At the end of Part One, Hunter Biden (along with Devon Archer) were in contact with both Karim Massimov and Kenes Rakishev and a pipeline deal had been inked between Burisma in Ukraine and Kazmunaigas in Kazakhstan. Hunter had already been warned he was being targeted with Russian disinformation campaign due to his being on the board of Burisma but his membership with the board continued, as did his monthly payments.
Hunter Biden was also a lawyer with Boies Schiller Flexner LLP during 2014 as he was on the board of Burisma. Matthew Schwartz, a former Manhattan U.S. District Attorney, would join the Boies Schiller law firm by January of 2015. Soon thereafter, Schwartz began representing Rakishev with BTA Bank. He is now a partner at Boies Schiller.
ANOTHER DEATH IN A JAIL CELL
Before the 2016 election campaigning had officially kicked off, Rakhat Aliyev was found dead in his jail cell by an apparent suicide. According to RFERL, "Aliyev had powerful family connections -- he spent years married to Darigha Nazarbaeva, one of the president's daughters who continues to wield considerable political clout -- and spent years in senior posts before his falling-out with the Kazakh leader a decade ago." His problems with Nazarbayev and falling out from the family started in 2007, and this is the same year Felix Sater had attended the wedding between the Ablyazov-Khrapunov families. Aliyev will tie into this story later because for at least 2008, RJI Government Strategies which is another Ron Wahid company, was accused of representing Aliyev without disclosing it. By 2009, they are representing the Kazakhstan government as well as BTA Bank against Ablyazov. We do not find out until 2017, according to Financial Times reporting, Wahid arranged to meet with Ablyazov even though Ablyazov suspected he was already representing his opponents and trying to play a "double game." It is unclear how often this may have been a ploy Arcanum and Wahid used, representing both sides with either side being unaware. It was also not clear why it took eight years to learn Ablyazov had considered using Arcanum Global, or if this disclosure of their meeting back in 2009 came from Ablyazov or from Wahid. Regardless, it may be noteworthy the suspicious suicide death of Aliyev took place the month prior to LitCo being started by Felix Sater, and Magellan being started by Ron Wahid.
LITCO AND MAGELLAN INVESTMENT HOLDINGS
CREATED ON THE SAME DAY
On March 23rd of 2015, a company by the name of LitCo LLC was incorporated in Delaware. Coincidentally, this is the same month leaked emails found on WikiLeaks document Arcanum Global, with Kazakhstan as one of their major clients, contacting Hacking Team (a spying tools firm which was based in Italy), and signing NDAs to discuss HT's spying capabilities. (By May of 2015, a LitCo II LLC was also formed. It is unclear which LitCo is the one which entered into an agreement with Arcanum working on behalf of BTA Bank or if they are connected in any way.)
J.E. Dyer, aka Optimistic Conservative, determined Ron Wahid, the founder of Arcanum Global, had created Magellan Investment Holdings LLC in the UK also on March 23rd. There are also interesting dates noted in there which correlate to the Uranium One scandal -- more on this later.
"ENORMOUS GEOSTRATEGIC STAKES"
This ongoing battle between the Kazakhstan government and Muhktar Ablyazov was being described in the media as having "enormous geostrategic stakes," per a March 2015 quote in Mediapart from Bernard Squarcini, a former head of French secret services. When Mediapart published their article regarding what was going on in the BTA Bank case and quoted him, they reported on Squarcini's journey from heading the French secret services to a private intelligence firm named Arcanum Global:
"Arcanum is a strategic global intelligence firm' based in Zurich in Switzerland and a subsidiary of the American investment group RJI Capital Holding, founded by Bangladesh-born American Ron Wahib. It specialises in economic and strategic intelligence for governments and also employs a former director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Meir Dagan, and the American general and former deputy head of the US special operations command, Joseph DiBartolomeo. One of the firm's most high-profile clients is the Kazakhstan government. Among the many documents released by Kazaword, Mediapart has found hundreds of emails showing that Arcanum AG was part of the war machine put in place by the authorities in the Kazakh capital Astana against Mukhtar Ablyazov, alongside the large law firms also appointed by the Kazakh justice system. It appears from the emails that the company regularly sent “investigation reports” to the judicial authorities in Astana, for which they were handsomely paid. However the contents of these reports themselves cannot be accessed, as they were stored on a secure server."
