Burisma Holdings Limited is a Cyprus-registered natural gas company operating in Ukraine and Kazakhstan founded in 2002 by Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.
John Christmas, exiled whistleblower from Latvia’s Parex Bank
Burisma has been in the media this year because of revelations that it was paying huge director fees to Robert Hunter Biden, son of former US Vice President and current leading candidate for US President Joe Biden. Since there was no legitimate business purpose for paying so much to Hunter Biden, many people suspect that the purpose of these payments was to influence Joe Biden.
Whether or not Joe Biden was influenced by these payments is unclear. However what is clear is that Burisma connects together a spider web of questionable dealings involving Latvian banks.
Zlochevsky was a businessman and a civil servant in Ukraine at the same time. He served as Natural Resources Minister under Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and as National Security Council Deputy Secretary under President Viktor Yanukovich.
Investigations into Zlochevsky’s activities outside Ukraine began in 2014. The United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office froze a UK bank account linked to him and Serhiy Kurchenko. Deutsche Bank reported money flowing from Zlochevsky’s Cyprus companies to the Latvian branch of Ukraine’s Privatbank.
Why Latvia? Perhaps this is because the Latvian government has been protecting a circle of Russian and Ukrainian offshore banks for nearly three decades. Latvia is cooperative adopting anti-money-laundering laws as requested by Europe and the United States however doesn’t enforce those laws. None of the big money launderers in Latvia have been prosecuted.
Azarov, Yanukovich, and Kurchenko have all been in Russia since the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution and Ukraine has issued arrest warrants for them. Ukraine says it cannot find Zlochevsky however rumors are that he lives in Monaco and has citizenship from Cyprus.
BALTIC INTERNATIONAL BANK
Now it has been learned that a former CIA official Joseph Cofer Black not only serves on the board of Burisma, but also serves on the board of Latvia’s Baltic International Bank. Baltic International Bank has been linked to Russia’s Boris Berezovsky, Belarus’ Aleksander Lukashenko, and Kyrgyzstan’s Maxim Bakiyev.
But what’s more interesting is that this is a connection to other banks in Latvia which form the Latvian Proxy Network which originated just as Latvia was supposedly becoming independent from Russia. Parex Bank received the first FX trading license from the USSR and Baltic International Bank received the second.
BLUE STAR STRATEGIES, PAREX BANK, ABLV BANK
Parex Bank of Latvia hired Sally Painter from Blue Star Strategies to lobby in Washington in the early 2000’s. The fear was that Parex might get blacklisted by the US Treasury since Parex was caught involved in many corruption scandals and also most of Parex’s deposits were originated in Russia and Ukraine and held in the names of shell companies.
Blue Star Strategies’ first challenge was to discredit the Parex whistleblower (myself) who began distributing information that Parex was a fraud in 2004. The Latvian American Financial Forum run by Aivis Ronis and funded by Baltic International Bank helped Blue Star Strategies. This was a success in the sense that Parex was able to borrow over a billion euros after the whistleblowing and before giving its liabilities to Latvian taxpayers in 2008 thus crashing the national economy.
Latvia gave Painter a high state award, supposedly for helping to rescue Latvia from the United States and Sweden which, according to them, caused Parex to collapse even though evidence shows large transfers of cash from Parex to Russian mobsters.
But the story didn’t end there. Parex clients and staff switched to Ukio Bank of Lithuania, ABLV Bank of Latvia, and Citadele Bank of Latvia.
Ukio, which employed the same Head of Compliance from Parex named Arnis Lagzdins, was caught processing huge payments from oligarchs to Vladimir Putin’s cellist until Ukio was looted in 2013.
And, Blue Star Strategies was hired by the Latvian government to protect ABLV Bank from getting blacklisted by the US Treasury. For example, Blue Star Strategies and the Latvian government were caught secretly commissioning an article by Anders Aslund from the Atlantic Council praising ABLV. This was just before ABLV was blacklisted in 2018 for helping Kurchenko to loot Ukraine.
Lagzdins was by this time also in Washington helping Blue Star Strategies, now as a representative of the Latvian financial regulator and protected with a diplomatic passport.
Simultaneously, Blue Star Strategies was also lobbyist for Burisma. Burisma signed an agreement with the Atlantic Council whereby Burisma gave money to the Atlantic Council supposedly for cooperation fighting against corruption.
Hopefully light will be shed on the connections between Burisma, Hunter Biden, the Atlantic Council, and Latvia since the FBI is currently investigating and Blue Star Strategies has been subpoenaed.
CITADELE BANK AND TIM COLLINS
Now in 2020, Citadele Bank with the remainder of former Parex clients and staff continues soliciting offshore clients from Russia and Ukraine. Supposedly, Citadele is clean because it is partly owned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and partly owned by an investor group led by American Tim Collins.
Originally, the investor group included former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker who passed away last winter. Citadele was giving signed Volcker books to inquisitive journalists to give confidence that Citadele had high integrity. We will never know whether Volcker knew what was really going on at Citadele.
More recently, Collins has been involving former US Secretary of State John Kerry in dealings in Eastern Europe, possibly planning to use Kerry as a front for future investments since Volcker is no longer available. Kerry, like Biden, is a top figure in America’s Democratic Party.
EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT (EBRD)
Latvia supposedly proved that Parex had not been looted and that the whistleblower information was fake in 2009 by inviting the EBRD to conduct due diligence on Parex. The EBRD announced that Parex was valuable and bought a stake. However, in 2010, it was revealed that actually half of Parex assets were bad including the ones flagged in the whistleblowing. And, in 2014 Latvia reversed the EBRD privatization, revealing to the public that the 2009 deal included a secret reversion that had been designated as a ‘state secret.’
At the same time, Ukio in Lithuania was looted and another whistleblower said that EBRD transactions with Ukio were completely fraudulent and similar to Parex. Nobody will investigate.
And most recently in 2018, a Eurostat report revealed that the 2010 sale of a stake in Citadele to the EBRD was also fake and will be reversed. As of 2020, it has not been reversed yet. The Latvian government is still secretly paying money to protect the Russian offshore bankers while publicly claiming to fight against them.
Bankers from Deutsche, Nomura and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena are in prison today for doing something similar. That cover-up generated a lot of media attention while the media remains silent about the similar and still-ongoing EBRD cover-up, which interestingly also involves Nomura.
CALL TO ACTION
The details of what went on in Russia, Ukraine, and Latvia with all the corrupt money flowing around for thirty years would take a lot of investigative work to uncover.
However one thing is easy to fix: the EBRD racket of getting secretly paid to pretend to invest in banks should be publicly exposed and shut down. All it takes is for any well-known journalist or any one of the 69 countries that invest in the EBRD to demand (1) a full list of all EBRD investments that were fake because the EBRD was secretly paid to make the investments and (2) a full list of all people receiving consulting fees from the EBRD.
It’s possible to wipe away this spider web of corruption and restore some integrity to the democracies and economies of many countries.