John Podesta May Have Violated Federal Law By Not Disclosing 75,000 Stock Shares
Richard Pollock, Daily Caller, Mar 26 2017
John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, may have violated federal law by failing to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company when he joined the Obama White House in 2014. Joule Unlimited Technologies, financed in part by a Russian firm, originally awarded Podesta 100,000 shares of stock options when in 2010 he joined that board along with its Dutch-based entities: Joule Global Holdings BV and the Stichting Joule Global Foundation. When Podesta announced his departure from the Joule board in Jan 2014 to become President Obama’s special counsellor, the company officially issued him 75,000 common shares of stock. The Schedule B section of the federal government’s form 278 requires of the public servant to:
… report any purchase, sale or exchange by you, your spouse, or dependent children of any property, stocks, bonds, commodity futures and other securities when the amount of the transaction exceeded $1k.
Podesta’s form 278 Schedule B is blank regarding his receipt of any stock from any company. Liberals and conservatives alike agree Podesta should have disclosed the stock. Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the liberal group Public Citizen founded by Ralph Nader, said:
Podesta should certainly have been more upfront in filling this out. Clearly, it should have been fully disclosed. That’s the point of the personal financial disclosure forms, especially for anyone entering the White House.
Former federal attorney Joseph DiGenova said in an interview:
If the transfer of stock took place, it had to be disclosed. If he didn’t, clearly it’s a violation.
The same year Podesta joined Joule, the company agreed to accept 1b roubles, or $35m, from Rusnano, a state company. Anatoly Chubais, the company CEO and two other top Russian banking executives worked together with Podesta on the Joule boards. The board met six times a year. Thirty-year veteran and former assistant FBI director Ron Hosko said:
I think in this case where you’re talking about foreign interests and foreign involvement, the collateral interest with these disclosure forms is put in the forefront of full disclosure of any foreign interest that you may have. It’s a troubled question if you deliberately omit this information on the form. Were you completely truthful on this form that you filled out, yes or no? (This could) become a counter-intelligence concern for Pindostan.
Podesta took possession of the stock in Jan 2014, the same month he entered the White House, according to WikiLeaks. The existence of the 75,000 shares of Joule stock was first revealed by the Government Accountability Institute report issued last year. But Podesta didn’t pocket all the shares. Correspondence from Podesta to Joule instructed the firm to transfer only 33,693 shares to Leonidio Holdings, a brand-new entity he incorporated only on Dec 20 2013, about ten days before he entered the White House. In a Jan 4 2014 letter released by WikiLeaks last October to Joule corporate secretary Mark Solakian, Podesta requested the transfer to Leonidio of 25,146 shares of series C stock and 8,547 shares of Series C-II. When WikiLeaks disclosed the existence of Leonidio last year, Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin claimed Podesta, by then the campaign chairman, had “divested” himself of all the stock. Schwerin said:
When Podesta went back to the work at the White House, he worked with White House counsel to personally divest from Joule and ensure he was in full compliance with all government ethics rules, and he filed the appropriate forms.
But there is no indication the remaining 41,000 shares went to any other party. The government does outline federal penalties for failing to report assets. The Attorney General can file a civil action “against any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies or who knowingly and willfully fails to file or report any information that such individual is required to report.” The federal penalty can be up to $50k per count. Leonidio is registered in Delaware as an LLC. Podesta listed the address of his daughter Megan Rouse in the incorporation papers. His mother and father also appear to be co-owners of Leonidio. Most experts believe the Office of Government Ethics, which is supposed to monitor the accuracy of financial disclosure forms, is toothless. Scott Holman, the liberal lobbyist, said:
Unfortunately, the office of government ethics has no authority to make anyone do anything. It is an advisory agency, essentially. It can develop rules, it can make orders, but if someone doesn’t abide by it. OGE has no enforcement authority.
Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), noted:
OGE doesn’t really have the authority to open their own investigations and they don’t have authority to get into disciplinary action.
But OGE has also been accused of partisanship. Earlier this year OGE Director Walter Shaub publicly criticized Pres Trump’s plan to deal with his sprawling businesses, calling his financial reorganization plan “wholly inadequate.” He also called for the President to seek “total divestment” of his Washington DC hotel. Last week the General Services Administration said a set of additional rules to the federal lease for the downtown Washington hotel put it into “full compliance” with governmental ethics laws. DiGenova said the office is biased and hypocritical in what cases they picked to criticize. He said:
They have no problem tweeting out about Donald Trump’s hotels, but here on a clear violation they’re silent.