HACKING TEAM, ARCANUM GLOBAL, SPYING TOOLS,
HACKING & LEAKS, AND KAZAKHSTAN
When the company Hacking Team based in Italy was hacked and their files dumped online, WIRED magazine reported Hacking Team as a "global spying firm run amok." WikiLeaks published these hacked emails and it highlighted Hacking Team's willingness to sell spying tools to many governments who are considered "authoritarian regimes." Kazakhstan was noted as being one of the countries which Hacking Team had sold spying tools. The timing of Hacking Team being the victim of a dump-and-leak only a couple of months following communications between Arcanum Global and Hacking Team may be more than simple coincidence.
Arcanum had proven links to Hacking Team, also. In this WikiLeaks Hacking Team email ID No. 9260, Arcanum is corresponding with Hacking Team in March of 2015 regarding the signing of an NDA with John Baycroft as the Director of Special Projects. To place this in additional context, by April of 2015, VP Joe Biden is pictured with both his son, Hunter, and Massimov and Rakishev. This was reportedly an event of some kind held at Cafe Milano. The hacking of Hacking Team would have taken place by July 5, 2015. Not only did these hacked emails confirm Arcanum Global had been working with Hacking Team at the very least to discuss their capabilities but it was by this point well-established one of their clients was the Kazakhstan government.
WIRED reported in July of 2015 this was considered to be the equivalent of "the Edward Snowden leaks to the surveillance industry." They also reported "the US Department of Commerce's still-evolving export control regulations may still apply to the company," even though it was based in Italy, pointing to two firms who appeared to be reselling the tools in Maryland and California." Another WikiLeaks email ID No. 21672 showed John Baycroft asking for explanation of Hacking Team capabilities. An earlier email (No. 9127) was Hacking Team sending Baycroft their NDA to sign. As far as the Kazakhstan government, email ID No. 21992 reflects coordination in early 2015 for an employee of Hacking Team to visit Kazakhstan and provide a demo to two other Kazakh agencies, noting KNB was already one of their customers. (The Kazakh KNB is basically a spinoff of Russia's KGB from the 90s.)
TechCrunch recently referred to the now-defunct Hacking Team in their reporting regarding a Mexican businessman named Carlos Guerrero who was charged by prosecutors as being a distributor "for an unnamed Italian company, referenced only as Company A in the indictment, which prosecutors said sold hacking devices and geolocation tools. It’s believed that the company is Hacking Team, a defunct Milan-based company that made offensive intrusion tools, which was hacked in 2015 and had internal emails published online, including a trove of messages referencing Guerrero."
Also in the summer of 2015 the hacked and leaked Hacking Team emails placed on WikiLeaks were reported to detail the selling of their spying tools to the FSB. The reporting stated, "Hacking Team appeared to have taken an interest in the FSB initially through NICE, an Israeli company with links to the country’s surveillance industrial complex, in particular signals intelligence agency Unit 8200. NICE seems to have acted as a reseller for Hacking Team’s tools."
