The biggest bank in Russia, Skerbank, has hired Tony Podesta to lobby the removal of sanctions put forth by Obama. Tony Podesta is the elder brother of John Podesta, who was the chairman for Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. John Podesta was also chief of staff in Clinton’s White House and special counselor in the Obama White House.
“The New York office of Sberbank CIB indeed hired Podesta Group. Engagement of external consultants is part of standard, business practices for us,” Sberbank said.
Tony Podesta was previously an active lobbyist for the removal of a number of anti-Russian sanctions against the banking sector. These sanctions were imposed on Russia, following the violent, 2014 protests in east Ukraine.
Tony Podesta particularly represented the interests of Skerbank, who wanted to end the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against Russia. And according to a report, Tony Podesta was paid $170,000 over the course of six months last year for his efforts. In total, the Podesta group, founded and chaired by Tony Podesta, received more than $24 million in fees in 2016—mainly from foreign governments.
Because of his work, Tony Podesta is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank—according to Senate lobbying-disclosure forms.
Sberbank and VTB Capital, Russia’s second largest bank, spent more than $700,000 in 2016 on Washington lobbyists in their fight to end the US sanctions against them.
Skerbank was reportedly charged $20,000 a month by the Podesta Group, plus expenses from March 2016 through September 2016.
The two, Russian banks were desperate to remove the sanctions because they were seeing increased, cash shortages because of it. On top of the sanctions, oil prices were plunging. This caused an even greater shortage of cash for the banks.
The banks needed funds and if it wasn’t for the US sanctions they could have legally sought out those funds from American financial institutions. The lobbying campaign targeted Congress and the executive branch. Podesta and other lobbyists arranged at least two meetings between Sberbank officers and Department of State officials.
“The Democrats are sitting there trying to convince us that the Russians are trying to throw the election to Trump,” a congressional aide who requested anonymity and met Teplitskaya told TheDCNF.
“And then they’re with us here in the House and meeting directly with the administration behind closed doors on the issue of the sanctions. The hypocrisy could not be any richer,” he said.
“The discovery of high-profile Democrats like Podesta being paid lucrative fees for lobbying to lift US sanctions on Russia contrasts with charges from Democrats that President Donald Trump and his key aides are soft on Russia while the Obama administration was tough on Moscow.” According to the Daily Caller.
Many of the lobbyists at the Podesta Group share very close personal and business relationships with former leaders. David Adams, one of the lobbyist served closely with Hilary Clinton as assistant secretary of state for congressional affairs. He describes himself on the Podesta Group website as a “trusted adviser” to Hillary Clinton. Another Podesta lobbyist was Stephen Rademaker, a former Department of State official in the George W. Bush administration.
Skerbank and the Podesta Group go way back!
Skerbank and the Podesta group’s relationship isn’t new though. The Daily Caller reported: “Giustra sought to sell his stake in uranium reserves that included ore deposits in the Western United States, and Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state, approved the sale. And in one felled swoop, 20 percent of America’s uranium ore was sold to the Russian state atomic agency. During the pending sale, the Podesta Group represented Giustra’s company and tried to advance the transaction.”