The US Embassy forced Ukraine to abandon inspections of Soros funds during the American elections
While the election race 2016 of the year was in full swing in America, Ukrainian prosecutors faced unexpectedly strong resistance while conducting an investigation into the activities of a non-profit organization in Ukraine, known as the Anti-Corruption Center (AntAC). Author The Hill, John Solomon, talks about the results of his own investigation.
The focus on AntAC - whose young street activists wore Ukraine F * & Corruption T-shirts - became part of a larger investigation. Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office was investigating whether $ 4.4 million was appropriately spent on fighting corruption in the former Soviet republic.
Soon, prosecutors learned that the resistance they faced came directly from the US embassy in Kiev, where the Obama administration took a rare step in trying to force the Ukrainian government to postpone the investigation into US aid and the group.
“An investigation by the Anti-Corruption Center (SIC) based on the help they received from us is also inappropriate,” former Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy, George Kent, said in a letter to prosecutors, in which he also argued that US officials were not worried how the American aid was spent.
At that time, they just fired the country's attorney general. This happened under pressure from the United States.
A few months later, Yury Lutsenko, who is considered a hero after two years in prison for fighting Russian aggression in his country, was appointed attorney general. He was invited to meet with the new US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Lutsenko said he was shocked when the ambassador "gave me a list of people we should not pursue". The list includes the founder of the AntAC group and two members of parliament who openly supported the group’s anti-corruption reform program, according to a source directly familiar with the meeting.
It turns out that the group against which the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies were investigating was funded by the Obama administration and the liberal mega-donor George Soros. He collaborated with the FBI agents, investigating the business contacts of the then-head of the campaign of Trump Paul Manafort with pro-Russian figures in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said that the list was a clear message to the Ukrainian prosecutor's office: do not touch AntAC while the presidential elections are being held in America, at which Soros supported Hillary Clinton. She had to change another favorite of Soros, Barack Obama.
Luchtsenko suggested that the embassy was under pressure, as it did not want the Americans to see who is funded by their taxes. “At the time, the Ambassador believed that our interrogations of Ukrainian citizens, Ukrainian civil servants who often visited the US Embassy, could cast a shadow on this anti-corruption policy,” he said.
Government officials privately said that they wanted the Ukrainian prosecutors to fall behind AntAC because they were afraid that the investigation would be a retribution for the efforts of the anti-corruption reform team in Ukraine.
Officials admitted that this was an unusual interference. “We usually do not tell police countries who they can and cannot pursue, unless it concerns an American citizen who, according to our information, has been wrongfully accused,” one official said.
As a result, no action was taken against AntAC, and today it is flourishing. However, the story takes on a new meaning.
First, it contradicts the official statement of the State Department issued last week, after Lutsenko first mentioned the list of persons received from the ambassador. The embassy replied that the statement was fabricated and is a sign that corruption in Ukraine is alive and well.
But Kent's letter clearly shows that the embassy forced Ukrainian prosecutors to retreat from what is usually considered an internal affair of law enforcement agencies within a sovereign country. And more than half a dozen American and Ukrainian sources confirmed that the AntAC case was not the only one where, in 2016, US officials put pressure on Ukrainian investigators.
When the author of the article asked the State Department to comment on the letter and the names associated with Soros during a meeting at the embassy, an objection was received.
“As a rule, we do not read out private diplomatic meetings,” he was told. "Ambassador Yovanovitch represents the President of the United States in Ukraine, and America supports her and her statements."
Secondly, the AntAC story underlines the little-known fact that the pursuit of corruption abroad led to an unusual alliance between the US government and the political mega-donor.
After the Obama Department of Justice launched the kleptocracy asset recovery initiative ten years ago to persecute corruption in other countries, the State Department, the Ministry of Justice and the FBI transferred part of their work in Ukraine to Soros-funded groups.
The Hungarian-American businessman is one of the largest sponsors of American liberal politics, the leader of the suppression of kleptocracy in the United States, and a man with vast business interests in Ukraine.
