Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:40 am

Cambridge Analytica director 'met Assange to discuss US election'
Brittany Kaiser also claims to have channelled payments and donations to WikiLeaks

Carole Cadwalladr and Stephanie Kirchgaessner
Wed 6 Jun 2018 09.33 EDT Last modified on Wed 6 Jun 2018 10.14 EDT

A Cambridge Analytica director apparently visited Julian Assange in February last year and told friends it was to discuss what happened during the US election, the Guardian has learned.

Alexander Nix, former Cambridge Analytica chief, grilled by MPs – live

Brittany Kaiser, a director at the firm until earlier this year, also claimed to have channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations to WikiLeaks. This information has been passed to congressional and parliamentary inquiries in the UK and US.

Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks are already subjects of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but the revelations open up fresh questions about the precise nature of the organisations’ relationship.


There was no known connection until October last year, when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had “reached out” to Assange in July 2016 and offered to help him index and distribute the 33,000 emails that had been stolen from Hillary Clinton.

Assange issued a statement saying that he had turned down the Cambridge Analytica offer. Alexander Nix, the company’s chief executive, told Westminster MPs the same in February, during an appearance at the Commons digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS) select committee. Nix said he found a contact for WikiLeaks’ speaking agency on the internet and sent Assange an email.

Julian Assange
Julian Assange said he had turned down Cambridge Analytica’s offer of help with the Hillary Clinton email leak. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
But visitor logs from the Ecuador embassy obtained by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador appear to show that Brittany Kaiser, a senior executive at Cambridge Analytica until earlier this year, visited Assange on 17 February 2017. Information passed to the DCMS committee in the UK and the Senate judiciary committee in the US states that the meeting was “a retrospective to discuss the US election”.


Kaiser is also alleged to have said that she had funnelled money to WikiLeaks in the form of cryptocurrency. She called the organisation her “favourite charity”. The reports passed to investigators say that money was given to her by third parties in the form of “gifts and payments”.

Nix is due to appear before the DCMS committee for the second time at 3pm on Wednesday, where he is expected to be pressed on Cambridge Analytica’s relationship with WikiLeaks.

At his first appearance, Nix told the committee: “We have no relationship with WikiLeaks. We have never spoken to anyone at WikiLeaks. We have never done any business with WikiLeaks. We have no relationship with them, period.”

He told MPs that Cambridge Analytica had found out about the Clinton emails leak on the news and had “reached out to a speaking agency that represents [Assange] – that was the only way we could find to get hold of him”.

Cambridge Analytica used data from Facebook and Politico to help Trump

But when Kaiser appeared before MPs in April, she acknowledged that some employees at the company had contacts with lawyers who had also represented Assange.

Damian Collins, the DCMS committee chair, asked Kaiser: “If Alexander Nix wanted to reach out to Julian Assange, couldn’t he do it through you?” Kaiser replied: “That’s what I was wondering when I found that out from the press – he could have asked me to put him in touch with the legal team. But he didn’t.”


Kaiser told MPs that her principal connection to WikiLeaks was via John Jones QC. Jones represented Assange in his extradition case against the Swedish government and became a close, personal friend, visiting him weekly until he was killed by a train in April 2016. The inquest ruled that no-one else was involved in the death of Jones, who had been depressed.

Jones’s legal assistant, Robert Murtfeld, who worked closely with him on the WikiLeaks case subsequently went to work for Cambridge Analytica as director of commercial sales in New York. Information passed to the US and UK committees reveals that Murtfield had arranged Kaiser’s visit to Assange last year.

https://amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... ssion=true



Wendy Siegelman

Emerdata, set up last year to acquire and rebrand Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group, had raised $19 million from investors in January, but former chief executive Alexander Nix allegedly withdrew more than $8 million before CA/SCL collapsed




Cambridge Analytica chief accused of taking $8m before collapse

Investors press for repayment after Nix alleged to have acted on Facebook reports

Former Cambridge Analytica chief Alexander Nix runs a media gauntlet in London in March following the data breach © Reuters

Aliya Ram and Cynthia O’Murchu in London 2 HOURS AGO

Investors who backed a rebranding of Cambridge Analytica are in a stand-off with former chief executive Alexander Nix after he allegedly withdrew more than $8m from the scandal-hit data firm shortly before it collapsed.

Several people involved in the dispute told the Financial Times the withdrawal came shortly after Mr Nix learned British media was reporting on allegations about his company’s role in a massive leak of Facebook user data in March. Mr Nix did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to these people, the investors are pressing Mr Nix to repay the money to Cambridge Analytica employees and investors.

They said Emerdata, a company set up last year to acquire and rebrand Cambridge Analytica and a related company, SCL Group, had raised $19m from powerful international investors in January to expand the company’s services and bid for more commercial work.

The money ran out quickly, the people said, because of outstanding bills to advertisers and other suppliers, and because of the alleged withdrawal by Mr Nix. According to some of the people, Mr Nix has indicated that he intends to repay part of the money. One person added that Mr Nix said the withdrawal was made in exchange for unbooked services.

Bankruptcy filings in New York show that Cambridge Analytica received an $8.8m loan from Emerdata before it entered administration, though it is not clear what the loan was intended for. Documents show the debt is classified as an unsecured “non-priority” loan that might not have to be returned.

Governments have access to vast quantities of data; on both their own citizens and foreign nationals. These data can be used to help governments identify, segment and target key audiences for campaigns of information or influence

Private placing memorandum
Mr Nix, who was suspended from Cambridge Analytica before the company closed, will appear before British lawmakers on Wednesday to testify about his role in the company’s harvesting the information of tens of millions of Facebook users without consent.

According to several insiders, most of the company’s employees have been dismissed without severance pay after Cambridge Analytica and a web of related entities were wound up over the past month. However, investors and employees have argued that staff should receive redundancy payments, they said.

Documents seen by the FT confirm that a holding company was established to acquire Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group, which had previously focused on defence and political work, including Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

These documents and a private placing memorandum set out plans to raise about $30m to pitch for more commercially-related work and develop a “high-volume core business” with off-the-shelf data-targeting products.

“This pivot will address the scalability problems associated with the ‘data­science as a service business model’, where the growth of the company is constrained by a limited and highly­ competitive talent pool,” the memorandum said.


AggregateIQ had data of thousands of Facebook users

It added: “Governments have access to vast quantities of data; on both their own citizens and foreign nationals. These data can be used to help governments identify, segment and target key audiences for campaigns of information or influence.”

Cambridge Analytica also formed a working group of senior ex-military personnel and government executives to identify products and services most relevant to government clients, according to the documents.

Company filings in the UK show Emerdata earlier this year issued nearly 2m shares and added several new directors to its board including Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, the daughters of hedge fund billionaire and prominent Trump supporter Robert Mercer.

Other new directors include 29-year-old Ahmad Al Khatib and Cheng Peng, a representative of Hong Kong-listed investment house Reorient Group.

Johnson Ko, executive director of Reorient Group, was also added as a director of Emerdata in January. Mr Ko is a business partner of Erik Prince, another Trump associate and the founder of private mercenary group Blackwater, at the security firm Frontier Services Group.

Cambridge Analytica saw an exodus of clients following the revelations by UK media outlets The Observer and Channel 4 over its use of Facebook data in political campaigns and an undercover Channel 4 documentary that showed Mr Nix suggesting he could entrap the opponents of clients by offering bribes.

People close to the company said Cambridge Analytica was faced with large legal bills and press relations fees after it attempted to defuse the crisis by launching a website intended to explain the “facts behind the Facebook” story.

The company now has assets of less than $500,000 and liabilities of $8.8m, according to unaudited financial statements filed as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Cambridge Analytica’s revenue dropped sharply from $25.3m in 2016 to $5.2m in 2017, the filings reveal. It also recorded a net operating loss of $13.5m in 2017.

Additional reporting by Gillian Tett in New York and Tom Hancock in Shanghai
https://www.ft.com/content/4edbf8b6-68c ... cfcfb08c11




Wendy Siegelman

Emerdata investors are in a stand-off with Alexander Nix after he allegedly withdrew more than $8m and are pressing him to repay the money. One person added that Mr Nix said the withdrawal was made in exchange for unbooked services.
https://www.ft.com/content/4edbf8b6-68c ... cfcfb08c11
Image

Documents seen by FT set out plans to raise about $30m to pitch for commercially-related work & described using govt data on citizens & foreign nationals to "identify, segment and target key audiences for campaigns of information or influence.”
https://www.ft.com/content/4edbf8b6-68c ... cfcfb08c11

Image

Emerdata Chart

Chart: Emerdata Limited — the new Cambridge Analytica/SCL Group?

Note: chart may be updated periodically, please share page link, not a screenshot.

Wendy SiegelmanMar 25
on Twitter @WendySiegelman


See the story below on Emerdata Limited, for most of the source materials with links, referenced in the chart above:

The video below notes that SCL Group founder Nigel Oakes told Channel 4 News it was his understanding that Emerdata was set up a year ago to acquire all of Cambridge Analytica and all of SCL.

Additional information in the chart came from this article referred by Ann Marlowe, including information on Dorian Barak trying to interest Erik Prince in a joint investment with Vincent Tchenguiz, former SCL shareholder.

SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica companies and shareholders chart created with Ann Marlowe:

https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/chart-em ... 283f47670d


The first story that revealed Emerdata and its directors, including Johnson Chun Shun Ko, Erik Prince's business partner in Frontier Services Group, as well as Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer

Cambridge Analytica executives created a company with the Executive Director & Deputy Chairman of Erik Prince’s Frontier Services Group

Wendy SiegelmanMar 18
on Twitter @WendySiegelman


This has been a big weekend for news on the data firm that claimed to help get Donald Trump elected — Cambridge Analytica and the U.K. parent company SCL Group Limited. And now there’s one more twist, connecting SCL and Cambridge Analytica to someone else grabbing recent headlines, Erik Prince.

Filings on U.K. Companies House show that the two top executives at Cambridge Analytica are Directors of a company along with one of Erik Princes’ closest business partners.

On August 11, 2017, the company Emerdata Limited was incorporated in the U.K., and listed SCL Chairman Julian Wheatland as Director and 25–50% owner, and Cambridge Analytica Chief Data Officer, Alexander Tayler, was also listed as 25–50% owner. Both have since been removed as significant owners, but Wheatland is listed as an active Director, along with Alexander Nix, the Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica.

Emerdata was orignally located at 16 Great Queen Street London, the address for Fladgate LLP, which is listed in ICIJ’s Panama Papers database. But on February 18, 2018, Emerdata changed it’s address to Pkf Littlejohn 1 Westferry Circus Canary Wharf London, the same address for SCL Group.

A few days ago the filings for Emerdata were updated, and noted three new Directors, including, Mr Ahmad Ashraf Hosny Al Khatib, Ms Cheng Peng, and Mr Johnson Chun Shun Ko, all appointed on January 23, 2018.

Image

A tip from @brexit_sham identified that one of the new Emerdata Limited directors, Mr Johnson Chun Shun Ko, is a very close business partner of Erik Prince.

Erik Prince is Executive Director and Chairman of Hong Kong listed Frontier Services Group “a leading provider of integrated security, logistics and insurance services for clients operating in frontier markets.”

The Executive Director and Deputy Chairman of Frontier is Mr. Ko Chun Shun, the same Johnson Chun Shun Ko who is a Director of Emerdata with Julian Wheatland and Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica. The address for Mr. Johnson Chun Shun Ko in the Emerdata listing is 3901 39 Floor, Far East Finance Centre, 16 Harcourt Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong, the same address as the Hong Kong headquarters for Frontier.
Image
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Erik Prince was also named chairman of DVN Holdings, a company controlled by Hong Kong businessman Johnson Ko Chun-shun and state-owned Citic Group.

A Forbes profile lists Johnson Ko as #49 of Hong Kong’s 50 richest people, and notes that he is “executive director of boutique investment firm Reorient Group, where he brought in Alibaba’s Jack Ma and other investors in a $350 million deal in August.”

It is not known if Erik Prince has any direct connection to Emerdata Limited or to Julian Wheatland or Alexander Nix or to Cambridge Analytica.

However, writer Ann Marlowe reported in an August 2016 article on Cambridge Analytica that for ten years, until 2015, the largest investor in SCL was U.K. property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz. Marlowe further identified that Tchenguiz had a connection with Paul Manafort’s business partner Dimitry Firtash, as Tchenguiz was an investor in a company called Zander Group, which was part owned by a subsidiary of Firtash’s Group DF. And while Vincent Tchenguiz sold his shares in Cambridge Analytica’s parent SCL Group in 2015, the current SCL chairman Julian Wheatland, was formerly an executive of Tchenguiz’s Consensus Business Group.

Marlowe has also identified that a December 2017 Haaretz article about Erik Prince described his ties to Israeli financier Dorian Barak, who “tried to interest Prince in investing in an African rail project — with the Spanish infrastructure company Eurofinsa — and in a joint investment with the Tehran-born, British-Jewish billionaire Vincent Tchenguiz.”

There is no indication that Prince pursued a deal with Vincent Tchenguiz.

However, through Emerdata Limited, there is a business connection between two top executives of Cambridge Analytica, Julian Wheatland and Alexander Nix, and Erik Prince’s business partner Mr. Ko Chun Shun.

Many questions are raised by this partnership. What is the business purpose of Emerdata Limited? And what is the business relationship between Emerdata Directors Julian Wheatland and Alexander Nix who also head up Cambridge Analytica, and Erik Prince’s business partner, Mr. Ko Chun Shun? And, most interestingly, is there any direct connection between Cambridge Analytica and Erik Prince?


MARCH 21, 2018 UPDATE:

On March 16, 2018 Rebekah Anne Mercer and Jennifer Mercer were both appointed as directors.

Image

Ahmad Ashraf Hosny Al Khatib who was appointed director on January 23, 2018, lists his nationality as ‘citizen of Seychelles’. In January 2017 Erik Prince had a meeting in Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Kremlin-controlled wealth fund (RDIF), George Nader, a Lebanese American businessman, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the Emirates, allegedly to establish a back-channel to the Kremlin.
Image

MARCH 20, UPDATE

Firecrest Technologies Limited was incorporated on March 7, 2018 with Alexander Nix as director and Emerdata Limited as ‘person with significant control.’


Image
Image
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MARCH 23 UPDATE

On 23 January 2018 Emerdata Limited issued 1,596,874 ordinary shares and 315,628 preference shares, all valued at 1 GBP/each, for a total of 1,912,502 GBP.

In September 2017 Alexander Nix and Steve Bannon presented at a conference run by CLSA. CLSA is part of Citic Securities, which is part of China’s state-owned Citic Group, a majority owner of Erik Prince and Ko Chun Shun Johnson’s Frontier Services Group.


UPDATE MARCH 23, 2018

Emerdata Limited January 23, 2018 filings:

Julian Wheatland & Alexander Tyler ceased ownership
Johnson Chun Shun Ko, Cheng Peng, Ahmad Al Khatib & Alexander Nix appointed as directors
GBP 1,912,502 shares issued
The changes above pre-date Rebkah and Jennifer Mercer joining as directors. Therefore, is Chun Shun Ko the owner of Emerdata Ltd ? And what kind of access will China’s state owned Citic Group, 28.4% owner of Ko’s Frontier Services Group, have to this new Cambridge Analytica related business?


Note: on March 19, 2018 the article title was updated — “in 2017” was deleted from “Cambridge Analytica executives created a company in 2017…”, since some directors were appointed in 2018.
https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/cambridg ... 03f27f84a2
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:32 pm

The US Should Pay Attention to Foreign Cambridge Analytica Probes


Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix in London, England on June 6, 2018. MPs are looking into how the company harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users to allegedly influence potential voters around the world.
Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images
More than a year ago, after putting in a formal request, I received a letter and an Excel spreadsheet purporting to contain my voter profile from an obscure analytics company called Cambridge Analytica. Seeing my political beliefs modeled without my knowledge or permission was unnerving. But the detail that caused me the greatest distress was the currency I used to pay the request fee: British pounds. Why was American voter data being processed in Britain?

