled the event. Kenneth Weinstein, the Institute’s president, said Beijing “sought to dissuade” it from holding the event but said the change of plans was caused by poor planning, not Chinese pressure.

Mr. Guo continued to antagonize the Chinese in the run-up to the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade Congress, which began Wednesday. President Xi Jinping is seeking to solidify his position as the country’s strongest leader in decades during the weeklong event.

Earlier this month at an event in Washington, Mr. Guo released copies of an alleged Chinese government document purporting to authorize a group of spies to be dispatched to the U.S. to stop him and other targets. Beijing has said the document is a forgery.

He also met with lawmakers and Mr. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who continues to advocate that the U.S. take a hard line on economic negotiations with China. Mr. Guo posted photos of himself with Mr. Bannon on a new English-language Twitter account he recently launched.

—Nicole Hong and Michael C. Bender contributed to this article.

Write to Kate O’Keeffe at kathryn.okeeffe@wsj.com, Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com and Cezary Podkul at cezary.podkul@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-hunt-for-guo-wengui-a-fugitive-businessman-kicks-off-manhattan-caper-worthy-of-spy-thriller-1508717977

Senate Investigates Russia, Hillary Clinton, Obama, Uranium And Bribes — And It’s About Time

October 20, 2017

Obama Scandals: We now know, thanks to an investigation by The Hill, that the Russian scandal’s roots go far deeper than first thought, extending all the way to the start of the Obama administration. Many people seemed to know about it: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Attorney General Eric Holder and, even, President Obama himself. Now, a Senate committee wants to know how much they knew, and why no one stopped the criminal behavior.

The scandal over Russia has suddenly, weirdly morphed from being about “Russian meddling” in the 2016 election to actual criminal behavior by Russian nuclear industry officials who were involved in bribes, extortion, kickbacks and money laundering here  in the U.S. — all part of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s efforts to elbow his way into the U.S. uranium market.

It’s finally dawning on people: The Russian nuclear racketeering was an Obama administration scandal, which Congress ignored and the Justice Department investigated but did nothing to stop. Justice looked into the Russian crimes in 2009 and 2010, but waited until 2014 to do anything about it. And even then, it didn’t answer any of the larger questions. It can’t be ignored any longer.

“According to government documents and recent news reports, the Justice Department had an ongoing criminal investigation for bribery, extortion, money laundering, into officials for a Russian company making purchase of Uranium One,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “That purchase was approved during previous administration and resulted in Russians owning 20% of America’s uranium mining capacity.”

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As Grassley noted, the Russian takeover of a significant portion of our uranium assets took place despite what appears to be Russia’s blatant criminal conduct — conduct more befitting of an organized crime syndicate than representatives of a responsible national government.

For the record, as has been extensively documented, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to be the nexus of much of this Russian criminality — ironic, given her current “What Happened” book tour, and her ongoing complaints that the Russians sabotaged her campaign.

Even as the Justice Department was looking into Russia’s criminal activity, in 2010 President Obama’s interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) curiously cleared Russia’s state-owned Rosatom to buy Uranium One, a Canadian mining company. Uranium One had extensive holdings in U.S. uranium, so the purchase required U.S. government approval.

Does it seem strange that an American administration would OK the acquisition of 20% of America’s uranium resources by a hostile nuclear power? How could that be?

It only makes sense if you understand what else was going on, namely Hillary Clinton’s aggressive use of her State Department perch to raise money for the family “charity,” the Clinton Foundation. That Clinton used her office to the foundation’s advantage, there can be little doubt.

The Clinton Foundation took in some $145 million in contributions from Uranium One shareholders, much of it coming at about the time that deal won approval from CFIUS — the investment panel on which both Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder conveniently sat. Is that a coincidence? Or that the Justice Department waited until 2014, the year after Hillary left office, to take any action in the Russian criminal matters? Or that details of the Uranium One deal didn’t come out until 2015, the year Eric Holder left office? Was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “reset” with the Russian government in 2009 just part of a wider plan to enrich her own family foundation with Russian cash?

We’d sure like to know the answers to these and other questions. At the very least, there is a clear prima facie case to be made for an investigation into the pay-for-play behavior in the Obama administration. We would hope that Sen. Grassley, whose investigation is just getting underway, would issue subpoenas to all the relevant parties — former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Then and only then will the American people discover the true dimensions of Russian meddling in the U.S. — and whether high officials in the Obama administration, in particular Hillary Clinton, committed crimes in office.

RELATED:

Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn’t 

Is The Clinton Foundation Doomed? 

Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

http://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/senate-investigates-russia-hillary-clinton-obama-uranium-and-bribes-and-its-about-time/

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Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

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Video Shows Proof Venezuela’s President Maduro Accepted Bribes, Ousted Chief Prosecutor Says

October 13, 2017

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela — Oct 12, 2017, 9:43 PM ET

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, greets Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. Yuri Kadobnov AP

Venezuela’s ousted chief prosecutor leaked a video Thursday purporting to show an Odebrecht executive saying he agreed to pay $35 million toward President Nicolas Maduro’s campaign in exchange for prioritizing the Brazilian construction giant’s projects.

Luisa Ortega Diaz, who fled Venezuela in August after being removed from office by a new, all-powerful constituent assembly, said on her website that the video shows Venezuela Odebrecht president Euzenando Prazeres de Azevedo speaking to Brazilian prosecutors.

In the video, a man identified as Azevedo says a Maduro aide asked for $50 million for the socialist leader’s 2013 campaign. The special presidential election was convened shortly after the death of Hugo Chavez and Maduro was running a tight race with opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

Azevedo said he agreed to pay $35 million in exchange for assurances that if Maduro won, Odebrecht projects would receive “priority.”

“We negotiated, I agreed to pay and the resources were released,” he said.

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FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2017 file photo, Venezuela’s ousted Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz speaks to senators at the Senate chambers in Mexico City. Ortega has leaked a video purporting to show an Odebrecht executive admitting he agreed to pay money toward Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s campaign in exchange for prioritizing the Brazilian construction giant’s projects. Ortega released the video Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

Odebrecht acknowledged in a U.S. Justice Department plea agreement that it paid bribes throughout Latin America to secure lucrative contracts.

Maduro did not immediately remark on the claim, but Tarek William Saab, who replaced Ortega after her dismissal, said there is an order for Azevedo’s arrest. He added that Venezuelan authorities will be alerting Interpol in hopes of obtaining his capture.

The same statement noted that former lawmaker German Ferrer, Ortega’s husband, is also a wanted man. The government has accused him of running a $6 million extortion ring with corrupt prosecutors under Ortega’s supervision.

Shortly after fleeing Venezuela, Ortega told a group of Latin American prosecutors she believed Maduro had ordered her removal in order to halt an ongoing probe linking him and his inner circle to nearly $100 million in bribes from Odebrecht.

A longtime government loyalist, Ortega has become one of Maduro’s fiercest critics after breaking with his government in late March. She declared that a Supreme Court ruling stripping the opposition-controlled congress of its last powers violated the constitution.

Ortega has repeatedly claimed that she has evidence implicating Maduro and other top officials in corruption involving Odebrecht but has provided few details.

Brazil Police Raid Agricultural Minister’s Home

September 14, 2017

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s federal police conducted a raid and search operation at the house of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in Brasilia, related to an ongoing bribery and graft scandal, TV Globo reported on Thursday.

Image result for Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi i, photos

It said the raid is linked to a plea deal by former Mato Grosso state governor Silval Barbosa, who accuses Maggi of participating in a corruption scheme that lasted between 2007 and 2010. Maggi is also a former governor of Mato Grosso – a major producer of soybeans, grains and cattle.

Efforts to contact Maggi’s press representatives in Brasilia were unsuccessful.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by W Simon)

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Brazil police raid billionaire Joesley Batista’s home, sources say

September 11, 2017

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Brazil’s billionaire businessman Joesley Batista leaves the Federal Police headquarters after losing immunity from prosecution amid a corruption scandal, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto Reuters

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian federal police raided the home of billionaire Joesley Batista, who surrendered to authorities the previous day after losing immunity from prosecution amid a corruption scandal, two people familiar with the situation said on Monday.

Federal Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin gave the nod to the raids, which included the São Paulo headquarters of J&F Investimentos SA, the police said in a statement. J&F is the company through which Batista and his older brother Wesley control JBS SA, the world’s No. 1 meatpacker.

Another raid was conducted at the Rio de Janeiro home of Marcelo Miller, a former federal prosecutor who allegedly helped Batista craft a May plea bargain deal, said the sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The scandal has shocked Brazil’s business and political establishment on top of an ongoing three-year corruption probe. The brothers confessed to bribing scores of politicians in their May plea bargain testimony, allowing them to avoid prosecution.

Among the evidence they provided to prosecutors was a recording of Brazilian President Michel Temer allegedly endorsing hush payments to a possible witness in a graft probe. Temer has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Representatives for J&F and Miller declined to confirm the raids. A lawyer for Batista did not take calls seeking comment.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Lisandra Paraguassu; Additional reporting by pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by W Simon and JS Benkoe)