The FBI has raided two homes in New York and Washington DC linked to Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska. The entrepreneur himself called them the “outrageous stupidity” of the American establishment. The reasons for the searches are still unknown, but they are probably related to the investigation of the case of corruption and the involvement of Russians in bribery of officials during the election campaign of former US President Donald Trump.
Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska said about the prohibitive stupidity of the American establishment, spinning the tale of “Russian interference” in the 2016 US presidential election. So the businessman commented on the FBI searches in two houses in New York and Washington, owned by the businessman’s relatives.
“Observing everything that happens in America, I never cease to be amazed at some transcendental stupidity of a part of the American establishment <…> that continues to persistently unleash this story about the allegedly colossal role of Russians in the US presidential elections in 2016. It’s time to admit the obvious: Trump won, of course, not himself! He was helped by these dumb heads from Washington, who so annoyed their electorate that he was ready to vote for anyone (even for an operetta character, but not for the representatives of the Clinton clan mired in bribes). It is convenient for another 10 years to feed your electorate (brought up on Hollywood films about terrible Russians) with all sorts of nonsense, ”Deripaska wrote on Telegram.
As the businessman noted, the facilities in which the American investigators searched were abandoned. He also ironically approached the FBI with a question whether the bureau staff had been able to “refresh themselves with sour jam from the storerooms and a couple of bottles of vodka.”
What are the searches related to?
Information about the investigative actions of the FBI in houses in New York and Washington, connected with Deripaska, appeared on October 19. By the morning of October 20, the investigators completed their work, leaving both sites. According to media reports, many boxes and suitcases were taken from both houses, the contents of which are unknown.
The FBI has not yet named the official reasons for the investigative actions, but Deripaska’s representatives have already announced that the searches were carried out on the basis of two court orders related to American sanctions (restrictions against the businessman were introduced back in 2018).
According to NBC News, the searches may be related to the campaign case of former US President Donald Trump .
This version is based on the fact that Deripaska is a former partner of a close associate of the 45th US President Paul Manafort . He led Trump’s campaign in 2016, but lost his job as head of the campaign headquarters a few months before the election due to allegations of financial fraud.
From the point of view of NBC, the FBI does not exclude the participation of Deripaska’s companies in financing “Russian interference” in the American elections and may incriminate the businessman with charges of bribery of officials and corruption.
At the same time, The Washington Post reports that searches in homes associated with the Russian businessman are being conducted as part of a criminal investigation into Deripaska’s activities. And ABC News, citing sources in the FBI, wrote that the investigators have not yet brought any charges against the entrepreneur.
How a businessman annoyed the United States
The cooperation between Deripaska and Manafort, who has become a defendant in the “Russian case”, cannot be called a sensation. As the businessman himself admitted, he collaborated with the American from 2006 to 2009, but exclusively in business projects without any political overtones. The American media more than once called Deripaska a lobbyist for the interests of the Russian authorities, which was consistently denied not only by the businessman, but also by the Kremlin.
Actually, the interaction with Manafort indirectly linked the Russian businessman with the investigation of the “Russian case”. In 2017, information emerged that Deripaska wanted to provide the US Congressional Intelligence Committee with information on this case in exchange for immunity, but the deal was hampered by new information that the former Trump chief of staff had offered the Russian businessman personal consultations about the election during presidential campaign. Deripaska denied this message, moreover, according to him, during Manafort’s work at the headquarters, the partners were not on the best terms – the Russian businessman sued the American for lack of a report on the use of his funds in the framework of investments in one of the Ukrainian companies.
Deripaska was not brought under US sanctions by cooperation with Manafort. The businessman was included in the “black list” in April 2018, which blocked the assets of his company En + Group and controlled by it Rusal and Eurosibenergo in the United States.
Then the US Treasury identified the entrepreneur as a person who “owns assets and launders money in the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin .”
Deripaska himself is actively trying to challenge the imposition of sanctions in American courts, insisting that the agency’s conclusions are based on tabloid articles and rumors that have no real evidence. So far, the businessman has not been able to lift the restrictions through the court, but in 2019 the entrepreneur was able to get his companies out of the sanctions by reducing his stake in En + Group to 44.95% and refusing to manage the company through the board of directors.
How Deripaska is associated with the FBI
At the same time, the interaction between Deripaska and the United States was not always so negative. On the contrary, in 2008-2009, the businessman even provided assistance to the FBI. The entrepreneur took part in an operation to rescue one of the agency’s agents from Iran under the leadership of FBI Director Robert Mueller .
The businessman used his own funds in the amount of $ 25 million to organize a private search and rescue group, but in the end the operation was thwarted by the State Department , which blocked the deal on the return of the American agent.
Then in 2014-2016, according to The New York Times, the FBI tried to recruit Deripaska as part of a program to cultivate informants in the circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin. As the newspaper wrote, they tried to attract the businessman to cooperation with the help of the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele , the creator of the scandalous dirt on Trump, which actually served as the basis for the “Russian case”.
However, Deripaska’s recruitment failed, and he notified the Kremlin about the attempts of the American side. Subsequently, Moscow accused Washington of recruiting Russian citizens as agents of the American special services.