A LETTER HARDLY ANYONE TALKS ABOUT
By June of 2015 when Felix Sater, acting behind LitCo, was starting his work with Arcanum, BTA Bank, and Boies Schiller, there is clear evidence these same parties were purchasing or had already purchased and were utilizing spying tools at the same time Donald Trump had announced his campaign for the Presidency. Interestingly, this same month then-candidate Donald Trump had been informed in detail by Felix's lawyers through a hand-delivered letter of his extensive involvement with the United States government, the FBI, and various intelligence agencies. An excerpt of this letter dated June 23, 2015, reads as follows:
"During the many years that Felix was associated with your organization, he benefited greatly from the trust, fondness, and loyalty that you demonstrated towards him, and he very much shares that same fondness for you and your family. That foundation, which he values tremendously, compels me, with Felix's permission, to provide you with specific details, most of which are not public, and are in fact sealed by our government regarding his past, for your knowledge and benefit should any of it be raised by those who would seek to undermine your successful campaign for the Presidency, or use your relationship with Felix against you."
*Bold emphasis mine
So in June of 2015 when Trump had announced his candidacy, Sater had arranged to have this letter (according to him) hand delivered, seemingly warned Trump of potential incoming efforts to smear his reputation during his campaign due to Sater's background and contacts), entered into an agreement with Arcanum Global using LitCo, and then started recovering Ablyazov monies for BTA Bank. Within a couple of months by September of 2015, Felix Sater had started working with Michael Cohen on the Trump Tower Moscow attempt.
(Note: This additional fact and detail regarding Trump being provided this letter by Sater's lawyer, Robert Wolf, was not known until August of 2019 when Sater mentioned it during a podcast interview. The letter itself was not made public until 2021. It can be viewed in full here.)
ARCANUM GLOBAL KAZAKHSTAN WORK COINCIDED
WITH URANIUM ONE REPORTING
Arcanum Global was hired by Kazakhstan in 2009 and may still be working for them today. The private intelligence firm based in Switzerland was started by a man named Ron Wahid. Arcanum at one point listed former President Bill Clinton as its President. It is unclear what level of involvement Bill Clinton had with Arcanum other than being listed here as its President, how and when the involvement started and ended (or if it ever did). This is the only database one can find online which does list his name so there is definite risk this information is inaccurate. However, due to the established links between Ablyazov, Kazakhstan, uranium mining deals, Frank Giustra and Bill Clinton, and Arcanum Global's involvement with Kazakhstan starting in 2009 when the Uranium One scandal started to become public, does make it plausible the Clintons could have some involvement in Arcanum. Calvin Humphrey is also listed as well as noted in this recent filed cross-complaint as having met with Felix Sater numerous times as the 2016 election was ongoing--excerpt below. Also, a leaked 2010 proposal by Arcanum Global detailed both Arcanum's founder, Ron Wahid, as well as Humphrey.
The Arcanum website lists multiple office locations all around the world. Within the United States, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. Headquartered in Switzerland, they also have satellites in Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Manama, Paris, and yep, you guessed it, Nursultan in Kazakhstan.
NOTABLE TIMELINE BY OPTIMISTIC CONSERVATIVE
While this is jumping ahead in our timeline a bit, it is worth noting here OptimisticCon has noted an ex-RJI Government Strategies employee (RJI linked to Wahid and Arcanum) had stated Rakhat Aliyev was an undisclosed client of RJI's in 2008. "[Tanya] Rahall indicated the work for Aliyev was done under a lobbying registration for Speedy Funk Film UND. RJI Government Strategies registered as a lobbyist for Speedy Funk on 7 July 2008." Aliyev was at war with Nazarbayev starting around 2007. By 2009, the Uranium One scandal was popping up in media articles and Arcanum Global had started their Kazakhstan work. As OptimisticCon noted, "there are a couple of eye-opening company-formation dates that hark back to the eye-popping quality of Stephan Roh’s timing with the Severnvale nuclear trading company in the UK, which mirrored key Uranium One dates with preternatural precision."
"6 September 2005: The Clinton/Giustra visit to Kazakhstan, which ultimately resulted in Frank Giustra’s uranium deal
13 September 2005: Ron Wahid created a UK branch of RJI Capital, RJI Capital (UK) Ltd.
19 October 2005: Stephan Roh purchased Severnvale Nuclear Services Limited, a small one-man company created in 2004 to deal in uranium for medical applications."
