|Oleg Deripaska and Paul Manafort|
That's because Alabama GOP luminaries such as Jeff Sessions (Trump attorney general and former U.S. senator), Bob Riley (former governor), and Bill Canary (head of the Business Council of Alabama) have worked with Manafort on a $40 billion-dollar Air Force refueling-tanker deal that was to include the oligarch, Jill Simpson says.
If Special Counsel Robert Mueller digs deeply on the ties between Manafort and Oleg Deripaska, it could lead to Jeff Sessions' office -- and from there to any number of individuals connected to Bill Canary and Bob Riley, Simpson says. Canary already has fallen out of favor with a number of business elites, including executives from Alabama Power, so any ties to the Trump-Russia scandal are not likely to help his standing.
Simpson, who testified before Congress about a Republican plan to conduct a political prosecution against former Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, said Manafort worked closely with Alabama officials on a proposal that called for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS) to build the Air Force tanker, in part, at a planned construction facility in Mobile, Alabama. Deripaska, a billionaire, is part owner of a company that was to provide aluminum for the project.
The Pentagon wound up choosing U.S.-based Boeing over EADS, perhaps in part because of EADS' ties to seedy characters, including the Gaddafi family in Libya and individuals tied to Vladimir Putin in Russia. From a 2011 post on the competition:
The Russia Connection -- The Gaddafi family reportedly developed ties to EADS through big-money interests in Russia. Prime among them is Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who partly owns a company that was to provide aluminum for the EADS planes. Deripaska has close ties to Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, and Russian interests reportedly have a significant stake in EADS. Was the Pentagon comfortable with this arrangement, given the rise of organized crime in Russia? Probably not.
Did Alabama political figures jump in bed with Russian organized crime, tied to Putin, in an effort to land the tanker project for EADS? Are Alabama officials still connected to the Russian mob, now that Donald Trump appears to be Putin's chosen puppet in the White House?
An NBC report late last week could shine white-hot light on those questions. From the report:
Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.
An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.
The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.
Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort's financial ties to prominent figures in Russia.
The Manafort-Deripaska relationship shows signs of money laundering. Reports NBC:
Lawyers specializing in money laundering said the loans appeared unusual and merited further investigation.
“Money launderers frequently will disguise payments as loans,” said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor. “You can call it a loan, you can call it Mary Jane. If there's no intent to repay it, then it's not really a loan. It's just a payment.”
The documents go on to reveal loans of more than $27 million from the two Cyprus entities to a third company connected to Manafort, a limited-liability corporation registered in Delaware.
In a recent post at her Facebook page, Simpson describes her research on Manafort and Deripaska:
This past winter and late last fall of 2016, I laid out exactly how Oleg Deripaska had washed (laundered) millions through Cyprus and the Caymans. Well turns out the grand total was $60 million, which was about what I thought. When folks got to looking closely at the $19 million Manafort was sued over -- which I had the paperwork on, as I track . . . Oleg for press folks . . . well, oh my, it became obvious what was going on. Oleg would give Manafort the money as a loan then mark it off the books for deals but never clear it for tax purposes, and when folks started looking at how Oleg sued Manafort in the Caymans but never filed a bar complaint, it was slowly becoming apparent that [the lawsuit] was all a big hoax.
How did Manafort and longtime GOP consultant Richard H. Davis develop connections to Alabama. Simpson says it developed via EADS and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour:
I first started tracking Manafort and Rick Davis when they started dealing with Riley, Sessions, and Canary through Haley Barbour on the EADS tanker deal for Oleg Deripaska. I might add I went all the way to Russia to track what was up in 2008 with Manafort and Oleg and did a ton of stories. It will be fun to watch what the FBI does now that they realize how much Manafort was making working for Russian Government against our country.
Simpson has not been quiet about the ties between Manafort, Russia, and Alabama. She spelled them out to reporters who were looking into the Siegelman case:
I might add when I came forward [on the Siegelman case], I explained all this operation with Russia to 60 Minutes; it was how I got on the show. Folks said ugly things about me back then, but I told the truth on all I knew about Manafort and Rick Davis and the Riley/Sessions/Canary gang -- and their involvement with the top Putin Russian Business Spy Oleg Deripaska, who at that time was cooking a deal to get to supply the aluminum for U.S. tankers for EADS.
I [talked] with reporters in New York and at the National Press Club about this. I might add I am the source that outed that whole story in 2008. Had I not known how they operated, from being a Republican back then, I never would have been able to out their whole Russian operation for progressives to push the FBI to investigate in 2016.
Simpson practiced law for 20-plus years, but she no longer is a member of the Alabama State Bar, thanks to a peculiar chain of events she apparently traces to the Alabama Gang, led by Jeff Sessions. She is firing back now as an opposition researcher, with information that could help FBI and Mueller investigators put Sessions and his cronies in a very bad place. She wrote the following to her Facebook readers:
Now y'all know how Oleg Deripaska became my hobby, as I have said many times in the last year -- since I was hired to [research] it . . . in late 2016 and early 2017, it is a heck of story and goes right to Jeff Session's doorstep. I might add that is why he and Russian ass-kissing buddies tried to destroy me in 2014 and 2015, but all the a-holes did was make me more determined than ever to see they went to jail. If I never work again, I am still satisfied I kicked their ass with my research in 2015, 2016, 2017.
Could that research, in fact, cause Sessions, Riley, Canary, and other Alabama politicos to wind up in federal prison? Stay tuned.