Typically this wouldn’t be too big of a deal… I mean people transfer money all the time, right? The FBI found 60 money transfers which were sent by the Russian Foreign Ministry to their various embassies around the world… no big deal!
OH WAIT! Except they were labeled “to finance the election campaign of 2016.
“On Aug. 3 of last year, just as the US presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian foreign ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington. The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy’s Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: “to finance election campaign of 2016.”
That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the US election. The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000, each came from the Russian foreign ministry and most contained a memo line referencing the financing of the 2016 election.”
I want to know who the checks were addressed to.
“The money wound up at Russian embassies in almost 60 countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria between Aug. 3 and Sept. 20, 2016. It is not clear how the funds were used. At least one transaction that came into the US originated with VTB Bank, a financial institution that is majority-owned by the Kremlin.”
What we know about VTB Bank is that it was sanctioned in 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department, because of that situation where Russia annexed Crimea. Those sanctions blocked the bank from raising capital or accepting loans from American companies or individuals.
“After discovering the $30,000 transfer to the embassy in Washington, Citibank launched a review of other transfers by the Russian foreign ministry. It unearthed dozens of other transactions with similar memo lines. Compliance officers in Citibank’s Global Intelligence Unit flagged them as suspicious, noting that it was unable to determine the financial, business, or legal purpose of the transactions.”
“Much as checks include a memo line, wire transfers often include a note that states what the money is for. The note on this set of transfers does not indicate what election the money was to be used for, or even the country. Seven nations had federal elections during the span when the funds were sent — including the Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, on Sept. 18, 2016. Russian embassies and diplomatic compounds opened polling stations for voters living abroad.”
“At the end of September the FBI was turned on to the money transfers and began their investigation into just how the money was sent, who sent it, and what it was used for.”