Multiple inquiries to OGE received no reply. Inquiries to Mr Podesta were not returned.
Russia’s Largest Bank Confirms Hiring Podesta Group To Lobby For Ending Sanctions
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Mar 1, 2017
Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, has confirmed that it hired the consultancy of Tony Podesta, the elder brother of John Podesta who chaired Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, for lobbying its interests in Pindostan and proactively seeking the removal of various Obama-era sanctions, reported TASS on Thursday. Sberbank said:
The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group. Engagement of external consultants is part of standard business practices for us.
Previously, The Daily Caller reported that Tony Podesta was proactively lobbying for cancellation of a range of anti-Russian sanctions against the banking sector. In particular, he represented interests of Sberbank and was paid $170,000 for his efforts over a six-month period last year to seek to end one of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against that country. Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms. His firm received more than $24m in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Obama imposed the Russian sanctions following the outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Podesta’s efforts were a key part of under-the-radar lobbying during the 2016 presidential campaign led mainly by veteran Demagog strategists to remove sanctions against Sberbank and VTB Capital, Russia’s second largest bank. The two Russian banks spent more than $700k in 2016 on Faschingstein lobbyists as they sought to end the sanctions, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms (bad link – RB) and documents filed with the DoJ. The Podesta Group charged Sberbank $20k/month plus expenses on a contract from Mar to Sep 2016.
Both Sberbank and VTB Capital have faced severe cash shortages due to plunging oil prices, plus the sanctions. If Obama’s sanctions were lifted, both banks could legally seek funds from Pindosi financial institutions. The lobbying campaign targeted Congress and the executive branch, with Podesta and other lobbyists arranging at least two meetings between Sberbank officers and State Dept officials, according to Elena Teplitskaya, Sberbank’s board chairwoman, who spoke to House aides in August. A congressional aide who requested anonymity and met Teplitskaya said:
The Demagogs are sitting there trying to convince us that the Russians are trying to throw the election to Trump, and then they’re with us here in the House and meeting directly with the administration behind closed doors on the issue of the sanctions. The hypocrisy could not be any richer.
As the Caller puts it:
The discovery of high-profile Demagogs like Podesta being paid lucrative fees for lobbying to lift sanctions on Russia contrasts with charges from Demagogs that Pres Trump and his key aides are soft on Russia while the Obama administration was tough on Moscow.
Podesta is one of the Demagogs’ highest-profile lobbyists and enjoys close personal and business connections to Obama and Bill Clinton. John Podesta was chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s White House and special counselor in Obama’s White House. Some more details on the Teplitskaya meeting: joining the Podesta lobbying campaign was David Adams, who describes himself on the Podesta Group website as a “trusted adviser” to Hillary Clinton, serving as her Asst Sec State for Congressional Affairs. Another Podesta lobbyist was Stephen Rademaker, a former State Dept official in the Bush 43 administration. The Podesta Group represented Sberbank and its subsidiaries, Troika Dialog Group in the Cayman Islands, SBGB Cyprus Ltd in Nicosia, and SB International in Luxembourg. Troika Dialog also was related to Klein Ltd, a Cayman Island organization that once funneled tens of millions of dollars to environmental groups to oppose low-cost fracking in Pindostan which was hurting the Russian oil industry. Regular readers will recall that the Sberbank-Podesta relationship goes back many years. Sberbank was the lead financial institution in the Russian deal to purchase Uranium One, owned by one of Bill Clinton’s closest friends, Frank Giustra. Giustra and Bill Clinton lead the Clinton-Giustra Enterprise Partnership, an integral part of the Clinton Foundation. Giustra has additionally donated $25m to the Clinton Foundation.
Giustra sought to sell his stake in uranium reserves that included ore deposits in Western Pindostan, Hillary Clinton as sec state approved the sale, and in one fell swoop, 20% of Pindostan’s uranium ore was sold to the Russian state atomic agency. During the pending sale, the Podesta Group represented Giustra’s company and tried to advance the transaction.
We do not expect to read about the Podesta lobbying relationship with Russia’s largest bank in such truth-seeking publications as the NYT or WaPo.