Paradise Papers Day!

I didn’t get to work on the site much today, but the news sure didn’t wait up for me. The Paradise Papers are eventually going to work their way in to a lot of this site’s pages.

Anyway, these stories from today (or that I just happened to come across today) will eventually make it into the full timeline:

Politico: Wilbur Ross’s aide at the Commerce Department, Wendy Teramoto, served on the board of Navigator Holdings while Ross was Secretary of Commerce

NY Times: The Paradise Papers revealed that the Bank of Utah and the Appleby law firm worked together to create opaque aircraft trust arrangements for wealthy customers. These trusts allowed them to secretly obtain American registrations for their aircraft (which requires US citizenship or residency), and to avoid certain European taxes. Among those who utilized these aircraft trusts was Russia’s richest oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally, Leonid Mikhelson. In Mikhelson’s arrangement, Mikhelson had a company he owned in Belize use a subsidiary it owned in the Cayman Islands, use a subsidiary it owned in the British Virgin Islands, create a new company in Panama to purchase a $65 million jet, and record the purchase in the Isle of Man to avoid EU taxes. The Panama company then entered into a trusteeship with the Bank of Utah, enabling the trust to register the jet in the US since the trustee, the Bank of Utah, is a “citizen” of the US.

Actually I don’t think this story fits in. It’s interesting! But even though Mikhelson’s Novatek company, and his business partner Gennady Timchenko are subject to US sanctions after the Ukraine actions, I’m not seeing how it’s related to the US election interference in any way.

Guardian: The Paradise Papers revealed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acted as the director of Exxon Neftegas, a US-Russian oil firm. The firm was based in the Bahamas to avoid taxes. It does not appear that Tillerson disclosed this relationship to the White House. Tillerson currently owns $218 million of Exxon stock, and has an Exxon pension worth about $70 million. The 2014 US sanctions in response to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine caused a very large joint venture between Exxon and Rosneft, called “Kara,” to collapse. At Exxon’s 2014 annual meeting Tillerson said, “we do not support sanctions.” If the trump administration lifts the sanctions, Tillerson stands to benefit substantially, since the Kara joint venture could resume.

To me, the Paradise Papers revelation is actually a smaller part of this story. This is about the biggest conflict of interest I’ve ever seen.

Daily Beast: Right up until the time of the 2016 election, Michael Flynn followed five Twitter accounts based out of the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based company controlled by the Kremlin that employed trolls to push fake news and propaganda via social media. At least three times within a month of the election, Flynn retweeted those trolls’ propaganda.

I have a bazillion articles on trolls and social media… this is going to end up being a major part of this site’s content… eventually.

Business Insider: CIA officials reportedly suspect CIA director Mike Pompeo of being motivated to shield Trump from the Russia investigation.

Associated Press: After CIA director Mike Pompeo falsely claimed that US intelligence agencies had concluded that Russian interference did not affect the results of the 2016 US presidential election, the CIA issued a statement to correct Pompeo’s error. “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed, and the director did not intend to suggest that it had.” In fact, the US intelligence assessment had stated, “We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

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