About a year later, Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica from its network—preempting a massive investigation that revealed that Cambridge Analytica had purloined millions of Facebook profiles for political purposes, using a deceptive personality quiz. That same day, I filed a legal claim against a network of companies, including Cambridge Analytica, in the High Court in London for failing to comply with the UK Data Protection Act of 1998.

WIRED OPINION
ABOUT
David Carroll (@profcarroll) is an associate professor at Parsons School of Design working at the intersection of advertising, data, privacy, politics, and policy.
Since then, most of the firms in the Cambridge Analytica network have filed for insolvency in the UK and bankruptcy in the US—but I am still vigorously pursuing my rights to recapture my complete voter dataset. Before most of the companies shut down, their regulator that enforces data protection laws in Britain, the information commissioner’s office, issued an order to the company to disclose my data, or face criminal penalties. While I was testifying to committees in the EU Parliament in Brussels for their investigation into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica the deadline passed. Criminal prosecution is now being explored.

It may feel overwhelming, but it’s important to pursue any unanswered question that concern elections—even if that activity spans multiple countries, companies, and campaigns. This week, Facebook delivered a tome of responses to questions posed during Senate hearings in April. During his testimony, Zuckerberg dodged many questions with the phrase, “I’ll have my team get back to you,” which he uttered 21 times. The ensuing written questions, so voluminous they numbered more than 2000 across 500 pages, obviously required Facebook’s most expensive and skilled wordsmiths to construct an impressive treatise on its business practices, while evading the most critical questions.

Public investigations happening in the UK and Canada tell a more revealing and complicated story—one that reporters in the US seem to be ignoring
Who is Joseph Chancellor, Alexandr Kogan’s business partner and subsequent Facebook employee, curiously hired directly from the company that illicit hoovered up so much personal data? We still don’t know. Why did Mark Zuckerberg not disclose him to Congress, especially when that would have been extremely germane to the subject of the hearing? The documents didn’t explain.

Yet public investigations happening in the UK and Canada tell a more revealing and complicated story—one that reporters in the US seem to be ignoring. A parliamentary committee in Canada is conducting an investigation into AggregateIQ, the British Columbia-based vendor that had an exclusive intellectual property license with SCL Elections Ltd. This company is part of the Robert Mercer-funded, Steve Bannon-operated “election management” network, which also includes Cambridge Analytica, all of which is unraveling as a consequence of headlines around the world. AggregateIQ has been accused by members of Canadian parliament of aiding and abetting crimes of data and technology in the UK and the US. The charge alleges that the company used commercial political advertising, social media, and data brokerage industries across nations to evade the guardrails that protect the institutions of democracy itself.

In the UK, the House of Commons select committee, run by Conservative member Damian Collins, is hosting an aggressive and public inquiry into a number of allegedly criminal data schemes. By taking evidence from a wide cast of characters—including myself when they came to Washington, DC—the UK’s investigation has released a preponderance of hard evidence into the public domain, allowing us to follow, not only the political drama, but the complexity of the data systems, contracts, emails, proposals, transcripts, and interview recordings.

The UK’s investigation has released a preponderance of hard evidence into the public domain
This stands in stark contrast to the highly secretive special counsel investigation in the United States, which reportedly is also looking into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. This dark and seemingly despotic world of election management, influence peddling, and voter data analytics is raising fundamental questions about how democratic institutions can survive these new digital threats.

In this way, Americans haven’t yet fully grasped how malfeasance in the Brexit referendum and campaigns in the US might be intertwined in scandal. After walking out of the UK Parliament select committee before the chair had adjourned it, the self-proclaimed Bad Boys of Brexit, Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore now face allegations of regular contact with officials from the Kremlin, along with a court injunction in Mississippi court over their efforts to build a clone of Cambridge Analytica at Ole Miss to profile British citizens.

It’s unprecedented that multiple, simultaneous election irregularity investigations overlap around a single family’s company, the nexus of Cambridge Analytica. For those of us fascinated by the story, this complexity is engrossing, but it’s devilishly confusing for most. At times it feels Cambridge Analytica designed it this way, to overwhelm the capacity of government, media, and citizens. Important details still have not worked their way through the public investigations, including whether or not data crimes have been committed under UK law, or if election coordination violations have occurred under both British and American laws. We’re not even sure if we’ve unmasked all the mysterious companies weaponizing voters’ personal data to advance the will of elites.

But without paying closer attention to what our allies in Great Britain and Canada have uncovered on our behalf, Americans are doing our own democracy a grave disservice. The fact that lawmakers around the world are working so hard to understand the actions of a single family should alarm everyone concerned with the consent of the governed.

WIRED Opinion publishes pieces written by outside contributors and represents a wide range of viewpoints. Read more opinions here.
https://www.wired.com/story/david-carro ... nsiteshare



Trump's 2020 campaign is secretly working with a company run by former Cambridge Analytica employees

A company run by former officials at data firm Cambridge Analytica has been quietly working for President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign.
Cambridge Analytica was used in Trump's 2016 campaign and shut down after an investigation found it was behind the targeting of Facebook users with political messaging.
Data Propria specializes in voter and consumer targeting work similar to that of Cambridge Analytica.
The company's head of product said he and and Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, were "doing the president's work for 2020."

WASHINGTON (AP) — A company run by former officials at Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm brought down by a scandal over how it obtained Facebook users' private data, has quietly been working for President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election effort, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP confirmed that at least four former Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with Data Propria, a new company specializing in voter and consumer targeting work similar to Cambridge Analytica's efforts before its collapse. The company's former head of product, Matt Oczkowski, leads the new firm, which also includes Cambridge Analytica's former chief data scientist.

Oczkowski denied a link to the Trump campaign, but acknowledged that his new firm has agreed to do 2018 campaign work for the Republican National Committee. Oczkowski led the Cambridge Analytica data team which worked on Trump's successful 2016 campaign.

The AP learned of Data Propria's role in Trump's re-election effort as a result of conversations held with political contacts and prospective clients in recent weeks by Oczkowski. In one such conversation, which took place in a public place and was overheard by two AP reporters, Oczkowski said he and and Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, were "doing the president's work for 2020."


In addition, a person familiar with Data Propria's Washington efforts, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect business relationships, confirmed to the AP that Trump-related 2020 work already had begun at the firm along the lines of Cambridge Analytica's 2016 work.

Both Oczkowski and Parscale told the AP that no Trump re-election work by Data Propria was even planned, but confirmed that Parscale had helped Data Propria line up a successful bid on 2018 midterm polling-related work for the RNC, awarded earlier this week. Oczkowski called the contract modest.

Oczkowski had previously told the AP the firm had no intention of seeking political clients. After being informed the AP had overheard him directly discussing campaign work, he said his young company had changed course and that whatever he'd said about the 2020 campaign would have been speculative.

"I'm obviously open to any work that would become available," Oczkowski said, noting that he and Parscale had worked together closely during Trump's 2016 campaign.

Parscale told the AP that he has not even begun awarding contracts for the 2020 campaign, which he was appointed to manage in March.


"I am laser-focused on the 2018 midterms and holding the House and increasing our seats in the Senate," he said. "Once we do those things, I'll start working on re-electing President Trump."

London-based Cambridge Analytica was accused of playing a key role in the 2014 breach of 87 million Facebook users' personal data. The company said it did not use the information for Trump's 2016 campaign, but some former employees have disputed that. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that it was "entirely possible" the social media data ended up being used in Russian propaganda efforts.

In May, Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and said it was "ceasing all operations." A British investigation of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company will continue despite the shutdown, the U.K.s Information Commissioner's office said last month.

The description of Data Propria's efforts overheard by the AP reporters tracks closely with the services Cambridge Analytica provided to both commercial clients and Trump's 2016 campaign, including profiling voters based on data about them in a process known as "psychography." The technique classifies people according to their attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria to tailor advertisements or marketing strategies.

Oczkowski told the AP that three of the people on Data Propria's 10-person team are Cambridge Analytica alumni, but said they were focused on campaign operations and data analysis — not behavioral psychology.

Data Propria is "not going down the psychometrics side of things," he said.

Among the former Cambridge Analytica employees is David Wilkinson, a British citizen who was the company's lead data scientist. During the 2016 campaign, Wilkinson helped oversee the voter data modeling that informed Trump's focus on the Rust Belt, according to a Cambridge Analytica press release issued after the election.

Federal election law bars foreign nationals from "directing, controlling or directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process" of U.S. campaigns. The public advocacy group Common Cause filed a complaint with the FEC in March alleging that Cambridge Analytica's foreign employees broke that law, though the complaint did not name Wilkinson.

Oczkowski told the AP that the London-based Wilkinson is a contractor and will not be involved in Data Propria's U.S. political work.

Another issue raised by Data Propria's work on Trump's re-election effort is the firm's financial links to Parscale, Trump's campaign manager.


Parscale is a part owner of Data Propria's parent company, a publicly traded firm called Cloud Commerce that bought his digital marketing business in August. Over the last year, Cloud Commerce has largely rebuilt itself around Parscale's former company, now rebranded Parscale Digital. Parscale sits on Cloud Commerce's board of directors and provides the company with the majority of its $2.9 million in revenue, according to the company's most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

By working with a Cloud Commerce subsidiary, the Trump campaign could be helping Parscale profit beyond his $15,000 monthly campaign retainer and the commissions he has been collecting on Trump's digital advertising spending.

While Parscale's personal business still works for the campaign, it's unclear how that work may be changing now that he has become Trump's official campaign manager.

Under one contract between Parscale and Cloud Commerce, he receives a 5 percent cut of every dollar collected by Parscale Digital — which is largely composed of the web marketing business Parscale sold to Cloud Commerce last year. In SEC filings, Cloud Commerce has estimated that Parscale's cut of those revenues, excluding pass through payments, would total between $850,000 and $1.3 million. Parscale Digital would not be directly receiving funds from the RNC or the campaign.

Even though Parscale is not directly receiving money from Data Propria work, the firms provide each other with business and Data Propria's success would help Cloud Commerce pay off the money it owns Parscale.

A second agreement obligates Cloud Commerce to pay Parscale $85,150 a month as part of its separate $1 million purchase of his former web-hosting business. Parscale earns another $3,000 per month from leasing computers and office furniture to Cloud Commerce.

Trevor Potter, a Republican who once headed the Federal Election Commission and now leads the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, said it was unusual for an incumbent president's campaign to direct large amounts of business to outside firms tied to his campaign manager.

Such arrangements are more common for long-shot candidates in need of expertise, he said.

"Top-notch candidates have bargaining power and are less likely to put up with that," Potter said. "It sounds like a very rich opportunity for Mr. Parscale, but that's really the candidate's call."

Aside from the ties to Parscale, Cloud Commerce's parent company is an unusual candidate for blue chip political work. Founded in 1999, the firm has repeatedly changed its name and business model, and the company's most recent audit "expressed substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern" without continuing infusions of cash.

An AP investigation of Cloud Commerce in March found that a former CEO of its predecessor firm pleaded guilty to stock fraud in 2008 and remained active in Cloud Commerce's affairs until at least 2015. Cloud Commerce says the man has had no connection with its business since at least 2011.

The AP also found discrepancies in the professional biography of current Cloud Commerce chief executive Andrew Van Noy, who has told investors that he worked for Morgan Stanley and was a private equity executive in the years immediately preceding his arrival at Cloud Commerce in 2011.

Van Noy's August 2010 Utah bankruptcy filing conflicts with that portrayal, showing he spent most of the prior two and a half years unemployed. The filings also reveal that Van Noy had been accused of selling unlicensed securities and using $100,000 of an investor's money for personal purposes.

"Luckily I have not had to go to the homeless shelter," Van Noy wrote to that investor in 2011 after the man asked what had happened to his investment. After the man sued for fraud, Van Noy agreed to pay him $105,000.

A year later, he became president of Cloud Commerce.

Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker, Juliet Linderman and Steve Peoples contributed to this reporting
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:11 pm

Carole Cadwalladr

Please read this.
I don't write personal stories. But this week I learned Russia & LeaveEU may have co-ordinated their attacks on me. Gobsmacked & a bit freaked out.


Arron Banks, Brexit and the Russia connection
Arron Banks
The Observer
An 18-month investigation leads to a trail of new evidence showing the ‘bad boys of Brexit’ had closer links to Russia and its ambassador than they have disclosed
Leave.EU faces new questions over contacts with Russia
Carole Cadwalladr

Sat 16 Jun 2018 16.30 EDT Last modified on Sat 16 Jun 2018 17.54 EDT

Leave.EU Brexit campaign co-founder Arron Banks, right, and political campaigner Andy Wigmore leave after facing questions by members of the DCMS committee.
Leave.EU Brexit campaign co-founder Arron Banks, right, and political campaigner Andy Wigmore leave after facing questions by members of the DCMS committee. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA
On 11 March 2016, three months before the European referendum, and long before anyone had started to wonder about foreign interference in the two political cataclysms of 2016 – Brexit and Trump – the Russian embassy in London put out a press release.

Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, had made a speech at Chatham House a few days earlier. A speech in which he noted that “the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia”. And the embassy had taken exception.

A couple of hundred miles away, in Lysander House, Catbrain Lane, Bristol, a modern office block on a busy roundabout that serves as the headquarters of both Eldon Insurance – owned by local businessman Arron Banks – and the Leave.EU campaign team – funded by Arron Banks – it seems to have caught someone’s eye.

The press release said it showed Russia “being dragged into the domestic debate on Brexit” as part of a “wicked Russia thesis”. Written more in the language of a slighted lover than a nation state, it claimed that “this was “unfair”, and the government needed to “explain itself”. “We wouldn’t have dwelt on it,” it said, had the British government not alluded to the Russian threat “at every opportunity”. The Leave.EU team appeared to think so, too. A message from an employee to Banks and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s press spokesman and Banks’s business partner, sent on the same day – 11 March 2016 – says: “Pretty strong stuff from the Russian embassy! Risky area but this might possibly be worth using for a tile?” (A “tile” is an image that they could use in social media messaging, on Twitter or other platforms.)


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Last week, the Observer published details of multiple meetings between Banks and Wigmore and the Russian embassy, the details of which they confirmed when they passed the original emails to the Sunday Times in order to try to scoop us. The documents seen by the Observer suggest Banks replies: “I think we should – let’s draft a press release in response to the Russian letter.”

The documents suggest that the employee’s response included a press release he says he has drafted on “the great looming threat” of Russia, though he notes that one of the sentences is optional as it “may be seen as too overtly Russophile”.

Wigmore responds: “Suggest we send a note of support to the Ambassador.”

It’s a brief exchange between colleagues – the language is matter-of-fact, the tone workaday, the import that there’s nothing unusual here. But two years on, in the midst of the Trump-Russia investigation, against the backdrop of a tumultuous week in parliament, including a parliamentary committee hearing at which Banks and Wigmore attacked MPs and then walked out, it suggests an extraordinary relationship.

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The foreign secretary of Britain had made critical remarks about a hostile foreign power. And, so these documents appear to suggest, prompted the Leave.EU team to swing into action in support of the hostile foreign power. And, astonishingly, to write a personal note of support to the country’s ambassador.


Was the “personal note of support” sent? We don’t know, but it’s a fascinating, revealing, and disturbing insight into the nature of the relationship between officials representing the Russian government and the main funder of the Leave campaign. A relationship that was, until now, partly covert and hidden. And which Banks conceded in parliament on Tuesday that he’d lied about for two years.

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This was the campaign headed by Nigel Farage, whose close friend and ally, Steve Bannon, had been Trump’s campaign manager and who said, on Wednesday: “I have never received any Russian financial or political support...”

And it plunges Britain directly into the same nexus of relationships that is the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Two years on, we are in the dark about so much. What was the exact nature of Farage’s Leave.EU campaign’s relationship to the Russian government? Why did it exist? And to what end?

Just last week, Farage robustly denied any improper relationship with the Russians on his radio show.

So far, all that we can say for sure is that, for the last two years, Banks and Wigmore have lied about it. And, it’s this, perhaps, that raises the most critical question of all: why?

A week and a half ago, a fellow journalist, Peter Jukes, showed me this material for the first time, and my jaw dropped. I’d left parliament where I’d heard Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, give evidence to the investigation into fake news to a parliamentary inquiry over many hours. And later that night, I found myself looking at a computer screen that shone on a light on a part of the investigation that I had never expected to uncover.