Stephan Roh has been connected to the Ablyazov fraudulent loans scheme, as well as being the owner of this lucky nuclear services business he started which managed to grow its income exponentially during the years before Ablyazov had to flee Kazakhstan. Per Buzzfeed News, "Previously unreported documents and court papers reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal that Mifsud’s 53-year-old Swiss lawyer, Stephan Roh, controlled dozens of offshore companies that are alleged to have ultimately belonged to Mukhtar Ablyazov. Ablyazov is accused of embezzling billions of dollars from BTA, a Kazakh bank, and laundering the proceeds via a sprawling network of companies through properties and business ventures across the world." This is yet another strange example of how the ABlyazov-BTA Bank case links to Spygate or Russiagate. (Mifsud was the person who came into contact with George Papadopoulos.)
Arcanum has not been secretive over their assistance to the Kazakhstan government, even going so far as to credit themselves with pushing journalistic pieces through these news media organizations relating to their effort against Ablyazov and others: Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, and Reuters, among others. "Arcanum, a Zurich-based company controlled by the US holding company RJI Capital Group, is a private intelligence group that employs many former senior intelligence officials as its consultants. ... Although it does not name its client, Arcanum outlines this type of contract on its website: 'Arcanum has been retained in a major political dispute between a sovereign government and its political foes. Arcanum's investigations have resulted in the tracing of illegal assets worth billions of dollars by one of our clients' opponents."
SPIES ON ALL SIDES
Notably, the original 2015 signed CAA between Arcanum and LitCo was not signed by Sater himself, but by someone named Kalsom Kam. The CAA also expressly provided that "Litco would not identify or produce to Arcanum any potential witness who has an ownership interest in Litco, a provision which Sater apparently believed would prevent him from becoming a witness in the Ablyazov Action." According to what is detailed on CaseText, the "release provision in the CAA provides a waiver of claims by Plaintiffs against Litco and related entities and persons. The provision is broad insofar as it purports to release Litco as well as Litco's "predecessors, successors, direct or indirect parent companies, direct and indirect subsidiary companies, and its past, present, and future officers, directors, shareholders, ..." you get the idea.
Sater testified that "he wanted to hide his affiliation with Litco because, among other things, he feared that Ablyazov and the Khrapunovs had spies and would learn that he was assisting Plaintiffs." It remains unclear why he was not concerned with Arcanum on the other side spying on him.
BRIAN ROSS FELIX SATER SMEAR ARTICLE
Towards the end of 2015, Brian Ross of ABC News published an article which was negative towards Sater and obviously an effort to smear then-candidate Donald Trump. In point 41 in the complaint, it is alleged "fraudulently obtained information" was passed on in 2015 not only to numerous news sources, but to the FBI and DOJ. Brian Ross of ABC News is specifically called out for allegedly being provided "confidential information."
KAZAKHSTAN AND ARCANUM GLOBAL CALLED OUT BY EFF
Interestingly, at the BlackHat Conference in 2016, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) made a presentation which reviewed Operation Manul. They delivered this information on August 4th and said the research had been ongoing for about a year at that point. This would place their involvement around August of 2015.
Kicking things off by reminding their audience where Kazakhstan is located on a map, if you choose to watch the linked YouTube video, this portion of their focus on Kazakhstan, Ablyazov, and Operation Manul, starts at about 11:50 in. One of the presenters for EFF noted Kazakhstan's link to Finfisher spyware. As Vice had reported in their October 2015 article, 'Researchers Find ‘Impossible to Trace’ Spyware in 32 Countries':
"FinFisher sells surveillance technologies to government agencies that allow them to break into a target's computer or phone, and monitor all his or her activities, logging phone calls, emails, or messages."
