Felix Sater's New Cross Complaint - Part One

(This new complaint filed this month is receiving virtually no media attention. Special shoutout and hat tip to Margot Cleveland who did cover this new filing. Also, this compilation of research has pulled from terrific work already completed by @OptimisticCon, @wakeywakey16, and @MonsieursGhost.)



By the time January 2021 rolled around, the United States was distracted by the pandemic, and most of the so-called official story of 2016 foreign election interference appeared to have been told. The Mueller team's investigation had completed and their report had been published for well over a year, the Senate had released their fifth and final report, and the country was transitioning to a new President. The only piece remaining was John Durham being appointed to "evaluate whether the government’s intelligence-gathering efforts in the early stages of the probe were legal and appropriate." However, when Christopher Steele's FBI 302 was unsealed this same month it held an interesting surprise: a hidden morsel of interesting information which reignited curiosity towards the 2016 events. Felix Sater learned his name was mentioned by Steele to the FBI and Steele's company Orbis was involved with Kazakhstan, BTA Bank, Cyprus, and efforts against Ablyazov for an undetermined amount of time. For unclear reasons, it took over 1,200 days to learn Steele's company had also been involved in this years-long saga, same as Arcanum Global (a private intelligence firm based in Switzerland).


A new cross complaint filed by Felix Sater's legal counsel on February 3rd is alleging the Kazakhstan parties behind BTA Bank (Karim Massimov and Kenes Rakishev) played a role during and after the 2016 election by targeting Sater with an espionage campaign. Due to this alleged "double game" Felix Sater is saying they played, they would have gained "access to confidential information about Sater, his contacts around the world, his dealings with Donald Trump, and many other subjects." All during the 2016 election.


While this could sound fantastical years later in 2022, there is actually quite a bit of circumstantial open-source information available to call into question what role Kazakhstan and the players behind BTA Bank did play, along with Russia, in interfering in the 2016 election. There is established reporting of Kazakhstan government using spying tools, private intelligence firms, and utilizing spearfishing emails to target journalists, the Kazakhstan oligarch and dissident Muhktar Ablyazov, along with his family and acquaintances. What is actually incredible now is to research all of this and be able to clearly point out where the mainstream media may be missing out on a pretty big story. It has only been a little over a year now since Christopher Steele's 302 was made public, but the alleged BTA Bank fraud and diplomatic, legal, PR, and spying battles between Ablyazov and Kazakhstan have been waging since 2009.


There was no good way to break this down in a chronological detail of how things went down in only one blog post, so in an attempt to make this more manageable it is being broken into four separate parts. The first part will cover highlights of the BTA Bank saga as it took place between 2009-2014, the main Kazakhstan players and events leading up through 2014, the main power groups within the country and connections Felix Sater had made in Kazakhstan, and what events had unfolded in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Russia involving Hunter Biden and Burisma during this period of time. The second part will cover the years of 2015 to early 2019 up until the point before the March 2019 lawsuit had been filed by BTA Bank against Felix Sater. It will cover what had been reported about Felix Sater, Bayrock, BTA Bank, Kazakhstan and more between these years, a warning given at the 2016 BlackHat Conference regarding Kazakhstan government spying, the Mueller investigation and more. The third part will cover the original March 2019 lawsuit period up through 2021, the public release of Steele's FBI 302, Felix Sater changing legal counsel to those with background and expertise in cases involving Kazakhstan, and then working through former high-level Obama officials in an ongoing effort to finally settle the ongoing legal battle. The fourth and final part will review major Kazakhstan events which took place in early 2022, the major points being made in this new cross-complaint, and how the established timeline of events, reportings, and other determined research stacks up against these new allegations, along with how the mainstream media has taken the approach with this new cross-complaint of simply pretending it does not even exist.