Arron Banks, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Andy Wigmore meet Donald Trump at Trump Tower.
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Arron Banks (second from left), Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Andy Wigmore (second from right) at Trump Tower. Photograph: Wigmore/Finn/WENN
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This was material – obtained legitimately – from inside the Leave.EU campaign. There were names, times, dates. Meetings. Official invitations. Gold deals. And, in a starring role, Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, a name I knew instantly from FBI documents, who had been named by Mueller as a high-level intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

There were references to the content of the astonishing email that Wigmore was said to have sent to his contact at the Russian embassy in August 2016. Farage had been on the campaign trail for Trump when his aide and fundraiser, George Cottrell, was arrested by the FBI on money-laundering charges. Material seen by the Observer suggests Wigmore sent confidential legal documents, including the FBI indictment, to the Russian embassy.

And then there was the possibility of the gold deal. A deal, brokered by Yakovenko, and funded by the state-owned Russian bank, Sberbank, negotiated in the months leading up to the referendum, and announced on 5 July, 12 days after the country voted to leave the EU. There is no public record of whether Banks invested or not. Twelve days later, he tweeted: “I’m buying gold at the moment and big mining stocks.”

For me, though, it was the material we are publishing, about “tiles” and social media messages, that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. Because I’ve been investigating this story, and this web of relationships between Trump, Russia, Cambridge Analytica and the Leave campaign for 18 months. And I’ve been on the receiving end of those “tiles”. Leave.EU has crafted social media messages targeted at me, aimed at discrediting me and my work.

Messages, which last autumn, turned nasty. For most of last year, my relationship with Banks and Wigmore was knockabout. We trolled each other – seemingly good-humouredly – online. I’d scored a hit early on when my very first article triggered two investigations, by the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office. But, on the surface at least, they didn’t seem to hold it against me, or me them. But in late October/November, that changed. The public mood around Brexit was hardening. Crucial votes on the EU withdrawal bill were due and Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation had started to bite. And, it was again, a Russian embassy press release that seems to have precipitated it. On 25 October, the Russian embassy directly addressed questions about Russian interference with a statement on its website: “Russia doesn’t intervene into internal affairs of other states... I am calling on the unscrupulous journalists and politicians: stop imposing this fake agenda[...]”


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Tweets from the embassy’s account revealed that the “unscrupulous journalists” seemed to be myself and Hugo Rifkind from the Times, and the politicians, two Labour MPs who’d raised questions on the subject in the house – Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant.

Later that same day, Leave.EU’s official account put out a “tile”: “Yakovenko calls on ‘unscrupulous journalists and politicians’ to ditch ‘fake agenda’ re Russia involvement in Brexit,” it said. It was … unsettling. I had felt like I’d been operating in a hostile environment for a long period of time – the next week I received a third legal letter from Cambridge Analytica – but this was different. We know how the Russian state deals with journalists. As did Banks and Wigmore. A few months earlier, Banks tweeted: “@carolecadwalla wouldn’t be so lippy in Russia!” A tweet he has now deleted.

“Wouldn’t be so lippy ...” Arron Banks’s now-deleted tweet.
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“Wouldn’t be so lippy ...” Arron Banks’s now-deleted tweet. Photograph: @Arron_banks
But then it escalated. Two weeks later, the Observer received the first of a series of extraordinary letters from the Russian embassy – one of which came personally to me from Yakovenko – about my reporting. “We think it’s a textbook example of bad journalism which raises quite a few questions regarding the true colours of the reporter.”

Then, on 13 November, a watershed moment, when Theresa May finally stood up and accused Russia of “weaponising information” and meddling in our democracy.

That night, I tweeted it out. “Finally!” I said.

The response was swift. The next day, Leave.EU’s official account tweeted a video, headlined: “@carolecadwalla takes a hit as the Russian conspiracy deepens.” It described me as “hysterical Guardian investigator Carole Codswallop”. The video was a clip of the film Airplane! and they had photoshopped my face into that of a “hysterical” woman being hit repeatedly around the head. The last frame showed a woman with a gun. In the background, the Russian anthem played.

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I saw it, sitting at my kitchen table, where I live alone, and was, at first, bewildered. Bewildered, and over the course of the next 42 hours, freaked out. Hundreds of people reported it to Twitter and the police, but still it stayed up. On the evening of the second day, I asked my editor to intervene. That night, he wrote to Wigmore. The next morning, it finally came down. On Twitter, I wrote: “It was intended to unsettle me. And it did.”

The tweet from Leave.EU’s account with the modified clip from Airplane!
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The tweet from Leave.EU’s account with the modified clip from Airplane! Photograph: @LeaveEUOfficial
I have a different relationship to this story, to these revelations, perhaps, than most. Because I have experienced the impact of this relationship with Russia, first-hand. I have felt it and lived it – viscerally, emotionally. But it was always there, out in the open. There was nothing hidden or covert about the hundreds of social media postings and tweets that showed Leave.EU’s and Farage’s support of Russian policies and the Russian political agenda. What I hadn’t contemplated, until now, was that this may have been co-ordinated with the Russian government.

That Banks and Wigmore may have been communicating with the embassy when they were launching these attacks. That they may have sent other “messages of support” to the Russian ambassador when May made that speech, or I wrote my articles, or Bradshaw and Bryant asked their questions.

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore have declined to answer any questions the Observer put to him.

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Did the deal take place? The gold deal that Yakovenko made the introduction for? Journalists and investigators will hopefully now try to find out, to unravel the complex, offshore structures through which Banks runs his businesses.

Because what we appear to see through Banks and Wigmore is a linked series of relationships between the Trump campaign – via Steve Bannon – to the public face of Leave.EU’s campaign, Nigel Farage. Through Farage to Banks and Wigmore. And through Banks and Wigmore to the Russian government. Whether it’s a channel for anything else is for other specialist investigators to figure out. Because ever since Watergate, we’ve known that you need to follow the money.

But, in this the new age of information, there are new lines to pursue. One can follow the lies, for example. The meetings Banks and Wigmore admit they lied about, a third passport – a diplomatic one from Belize – that Banks told me about last year, but which he denied to MPs on Tuesday. Wigmore is the country’s trade envoy to the UK. A legal letter they told MPs they’d sent to the Atlantic Council but which the head counsel of the Atlantic Council told the Observer, many months ago, they had never received.

In 2016, Brexit and Trump were the first fake news elections. Though by “fake news”, one means sophisticated information operations, developed out of hybrid warfare techniques – pioneered by Russia and now aped across the world. In 1972, the year of the Watergate break-in, money was the sole source of power.

Today, information is also power. This is “asymmetric warfare”. It’s how an economically struggling power – Russia – can strike a blow against the richest nation in the world. Through weaponising words. And unleashing them in ways we can’t understand or even see.

Because you can also follow the tweets. Follow the Facebook posts. Follow the memes. It’s all out there: the Leave campaign’s intimate relationship with the Russian government appears public, visible, undisguised. Just as Banks – and his ghostwriter, Isabel Oakeshott – were careful to include the approach from the Russian embassy and a nine-hour “boozy lunch” in The Bad Boys of Brexit, is this a relationship between the Russians and the Leave campaign that is hiding in plain sight?

What we know now is that this relationship is deeper and more complex than we could have imagined. And that Banks and Wigmore lied about it: to the public, to parliament. And we don’t know why.

What we don’t know, or at least I don’t know, is whether this is collusion. If the Leave campaign colluded with the Russian government. That’s a word freighted with meaning and significance. A question that Farage won’t answer.

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When I rang into his LBC phone-in show on Monday, he slammed down the phone on me, in what, in the video, looks like a moment of panic.

We don’t know if there was collusion. But here’s what we do know, what these communications suggest to us: that there was co-ordination.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:53 pm

Wendy Siegelman

Here's an interesting interview by @iblametom with Ahmad Al Khatib (ex Emerdata director) and ex-Cambridge Analytica exec Mark Turnbull, who both started the company Auspex International - including a part that cites my reporting on Al Khatib - thread /1


Ahmad Al Khatib became Emerdata director in Jan 2018 w/Johnson Chun Shun Ko (Erik Prince's biz partner), later joined by Rebekah & Jennifer Mercer, a few months before story on Cambridge Analytica harvesting FB data broke - he described the experience /2
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrew ... 51e6ef4f2d
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Al Khatib wants to move on with Auspex International which he says will be an altruistic, interventionist force, without any dirty tactics /3
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrew ... 51e6ef4f2d
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Mark Turnbull who appeared in a @Channel4News sting on Cambridge Analytica where he spoke about "use of former MI5 and MI6 staff to dig up dirt on clients’ hit list" described altruistic mission of Auspex Int'l of contributing to a well informed populace/4
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrew ... 51e6ef4f2d
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Al Khatib was asked about my reporting on him about his prior work experience with UAE and Russian companies, and replied “None of the points the article is hinting towards are true” /5
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrew ... 51e6ef4f2d
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Here's my story on Ahmad Al Khatib based on an open source listing of his work with UAE & Russian companies (he's also citizen of the Seychelles) - I note overlaps w/Erik Prince & others - and asked one question - is it coincidence or something more? /END

https://twitter.com/WendySiegelman/stat ... 7771969536


Wendy Siegelman


Jul 12
Ahmad Al-Khatib who launched Auspex International and was at Emerdata with Erik Prince’s business partner Ko — has links to the UAE, Russia and the Seychelles
Are these coincidences or something more?


Photo courtesy Federico Lorenzini via flickr creative commons license
Ahmad Al-Khatib, the former director of Emerdata and the head of Auspex International launched with Cambridge Analytica’s Mark Turnbull — has worked with several UAE companies and was working for a Russian-owned company before launching Auspex.
Months ago I found a public listing for Ahmad Ashraf Al-Khatib (below left) which matched the original name on the Emerdata filing — Ahmad Ashraf Hosny Al Khatib — later shortened to Ahmad Al Khatib (below right).
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Online public RocketReach listing for Ahmad Ashraf Al-Khatib (left) and full name listed for Ahmad Ashraf Hosny Al Khatib on Companies House (right)
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Excerpt from Auspex International Press Release
Based on Ahmad Al-Khatib’s press release on the Auspex International website (above), he is 29 and came to London to attend school when he was 18 — around 2007 or 2008 — and he attended Cass Business School and City University London — information that matches with the public bio (below).
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As the bio notes — Ahmad Al Khatib worked for both the Mubadala Development Company and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which are both UAE sovereign wealth funds ultimately overseen by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — who is the person Erik Prince met with in the Seychelles.
As I wrote in this article, the UAE government and Mubadala have made significant investments with the Russian Direct Investment Fund headed by Kirill Dmitriev — who also met with Erik Prince in the Seychelles.
From the Seychelles to the White House to Cambridge Analytica, Erik Prince and the UAE are key…

In January 2017 Erik Prince attended a meeting in the Seychelles with the United Arab Emirate’s Crown Prince Mohammed…
medium.com
Additionally, Mubadala and ADIA both make another appearance in the news related to the UK Brexit story. The Russian Direct Investment Fund led by Kirill Dmitriev organized a consortium to invest in diamond company Alrosa in 2016 — which included Mubadala, ADIA, and Charlemagne Capital.
Sources close to the 2016 Alrosa deal said Oppenheimer Funds (part of Lazard Ltd), Mubadala Development Company, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Charlemagne Capital took part in the offering. There were likely many additional investors, but it appears that Mellon’s Charlemagne Capital once again participated with several UAE investors as it had in 2013.
Charlemagne was founded by Jim Mellon, who is business partners with the largest Brexit funder Arron Banks, who was given a referral by the Russian ambassador to the UK about a deal involving Alrosa. Banks denied he pursued the deal, but it turned out his partner Mellon’s company Charlemagne had invested in Alrosa a few weeks after the Brexit referendum.
There is no indication that Ahmad Al-Khatib has any involvement in the Alrosa deal, or that he has ever met with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan or Erik Prince.
However Al-Khatib was appointed to the board of directors of Emerdata on the same date as Erik Prince’s business partner Johnson Chun Shun Ko, on 23 January 2018.
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In addition, Ahmad Al Khatib’s last role listed online was “Development Manager — Middle East, Africa & India @ AMAN.” Aman Resorts is owned by Russian businessman Vladislav Doronin.

ImageImage
Ahmad Al-Khatib and his brother Omar Al-Khatib, who is a director of Ahmad’s new company Auspex International Ltd, are both citizens of Seychelles.
ImageImage

In January 2017 Erik Prince met with the UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and with Kirill Dmitriev the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund in the Seychelles.
And then in January 2018, Erik Prince’s partner in Frontier Services Group became a director of Cambridge Analytica’s new company Emerdata on the same day as Ahmad Al-Khatib, who is a citizen of Seychelles, and who worked for two UAE sovereign wealth funds & for a Russian businessman.
Is this all a big coincidence — or something more?





From Cambridge Analytica’s Ashes, An Odd Pair Promises An ‘Ethical’ Startup



Would you trust anyone caught up in one of the biggest privacy debacles in the history of the internet with your data? Ahmad Al Khatib, a 29-year-old Egyptian-born entrepreneur who had front-row seats to the public shaming and downfall of Cambridge Analytica, thinks you should. He’s just launched Auspex International with a cadre of ex-Cambridge Analytica folk. It does much the same work, applying data analysis to PR for its clientele, including political campaigns. But Auspex will have an ethical streak, says Al Khatib, who’s giving Forbes the first in-depth interview on his big venture.

The events of recent months continue to cast a long shadow, though. In particular, a Channel 4 undercover sting of which his new business partner, Mark Turnbull, was an unwitting star. In Forbes’ London office, there’s tension in the air as Al Khatib animatedly recalls the trauma of watching the broadcast, with Turnbull sitting quietly opposite, smiling at his young colleague.

Ahmad’s annus horribilis

Al Khatib starts at the beginning of the year. It was only in January that he joined the board of a mysterious entity called Emerdata. The company was ultimately just one of many tentacles of the Cambridge Analytica beast. It was registered at the same address and run by many of the same people. The board included Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, daughters of Robert, the secretive, Trump-supporting hedge fund billionaire behind Cambridge Analytica. Alexander Nix, former Cambridge Analytica chief, was also a director. (Al Khatib declined to say more about the direct relationship between Cambridge Analytica and Emerdata.)

Then in March, The Observer exposed how Cambridge Analytica had obtained vast quantities of Facebook users’ personal data without their permission. The analytics firm used that data for its profiling of American voters as part of its work for the Donald Trump campaign. After learning of the abuse of its users’ data, Facebook subsequently banned the company.

How much worse could it get? Much worse. “I’ve been through a fucking shitty six months. I haven’t taken a fucking day off,” Al Khatib says.

According to his telling, he was next to his mother, brother and girlfriend as they sat down to watch the Channel 4 News, a matter of days after The Observer revelations. Having been told “some silly things were said” to the undercover reporters, Al-Khatib wasn’t expecting a horror show. But by the end of the program, he says his mother was in tears, his girlfriend had stormed out the house and his panicked younger brother was afraid his sibling was about to be arrested. Later, Al Khatib says he received threats over Twitter, though Forbes could find no evidence of that.

But now he wants to move on with Auspex International. Al Khatib, who won’t reveal just how much of his cash he’s pumped into the firm, says Auspex will be an altruistic, interventionist force. It’ll apply big data to PR strategy just like Cambridge Analytica, but it’ll do so without any dirty tactics, according to his plan at least.

“I’m an idealist,” Al Khatib, who is cofounder and chairman at Auspex, tells me. “Do you know how many little kids get raped because someone tells them they’re soldiers of god, every single day? Nine-year-olds, ten-year-olds. People say you should leave them to their own devices. I say no, this is something that affects me and the people who are from my part of the world.”

Turnbull’s talent as a disaster artist

Then there’s the enigma that is Turnbull, patiently sitting through Al Khatib’s frantic reminiscing.

In the sting, though he had more screen time than Nix, Turnbull’s reputation may’ve come out in better shape. In one not so flattering clip, Turnbull speaks about the use of former MI5 and MI6 staff to dig up dirt on clients’ hit list. In another, though, he portrays Cambridge Analytica as a clean business, saying that it wasn’t “in the business of entrapment.” The company wouldn’t, he insists to the undercover reporter, “send a pretty girl out to seduce a politician and then film them in their bedroom and then release the film.”