Around 20 minutes into the presentation, the subject of Kazaword was brought up. If you recall, this Kazaword website had published hacked and dumped emails starting in August of 2014 (perhaps around the time Kenes Rakishev testified he lost access to his accounts) and contained evidence the Arcanum firm had been sending investigative status reports to their Kazakhstan clients. During their presentation at the BlackHat Conference in 2016, EFF specifically called out Arcanum Global as having been hired to be eyes and ears on some of Ablazov's family living in Switzerland and to carry out a "spying and data extraction campaign." This presentation given by EFF was well before the 2016 election and only a few weeks after the news of the DNC hack had been made public.
At this point, it remains unclear in our timeline whether there was any concern or investigation or contact being made at this point in our timeline with the then-Vice President's son, Hunter Biden, regarding his connections to the same players tied to BTA Bank as well as Kazakhstan government spying and spearfishing campaigns identified by EFF. One can only imagine what Vladimir Putin felt about reading of a pipeline deal between Burisma in Ukraine and Kazakhstan as the Russia-Ukraine conflict had been ongoing, knowing Hunter Biden was on the Burisma board.
ARE THERE RECORDINGS OF MEETINGS WITH KAZAKHS AND ARCANUM?
An excerpt from Sater's new filed complaint states he attended meetings with both Ron Wahid and Calvin Humphrey as the 2016 election was ongoing, and as we also know, he was in discussions over another attempt to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow. This new complaint is also saying he has recordings from these meetings. Notably, we learned from the reply to this cross-complaint by BTA Bank legal counsel, Matthew Schwartz, he was not engaged as the legal counsel for the Kazakhs until after the CAA had been signed, and he did not hold his first meeting with Felix Sater until Election Day 2016. It remains unclear why Sater had only met with Kazakh parties and Arcanum parties between mid-2015 until close to the end of 2016.
ONGOING MEDIA LINKS TO KAZAKHSTAN, FELIX SATER, AND TRUMP
During the latter part of the 2016 election here were numerous articles linking Felix Sater, Donald Trump, Bayrock, with a handful of them mentioning Kazakhstan. In August, Politico had reported: "Sater’s business relationship with Trump has been the subject of sworn testimony by both men and has come under scrutiny because of Sater’s past associations and the Trump campaign’s unusual stances on Russia." They were reporting on a trip Sater made to Trump Tower that month and his contributions to Trump's campaign "come at a time when Trump’s pro-Russian stances, his relationship with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and his campaign’s role in softening the Republican Party’s support for Ukrainian resistance to Russian incursions in its territory have all brought the New York billionaire’s ties to Russia under intense scrutiny." His spokeswoman was quoted saying they were unaware of a contribution or a visit. His lawyer, Alan Garten, was reported as saying the Trump Organization was not seeking business in Russia. In October, The Financial Times reported their investigation "found evidence that one Trump venture has multiple ties to an alleged international money laundering network." Notably, in the middle of October right before the 2016 election, Forbes reported on the fact the Kazakh Trio, linked to Tefvik Arif of Bayrock, had been accused of criminal activity like bribery and money laundering. This is interesting because according to Open Source Investigations and a professor at George Washington University prior to Ablyazov having to flee Kazakhstan, one of the major power struggles was between Bulat Utemuratov and the so-called Kazakh Trio. Their reporting stated, "According to Professor Sebastien Peyrouse from George Washington University, who wrote an extensive study on the neopatrimonial regime in Kazakhstan, since the 1990s, two circles of senior officials have been in competition with one another as the representatives of differing, sometimes contradictory interests. One circle is led by Bulat Utemuratov; the other one comprises, among others, Chodiev, Ibragimov and Mashkevich. 'The competition between these two networks is structured around the mining sector. Utemuratov’s relations in this sector rival those of Mashkevich, whose ENRC also works in African markets, the stomping grounds of Glencore […]. In publicly formulating this competition, Utemuratov played the card of Kazakh nationalism, and hoped to assemble under his leadership Kazakh oligarchs opposed to the predominant role of non-Kazakhs. This alliance included Mukhtar Ablyazov before he fell into disgrace—whereupon Utemuratov then bought out much of his business and communications empire.'"
