According to the website for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), its mission is supporting democracy and market economies. According to the website of the Atlantic Council, its mission is promoting healthy democratic societies. Both are focussed primarily on the former Soviet countries. However, there is an old saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ that police, regulators, journalists, and activists in the West seem to have forgotten.
The claim that the EBRD and Atlantic Council are fighting to promote democracy is absurd given what they did to Latvia. And now, they could be repeating the strategy in Ukraine.
From reading the mainstream media, you might think that the Latvian government, EBRD, and Atlantic Council are fighting money laundering and that Latvia is an ally for Ukraine. Latvia might be paying hundreds of regulators to study tens of thousands of bank transactions every year, however this doesn’t mean they are fighting money laundering if there are no prosecutions. Latvia might send blankets to poor Ukrainians, however this doesn’t mean Latvia supports Ukraine if Ukraine was looted by government-funded bankers in Latvia.
A leaked 2010 Nomura report showed that the EBRD used fraud to cover-up my 2005 whistleblowing against the embezzlement of the assets of Parex Bank of Latvia. In 2014, the Dutch Parliament (at my request) confirmed that this was true. And then Eurostat and the Latvian government admitted that the privatization of the worthless asset was secretly reversible. The Latvian government reversed the privatization causing itself to lose approximately one hundred million euros on top of several billion euros lost because the bank’s assets were worth far less than book value. Meanwhile, a Spanish court identified Parex as the main money-laundering bank for Vladimir Putin’s Tambovskaya Mafia, a murderous heroin and weapons trafficking organization. Some of the fake assets at Parex were ‘loans’ to people associated with Tambovskaya which were arranged purposefully so that the borrowers would not have to pay back.
None of these revelations had any effect on former Latvian prime minister Ivars Godmanis who has been blaming the United States for the crash of the bank, or former Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis who has been blaming Sweden. The Atlantic Council chose to back the Sweden story, with Atlantic Council fellow Anders Aslund co-authoring a book with Dombrovskis about that myth.
The Atlantic Council’s Aslund then published an article praising ABLV Bank, one of the Parex successors, for fighting money laundering. He did this just before the US Treasury blacklisted ABLV for, among other things, helping to loot Ukraine. That article was secretly commissioned by the Latvian government through Atlantic Council fellow and Blue Star Strategies lobbyist Sally Painter who used to be lobbyist for Parex. I know Painter and after her success covering up my whistleblowing against Parex, she was hired by the Latvian government to protect ABLV.
Other developments were surreal. The Latvian government gave high state awards to Painter and Dombrovskis for saving Latvia even though really they did the opposite. The Latvian government incarcerated a folk singer for twenty months because he protested the Parex looting, which he blamed (correctly) on the Russian Mafia. My whistleblowing was almost completely censored from the media even though the fraud crashed the national economy. In one instance a caller asked a popular journalist during his radio show about my whistleblowing. This is one of the journalists who supports the Dombrovskis story that Sweden caused the economic crash and Dombrovskis bailed out Parex to rescue Latvia from Sweden. The journalist replied to the caller that my name is a joke and I am fake. Then the government gave him a high state award also, for excellence in journalism.
None of this behaviour by the government was rational, on the surface at least. The government could have exposed, sued, and prosecuted the people responsible for the Parex collapse and recovered the lost money. But instead the government spent billions of euros in deceptive ways to protect the Parex fraudsters thus causing economic ruin in the country.
Meanwhile, the underlying fraud continues. The fake EBRD investment in Parex was rolled over into a new investment in the other Parex successor Citadele Bank. A Eurostat report that few people read and fewer people understood mentions that this investment is also due to be secretly reversed and therefore is also fake. The EBRD isn’t paying to invest in Citadele like a normal investor. Instead the Latvian government is secretly paying the EBRD to pretend to invest in Citadele thus causing even larger losses to Latvian taxpayers. The purpose appears to be fooling onlookers that the EBRD has committed itself to Citadele. Most onlookers assume that the EBRD supports transparency and democracy, which explains why Citadele was able to get a USD correspondent account while the other banks in Latvia cannot. Keep in mind that Citadele still has mostly the same employees and clients from the old Parex and ABLV since nobody was prosecuted for money laundering and embezzlement.
While this was going on, a new monster was created in Latvia: OIK. This is a system whereby Latvian consumers don’t pay directly for energy but rather a group of government-selected intermediary companies receive some of the money. OIK uses the same shell company network that was used by the old Parex and was later used by ABLV, Citadele, and Danske Estonia. Hundreds of billions of dollars have flowed through this network which seems connected with the old KGB and Putin’s current government in Russia.
Thus we come to Dombrovskis’ political ally and current Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. He was involved with the 2009 Parex fraud which reversed in 2014 and the 2010 Citadele fraud which has not reversed yet. His party only received 7% of the vote in the 2018 national election however the government disqualified two more popular politicians from being government ministers by declaring that they were unfit to see ‘state secrets’ and therefore Karins became prime minister even though he lost the election. This is a continuation of an old strategy since the government also used the ‘state secret’ law to cover-up the fake Parex privatization for five years. In other words, the government is using false accounting to help oligarchs steal money from taxpayers and is treating this as an issue of national defence.