But then, in a later meeting, Nix appears to suggest doing something similar to just that, suggesting Ukrainian women could be shipped in, before talking about setting up fake identities to obtain intelligence.

Unlike Nix, Turnbull is more than happy to remain in the public eye. Looking far more relaxed than the animated Al Khatib, he’s a walking, talking (and reclining) case study in how to coast through what most would consider public relations calamities. The collapse of Cambridge Analytica wasn’t Turnbull’s first rodeo; he was at Bell Pottinger, a PR firm that fell apart after it was reportedly involved in stoking racial tensions on behalf of clients in South Africa. Turnbull is proud of his 18 years at the company, where he worked on the post-war Iraq election, followed by antiterror and counter-radicalization projects. Not that his former employer’s work in the Middle East wasn’t without controversy. As reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2016, the Pentagon paid Bell Pottinger $500 million to produce propaganda in Iraq, including fake insurgent videos.

Despite going down with two sinking ships, Turnbull is still able to command a high price. “He’s not the most affordable human being,” Al-Khatib says, laughing across the room at Turnbull. “Thirty years experience is expensive.”

Turnbull is nervous about reporters too, slapping down a dictaphone and recording the interview. He's careful to avoid getting bogged down in the past. Now managing director at Auspex, he also talks up its altruistic mission. “The best defence against fake news, all of its variants, the whole paraphernalia … is a well informed populace. If we can contribute to that, that’s what we’ll do.”


Auspex is only a week old and has a single client, an unnamed partner in Africa. The only detail Forbes is able to draw out of Al Khatib is that it involves “youth inclusion” and is more social than political.

They’ll also ensure all client data was obtained with consent, Turnbull and Al Khatib insist. They’ll go a step further and ask that the data owners will be informed just how their personal information will be used. And they don’t plan to own any customer data at all; they’ll simply work on it at client sites.

Any guilt?

And yet, as they try to erase the stain of Cambridge Analytica, the pair decline knowledge of any wrongdoing at their previous employer.

Turnbull, despite his extraordinary career history, shows no signs of remorse. “I’ve never been in a position where I’ve felt really, genuinely morally compromised,” he says.

Asked about some of the more morally dubious work reportedly carried out at Cambridge Analytica—the alleged use of Israeli hackers in Nigeria, for instance—Turnbull says he wasn’t there and wasn’t ever made aware of any such work.

Al-Khatib offers much the same. It was only in January that he joined the Emerdata board. He says he questioned colleagues about all the reports of wrongdoing, and when they told him there was nothing untoward going on, he left it there. As if anyone under the age of 30 couldn’t have a malicious side, Al Khatib offers encomiums for his hardworking, young former Cambridge Analytica colleagues, before asking an apparently rhetorical question: “How malicious can they possibly be?”

In July, his own past was called into question in a Medium post from independent journalist Wendy Siegelman, who linked Al Khatib to businesses in Russia and the U.A.E.. The report also made loose connections between Al Khatib and Erik Prince, the Trump-supporting entrepreneur who founded controversial private-mercenaries provider Blackwater. Prince is now wrapped up in Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election over claims he travelled to the Seychelles to try to set up a backchannel between Trump and Russia. The Auspex cofounder simply brushed off any implications in Siegelman's post. “None of the points the article is hinting towards are true,” he says in a WhatsApp message after our meet.

Al Khatib’s spleen, rather than being directed at those who may have erred at Cambridge Analytica, is focused on the loss of over 100 jobs, a result of the company’s sudden collapse. “I know a lot of them are struggling to find other jobs now,” he says. “Who can those 100-plus people hold accountable?”

Moving onwards and upwards won’t be easy for Auspex or any ex-Cambridge Analytica folk. As the likes of the Federal Trade Commission start their own probes, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the U.K.’s chief data protection regulator, continues its broad investigation into what happened. Criminal charges, and career-ending judgements, loom.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:50 pm

A withering verdict: MPs report on Zuckerberg, Russia and Cambridge Analytica

Select committee criticises Facebook response and urges tighter internet regulation

Carole CadwalladrSat 28 Jul 2018 15.34 EDT
Facebook

The DCMS select committee’s far-reaching interim report on its 18-month investigation into fake news and the use of data and “dark ads” in elections offers a wide-ranging, informed and sustained critique that carries with it the full weight of parliament. The verdict is withering: Facebook failed. It “obfuscated”, refused to investigate how its platform was abused by the Russian government until forced by pressure from Senate committees and, in the most damning section, it aided and abetted the incitement of racial hatred in Burma, noting that even the company’s chief technical officer, Mike Schroepfer, called this “awful”.

Recommendations include:

• “Clear legal liability” for tech companies “to act against harmful and illegal content” with failure to act resulting in criminal proceedings.

• Full auditing and scrutiny of tech companies, including their security mechanisms, and full algorithm auditing. Strengthen the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Impose a levy on tech companies operating in the UK to pay for it. The Competition and Markets Authority should investigate fake profiles and advertising fraud.

• A ban on micro-targeted political advertising to similar audiences.

• A “new category of tech company” to be formulated which “tightens tech companies’ liabilities and which is not necessarily either a ‘platform’ or ‘publisher’”.

• Sweeping new powers for the Electoral Commission and a comprehensive overhaul of existing legislation that governs political advertisements during elections.

• A further demand for Mark Zuckerberg “to come to the committee to answer questions to which Facebook has not responded adequately to date”.

• A code of ethics that all tech companies will agree to uphold.

Cambridge Analytica

It was the Cambridge Analytica scandal that blew open the committee’s inquiry in March, though it had already been a focus of its investigations. At its hearing in Washington in February, it had asked a series of pointed questions of Simon Milner, a Facebook executive, whose answers the report describes as “disingenuous”.

The report includes:

• “Disturbing evidence” of work overseas that it urges the National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate, including allegations it worked with Black Cube, an Israeli intelligence firm “whose work allegedly included illegal hacking”.

• New allegations of an undercover sting carried out by a “temporary SCL [parent company of Cambridge Analytica] employee” who was paid £10,000 by Alexander Nix to bribe a politician in St Kitts in the Caribbean.

Alexander Nix, former boss of Cambridge Analytica.
Alexander Nix, former boss of Cambridge Analytica. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images
• Details about Cambridge Analytica’s relationship with Henley & Partners, a passport investment company that has programmes in St Kitts and Malta. The committee also noted that Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist, who was murdered in October last year, was investigating the company, highlighted the damage that these passport sales were inflicting on both Malta and the European Union. The report urges the NCA to investigate SCL’s work with Henley & Partners. It also notes Lord Ashcroft had recently extolled the virtues of Malta as the “best destination for ambitious UK firms” to have a post-Brexit presence in the EU.

• “Really worrying” evidence that SCL also worked for the UK government, had provided psychological operation training for Ministry of Defence staff, had received classified information about Afghanistan and, according to Nix’s testimony, had “secret clearance”. The report urges the government to ensure the NCA investigates.

• Concerns about “the administrator’s proposals in connection with SCL Elections Ltd, as listed in Companies House, and the fact that Emerdata Ltd is listed as the ultimate parent company of SCL Elections Ltd, and is the major creditor and owed £6.3m”. Recommends the NCA investigates.

Russia

DCMS committee chair Damian Collins told the Observer that when it first started asking questions about Russia, it very quickly led to questions about interference in British elections, including the EU referendum. “And we noticed an aggressive campaign against us even asking these questions. It underlined the need to persist, which we have done.”

He said that the committee believed the evidence it had received so far from Facebook represented only the “tip of the iceberg”.

The report includes:

• A call for a full investigation into contacts between Arron Banks – millionaire backer of Leave.EU – and Russian officials and his business dealings with Russian companies. “We understand the National Crime Agency is investigating these matters. We believe that they should be given full access to any relevant information that will aid their inquiry.”

• A call for a full investigation into the source of Banks’s donations to the referendum “to verify that the money was not sourced from abroad”. It notes that “should there be any doubt, the matter should be referred to the NCA”.

• A proposal for limits in future elections on individual donors and for major donors to “demonstrate the source of their donations”.

• A demand for further investigation by Facebook of Russian interference on its platform. Facebook’s denial of “direct Russian interference using Facebook in the Brexit referendum” was “disingenuous and typical of Facebook’s handling of our questions”.

• Calls for a full ICO report on Aleksandr Kogan, the Russian-born scientist who was working in Russia with grants from the Russian government while harvesting Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica.

• A request for more information about the ICO’s statement that Cambridge Analytica’s systems had been “accessed from IP addresses that resolve to Russia and other areas of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]”.

• A statement from the British government on “how many investigations are currently being carried out into Russian interference in UK politics”. It says: “It would be wrong for Robert Mueller’s inquiry to take the lead about related issues in the UK.” It calls for coordination between all relevant authorities.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... ook-russia
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:35 pm

Christopher Wylie


BREAKING: Ex-Cambridge Analytica contractor Sam Patten just charged by FBI after Mueller referral. This guy was responsible for CA operations in the US that involved covertly testing US voter attitudes on Putin's leadership... I know there's more to come...



Manafort associate paid Trump inauguration $50,000 in Ukrainian cash

Sam Patten pleads guilty under Foreign Agents Registration Act
Republican once worked with Cambridge Analytica
Jon Swaine
@jonswaine
Fri 31 Aug 2018 15.20 EDT First published on Fri 31 Aug 2018 11.00 EDT


Sam Patten leaves court in Washington. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images
A Republican political consultant linked to Paul Manafort and Cambridge Analytica has admitted to funneling $50,000 from a Ukrainian oligarch to Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration committee.

How heartening to see a still robust US constitution as the net closes on Trump
Michael Goldfarb
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Sam Patten used the money to buy tickets for the oligarch and a Russian associate to Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, according to a plea agreement made public on Friday. The inauguration fund was not allowed to accept money from foreigners.

The disclosure came as Patten pleaded guilty to illegally lobbying in the US for pro-Russia politicians from Ukraine. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating links between Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Patten, 47, admitted causing the Ukrainian funds to be paid to the inauguration committee, and to lying to a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in an attempt to cover this up. He was not charged for these actions.

He pleaded guilty to one count of working as an unregistered agent for the oligarch’s Ukrainian political party, Opposition Bloc, which also employed Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Patten was released on bail by judge Amy Berman Jackson following a hearing in Washington.

The charge was brought by the US attorney’s office in the capital, which took over the case following a referral from Mueller’s office. The court filings indicated that Patten had been in discussions with Mueller’s office for at least three months.

A spokesman for the US attorney’s office said the charge against Patten was a felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and also carried potential fines. Stuart Sears, an attorney for Patten, declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for Thomas Barrack, the chairman of Trump’s inauguration committee, did not respond to requests for comment.

The filings recounted how Patten formed a consulting company in the US with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political operative with alleged ties to intelligence services. Kilimnik, identified as “foreigner A” in the filings, has also worked extensively with Manafort, who was a consultant to Opposition Bloc in Ukraine.

After discovering foreigners were barred from giving money to the inauguration, Patten enlisted another American to buy four tickets. The oligarch paid $50,000 to Patten and Kilimnik’s company from an account in Cyprus. Patten then wrote the American “straw purchaser” a $50,000 check and the American used these funds to buy the tickets the following day. The tickets were used by Patten, Kilimnik, the oligarch and another Ukrainian.

Patten then lied about this arrangement during testimony to the Senate intelligence committee in January 2018, he admitted on Friday. He failed to provide requested documents, gave misleading evidence and then after his interview deleted files relating to his work for the Ukrainians.

In all, according to the court documents, Patten’s firm was paid about $1m for advising Opposition Bloc and lobbying US politicians on its behalf. Patten worked to set up meetings for Kilimnik and the oligarch with state department officials and members of Congress, including senators on the foreign relations committee and House members on the foreign affairs committee.

Patten admitted that he knew he was required to register as an agent for a foreigner but failed to do so after the Ukrainian oligarch said “he did not want them to” until an unspecified future date.

Patten also drafted opinion articles for the Ukrainian oligarch and succeeded in having at least one published by a national American media outlet in February 2017.

The Ukrainian figure and media outlet were not identified in the charging documents. A pro-Trump article was published by US News & World Report in February 2017 under the byline of Serhiy Lyovochkin, an Opposition Bloc MP who was a senior official in Ukraine’s former pro-Kremlin administration.

Enxhi Myslmi, a spokeswoman for US News & World Report, said: “To our knowledge, no one at US News has been contacted by law enforcement regarding the publication of this piece.”

Lyovochkin’s office declined to say if it believed he was the oligarch described in the court documents. In an unsigned email, it said: “Mr Lyovochkin was indeed invited to the inauguration and had the honor to attend. At the same time, he did not pay for that.”

Paul Manafort, seen outside court in Washington in June. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Earlier this month, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud arising from the Mueller investigation. During the trial, a former colleague testified that Manafort received payments from Lyovochkin and disguised them as loans to avoid paying tax.

Kilimnik is charged alongside Manafort in a separate criminal case brought in Washington by Mueller.

Patten also carried out work for Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct consultancy that is under scrutiny for its work on Trump’s 2016 election campaign. A page on Patten’s website that has since been removed said he “worked with one of London’s most innovative strategic communications companies to introduce new technologies and methodologies” during the 2014 US election.

During an interview last year with a British academic researcher, Patten said: “I’ve worked in Ukraine, Iraq, I’ve worked in deeply corrupt countries, and [the American] system isn’t very different.”
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... are_btn_tw
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:10 am

seemslikeadream » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:10 pm wrote:MERCER is connected to PUTIN protégé Dmitry FIRTASH

ROBERT MERCER — MONEY LAUNDERER FOR VLADIMIR PUTIN
Renaissance Technologies (RENTEC) is the second largest hedge fund in the US, managing $45 billion in assets. It has a reputation for being the most successful hedge fund in history, for using quantitative trading strategies designed by top scientists, and for being extremely secretive.
Publicly available information on RENTEC implies that the firm is a massive money laundering tool disguised as a hedge fund, operating on behalf of Vladimir PUTIN.

BACKGROUND

Money laundering involves a transaction where illicit money is spent by one party, producing a seemingly legitimate profit for another party. Ostensibly the two parties are unrelated, but in reality, both parties are closely connected.
The money laundering process can be summarized in three steps:

• SOURCE Secure illegally sourced funds.

• TRANSACT Illegal money is used in a transaction, resulting in profits for another party.

• COVER UP The true nature of the transaction is visible only to insiders.
Evidence suggests money laundering via financial markets works like this:

• SOURCE Criminal organization invests in a hedge fund (Fund A) operating in a market with a high degree of corruption (for example Russia).

• TRANSACT On behalf of Fund A, an international bank purchases a security in the corrupted market. The bank then sells(i.e. shorts) the same security in a second developed market (for example the UK), and forwards the proceeds to Fund B. Both funds are owned by the same criminal organization.

• COVER UP The nature of the transactions are obfuscated with advanced financial techniques and the inner workings of the fund are kept secret.

A significant degree of sophistication is required to launder money in plain sight via financial markets. Due to this sophistication, it’s unlikely direct evidence will come to light without access to internal records. However, by using other cases as a guide, the following mosaic of indirect evidence will likely be found:
• SOURCE Key people are connected to criminal organizations via one or more intermediaries.

• TRANSACT An abnormally high rate of return that allows significant amounts of money to be laundered in a short amount of time. Evidence of buying and selling the same securities in different markets.

• COVER UP History of using financial engineering to hide the nature of transactions and a reputation for extreme secrecy.

