An unbiased authorities watchdog revealed on Monday that companies belonging to a Ukrainian billionaire linked to Russian interference in U.S. elections obtained a complete of US$21 million in small enterprise loans from the U.S. authorities.
Rinat Akhmetov, who has additionally allegedly been linked to organized crime over the course of a number of a long time, obtained the loans via 4 of his coal mining operations, the Challenge on Authorities Oversight (POGO) reported in its investigation.
These loans are a part of the Paycheck Safety Program (PPP) – a complete of $659 billion that has been allotted via the CARES Act stimulus invoice to assist small companies keep their payrolls and different prices.
Not like different small enterprise stimulus applications, the PPP doesn’t require recipients to be U.S. residents, which has paved the way in which for rich international nationals corresponding to Akhmetov to be eligible.
Akhmetov obtained the loans via the United Coal Firm, which racked in an estimated $1.5 billion in gross sales final 12 months, and obtained loans that eclipsed the $13.four million it owes in civil penalties for the reason that Ukrainian billionaire bought the corporate in 2009, POGO reported.
All through his lengthy profession, Akhmetov has by no means been charged with against the law, though he fled Ukraine following the 2005 Orange Revolution to Monaco after being investigated for homicide.
As soon as in Monaco, he contracted the political consulting agency of Paul Manafort, the previous marketing campaign chairman of the Trump 2016 presidential bid, to assist rebrand the celebration of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych from a “haven for mobsters into that of a legitimate political party,” leaked diplomatic cables cited within the investigation present.
After Yanukovych gained workplace, Akhmetov was free to return to the nation.
Extra just lately, the Ukrainian oligarch was named within the U.S.- Russia election interference probe, the POGO investigation reported, saying that the episode “shows how foreign-owned U.S. assets can potentially give foreign powers sway in American politics.”
This was not the one Ukrainian oligarch to have benefited from the multi-billion greenback PPP loan program.
In line with a number of information sources, Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov, the previous house owners of Privatbank, considered one of Ukraine’s largest lenders, who’re alleged to have stolen $5.5 billion from its coffers, obtained small enterprise loans as properly.
A number of the entities that obtained the loans have been a part of the net of shell firms that have been arrange with the intention to switch the funds into the U.S., in line with the Justice Division, which described the scheme as “an international conspiracy to launder money embezzled and fraudulently obtained.”
“It appears to have been within the bounds of the Paycheck Protection Program for these companies, which are the subjects of a federal money laundering lawsuit, to receive loans,” the investigation mentioned.