The two disqualified candidates wanted to shut down the OIK system, however the system continues now because Karins is prime minister. Why does Karins want to continue OIK when it is an obvious corruption scam? Perhaps there is a connection with the mysterious transfer of millions of euros from Cyprus to the prime minister and his wife that seemed to come from Vladimir Silkin, former Chief of the Moscow Property Department and an associate of Putin.
Another disturbing issue is the government’s relationship with Burisma of Ukraine, a gas company created by a Ukrainian government employee who became a billionaire. Burisma transferred money through Privatbank’s subsidiary in Latvia to Hunter Biden’s company Rosemont Seneca. Burisma uses Atlantic Council and Blue Star Strategies to convince Washington that Burisma isn’t corrupt. This is interesting because under Karins’ leadership, Latvia is also using Atlantic Council and Blue Star Strategies to convince Washington that Latvia isn’t corrupt. If Burisma and Latvia aren’t corrupt, then why would they need to pay millions of dollars to convince Washington that they aren’t corrupt?
What does the Atlantic Council have to say about all of that? Nothing. Atlantic Council has been silent about clear evidence of its own corruption. But Atlantic Council has been vocal about a different similar situation. Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz has been plagued by corruption for many years, looted by gangsters loyal to Putin who have used it to undermine democracy and independence in Ukraine. But now, Naftogaz has new financing: from the EBRD! Atlantic Council says this is evidence that Naftogaz isn’t corrupt anymore and isn’t controlled by Putin. How can anyone believe this given what the EBRD was caught doing in Latvia to protect the people behind Parex, ABLV, Citadele, and OIK? Anyway the mythbuilding continues as the Atlantic Council and EBRD flood the media with positive stories about how they are fighting for transparency and democracy.
Latvia and Ukraine
Last but not least, Latvia and Ukraine are both using a new trick to fool the West. Both countries established special courts to combat high-level financial crimes.
International lenders have questioned why massive corruption scams keep getting discovered in Latvia and Ukraine however nobody gets prosecuted. What are the thousands of Latvian and Ukrainian prosecutors doing? Some corruption scams are reported in the media headlines in both countries. Surely the prosecutors must know about those. However there is no action. We only hear words about the ongoing crack-down against corruption which in reality isn’t happening. While struggling to explain to international lenders why they should keep lending more to Ukraine and Latvia even though the money is getting stolen, both governments came up with the same strategy to make it seem that they are having a crack-down. Both countries announced that the big criminals cannot be prosecuted by the existing prosecutors using existing courts (this is not true) and therefore said they must create new special courts (this will give the crooks another couple years to steal more money).
In Latvia, Justice Minister Janis Bordans began creating a special economic crimes court in 2019. The court is just starting operations now however hasn’t done anything yet. Of course Bordans, who was in business partnerships with two of the Russians who received fraudulent loans from Parex at the time Parex collapsed, is aware that creation of a special court was unnecessary because the existing courts could have handled these cases. For example, Bordans knows that the EBRD-Parex and EBRD-Citadele privatizations were both frauds and can be proven in minutes by any court. The West, as usual listening to the words but failing to notice the lack of action, so far is fooled.
This mirrored an effort in Ukraine, which also set up a special economic crimes (‘high anti-corruption’) court in 2019. That court has been hit with legal challenges and hasn’t put any oligarchs in prison. However its existence was used as a rationale for the International Monetary Fund to continue lending more money to Ukraine. This IMF funding is controversial since the oligarchs steal money from Ukraine just as fast as the IMF provides money. This biggest champion of this ‘high anti-corruption court’ is the Atlantic Council. However, like the similar court in Latvia, it isn’t necessary since the existing court system could have been used against the oligarchs and therefore it seems again like a delay tactic. If Atlantic Council really wanted to fix problems, in both Latvia and Ukraine, then it could announce that the EBRD-Parex privatization was fraudulent and allowed Parex activity to move to ABLV Bank which then helped Viktor Yanukovich and Sergei Kurchenko loot Ukraine and all of this taken together is the core criminal racket which has caused impoverishment of both countries over the twelve years since the EBRD-Parex deal was signed.
If the EBRD and Atlantic Council really want to fight Putin’s Mafia including bank embezzlement and money laundering activity thus bringing real democracy to Latvia and Ukraine, then they can prove it by confessing to what they have already done, which anyway is evidenced in documents from Eurostat. This will cripple Putin’s Mafia, not only shutting down Putin’s activities in Latvia and Ukraine but perhaps also leading to investigations of EBRD ‘investments’ in other countries. Actions speak louder than words, and the EBRD and Atlantic Council could take this action any day thus finally accomplishing what they were supposed to have been working on during all these years while lies and cover-ups have flourished.
By John Christmas, exiled whistle blower from Parex Bank of Latvia