One of the key US partners was AntAC, which received 59 percent (or $ 1 million) of $ 1,7 million allocated from 2012, from the US budget, and almost $ 290 thousand from the Soros International Fund, according to reports from the sponsor disclosure group.
Cooperation between the USA and Soros was especially noticeable in Kiev. Several senior officials of the Ministry of Justice (DOJ) and FBI agents are depicted in the photo of participants in events and conferences sponsored by Soros.
One of the participants was Karen Greenaway, who was then the head of the FBI, responsible for international cases of fraud and one of the leading agents in investigating Manafort in Ukraine. She participated in many such events and was praised by the AntAC executive director.
Greenway and Ambassador Jovanovic participated in one of the 2016 events along with AntAC Executive Director Darya Kalenyuk. Lutsenko was also there. The message was clear: the embassy supported AntAC.
The FBI confirmed Greenway’s contacts with the Soros group, stating that they were part of its investigative work: “In order to assist the FBI mission and perform their duties, the FBI staff travel regularly and officially participate in public forums. At a minimum, all such business trips and speeches take place directly with the permission of the head and may receive further permission up to the head of the relevant department along with the official ethics decision.
Greenway recently retired, and shortly thereafter, AntAC Soros announced that he was joining her supervisory board.
The internal records of the Soros charitable organization, the Open Society Foundation, point to a strategy for establishing friendly relations within key government institutions, such as the State Department, the Ministry of Justice and the FBI, which can be used within countries.
“We deeply understand the importance of developing supportive constituencies in order to make progress in tightening the global network of anti-corruption responsibility,” notes the February 21, 2014 note. “We first conceived it in terms of stimulating and helping to create a political environment conducive to high-level anti-corruption cases.”
The same entry shows that the Soros organization wanted to make Ukraine a top priority, starting with 2014, and planned to use the Anti-Corruption Center as a leader.
The records also included a list of Ukrainians whom the Soros team planned to pursue, including some of them linked to Manafort.
Senior US law enforcement officials confirmed to the author that the early cooperation of the kleptocracy within Ukraine led to very noticeable US actions against the oligarch Dmitry Firtash (the main goal of the Soros group) and Manafort. Firtash now represents former lawyer Hillary Clinton Lanny Davis and former US Attorney Dan Webb.
Documents posted on the Internet by Open Society Foundations show that after US officials made some early successes in corruption cases in Ukraine, such as the confiscation of assets, AntAC asked for a portion of the money that was seized.
“The Ukrainian Non-Governmental Anti-Corruption Center (AntAC) has asked the US Department of Justice, on behalf of Ukraine's civil society, to allocate nearly $ 3 million in confiscated and seized assets, allegedly laundered by former Prime Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Lazarenko, to create an anti-corruption training center ", - stated in the constituent document of 2015.
Representatives of AntAC and the Open Society Foundation did not respond to repeated requests for comments.
Michael Vachon, a representative of Soros, rejected any comments about AntAC. But he confirmed that his boss supported the continuation of investigating accusations of conspiracy against Trump and Russia long before 2016.
Vachon said that Soros in the fall of 2017 of the year wrote a significant check to create a new group, the Democratic Integrity Project, to continue the “investigation and study of foreign interference in American elections and European elections.”
Vachon added that the group asked Soros not to disclose the size of his contribution. Later, Soros learned that the group hired Fusion GPS, which is known for its work on compiling a dossier against Donald Trump, claiming that Trump and his campaign headquarters had colluded with the Russian authorities to influence the outcome of the 2016 election of the year.
The AntAC story raises some important questions:
- Why did the US embassy intervene in the Ukrainian internal investigation and later denied that it exerted such pressure?
- Did the role of Soros as the main political sponsor have any influence?
- Do Americans want US taxpayer dollars to go to private funds of activists when it comes to anti-corruption investigations?
Someone in the States and Congress should try to get answers to these questions.
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