BTA BANK


When Kazakhstan's BTA Bank was facing the global financial crisis in 2009, independent auditors reportedly found billions of dollars missing on the books. The oligarch Muhktar Ablyazov, then the majority shareholder and Chairman of BTA Bank, fled the country by 2009 and sought asylum in Europe. The Kazakhstan government, under the decades-long leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, then nationalized the BTA Bank, accused Ablyazov of mass fraud, and poured billions into the Bank from their sovereign wealth fund (Samruk Kazyna) to keep the bank afloat. Repeated deposits of billions were added to the bank's balance to keep it from filing bankruptcy even going into 2012. Consecutive media reporting has made it known a "considerable portion" of Ablyazov's property being sought by BTA Bank was located in Russia, including plots of land development projects and a port. Also, oddly, it was Western banks who "from 2003 to 2008, the likes of Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, ING and others funneled more than $10 billion in loans into Kazakhstan's largest bank, Bank Turalem, as the large Central Asian country enjoyed a growth boom spurred by its rich deposits of oil and natural gas."


Billions of dollars were being loaned to finance "vast real estate projects in Russia and Ukraine, as well as offshore companies with vague business plans and no trading histories to speak of," which strangely seems to means Western banks were pouring billions into Kazakhstan to then shell out loans in Russia and Ukraine which never made sense to the independent auditors as being proper, secured investments. Gary Cartwright wrote in his book regarding Ablyazov's loans, "A Most Wanted Man:" -- they were "largely to entities operating out of mailboxes, holding no collateral and based in offshore tax havens."


Below is a summary of the main Kazakhstan players which may be a helpful reference throughout this four-part series.


MAIN KAZAKHSTAN PLAYERS


Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev - one of the longest-ruling non-royal leaders in the world, having led Kazakhstan for nearly three decades until March 20 2019.


Muhktar Ablyazov - former Chairman of BTA Bank accused of billions in fraud and pursued by the Kazakhstan government


Viktor Khrapunov - ex-Mayor in Almaty; His stepson, Ilyas, married Ablyazov's daughter in September of 2007 and their families merged together; accused along with Ablyazov of crimes in Kazakhstan when they fled to Switzerland


Ilyas Khrapunov - Viktor's stepson and Abyazov's son-in-law; Felix Sater was accused of helping him launder money for Ablyazov into the United States


Timur Kulibayev - on board of Gazprom from 2011-2022; appointed Chairman to board of Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund, Samruk Kazyna; also Chairman on Boards of both Kazmunaygas and Kazatomprom


Karim Massimov (pictured with Putin) - Kazakh Prime Minister between 2007-2012 and 2014-2016; Head of Kazakh National Security Committee, Kazakh's intelligence agency


Kenes Rakishev - Kazakh businessman who purchased BTA Bank shares from sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna in February 2014; in contact with Hunter Biden since late 2012; appears to have received direction from Massimov of the Massimov-Kulibayev clan in Kazakhstan


Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured with Rakishev) - Head of Chechen Republic and close to Putin, aka "Putin's Hitman"



Adam Delimkhanov (pictured with Kadyrov) - Russian politician of Chechen ethnicity who has been member of the Russian State Duma since 2007; member of the United Russia


PRE-2014


SATER CONNECTIONS TO KAZAKHSTAN


Felix Sater had connections to Kazakhstan in the years leading up to becoming involved in the Ablyazov-Kazakhstan battle. Tevfik Arif of Bayrock, whom Sater either worked with or for starting back in 2000 or 2001, was connected to the "Kazakh Trio" as well as being born in Soviet Kazakhstan. Sater was also working as an advisor for Fettah Tamince of Rixos and Sembol Construction companies between the years of 2005-2010. Though these two companies were based in Turkey, they have completed quite a few development projects in Kazakhstan.


EVIDENCE OF PRIOR SPYING OPERATIONS


During 2013, France had ordered Mukhtar Ablyazov extradited to Russia. He was hiding out however, and it was private investigators hired by the Kazakhstan government who followed his Ukrainian lawyer, Olena Tyshchenko, after a court hearing in July of 2013 straight to Ablyazov's location. Earlier in May, both Ablyazov's wife and young daughter had basically been kidnapped in Italy and taken to Kazakhstan, so the investigators following Olena in July were surprised to see her drive in the middle of the night, after changing into a short skirt and high heels, to a villa her husband, Sergei Tyshchenko, owned. Her husband Sergei was a former partner of Ablyazov's. However, according to A Most Wanted Man: The Story of Mukhtar Ablyazov written by Gary Cartwright regarding these private investigators, "Through a window, they spotted Mukhtar Ablyazov wearing only his boxer shorts and carefully rearranging the covers of a double bed strewn with lilies." By July 30, the authorities would raid Ablyazov's location and arrest him. Unfortunately for Olena, the following month she would travel to Russia and be arrested there, remaining in custody until early 2014. There is more to this story of Olena which will be picked up later.