SATER'S HISTORY WITH MONEY LAUNDERING
At this point you may still be wondering how Sater could have possibly helped recover Ablyazov monies with this company he formed, LitCo. Here is a reminder of his background and experience assisting the FBI with money laundering network investigations and his understanding of financial crimes. Below is an excerpt from his unsealed PSR which detailed the work he did between the years of 2004 to 2008 followed by an excerpt from the new cross-complaint. Take special note of the fact Cyprus and Turkey are mentioned along with Russia.
"PERHAPS THE MOST REMARKABLE BATTLE
THE SECRETS INDUSTRY HAS YET FOUGHT"
The spy vs. spy battle involved with the BTA Bank case was described in September of 2017 by the Financial Times as "...perhaps the most remarkable battle the secrets industry has yet fought," and they reported it as spanning four continents. At this point due to their reporting we had learned that Arcanum Global had made "$3.7m for work up to the end of 2012 alone."
To place this into context, when that particular FT article was published in September of 2017 regarding Ablyazov and Wahid sizing each other up way back in 2009, Felix Sater was already over two years into assisting Arcanum Global, BTA Bank, and Boies Schiller in recovering some of these billions. Robert Mueller had only been in his Special Counsel role for four months at this point and Christopher Steele was in the process of showing this presentation to the FBI which was authored by Arcanum and given to Steele by an American journalist.
This point makes the fact Christopher Steele told the FBI, according to his 302, his company was involved in Kazakhstan and Cyprus-related work and showed them a presentation authored by Arcanum, all the more important. This presentation specifically made accusations noting Ablyazov, Felix Sater, pyramid schemes, RICO, and more. It is unclear what was meant in the reference to a "corrupt American official." The fact Steele's company was somehow connected to this ongoing case did not become an established fact or known to Felix Sater until Steele's 302 was made public in January of 2021. It had been sealed for the remainder of 2017, all of 2018, 2019, and 2020.
When the Financial Times wrote about the feud between Ablyazov and Kazakhstan involving BTA bank in September of 2017, this is how the founder of Arcanum, Ron Wahid, was described:
"Wahid already knew something of the baroque power struggles that spill out of Kazakhstan, a resource-rich Central Asian expanse of nomads and billionaires that forms a strategic fulcrum between Russia and China. Arcanum’s previous clients had included Nazarbayev’s estranged son-in-law. An Ablyazov associate who attended some of the meetings recalls that Wahid 'says he knows everybody in the Kazakh elite'. Wahid — a portly man who travels by private jet, mixes with the glitterati and says some of his staff enjoy 'above-top-secret' security clearance from the US government — belongs to a booming industry. It extends from CIA contractors to masters of propaganda, from the offshore accountants who launder ill-gotten wealth to the sleuths who try to follow the money."
"Half a dozen private investigators and lawyers with knowledge of Wahid’s work describe a man who cultivates an air of mystery but whose own intelligence credentials are unclear. One US intelligence operative who has encountered Wahid says he was 'stone cold CIA' but a former spy who has heard him discuss intelligence matters is sceptical: 'He likes to say he’s an ops guy, but the way he talks, you can tell it would never have been like that.' Another person with deep connections in the CIA and other US agencies says Wahid is 'known to people in the intelligence community' but suggests that his access is partly the result of his largesse. Wahid’s recent political donations include $376,580 to Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and $100,000 towards Donald Trump’s inauguration. In a 2015 corporate filing, Wahid describes himself as an 'entrepreneur'.”