SOURCE

Russia is controlled by a vast organization comprised of the intelligence services, organized crime and big business. This organization is led by Vladimir PUTIN and control is maintained through corruption, blackmail and assassination. (1)

Because of the high degree of control PUTIN has over Russian centers of power, all Russians in positions of influence should be assumed to have at least PUTIN’s blessing. Any persons significantly connected with these Russians are likely contributing to PUTIN’s goals either witting or otherwise.
Robert MERCER is co-CEO of RENTEC. MERCER is the largest financial backer of Donald TRUMP’s presidential campaign, and an influential funder of Republicans and conservatives causes including Citizens United. (2)

MERCER invested in data science firm CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA. MERCER insisted TRUMP campaign hire CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA to design its social media strategy. Through CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA and its owner Vincent TCHENGUIZ, MERCER is connected to PUTIN protégé Dmitry FIRTASH and Russian Intelligence Services (RIS). (3, 4)

March 2017 MERCER’s yacht the ‘Sea Owl’ was spotted in the British Virgin Islands, anchored next to Dmitry RYBOLOVLEV’s yacht the ‘Anna.’ RYBOLOVLEV is a member of PUTIN’s inner circle and likely his personal courier. (5)

MERCER is part owner of BREITBART news. The FBI is investigating BREITBART and CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA for cooperating with RIS during the 2016 US election. Evidence suggests that CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA and BREITBART used information warfare techniques in cooperation with RIS to support TRUMP and attack Hillary CLINTON. (3, 6, 7)

Several of RENTEC’S Russian born employees have been in the news:
• In the late 1990s Alexey KONONENKO was given a prominent role within RENTEC’s equities group. His rapid promotion was questioned by colleagues and characterized as a “power play.” (8)
• In 2001 RENTEC sued two Russian employees Alexander BELOPOLSKY & Pavel VOLFBEYN for intellectual property theft after they left for rival fund Millennium Partners. (8)
• In 2006 Alexander ASTASHKEVICH shot and killed his wife and himself. (9)

Prior to starting RENTEC in 1982, the firm’s founder Jim SIMONS was a cryptologist, contracted to the NSA. Like Edward SNOWDEN, SIMONS would have been a valued target for recruitment by RIS. (10)
2014 RENTEC received media attention for increasing its holding in Russian telecom company VIMPLECOM. Newsworthy because the stock was dropping following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. In 2016 RENTEC further increased its holding in VIMPLECOM by 438%. VIMPLECOM is controlled by PUTIN insider Mikhail FRIDMAN. (11)

TRANSACT

In the past 20 years the average hedge fund returned 9% per year. In the same period RENTEC’s “MEDALLION” fund averaged 40%. After twenty years, one-thousand dollars invested in the average hedge fund would be worth nearly six-thousand dollars, the same investment made in MEDALLION would be worth over eight hundred-thousand dollars. (22)

RENTEC has long claimed that it must limit the size of its MEDALLION fund (most recently at $10 billion) in order to preserve its high rates of return. So, it was newsworthy when shortly after the election of Donald TRUMP the firm announced that it would be increasing the fund’s size by fifty percent and that employees would only have several weeks to raise additional funds. This would increase the fund to $15 billion and at current rates of return would produce a profit of $6 billion in 2017. In normal years virtually all profits of the fund are returned to investors instead of being re-invested. This unusual degree of cash returned to investors could be used to facilitate money laundering. (22)

Hedge funds are normally secretive in order to prevent competitors from copying their investment strategies. However, RENTEC is not only secretive about its strategies, but also about its financial position and executive compensation. For this reason, very little is known about internal workings of the firm. What can be pieced together is RENTEC uses quantitative models to buy and sell millions of stocks a year based on statistical ARBITRAGE strategies. Statistical ARBITRAGE attempts to make money by buying one security and selling another. These securities could be similar stocks in the same industry, or the same security trading in different markets.

COVER UP

In 2017 DEUTSCHE BANK was fined $425 million by the US government for laundering $10 billion out of RUSSIA using a scheme known as MIRROR TRADES. The scheme involved a customer in Moscow ordering DEUTSCHE BANK to buy shares for Rubles and then to immediately sell an identical amount of the same shares in London for Dollars. (14)

Image

The money used in the scheme belonged to Igor Putin (cousin of Vladimir PUTIN) and the ROTENBERG brothers who are old friends of PUTIN. Investigators speculated that MIRROR TRADES where a part of a much larger money laundering operation but to date no additional evidence has been made public. To outsiders MIRROR TRADES are nearly indistinguishable from ARBITRAGE. (14)

MIRROR TRADES were kept under the radar by trading “over the counter”, and through a remote booking feature that did not require direct participation of the London office. Records showing losses at the end of the trading day would mysteriously show zero losses at the beginning of the next day. This strongly indicates traders were JOURNALING assets (moving assets between accounts) in order to make up for losses in one account with gains from another. (14, 15)

RENTEC is currently under investigation by the IRS for using a similar financial engineering structure to MIRROR TRADES known as BASKET OPTIONS (an option containing many different securities). Congressional investigators have claimed BASKET OPTIONS were used to avoid taxes and limitations on leverage, but they could also be used to facilitate money laundering. On behalf of the MEDALLION fund, RENTEC purchased an option from DEUTSCHE BANK and then sold the option one year later and claimed the long-term tax rate (24%) applied. In reality RENTEC exercised full control of the contents of the option, and executed hundreds of millions of high frequency transactions a year, most lasting only milliseconds. (16, 17)

Image

If the IRS finds that RENTEC should be charged the short-term tax rate (44%), the fund will owe $6.8 billion. 2017 McClatchy reported on the investigation and specifically linked the possible tax bill with the increasing investments in political candidates made by RENTEC executives. Two weeks after the report was published the author Scott CHRISTIANSON died from massive head trauma at his home. (16, 18)

Evidence presented to US Congressional committee investigating RENTEC show that DEUTSCHE BANK allowed RENTEC to JOURNAL assets between sub accounts, thereby avoiding market transactions of buying and repurchasing the same security that could be interpreted as manipulative trading. Other evidence included emails from William BROEKSMIT, the DEUTSCHE BANK employee charged with managing the BASKET OPTIONS for RENTEC where he went into detail how the scheme was executed. In 2014 BROEKSMIT was found dead in his London apartment as result of hanging. (16, 19)

RENTEC is also currently under investigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. RENTEC has resisted calls from the agency to hand over source code that runs MEDALLION’s trading algorithms. (20)

RENTEC manages three separate funds, two of these funds are available to outside investors. The third fund is the highly secretive MEDALLION and only accepts money from RENTEC employees. Records show that only five executives own seventy percent of the fund. In 2009, investors in the public funds were unhappy that MEDALLION’s returns far exceeded returns of their investments. These complaints led to an SEC investigation. SIMONS took the blame and resigned, making MERCER co-CEO together with IBM colleague and former roommate Peter BROWN. (21, 23)

CONCLUSION

The preceding sections demonstrate RENTEC has connections with Russian elites, produces extremely high rates of return via ARBITRAGE transactions, and engages in financial engineering techniques that are functionally equivalent to known money laundering methods. These are all red flags that imply RENTEC is involved in money laundering on behalf of Vladimir PUTIN.

The evidence suggests that RENTEC is a massive Russian money laundering operation hiding under the guise of a highly successful hedge fund. The scheme functions similar to MIRROR TRADES where shares are purchased in Moscow, immediately sold by RENTEC in the US, recorded as RENTEC’s profit, and the shares JOURNALED between US and Moscow accounts by DEUTSCHE BANK. RENTEC hides this scheme by executing hundreds of millions of trades a year, by using BASKET OPTIONS, and by limiting investment of the fund to RENTEC insiders. Every year RENTEC is capable of washing funds equal to the annual profits of its MEDALLION fund which are estimated at $6 billion this year.

Image

For this scheme to be successful, all senior RENTEC leadership would have been involved including MERCER and SIMONS. In the 2016 election cycle MERCER spent $15 million on Republican candidates with the majority going towards supporting Donald TRUMP. In the same year SIMONS also spent $15 million, but on Democratic candidates, much of it going towards Hillary CLINTON. Regardless of the election result, PUTIN was guaranteed to have an agent with significant influence on the President of the United States.
https://medium.com/@q502/robert-mercer- ... 596cd3d930


MERCER is connected to PUTIN protégé Dmitry FIRTASH


Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis and the Russian Mafia

President Trump’s former fixer may not be the most notorious client of power lawyer Lanny Davis at this moment

Seth Hettena August 28, 2018 8:30AM ET
Lanny DavisFormer Trump strategist Steve Bannon speaks in Prague, Czech Republic - 22 May 2018Lanny Davis, former stragegist of Hillary Clinton attends a discussion meeting with former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon (unseen) in Prague, Czech Republic, 22 May 2018. Reports state that both spoke about US developments.
Lanny Davis

MARTIN DIVISEK/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutt

Something most people don’t know about Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, is that he’s also currently representing a Ukrainian oligarch whose name is often linked to one of the most powerful mobsters in the world.

For the past four years, Davis — a 72-year-old former special counsel to former President Bill Clinton — has served as a registered foreign agent for Dmitry Firtash, who has been fighting to avoid extradition to Chicago, where he faces charges of international racketeering and money laundering. In registering with the Justice Department as Firtash’s foreign agent, Davis said his firm was being paid $80,000 a month — or about a million dollars a year — by a man described by prosecutors as an “upper-echelon” associate of Russian organized crime. The case against Firtash “seeks to protect this country, its commerce and its citizens from the corrupting influence and withering effects of international organized crime,” prosecutors wrote last year.

Firtash has acknowledged ties to Semion Mogilevich, although the exact nature of their relationship is unknown outside of a classified space. A chain-smoking, hulking Ukrainian-born gangster, Mogilevich appeared on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list during Robert Mueller’s tenure as the bureau’s director. A 1996 FBI report on Mogilevich’s organization said he was involved in prostitution, weapons trafficking, smuggling of nuclear materials, drug trafficking and money laundering. Mogilevich was indicted on racketeering charges in Pennsylvania in 2002 for his role in a publicly-traded magnet company later exposed as a money-laundering front. Several sources, including Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer turned whistleblower who was murdered in London, said that Mogilevich had a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mogilevich lives in Moscow, where some suspect he’s being protected by Russian intelligence.

“Mr. Firtash has denied any business or personal involvement with organized crime, in Russia or elsewhere,” Davis tells Rolling Stone. “Moreover, reports of such involvement have relied on innuendo and words such as ‘linked to’ or ‘associated with,’ not facts, or false allegations in a lawsuit filed many years ago in New York City that was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and never re-filed.”

Davis is not exactly advertising the fact that he represents Firtash. Although Davis lists his past controversial clients in Africa and Honduras on his website, Firtash’s name is noticeably absent. Davis hardly ever talks about Firtash, at least not on the record, even though Justice Department filings make it clear that he and his colleagues at Davis, Goldberg & Galper frequently contact D.C. journalists about Firtash to pitch stories, issue statements and press releases, or to respond to questions.

Likewise, Firtash wasn’t mentioned in the flurry of coverage that Davis received after Cohen pleaded guilty last week to eight criminal charges, including campaign finance violations. In recent pieces, The Washington Post called Davis the “ultimate Clinton loyalist;” Esquire called him the “da Vinci of spin.” Davis referred to himself a “renowned legal crisis management expert,” but another way to describe his lucrative line of work is representing bad guys and telling us how good they are, something he’s been doing quite effectively with Cohen, Trump’s former fixer. In 2010, Davis was paid a million dollars a year to represent the brutally repressive dictatorship of oil-soaked Equatorial Guinea, and $100,000 a month to represent Ivory Coast, then on the brink of a civil war. “I took on a couple bad-guy countries that I thought I could make into good-guy countries,” Davis told the Post.

Michael CohenTrump attorney Michael Cohen Arrives to Federal Court, New York, USA - 30 May 2018 Michael Cohen (C), President Donald Trump's personal attorney leaves following a hearing at United States Federal Court in New York, New York, USA, 30 May 2018. Cohen, who is being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, is in a legal battle over what information seized from his office can be used by federal investigators.
Michael Cohen

Why does this matter for Cohen? For starters, optics.

Davis is sensitive to how his “bad-guy” clients look, something he acknowledged to his friend Hillary Clinton in 2010 in what the Weekly Standard called “D.C.’s most cringe-inducing document ever.” Davis asked Clinton, his old Yale Law School classmate, to speak to a reporter on his behalf and then changed his mind the following morning when he realized her name would appear in the same piece with his clients at the time:

As soon as I wrote last email, I reverted to my old role as your crisis manager and worrier about you, read the word “optics” I suddenly felt – oops

I am registered under FARA [the Foreign Agents Registration Act] for one or more foreign governments or businesses. I don’t think it would look right. I want to avoid any even slight chance of misperception.

So let’s not chance it.

How can I describe what a great friend you are….?

I can’t.

Beyond mere optics, credibility matters, too. “My credibility is the only thing I have,” Davis once told the New York Times in an article that described him as a “front man for the dark side.” It didn’t help when Davis backtracked on his claims that Cohen had information that suggested Trump was aware of Russia’s efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And emails released by the U.S. State Department show that during Davis’ days as a representative of Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast, his credibility was in short supply when he needed it most. Told that Davis had written a letter resigning as a representative of Ivory Coast, Phillip Carter, the U.S. ambassador to the West African nation, wrote in an email “I wonder if this is true…”

Davis’ client roster puts him in the same league as Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman who also made a living representing dictators and Ukrainian oligarchs. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that Manafort, who was convicted last week on eight counts, also did business with Firtash. In 2008, while Manafort was working in Ukraine for the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, Firtash’s company Group DF agreed to commit $112 million to Manafort’s vision for “Bulgari Tower,” a $1.5 billion skyscraper project in midtown Manhattan on the corner of Park Avenue and 56th Street, said to be one of the most valuable development sites in North America. The tower deal later collapsed, but not before Firtash wired in a $25 million deposit from Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG, an Austrian bank that U.S. officials believed served as a Mogilevich front. Andrey Kozlov, a deputy chairman of the Russian central bank, was gunned down in 2006 after he blew the whistle on large amounts of rubles that were being laundered through Raiffeisen. (Raiffeisen also provided a $310 million construction loan to finance Trump’s tower in Toronto.) In a federal lawsuit filed in New York, Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine, claimed that Firtash was laundering proceeds from sales of natural gas through Manhattan real estate.

Firtash, a former tomato grower and truck driver, rose from obscurity to become one of Ukraine’s richest men through his deal with Gazprom, the natural gas giant controlled by the Kremlin. In 2006, Gazprom gave Firtash a monopoly on all gas trades between Russia and Ukraine. The vehicle for this was yet another a murky company, RosUkrEnergo, half-owned by Gazprom and half-owned by Firtash and a minority partner. In a short time, RosUkrEnergo earned billions — some of which, U.S. government officials suspect, ended up in Mogilevich’s pockets. Notably, Firtash’s stake in the Swiss-registered RosUkrEnergo remained a secret for two years, hidden by the same Austrian bank that was used to wire in money for Manafort’s Manhattan tower venture. Prosecutors in Chicago have moved to seize RosUkrEnergo, along with Firtash’s other corporate holdings.

Firtash himself didn’t deny that he knew Mogilevich during a 2010 meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. “Firtash acknowledged that he needed, and received, permission from Mogilevich when he established various businesses, but he denied any close relationship to him,” Taylor wrote in a cable released by Wikileaks. Two of Firtash’s companies involved in the natural gas business had links — albeit indirect — to Mogilevich. (Mogilevich’s wife was a major shareholder in one company, while the other listed her as a director.) Firtash and Mogilevich also have shared the same Israeli lawyer, Zeev Gordon, to represent their business and personal interests.

Firtash’s associations with Mogilevich are what may have led to his indictment in Chicago as the leader of an international titanium-mining racket. Under Mueller, the FBI devoted tremendous resources to capturing Mogilevich, or at least, limiting his sphere of influence. The FBI permanently stationed agents in Budapest in 2005, which had been Mogilevich’s base of operations, and sent him scurrying off to Moscow. The FBI also targeted Mogilevich with a “threat fusion cell” staffed with FBI agents and officials from the National Security Agency. Reached for comment by Rolling Stone, the FBI declined to discuss the cell, acknowledging that an investigation is ongoing.

Seth Hettena is the author of Trump/Russia: A Definitive History published by Melville House.
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/p ... ia-716413/
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:09 pm

The Mercers, Cambridge Analytica, and Putin’s Internet Research Agency: A Timeline

Posted on September 24, 2018 by Polly Sigh in Democracy, Money In Politics, Political Corruption

The Mercers & Steve Bannon formed Cambridge Analytica in June 2014, the exact same month that the Internet Research Agency changed their US influence campaign to include interfering in the US presidential election.