KAZAKHSTAN PRIOR SCANDALS


Also prior to 2014, there were other related scandals regarding Kazakhstan. Allegations of certain members of Congress being bribed by Kazakhstan, Kazakhgate, and the infamous sale of uranium assets in the country which came to be known as "Uranium One scandal." As a side note, the Arcanum Global firm started working with the government of Kazakhstan the same year the initial parts of reporting on the Bill Clinton, Frank Giustra, and Urasia Energy story started to come out (2009) and mentioned Ablyazov selling uranium assets.


A 2013 SETTLEMENT


Money being invested into real estate developments in the United States involving the Flatotel and a shopping mall in Ohio resulted in a settlement the last month of 2013. Sater kept over $20 million.


2014


POWERFUL GROUPS IN KAZAKHSTAN


There were several grouped clans in Kazakhstan already clamoring for power and counting down the days until President Nazarbayev would no longer rule the country. By the time 2014 rolled around, the breakdown of power groups within the country was as follows according to a leaked Stratfor email: the Nazarbayev family which included Timur Kulibayev, the Old Guard consisting of "mainly relics of the Soviet era whom Nazarbayev has kept in positions of power around him," a couple of other factions, along with the Kazakh Trio. The Trio consists of Israeli citizen Alexander Mashkevich, Uzbek-born Belgian citizen Patokh Shodiyev and Kyrgyz-born Uzbek citizen Alijan Ibragimov.


One thing to keep in mind regarding Sater's background to Kazakhstan from well before the 2016 election is when Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock employee, had originally filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Bayrock and Felix Sater, he had alleged some of the money supporting Bayrock was coming through Arif's brother and cash accounts from a chromium refinery in Kazakhstan. According to Bloomberg in 2018, "After a court ruled that parts of the complaint had been improperly obtained, Kriss amended it. The latest version dropped the reference to Arif’s brother and the refinery. In 2016, a judge approved the case to proceed under racketeering and other statutes."


Karim Massimov returned back to power in his Prime Minister role in Kazakhstan in early 2014. A WikiLeaks email release from The Global Intelligence Files (2011) contained a briefing on Kazakhstan which highlighted this connection between Kulibayev and Massimov, with Massimov being described as his "right hand man." With Massimov being educated in Beijing, he was balancing policy between China and Russia, yet by 2008 had started to be considered getting closer to Russia. In 2011, not long before 2014, some of the current issues concerning Kazakhstan were listed. Number one was their relationship with Russia.


BTA BANK LINKED RAKISHEV WITH HUNTER BIDEN, DEVON ARCHER, KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA, AND UKRAINE


Several noteworthy events happened in succession in early 2014. On February 6th it was publicly reported another Kazakhstan bank, Kazkommertsbank (KKB), would be purchasing 93% of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank shares along with Kenes Rakishev, each purchasing equal shares of 46.5%. On February 14, 2014, Rakishev was officially announced as Chairman of BTA Bank, the position once held by Muhktar Ablyazov. Also on the same day on the same month, Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of Moscow, wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC bank account for a "consultancy agreement." (Hunter Biden co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners in June 2009 with Devon Archer and Christopher Heinz, according to the Senate Report on Hunter Biden and Burisma.)


Before and after this announcement, violent protests had broken out in Ukraine (Euromaidan) over a decision by then-President Yanukovych to move closer towards Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. By February 22nd, Yanukovych was gone and Russia started its annexation of Crimea the following day. By April 16, Devon Archer had met with then-VP Joe Biden at the White House. Less than a week later, VP Biden had traveled to Ukraine and appeared with Ukrainian PM Yasenyuk. On the same day, Rosemont Seneca Bohai was sent $142,300 through Novatus Holding, whose sole shareholder was Kenes Rakishev. The following day, Archer joined the board of Burisma board and within a couple of weeks, Hunter Biden had also joined.