In May 2014, Kremlin-backed troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, discussed efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and began monitoring U.S. social media accounts for information about the 2016 U.S. election.

A month later, Dr. Kogan of Mercer and Steve Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica, whose parent company SCL had just received a $15,000,000 cash infusion from Robert Mercer, launched a ‘research project’ at Russia’s Saint Petersburg State University.

That same month [June 2014], the Internet Research Agency, which in 2013 had registered with the Russian government as a corporate entity, began obscuring its conduct by operating through a number of Russian shell companies. They also began in June 2014 to occupy offices just 15 minutes from Saint Petersburg State University — where Dr. Kogan was conducting his ‘research on internet trolls.’

Around that time period [in June or July 2014], the CEO of Mercer and Bannon’s Cambridge Analytica gave a presentation on how to target American voters to the head of Russian oil giant Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov, who has close ties to Trump’s friend, Aras Agalarov. The presentation included information on alarming and demoralizing voters, social media micro-targeting, and voter suppression.

Below is a timeline of what led the Mercers and Steve Bannon to Cambridge Analytica, Cambridge Analytica’s foray into Russia, and the origin of the Russian government’s disinformation campaign to elect Trump.

[Source links are embedded within the text below, underlined and in bold.]

2011: Steve Bannon drafts a business plan for the Mercers which called for them to invest ten million dollars in Breitbart News, in exchange for a large stake.

2011: David Bossie, the head of the conservative group Citizens United, introduced Trump to Bannon. At the time, Trump was thinking about running against Obama. Bannon and Trump met at Trump Tower and discussed a possible campaign. Though Trump decided against the idea, the two kept in touch and Bannon gave Trump admiring coverage in Breitbart. Bannon noticed that when Trump spoke to crowds, people were ‘electrified’ and began to think that Trump might be “the one” who could shake up American politics.

2011: The Mercers join forces with the Kochs.

2012: The Mercer Family Foundation donates two million dollars to Citizens United, which had trafficked in Clinton hatred for years.

2012: Steve Bannon becomes Mercers de facto political advisor.

2012: Rebekah Mercer, furious after Obama beat Romney, wants to know where her investment was spent and how. She begins the break with Kochs and the Mercers decide to finance their own big-data project.

2013: At a conservative conference in Palm Beach, Mercer and Bannon received polling data that showed mounting anger toward wealthy élites, who many Americans believed had corrupted the government to serve only their interests and that there was a hunger for a populist presidential candidate who would run against the major political parties and the ruling class. The data “showed that someone could just walk into this election and sweep it.”

MAY 27, 2013: Trump contemplates a 2016 presidential bid. “The electoral research was commissioned,” Cohen tells the New York Post and confirms to CBS News. “We did not spend $1 million on this research for it just to sit on my bookshelf.”

JUN 15, 2013: Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, his son Emin, and Emin’s then-wife Leyla [daughter of Azerbaijan’s president] meet with Trump in Las Vegas. The Agalarovs facilitate a deal whereby Trump agrees that, in return for a more than $10 million payment, Moscow will host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant at a concert hall in Agalarov’s Crocus City development near Moscow. Russia’s biggest bank — state-controlled Sberbank — sponsors the pageant.

Late 2013: Alexander Nix [a British citizen who leads the small elections division of SCL Group and would later become CEO of SCL-affiliate Cambridge Analytica] meets with Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer. Bannon is “intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics.”

NOV 8–10, 2013: Trump arrives in Moscow for the Miss Universe Pageant, which was sponsored by the Agalarovs. Trump also attends Aras Agalarov’s 58th birthday party. [Did Agalarov’s friend, Lukoil owner & CEO Vagit Alekperov, also attend and meet Trump? Agalarov and his close friend, Lukoil CEO Alekperov, are both from Baku, Azerbaijan and are big backers of Emin Agalarov’s then father-in-law, Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan — home to Trump Tower Baku.]


MAR 20, 2014: The US imposes sanctions against Russia over Ukraine

APR 2014: The Internet Research Agency forms a department referred to as the “translator project,” which focuses on the U.S. population and conducts operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

MAY 2014: The Internet Research Agency includes interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election as part if its strategy, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general. From the Mueller indictment: “In May 2014, defendants and their co-conspirators discussed efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and began to monitor U.S. social media accounts and other sources of information about the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

JUN 2014: Robert Mercer invests $15 million in SCL Group’s election division, which then forms what is essentially an American shell company that Mercer owns almost entirely. Steve Bannon chooses the name of the new company, Cambridge Analytica, and Rebekah Mercer becomes a board member. Alexander Nix holds dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and London-based SCL, which will service Cambridge’s contracts.


JUN 2014: The Internet Research Agency, which in 2013 had registered with the Russian government as a Russian corporate entity, begins obscuring its conduct by operating through a number of Russian entities [shell companies].

JUN or JUL 2014 and into 2015: Cambridge Analytica has contact with Russian oil giant, Lukoil, which is interested in how data can be used to target American voters. Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, “shared with the head of Lukoil [Vagit Alekperov, who has close ties to Agalarov]” a detailed Cambridge Analytica presentation that included information about alarming & demoralizing voters, social media micro-targeting, and voter suppression.


JUN 2014: Cambridge Analytica’s Kogan begins advising a research team who “want to detect internet trolls to improve the lives of those suffering from trolling” at Russia’s Saint Petersburg State University — 20 mins from Kremlin-backed troll farm, the Internet Research Agency.


JUN 2014: The Internet Research Agency begins occupying an office at 55 Savushkina Street in Saint Petersburg [15–20 minutes from Saint Petersburg State University, students from which largely staff the Internet Research Agency], a location which becomes one of the Internet Research Agency’s operational hubs from which they carried out their activities to interfere in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

JUN 4 -26, 2014: The Internet Research Agency operatives obtain US visas under false pretenses and travel around the U.S., including stops in NV, CA, NM, CO, IL, MI, LO, TX, and NY to gather intelligence.

SEP 2014: The Internet Research Agency [largely staffed by Saint Petersburg State University students] is given a budget of $1.25M/month to “spread distrust toward U.S. candidates.”

NOV 26–30, 2014: Another Internet Research Agency operative travels to Atlanta, GA to gather intelligence.

JAN 2015: Emin Agalarov and his publicist, Rob Goldstone, meet with Trump in Trump Tower. “Maybe next time, you’ll be performing at the White House,” Trump tells Emin.

MAR 18, 2015: Trump launches an exploratory committee for a presidential bid. Shortly after hiring political operatives in early primary states, Trump announces he is exploring running for president as a Republican.

Summer 2015: Dutch Intelligence, who in 2014 had infiltrated the computer network & security camera of Kremlin hackers, Cozy Bear [Russian military intelligence, GRU] and witnessed their attacks on the Obama White House and the State Department, notifies US Intelligence about a Russian hack of the DNC.


JUN 16, 2015: Trump announces his candidacy.

JUN 2015: Within weeks of Trump announcing his presidential bid, Russian twitter accounts posing as Americans begin lavishing praise on Trump and attacking his rivals.


JUN 2015: Russian-Government-linked troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, whose financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is “a close Putin ally with ties to Russian intelligence” [according to US intelligence reports], begins buying ads on Facebook.


Late 2015: European Allies observe contacts between the Trump campaign and and Russian intelligence operatives.


JUN 2015-AUG 2017: 150 million Americans see social media content from Russian-government-linked troll farm, the Internet Research Agency
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Oct 25, 2018 8:39 pm

Facebook Users Can't Find Anyone Left at Cambridge Analytica

Tiffany KaryOctober 24, 2018, 12:53 PM CDT

With no one in charge, even bankruptcy lawyers want to quit

Firm’s former CEO hasn’t replied to requests to produce data


Pedestrians pass the building that housed the offices of Cambridge Analytica in London, U.K., on March 20, 2018.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
A federal judge overseeing the Cambridge Analytica bankruptcy is trying to head off a “Houdini act” in which everyone involved in the case disappears.

Schulte Roth & Zabel, the law firm that handled the U.K.-based firm’s U.S. bankruptcy filing, has asked permission to drop the case, saying there are no more employees left to tell it what to do. That’s a problem not only for the firm’s usual creditors, but also for Facebook users, and government agencies, as they grapple with a probe into how Cambridge may have misused Facebook data in its work for U.S. President Donald Trump in the last election.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane adjourned a hearing on the law firm’s request Wednesday, saying he had a “concern that the case is essentially abandoned and that leaves constituents in the case in a really problematic situation.” Lane said when key parties vanish, it can be like a “Houdini act” that means the case can’t move forward at all.

Most vocal among among Cambridge Analytica’s constituents are groups who have sued Cambridge and Facebook in dozens of lawsuits on behalf of around 87 million Facebook users.

Cambridge and its subsidiaries bankruptcies have “gained both national and international interest from various governmental agencies, and have been the subject of congressional hearings and other government investigations,” said a group of Facebook plaintiffs in court filings that objected to Schulte Roth’s immediate departure.

A trustee in the case has proposed designating the company’s former chief executive, Julian Wheatland, as a person who would be responsible for answering such inquiries. But Wheatland has yet to respond to any messages about the matter, and it’s not clear he’s even received them, lawyers told Lane at Wednesday’s hearing.

The case is Cambridge Analytica LLC, 18-11500, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:58 pm


Arron Banks faces new claims of misleading MPs over Brexit


Leaked messages ‘show undeclared links’; emails ‘contradict statements to MPs’

Mark Townsend
Last modified on Sat 3 Nov 2018 19.55 EDT
The controversial businessman Arron Banks may have misled parliament over links between his pro-Brexit campaign and his insurance business during the EU referendum, according to explosive correspondence released by whistleblowers.

Hundreds of internal emails leaked by former employees from Eldon Insurance and Rock Services to the Observer reveal that – despite categorical denials by Banks – insurance staff worked on the Leave.EU campaign from their company offices.

Any work carried out in the months before the referendum should have been declared under electoral law.

They indicate that Eldon and Rock Services staff contacted companies for material for apparent use in the Brexit campaign, and discussed sharing data. In a separate investigation released today, the website Open Democracy also publishes evidence that suggests significant crossover between Banks’s insurance and political staff during the campaign.

The revelations come days after the National Crime Agency announced it was investigating allegations of criminal offences by Banks and Leave.EU.

Damian Collins, chair of parliament’s inquiry into fake news, said that the leaked emails appeared to “flatly contradict” what Banks had told his committee, and that he could have “deliberately misled the committee and parliament on an important point”. Collins requested the emails and said they would form key evidence as part of his inquiry into disinformation and its threat to democracy.

The latest allegations to hit Banks come before an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show . The businessman flew home from Bermuda on Saturday. Collins said: “If Eldon employees were being paid to work on the campaign during the regulated period, it should have been a declared expense. We asked him directly if he’d used his insurance employees to work on the campaigns and he said they didn’t.”

One ex-Eldon Insurance employee told the Observer: “I made it absolutely clear that I didn’t want to work on the political stuff. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t want to be complicit in it. There were quite a lot of spats about it. People were frozen out if they refused to work on it.”

Emails seen by the Observer indicate that Eldon employees worked on some of Leave.EU’s most controversial referendum messaging, including campaigns similar to Ukip’s notorious “Breaking Point” poster, which appeared in June 2016, days before the EU referendum on 23 June 2016.

One email chain that appears to have come originally from a Rock Services employee to staff at the stock photo agency Getty Images, dated 10 March 2016, shows the insurance company’s staff member requesting the right to use a series of photographs of refugees walking through eastern Europe. The Rock Services employee explains the image is to be used for an “advertisement talking about the issue of immigration and the refugee crisis”.

An online advert by Leave.EU appeared in March 2016 showing refugees walking through Slovenia below a headline attacking the EU summit on the migrant crisis, with the photograph used by the pro-Brexit group similar to the images requested by the Rock Services worker.

Another email, also dated 10 March 2016, from a Rock Services employee to the photo agency, offers a sense of the impact such anti-immigration images had in the Brexit campaign. “One of the adverts will have a reach of 10m over the 3 weeks we would like to use it, meaning a potential of 30m-40m impressions,” writes the insurance employee.

Another former Eldon worker alleged that they were frequently asked to help Leave.EU’s pro-Brexit campaign. “Some of these images were really horrible, the immigrants and refugee stuff. But there were always these urgent requests coming in. You were told to stop what you were doing and do something for Leave.EU,” they said.

The documents and eyewitness accounts obtained by the Observer and Open Democracy allege significant crossover took place between Banks’s insurance and political staff in the referendum.

Banks has vehemently denied the existence of such a relationship. When appearing before Collins’s parliamentary committee in June he told MPs that Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance were separate organisations with completely different staff.

Brittany Kaiser, who worked for Cambridge Analytica, the defunct data firm at the heart of the Facebook scandal, told the same committee that she saw “with my own eyes” employees of Eldon Insurance staffing a call centre working for Leave.EU.

When her claims were later put by MPs to Banks he dismissed them as a “flat lie” and also said that staff working on different projects were “clearly demarked”.

Banks declined to respond to any of the allegations put to him by the Observer, while Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s director of communications, issued a “no comment”.

Responding to the latest revelations, Collins said that the evidence raised profound new questions for Banks. “We specifically asked him about whether Eldon had undertaken work on behalf of Leave.EU and he said no. It raises very serious questions because that work needs to be counted as an election expense,” said the Conservative MP for Folkestone.

Yet at least one senior Eldon employee appeared to have promoted themselves in their – since deleted – online profile as working for both Eldon and Leave.EU at the same time.

Further apparent crossover is evident in other emails with one seeming to show Leave.EU sharing data with Rock Services. An email, dated 18 March 2016, seems to show a Leave.EU official informing a Rock Services employee that they have been asked to send some “additional data to you, 1 million phone numbers and the members data”.

Remain-supporting MPs from all the main parties said the latest revelations raised serious questions over how the referendum had been won – and strengthened the case for another public vote. The Tory MP Phillip Lee, said: “The more we hear about the risks of Brexit and the way it was sold to the public by people who had little or no interest in the truth, or following rules, the stronger the case becomes for suspending or revoking article 50 until all of these irregularities are cleared up.”

The former shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “These latest claims, if proven, call into doubt the entire validity of the referendum result.”

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:25 am

Arron Banks and the mystery Brexit campaign funds

UK crime agency probing whether executive was true source of £8m donation to Brexit backers


There is a considerable distance — in miles and ambience — between the London home of the Russian ambassador to the Court of St James’s and the offices in the St Mary’s Centre on Thornbury High Street, near Bristol. The residence overlooks Kensington Palace on the most exclusive street in London’s diplomatic quarter. The Thornbury offices sit above Parsons Bakery in a dull, red-brick postwar shopping centre.

Yet one of the central mysteries in contemporary UK politics unites the two places. Arron Banks, the most generous supporter of the campaign to leave the EU, started his career as an insurance entrepreneur in the St Mary’s Centre, helping to found a small motorcycle insurer in 1998. Mr Banks went on to spend a considerable time with Russian diplomats — including a long lunch at the ambassador’s residence — in the run-up to the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

A criminal investigation announced last week promises to probe how far Mr Banks’ funding of the Leave.EU referendum campaign stems from his career as an entrepreneur and how far it reflects those foreign links. The National Crime Agency started the investigation after the Electoral Commission, the UK’s election watchdog, said it had found “reasonable grounds to suspect” that Mr Banks was “not the true source” of £8m in donations to the pro-Brexit campaign attributed to him.

It also had grounds to believe that the true source was a “non-qualifying or impermissible company” — Rock Holdings, a company controlled by Mr Banks that is barred from contributing to UK political campaigns because it is incorporated in the Isle of Man.

Mr Banks on Sunday told the BBC that “of course” he was the source of the donations, which he said came from a UK registered company, from cash generated in the UK.

“There was no Russian money and no interference of any type,” he said.


Andy Wigmore and Arron Banks before the House of Commons select committee in June
London’s Metropolitan Police continues to investigate whether offences were committed in its jurisdiction, while the UK Information Commissioner’s Office is due to publish an update on Tuesday on its investigation into whether Leave.EU was given unauthorised access to information gathered from customers of Mr Banks’ insurance operations. The Financial Conduct Authority looks set to investigate the management of his insurance operations, given the NCA probe.

There is also the possibility that, given the close ties between Mr Banks, Nigel Farage, the former UK Independence Party leader, and the entourage of Donald Trump, could yet become embroiled in Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Mr Trump’s presidential election campaign collaborated with Russia.

The criminal investigation into Mr Banks comes at both a crucial moment in the Brexit talks and amid growing support for a second referendum. If the authorities were to uncover evidence of Russian money backing the Leave campaign, it could provide fresh impetus to those calling for a new vote.

Behind the allegations and the new criminal investigation, there is a contest of starkly different narratives about how Mr Banks has behaved and his role in the Brexit political debate.

His supporters portray him as a maverick in business and politics who has ruffled feathers by behaving unconventionally. They insist the allegations against him have been stirred up by a Remain-supporting media and political establishment.

Gawain Towler, former director of communications for the UK Independence party, the anti-EU group that received more than £1m in donations from Mr Banks, insists the businessman attracts controversy solely because he does not abide by accepted conventions. Mr Banks and Andy Wigmore, his key aide, were a “breath of fresh air” when they became involved in Ukip in 2014, he says.

“Of course they’re going to make enemies,” he says. “They make enemies because they don’t play by the rules, because they’ve been written by other people.”


Peter Hargreaves was the second-biggest donor to Leave.EU. He says Arron Banks is 'one of the best entrepreneurs in the country' © Bloomberg
A July report by the House of Commons Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, however, advanced the competing narrative. It said Mr Banks seemed to want to hide the extent of his contacts with Russia and raised multiple questions about how he was able to afford his political donations. The committee added it was not satisfied the money for his donations to Leave.EU had come from sources within the UK — the same doubt the Electoral Commission has subsequently raised.

Ian Lucas, a Labour MP and member of the DCMS committee, says that even the limited information the committee was able to obtain suggests there is real cause for concern.

“On the basis of that information, we’ve asked a lot of questions that we think should be investigated by the appropriate authorities,” Mr Lucas says. “I wouldn’t have signed up to that if I didn’t think there was anything there.”

Mr Banks has demonstrated a talent for dividing opinion since his early years. He has been creating controversy at least as far back as the four-and-a-half years he spent, from the age of 13, at Crookham Court, a former boarding school near Thatcham in Berkshire. The school was closed in 1989, five years after Mr Banks left, because of revelations about serious sexual abuse by the staff.

Mr Banks, who says he loved his time at the school, views the institution very differently from the pupils who gave evidence that led to the imprisonment of four teachers, in two separate trials, for sexual offences against boys. Mr Banks appeared as a character witness in defence of Philip Cadman, the school’s headteacher and owner, when he and two other teachers were tried in 1990 for sex offences. Cadman, who has since died, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, reduced to six years on appeal.

In 2013, on a Facebook group for former pupils, Mr Banks lambasted pupils who helped to bring the prosecutions, portraying them as part of a “victim culture” that had made contemporary generations less robust than past ones. “All emotional damage is unfortunate,” Mr Banks wrote in one of a series of confrontational posts. “But in the past whole generations . . . had to endure and at the end [of] the day hand-wrenching, recriminations and going on and on about it helps nobody.”

Mr Banks’ venture into politics has split opinion in the same way. For all the success of the referendum campaign, even some Brexit supporters believe that the more belligerent tone of Mr Banks and Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, deterred as many potential voters as they attracted. Mr Banks failed to grasp that the critical point was to win over swing voters, not fire up those who already opposed EU membership, one Eurosceptic politician says.

“You need to tailor your arguments to the swing voters,” he says. “None of these elementary things that one would expect to see in a capable individual in politics struck me as being present in him.”

Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent, disagrees, insisting that Leave.EU played an important role in complementing the official Vote Leave campaign, whose figurehead was Conservative MP Boris Johnson.

“Boris Johnson was able to appeal to moderate, conservative, middle-class Britons,” Prof Goodwin says. “Nigel Farage and the more Ukip end of the spectrum were helpful for Leave to appeal to the more working-class areas, Labour areas.”


Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, centre, with Arron Banks, far left, in London the day after the EU referendum in June 2016 © AFP
The pivotal question for Mr Banks remains the apparent discrepancy between the squeeze on his resources in the run-up to the referendum and the very large sums of money he poured into the campaign. That is likely to be a critical issue for the NCA as it examines records in the Isle of Man to understand how Rock Holdings — if the company was indeed the source of the political donations — was itself funded.

There had been “persistent questions over the extent of Mr Banks’ wealth”, said the DCMS committee’s report in July.

Mr Banks’ supporters point out that he was a significant shareholder in Brightside, a publicly listed insurance broker taken private in a deal with AnaCap, a private equity firm, in 2014. Mr Banks was a director of Brightside from 2008 until he was ousted by other directors in 2012. Brightside paid Mr Banks in shares in 2010 when it bought Group Direct, a collection of insurers Mr Banks had founded.

When asked how Mr Banks could have afforded the donations, Peter Hargreaves, co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, the asset manager, says Mr Banks is a “very successful businessman”. Mr Hargreaves, who like Mr Banks lives near Bristol, was the second-biggest donor to Leave.EU, donating £3.2m to fund a letter that was mailed to every household in the UK.

“I think he’s one of the best entrepreneurs in the country,” he says.

In June 2017, Mr Banks responded to questions raised in the Financial Times about his resources by saying that he had “founded and sold” a listed insurance company — Brightside — for £145m. Mr Wigmore has separately suggested that the money could have come from the 2014 sale of NewLaw Legal, a solicitors’ firm Mr Banks was involved in founding, in a cash-and-shares deal that valued the company’s equity at £35m.

However, records of Mr Banks’ dealing in Brightside shares show he sold his last significant shareholding in February 2013 for £6.16m, before the AnaCap deal, which valued its equity at £127m. Company announcements back up a calculation by OpenDemocracy, a political news website, that his share sales brought him £22m.

Companies House records for NewLaw Legal, meanwhile, show that Mr Banks disposed of his 5 per cent stake in August 2012, 18 months before the company was sold. Mr Banks has not said what the other four shareholders paid him for his stake, beyond saying he received “a cheque”.

The questions about his wealth have been underlined by signs that parts of his empire have exerted a considerable drain on resources. In 2011, regulators in Gibraltar ruled that Southern Rock, the Gibraltar-based reinsurer he owns that provides services to his other companies, was carrying too little capital. In a subsequent letter to the Gibraltar Chronicle, Mr Banks said he had put “more than £40m” into recapitalising the company. Both Southern Rock and Eldon, his current insurance venture founded in 2007, which trades under brands such as GoSkippy.com, continue to be lossmaking.

One financial services executive with direct experience at Brightside says it is hard to understand Mr Banks’ largesse towards Leave.EU and Ukip given the relatively limited sums Mr Banks made from share sales and the demands of the other businesses.

“He’s had to pour a lot of money into Eldon because Eldon hasn’t made any money yet,” the person says. “They had to recapitalise Southern Rock, so they had to put cash and assets into that business, so I don’t know where [the money for the donations] comes from.”


The party at Leave.EU headquarters as polling stations closed in the EU referendum on June 23 2016 © Reuters
There has been persistent speculation that the ultimate solution to the puzzle that the NCA and other investigators are trying to complete might lie in foreign funding of the campaign, potentially from Russia. The DCMS committee’s report cites emails it received detailing a number of meetings between Mr Banks and Russian embassy officials. Mr Banks had initially admitted to only one meeting with a Russian diplomat — a “six-hour boozy lunch” at the ambassador’s residence in November 2015.

“The embassy does not comment on the official meetings of the ambassador,” the Russian embassy says.

The DCMS committee report said Mr Banks discussed “business ventures within Russia and beyond, and other financial ventures” in “a series of meetings with Russian embassy staff”.

It added: “Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore have misled the committee on the number of meetings that took place with the Russian Embassy and walked out of the committee’s evidence session to avoid scrutiny of the content of the discussions with the Russian embassy.”

Mr Banks’ supporters dismiss the idea that he would be involved in any form of collusion. Mr Hargreaves insists he would not have countenanced working with Mr Banks if there had been any trace of impropriety.

“I’ve made all my money with no scandal at all,” Mr Hargreaves says.

Like many supporters of leaving the EU, Mr Hargreaves suggests that the focus on Mr Banks reflects the biases of the political and media establishment.

“I think a lot of the problem with this is that the establishment and the media don’t like him because he was Leave and the media . . . were Remain,” he says.

Mr Banks insists he had never received any foreign donations. He has not yet been convicted of or charged with any criminal offence and he has robustly insisted on his innocence. “I am confident that a full and frank investigation will finally put an end to the ludicrous allegations levelled against me and my colleagues,” he said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the start of the NCA investigation shows that concerns about Leave.EU’s funding are shifting from being a political fringe concern to one preoccupying some of the UK’s most senior criminal investigators.

Some of Mr Banks’ opponents have warned that new revelations will follow. In March, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told a House of Commons debate on the poisoning of Sergei and Julia Skripal in Salisbury that he had been treated as “a bit of an eccentric” when he first raised concerns about possible Russian interference in UK democracy.

Calling for a full investigation of Mr Banks’ links with Russia, Mr Bradshaw said he had received “a great deal of very interesting information”. Only some of it had so far come out, he said. Last week Mr Bradshaw wrote to prime minister Theresa May over claims she blocked a request to investigate Mr Banks in the run-up to the Brexit referendum.

“I have to tell honourable members that a great deal more that is very serious is still to come out,” he warned.

The piece was updated on November 5 to correct the date of a Gibraltar ruling on Southern Rock
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:38 pm



Mark Di Stefano



New York Times confirms – Robert Mueller has obtained the records of Arron Banks’ communications with Russian officials https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/06/tech ... banks.html

Image

Thank you to the reporter in DMs who said that line was first put forward by NYT in June in this piece !
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:36 pm

Revealed: How Arron Banks’s campaign ‘ambassador’ made his millions in Russia

Jim Mellon introduced Brexit ‘bad boys’ Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, and was a Leave.EU ambassador. He claims he hasn’t been involved in Russia since the 1990s. But our investigation shows he still has major financial exposure to Russian investments.

Image
lead Jim Mellon, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks Jim Mellon, Nigel Farage, Arron Banks. Image L-R: Master Investor, Michael Vadon, PA Images.

In early 1990s Russia, a lot of people died. Organised criminals and ex-Soviet officials fought vicious turf wars for control of industries and political power. And a man called Jim Mellon became fabulously wealthy.

Two decades later, Mellon toured his friend Nigel Farage around a number of potential major political donors. In late summer 2014, he introduced the UKIP leader to the insurance salesman Arron Banks. Within a few weeks, Banks had pledged a million pounds to the anti-EU party and, the next year, Mellon donated a reported £100,000 to theKnow.eu, a forerunner to Banks and Farage’s Leave.EU campaign. Mellon was described as an “ambassador” for Leave.EU, and was scheduled to appear at Leave.EU’s launch.
Image
theKnow.eu, a forerunner to Banks and Farage's Leave.EU campaign. theKnow.eu, a forerunner to Banks and Farage's Leave.EU campaign.

Last week the National Crime Agency announced an investigation into Arron Banks and others linked to Leave.EU over suspected criminal offences committed in the Brexit referendum, after the Electoral Commission found there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Banks was not the “true source” of £8m in funding for the pro-Brexit groups he backed. This followed reporting from openDemocracy and others which raised pressing questions about how Banks could have afforded to become the biggest political donor in British history.

The UK parliament’s ongoing inquiry into misinformation and fake news has asked questions about Banks’s Russian links, and the Observer newspaper has revealed a string of connections between Banks and Russia. In notorious emails between Banks and the Russian embassy, Banks describes Jim Mellon as his business partner. But Mellon, the man who introduced Banks and Farage, has escaped much scrutiny – until now.

During the 2016 referendum campaign, a representative of Jim Mellon, Denham Eke said he had “not been involved in Russia or Russian investments since the 1990s” and had “no relationship with Russia”.

However, an investigation by openDemocracy has revealed that firms in which Mellon has major interests have maintained close links with prominent Russian businessmen – and have profited significantly from decisions made by Vladimir Putin and his associates over the last 25 years.

Specifically, we have learned that:

- Firms linked to Mellon have continued to invest in Russia for over 25 years and adopted a strategy of investing in firms with “management close to Putin.”
- One fund linked to Mellon set up a new firm to buy Gazprom shares on the very day that Putin announced foreigners would be allowed to purchase them.
- The same Mellon-linked fund was selected to invest in Russia’s state diamond company as it was privatised.
- Mellon holds a stake in a bio-tech firm with labs in the Skolkovo science park in Moscow. The FBI have warned that Skolkovo is a front for industrial espionage activities.
- Firms linked to Mellon were involved in a number of deals with politically exposed Russian oligarchs including an ex-KGB officer, Andrey Pannikov, and Roustam Tariko, who sponsored the Miss World event in Moscow attended by Trump.
- Mellon invested £120,000 in a South London beauty salon run by a Russian ex-Alfa Bank employee.

Mellon highlights that he had no executive role in the firm with the most Russian connections – Charlemagne Capital – and says he was not directly involved in the investment decisions. However, he was a co-founder, non-executive director and major shareholder of the firm.

Mellon’s business partner Arron Banks is listed as the main funder of the Brexit campaign, claiming to have put £12m into Leave.EU and other anti-EU groups. However, as openDemocracy revealed last year, there are serious questions about how Arron Banks could have afforded to donate that amount of money to the Brexit cause. Banks claims he made all his money from his insurance businesses, saying “The Leave.EU campaign was funded by myself, Peter Hargreaves and the general public… allegations of ‘Brexit’ being funded by the Russians... are complete bollocks from beginning to end.”

There is absolutely no allegation that Jim Mellon is the source of Banks’ Brexit funding, nor that he has broken any law. But our investigation does reveal yet more connections between an important Leave.EU ambassador and Russia, including prominent Russians with close links to Putin.

Mellon has declined to provide openDemocracy with a comment on the record about any of the questions we put to him.

How did Mellon make his millions?
Image
Jim Mellon (right) with Arron Banks (centre) and Andy Wigmore (left). Jim Mellon (right) with Arron Banks (centre) and Andy Wigmore (left). Image: Instagram.

During the chaotic privatisations of the early 1990s, Russian citizens were given vouchers which entitled them to buy shares in the privatised state companies. While the traditional Soviet economy collapsed, a violent black market thrived.

On an early visit to Russia, Jim Mellon talks of having to barricade the door of his hotel in Vladivostok where, just a week later, a New Zealander was “hacked to death”. After hiring bodyguards, he and his business partner, Jayne Sutcliffe, picked up suitcases of share vouchers for “little more than a bottle of vodka” and overnight transformed $2m to $17m.

Mellon then founded his investment business, Regent Pacific, and began to invest millions of pounds in Russia throughout the 1990s, taking large stakes in many of Russia’s biggest companies.

These days, Mellon is a resident of the Isle of Man, the offshore banking centre between the UK and Ireland which he says is “a good base to establish new businesses from a tax and regulatory point of view.”

It also means he is not eligible to vote in the UK. However, Mellon has provided tens of thousands of pounds to UK political causes from his UK-based companies, backing the Conservatives, UKIP and both Leave.EU and the official Vote Leave Campaign. This is all legal.

However, questions have always circulated about the extent of Mellon’s involvement in UK politics, his business career and ties to Russia.

Who is Jim Mellon?

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Mellon, an Oxford-educated Scot, is the son of Sir James Mellon, a British diplomat who served in East Berlin before becoming ambassador to Denmark, High Commissioner in Ghana and Consul General in New York.

He began his career as an investment analyst in Hong Kong in 1979 before going on to found Thornton Management with former colleague Richard Thornton in 1984. When the firm was sold four years later, Mellon became a millionaire. He bought homes in Ibiza and the Isle of Man where he continues to live, and went on to found Regent Pacific in Hong Kong, which soon became one of the largest investors in the Russian market on the back of the share certificates he bought from “Russian housewives”.