Per the Senate Report, "At the time of Vice President Biden’s visit to Kyiv, there were divided opinions in Kazakhstan over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the international situation had produced tension in the region generally. Nazarbayev’s government reportedly shifted positions over time, and Nazarbayev reportedly made some statements supportive of Russia’s actions. Given Rakishev’s close connection to political leadership in Kazakhstan, the tense political situation, Hunter Biden’s longstanding relationship with Archer and involvement in transactions with Rosemont Seneca Bohai, and the fact that the payment was timed perfectly with Vice President Biden’s visit to Kyiv to discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Crimea, the April 22, 2014 payment from Rakishev to Rosemont Seneca Bohai raises serious questions. It is unclear why a foreign company, Novatus Holding, would purchase a $142,300 car for Rosemont Seneca Bohai when the company does not deal in vehicles."


RAKISHEV HAD TIES TO CHECHEN HEAD,

RAMZAN KADYROV, CLOSE TO PUTIN


This becomes more complex when you understand Rakishev was connected to Ramzan Kadyrov, otherwise known as "Putin's Hitman," as far back as the mid-2000s which, with some journalistic digging involved, should have been a red flag. Finally, according to reporting by OCCRP in 2020, they were reported as often photographed together. Kadyrov is connected to Adam Delimkhanov, whom he has referred to in the past as being "closer than a brother," with Delimkhanov being elected to the Russian State Duma in 2007 where he remains today. These are some the people connected to this lawsuit between BTA Bank, Rakishev, the city of Almaty (being the Kazakh government) and Felix Sater.


KARIM MASSIMOV MOVED TOWARD RUSSIA,

A REVERSE FROM CHINA DIRECTION


Massimov was referred to in a leaked Stratfor email found on WikiLeaks dated 2011, his alliances with China described as moving towards Kulibayev and Russia:


"Foreign influence in Kazakhstan's political struggles is complex. Neither of the two largest competing forces in the country - Moscow and Beijing - solely controls any of the power circles. Russia decided that instead of backing any one faction or personality, it would strengthen or build ties with all of them. The Kremlin does not care who runs Kazakhstan, as long as the country remains stable and loyal to Moscow. This is not to say that Russia is not attempting to shape the situation behind the scenes; it is making sure its needs will continue to be met.


Beijing took the reverse approach by placing its future power projection into Kazakhstan in the hands of one man: Massimov, the prime minister. During the past year, Massimov saw his position and power wither as a result of his role as Beijing's man in Astana. In joining forces with Nazarbayev's powerful son-in-law Kulibayev, Massimov has pulled back from his loyalty to China, balancing it with loyalty to Kulibayev, the Nazarbayev family and Russia. This does not mean that Massimov will remain ambivalent toward China should Kulibayev win the succession struggle; he genuinely believes in China's future in Kazakhstan. It does mean, however, that China has lost its footing in the midst of Kazakhstan's political and succession struggles."


KULIBAYEV ON GAZPROM BOARD


Timur Kulibayev in 2011 was cozying up to the Russian gas company, Gazprom. He joined their board. (It was only recently in February of 2022 Kulibayev left the board.) In 2011, the Financial Times reported of his addition to the board, "It might be too much to ask Kulibayev to turn back the clock and refuse to export Kazakh gas to China. But he could help Gazprom hang on to the supplies it already has in his country." Yet for unclear reasons other than simply profiting off his father's name and position as Vice President, and apparently not as concerning to our media as a meeting at Trump Tower, Hunter Biden was making deals with Kulibayev-Russian-linked Massimov and Rakishev not long before we entered the 2016 election period.


WHAT WOULD PUTIN HAVE THOUGHT OF THIS PIPELINE DEAL?