In 1994, Mellon described privatisation in Russia as “the largest and fastest restructuring of an economy in human history”. By 1997, Bloomberg featured Regent Pacific in an article titled “The Bad Boys of Emerging Markets”. The firm had over $1.1 billion invested in Russia, and also ran its third largest brokerage house.

The same year, the company was listed as the second largest shareholder in Uralmash, a manufacturer of heavy engineering vehicles notorious for its connections to the Uralmash gang which fought a vicious turf war to control the city of Ekaterinburg.

Regent Pacific also took a stake in Lukoil, a company co-founded by Andrey Pannikov, an ex-KGB man who had been expelled for espionage from Sweden in 1988. Pannikov had obtained the first oil export license issued by Russia and had begun to foster close relations with Vladimir Putin, then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, whom he was rumoured to have financially supported.

Mellon and Regent Pacific also attracted the attention of the board of Gazprom, the state owned Russian gas company. At the time, there were only a limited number of shares available to foreign investors due to the Russian government’s policy of ensuring the company remained in Russian hands.

A parallel market was set up by Deutsche Bank to trade these stocks. Overseas investors could buy ADRs (American Depositary Receipts) from Deutsche which were actually packages of Gazprom shares deposited with the bank in Russia.

Predictably, the prices of locally traded shares and the ADRs widened: “Russian only” shares cost much less than the shares traded by western investors.

To exploit this difference, Regent Pacific set up a Russian company to buy Gazprom stock on the Russian market and then to sell units in this company to foreign investors. Mellon quickly raised $200m from western investors.

However, the scheme led to the Gazprom board voicing their disapproval of Regent Pacific’s methods. Mellon later told a reporter he decided to leave Russia, fearing he “might end up at the bottom of the Moscow River”. Following pressure from influential ministers and the Gazprom board, Mellon cancelled the scheme saying later, “We had too much at stake in Russia ... and I know when to walk away.”

Then, during the Russian financial collapse of 1998, Mellon’s funds dramatically collapsed in value, wiping out much of his investors funds. Regent Pacific had to lay off over 40 workers in their Moscow office. It seemed Mellon’s days in Russia were nearly over.

Putin’s Russia
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Regent Pacific offices, Hong Kong. Regent Pacific offices, Hong Kong. Image: Google Maps.

However, by 2000 the Russian economy had begun to rebound – and so did Regent Pacific. Mellon and his business partner Jayne Sutcliffe split their funds into two companies, with Mellon running the Hong Kong-based Regent Pacific and Sutcliffe leading the London-based Charlemagne Capital, which focused on investments in Russia, and other east European emerging markets. This is the point at which Mellon’s spokesperson claims he severed his links with the country. But Mellon remained a major shareholder and non-executive director of Charlemagne, and his father took up a place on its board.

Yeltsin had been replaced by Vladimir Putin. The new leader appointed Medvedev, the current prime minister, to the board of Gazprom and began kicking out old Yeltsin appointees and replacing them with his own hand-picked men, such as Herman Gref, the now-sanctioned CEO of Sberbank.

Putin decided to relax restrictions on foreigners holding Gazprom stock. In a meeting on 30th October 2003, he gave his consent to the type of scheme Mellon had attempted to set up five years earlier.

According to the Russian website neftegaz.ru, on the same day Charlemagne Capital established a company called Novy Neft in Bermuda to purchase the new shares and raised $100m from investors within a fortnight. This was either enormously fast paperwork, or Charlemagne had prior knowledge of Putin’s announcement.

The scheme was enormously successful. A second fund, Novy Neft II, soon followed. Gazprom shares rose in value, both funds saw large increases in the values of their stocks and investors saw significant gains.

Russian diamonds, Trump, and Arron Banks
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Arron Banks (second from the left). From left: Leave.EU campaigner Gerry Gunster; Arron Banks; Donald Trump; Nigel Farage; Andy Wigmore; Raheem Kassam, former adviser to Farage and former Editor in Chief of Breitbart UK (Twitter).

In 2013 and 2016, Charlemagne Capital was selected to participate in partial privatisations of Alrosa, the Russian state diamond company, and the second largest diamond producer in the world.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, a now sanctioned Russian sovereign wealth fund run by Kirill Dmitriev, selected Charlemagne as an investor in 2013. Dmitriev has more recently been in the headlines for secret meeting with a Trump confidant, the Blackwater founder, Erik Prince, in the Seychelles during the US presidential election campaign.

In 2016, when there was another part-privatisation, Charlemagne was invited to participate again. Between the announcement of the sale and its completion, investors were only given five working days to subscribe to the shares, offered at a sharp discount to the government’s own valuation.

Mellon owned 40% of Charlemagne when it was established and continued to hold at least 20% of the business until 2016. His father, now in his late eighties, sat on its board from 2000 until its sale, although Mellon denies any involvement in the operation of the business or any knowledge of its investments.

The UK House of Commons Inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News’, which has released a report on the Brexit referendum campaigns, has highlighted the Alrosa deal as a point of concern, particularly as it was raised in emails between Brexit-backer Arron Banks and the Russian ambassador. Another deal floated by the Russians to Banks concerned the consolidation of a number of goldmines, and in emails seen by openDemocracy, Banks says “I’ve chatted to Jim Mellon who is my partner in the bank (Isle of Man based Manx financial). Jim has extensive interests in commodities.”

While Mellon denies knowing or having close ties to any Russian business or political figures, he does concede to having met the Russian ambassador to the UK on several occasions over the past few years. For this part, Arron Banks caused controversy when it transpired that he had in fact met the Russian ambassador eleven times, despite having long maintained he had only met him once.

Mergers in the Caribbean
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Image: Trinity Exploration.

In 2012, two Trinidad and Tobago based oil firms merged: Bayfield and Trinity. Andrey Pannikov, the former KGB man with close ties to Putin’s inner circle, owned 20% of Bayfield. Jim Mellon’s firm Regent Pacific was a major investor in Trinity. Trinity had booked strong profits in 2011. Bayfield, however, was struggling, yet the two companies merged in a deal which seemingly made little sense for shareholders who were forced to accept large losses on their investments. Pannikov himself lost millions on his investment in Bayfield but was able to see the loss-making company salvaged by Trinity. Mellon admits the deal lost Regent Pacific £5m, and despite being a non-executive chairman and a major shareholder, he denies being personally involved and says he has never met Pannikov.

In the mid 2000s, Charlemagne Capital became one of the largest shareholders in the Central European Distribution Company, based in Poland. But the firm was hit hard by the 2008 crisis, and in April 2013 entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in order to restructure its debts. In the pre-packaged deal, over one third of the group’s debt was written off and Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko took ownership of the business. The New York Times called the deal an “exercise in stiffing shareholders”, but Charlemagne was able to exchange its equity for debt and salvaged 83% of the value of their investment. A rival offer from an Alfa Bank consortium put in a larger offer for the business, but strangely this seems to have been immediately rejected.

A few years later, Roustam Tariko sponsored the 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow, where he had a neighbouring VIP box to its organiser, Donald Trump.

“Firms whose management is close to Putin”

Charlemagne Capital continued to invest heavily in Russia throughout the 2000s as Putin consolidated his grip on power. In 2003, Stefan Böttcher, a Charlemagne fund manager, described how the business had a policy of investing in “firms whose management is close to Putin.”

Mellon states that while he was a major shareholder in the business, he had no operational control and was not made aware of any investment decisions or strategies and thus had no involvement in or influence over the deals in Alrosa, Novy Neft, or the CEDC takeover. When the firm floated on the London stock market in 2006, Mellon reduced his shareholding from 40% to around 20%. The business boasted $4 billion in assets under management, which were mostly invested in Russia, and other east European countries.

Mellon also denies having ever met Andrey Pannikov or Roustam Tariko, but often meets Russians, including the ambassador to the UK, and personal friends at cultural and business gatherings.

“Lasers”, and Russian Intelligence
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One such personal friend is Anna Saprykina, a former Alfa Bank employee who now runs a company called Body Silk in Hither Green, South London, which specialises in laser hair removal. Born in Russia, but with over 10 years spent in the UK, Saprykina is now a British citizen. A keen classical musician, she tells the story of how she and her sister were looking for investment to set up their business when they were introduced to Mellon at a concert in 2010.

Mellon invested £120,000 in the business. Eight years after it was established, it is currently for sale having racked up losses of £240,000. Saprykina, advertised the business as “ideal for a Tier One Entrepreneur visa” on her LinkedIn page.

Alfa Bank, Saprykina’s former employer, has been named as a conduit for Russian intelligence activities in multiple countries and is a focus of the Mueller investigation into ties between the Russian state and Donald Trump, although there is no suggestion that Saprykina has been involved in Russian intelligence.
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Jim Mellon's Facebook

The ‘money fountain’

Mellon first met Banks when he invested in Conister Bank, an Isle of Man bank which Banks and his partners from Brightside insurance had recently been bought out of insolvency. The two men became business partners in the venture they would soon re-name Manx Financial.

Both Arron Banks and Mellon continue to hold significant stakes in Manx Financial and have also co-invested in other businesses together. It was from this relationship that Banks’s involvement in UK politics would grow as Mellon introduced him to Nigel Farage. The three men were reported discussing “other ways” of funding the then near-bankrupt UKIP to get around Mellon’s non-resident status according to a Telegraph report in 2013.

When openDemocracy (and others) have looked into Banks’ true wealth, we have not found evidence that he is as rich as he claims. With Mellon, however, there is little doubt that he has the trappings of a very wealthy man. He moves between luxury homes in Ibiza, Berlin and the Isle of Man on a private jet and gets the Brand New Heavies to play at his parties. But, given that most of his businesses are based in secretive tax havens, it is difficult to gauge whether Mellon is, as Canadian senators said in a report about another of his businesses, “in constant financial difficulty” or more correctly valued at £1 billion, as the Sunday Times Rich List reported this year.

There is no suggestion that Mellon is the ultimate provider of the disputed funding for Leave campaigns.

‘Living for 200 years’

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Today Regent Pacific, Mellon’s Hong Kong based business, is moving into biotech. Mellon says humans can live for 200 years due to all manner of technological advances, and claims he knows which ones to invest in. He calls this ‘longevity science’, tells investors it’s a ‘money fountain’, and has even co-written a book about longevity, called “Juvenesence” and set up a business with the same name.

Once again, his recent foray has brought him into contact with well-connected Russians. One of the companies Mellon owns a stake in is the start-up Insilico medicine, which has 80% of its staff in offices and labs at the Skolkovo Foundation Science Park in Moscow.

The Skolkovo Foundation is the brainchild of Viktor Veskelberg, a sanctioned oligarch and close confidant of Putin. It has been described by the FBI as an attempt to conduct industrial espionage.

Mellon says that while he has visited the Skolkovo business park to see the Insilico Medicine operations, he has not had any interaction or meetings of any type with members of the Skolkovo Foundation, which often invests in businesses based on its campus, and points out that the firm is registered in the US and also has a base at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
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The Skolkovo park in Moscow. Image: Google.

“Snake in the grass”

Arron Banks, the self-styled ‘bad boy of Brexit’, has already been found to have misrepresented the extent of his connections with Russian officials and the value of his investments. As openDemocracy has repeatedly shown, major question marks hang over the true extent of the insurance tycoon's wealth. Our reporting has also revealed how he misled parliament about his business and political operations, and how he accessed data on millions of voters. In the midst of intense political rows over the Brexit negotiations, Banks has also openly threatened to rally Leave.EU’s supporters to unseat anti-Brexit Tories.

For all these reasons, the questions about how Arron Banks found the money to become the largest political donor in UK history are not merely historic. They urgently need answers. There is no evidence to suggest that Mellon himself is the true source of Banks’s Brexit funds. However, while his spokesman said that Mellon “had not been involved in Russia or Russian investments since the 1990s”, our investigation shows that his financial exposure to Russian investments remains significant.

British parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have called for a Mueller-style investigation into Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum. One of the most prominent voices demanding this is the Conservative MP Damian Collins, chair of parliament's ongoing inquiry into misinformation and fake news. Arron Banks last week month sent letters to all of Collins’s constituents calling him “a disgrace” and “a snake in the grass”, and urging Leave.EU supporters to “put his position into question by joining the Conservatives and applying pressure from within the party”.

Both Mellon and Banks have declined to respond on the record to any of the question we have put to them.

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:10 am

'The order gives Wheatland seven days to turn over a street and email address where he can be served with process papers.'



Dr Emma L Briant


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Julian Wheatland, Cambridge director who signed bankruptcy petition is now "the person responsible for immediately performing, on behalf of the debtors, any and all actions required of the debtors by the Bankruptcy Code and the Bankruptcy Rules."

https://twitter.com/EmmaLBriant/status/ ... 8122334208

Cambridge Analytica Director Deemed Responsible In Ch. 7

By Ryan Boysen
Law360 (November 15, 2018, 7:46 PM EST) -- The elusive director of scandal-plagued political consulting shop Cambridge Analytica LLC has been designated the "person responsible" for the bankrupt entity in its Chapter 7 case, a move that could aid the beleaguered attorneys at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP who've been trying to withdraw as the debtor's counsel for months.
In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane of the Southern District of New York granted a motion filed in September by Cambridge's Chapter 7 trustee, Salvatore LaMonica of LaMonica Herbst & Maniscalco LLP.

The brief, three-page order means Julian Wheatland, the Cambridge director who signed its bankruptcy petition in May, is now "the person responsible for immediately performing, on behalf of the debtors, any and all actions required of the debtors by the Bankruptcy Code and the Bankruptcy Rules."

The order also requires Wheatland to cooperate with LaMonica in investigating and winding down the Chapter 7 estate, and authorizes LaMonica "to do such things, expend such funds and execute such documents as may be necessary to effectuate and enforce the terms and conditions of this order."

The order gives Wheatland seven days to turn over a street and email address where he can be served with process papers.

Wednesday's order could help Schulte Roth disentangle itself from the case. The firm represented Cambridge when it filed for bankruptcy in May, but has been left in what Judge Lane has called "a very awkward spot" since all of the debtor's employees departed shortly after the filing.

While Judge Lane clearly appreciated the bind Schulte Roth finds itself in, he told the firm "I'm not letting you go anywhere" until a proper replacement to represent the debtor had been locked in.

Schulte Roth has had trouble getting in touch with Wheatland, and told the court last month that Wheatland had not responded to LaMonica's motion to designate him as the person responsible for the debtor.

The London-based Cambridge Analytica abruptly collapsed over the spring following revelations it had surreptitiously amassed private data from 87 million Facebook users to create so-called psychographic models of American voters.

The company was backed by billionaire conservative donor Robert Mercer and its services were used by then-candidate Donald J. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, but many observers have said Cambridge's models never really worked as intended.

Cambridge shut down its operations at the same time that it filed for bankruptcy.

A group of Facebook users are suing Cambridge and Facebook over the data collection scandal, and have asked Judge Lane not to let Schulte Roth withdraw from the Chapter 7 case until the firm finds a suitable replacement.

Judge Lane's Wednesday order comes a few months after LaMonica was directed to preserve all of the documents he has, and to confer with counsel for the Facebook users on the specifics of the documents that will be turned over.

The Facebook users are represented by Derek W. Loeser, Cari Campen Laufenberg and Christopher Graver of Keller Rohrback LLP and Lesley Weaver, Javier Bleichmar and Sara Simnowitz of Bleichmar Fonti & Auld LLP, as well as their bankruptcy counsel Michael S. Etkin, Nicole Fulfree and Michael Papandrea of Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

LaMonica is represented by himself, Jordan Pilevsky and Michael T. Rozea of LaMonica Herbst & Maniscalco LLP.

Cambridge Analytica is represented by Adam C. Harris, Kristine Manoukian and Kelly Knight of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.

Facebook is represented by Michael A. Rosenthal and Dylan Cassidy of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The case is In re: Cambridge Analytica LLC, case number 1:18-bk-11500, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

--Additional reporting by Shayna Posses and Alex Wolf. Editing by Marygrace Murphy.
https://www.law360.com/cybersecurity-pr ... gn=section
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:57 pm

UK Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers

Documents alleged to contain revelations on data and privacy controls that led to Cambridge Analytica scandal.


viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27483&start=405
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