At the end of 2014, it was announced there was a deal between Burisma and Kazakhstan Kazmunaygas, therefore becoming "the first company in Ukraine, to develop oil & gas resources in the Republic of Kazakhstan together with the national oil & gas company." Per reporting from Daily Mail, new leaked emails from Hunter Biden's devices left in a computer repair shop in 2019 detail his efforts between Beijing and Kazakhstan to forge a very lucrative deal. These emails document how the now- President's son had teamed up with the former Kazakh prime minister Karim Massimov "to try to pull off a $120 million pipeline deal after similar ventures had faced opposition from Western energy firms." They reported only recently (days following the filing of Felix Sater's complaint):


"Emails from Hunter's abandoned laptop show he traveled to Beijing and Kazakhstan to forge a blockbuster oil deal between the two countries in 2014 and 2015.


Hunter brokered the deal on behalf of a Ukrainian gas firm Burisma on whose board he sat. His role at the firm, owned by an oligarch accused of corruption, is already deeply controversial.


But the involvement of Hunter's Chinese business partners with Burisma adds a new and troubling dimension to his dealings in Eastern Europe – indicating that he was working on a deal that could indirectly further the energy interests of the Chinese government while hoping to collect millions of dollars for himself."


Further down they wrote, "Kazakh and Chinese governments have also talked for years about building a pipeline between the two countries. A previous 1997 agreement stalled over cost worries, but the appetite for massive infrastructure projects was rekindled with China's expansionist 'belt and road initiative' in 2013. So when one of Hunter's Chinese business partners emailed him in April 2014 saying CNOOC wanted to work with them, he saw dollar signs."



Per this new cross complaint, Sater is alleging Massimov began an influence campaign targeting Hunter Biden by 2012. During 2013, Hunter had enlisted in the Naval Reserves, been assigned to a reserve unit in Norfolk, and failed a drug test on Day 1. For undetermined reasons, his failed drug test would have occurred in early May of 2013, but his official discharge date was on February 18, 2014. This was 4 days after the wire from Moscow and Rakishev being named BTA Bank Chairman, the position Ablyazov had held prior to fleeing Kazakhstan.


Kazmunaygas's involvement in the 2014 Burisma deal is notable because of Sauat Mynbayev's involvement with the company. Massimov is also connected to Kazmunaygas and actually received his nickname of "Butcher of Zhanaozen" because of his treatment of workers striking a Kazmunaygas in 2011. Sauat Mynbayev was recently connected to the success of Meridian Capital, or vice versa. "Meridian is among the largest commercial debt and investment sales brokerages in New York. In 2020, it closed about $40 billion in financing with 250 different lenders, according to a court filing." In 2017 as part of the Paradise Papers leak, a focus was put on Meridian Capital: “It was this bank that provided the easy credit that made Meridian an empire that now stretches from the United States to Europe, Africa, Asia, and even Australia,” the report noted. “[The] leak reveals that the group used a large portion of the bank’s deposits to fund project after project. This enabled them to grow quickly, and at little risk to themselves.” Another report by OCCRP detailed a chronology of Meridian’s rise which appeared to closely track successes in Mynbayev’s career: "Meridian was founded in 2002. The following year, Mynbayev was appointed deputy prime minister. In 2006, he took over as head of the Samruk sovereign wealth fund. From 2007 through to 2013, he was charged with ministerial portfolios that gave him ample responsibilities over the country’s energy sector. That role became even more explicit in 2013, when he took over the helm at KazMunaiGaz. 'In these positions, running a business empire fueled by oil would have been unacceptable and possibly illegal,' OCCRP suggested in its report." OCCRP also reported regarding Meridian, "But it wasn’t only Mynbayev who used his power, contacts, and official position to help Meridian grow.According to Appleby data, his fellow co-founders included top executives and shareholders of Kazkommertsbank, the country’s largest private bank. It was this bank that provided the easy credit that made Meridian an empire that now stretches from the United States to Europe, Africa, Asia, and even Australia." (Recall it was Kazkommertsbank which purchased equal shares each with Rakishev in early 2014).


Hunter Biden was warned in 2014 and 2015 he was being targeted by a Russian influence and disinformation campaign but continued these contacts and deals regardless of their ties back to Putin and his recent annexation of Crimea.



This series continues in Part 2.







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