Two months prior to Christopher Steele showing this Arcanum Global presentation to the FBI, a different July 2017 FT article briefly spoke to Matthew Schwartz, the lawyer with Boies Schiller who has also represented both Devon Archer, Kenes Rakishev, and BTA Bank. Boies Schiller is also the law firm Hunter Biden worked for until 2014. Schwartz is not directly quoted but the reporting stated, "The alleged Kazakh launderers, not the US president or Mr Sater, are the main focus of the investigation, said Matthew Schwartz of Boies Schiller Flexner, a US law firm working on the probe." Two months later, Steele is telling the FBI his company had been working on Kazakhstan and Cyprus-related BTA Bank work. He has a presentation from Arcanum, a company linked to Bill Clinton, targeting Felix Sater when Schwartz had recently been quoted saying Felix Sater was not the main focus of their investigation. As the lawyer in the midst of this, it seems likely to assume he was also aware Arcanum had been paying Sater i.e. LitCo for over a year at this point. After all, we now know he met Felix Sater for the first time on Election Day 2016. (Keep in mind though Arcanum was not Schwartz's client. He only represented BTA Bank, which was Rakishev, and right-hand man to Karim Massimov. It was Arcanum whom were working for the Kazakhstan government and BTA Bank.)
Also in the month before Steele would interview with the FBI and only a few months into Mueller's investigation, NY Mag The Intelligencer would name Felix Sater "The Original Russia Connection" and describe digging into Sater and his background as "an obsession of the many investigators — professional and amateur — searching for Trump’s Russia connection." They reported after Sater had left Bayrock by 2010, he had formed "a new company called Swiss Capital, also on the 24th floor of Trump Tower. He shifted his activities to Europe, working on coal and oil deals in Kazakhstan, hotel projects in France and Switzerland."
It would take another 18 months (Sept 2017 - March 2019) before BTA Bank would make these money laundering allegations regarding Felix in their initial filing.
It would take an additional 22 months (March 2019 - Jan 2021) for the information regarding what Steele had told the FBI to become public.
SWIRLING RUMOR ABLYAZOV WAS TURNING EVIDENCE
AGAINST ONE OF THE KAZAKH TRIO
According to the French Intelligence Online in August 2017 reporting, there were rumors Ablyazov had been in contact with the Belgian parliamentary commission whom were investigating what was referred to as their Kazakhgate scandal. This was followed up by other reporting in November of 2017 like the one below posted by @WendySiegelman suggesting the same.
BUZZFEED NEWS EXPOSE ON FBME BANK IN CYPRUS
The Mueller team's investigation was only months old when Buzzfeed News reported FBME Bank, doing most of its business in Cyprus, "had been accused by the US government of allowing money laundering on a vast scale for terrorists, drug traffickers, repressive dictators, organised crime groups, and financiers for the Syrian regime – and now it faced being barred from using the dollar. The lion’s share of the bank’s business came from highly secretive Russian clients who relied on FBME to funnel their money into the global financial system without asking too many questions – and the dollar ban threatened to destroy it with a single stroke." At this point, the same FBME bank had been associated with the Ablyazov and BTA Bank case, with the bank accused of assisting in the covering up of stolen monies for Ablyazov. "Some of the illicit funds were wired with the alleged assistance of lawyers through accounts held at FBME." According to Buzzfeed News, "FBME’s owners said in a letter sent through a London law firm that they were 'the innocent victims of an organised defamatory campaign' orchestrated by 'corrupt individuals within corporate and state bodies' who had misled the American government into shutting the bank out of the US." Buzzfeed reported the bank had been "digging into FBME's dollar transactions dating back seven years, and claimed to have identified suspicious movements worth $1.3 billion. The bank hired private investigators to 'dig into what lay behind FinCEN's move against the bank.'" Nearly 2/3 of the bank's business was in dollar transactions so the dollar ban against the bank would ensure "the bank would no longer be able to move the funds it harboured for its shadowy clients into the Western financial system. That would render its services all but useless."
NOT A RUSSIAN ASSET
In March of 2018, the Mueller investigation was not quite a year old. Buzzfeed News came out with a profile on Sater which provided eye-opening details but did not do much to change public perception. Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier reported on how Felix Sater was being portrayed as something just short of a Russian spy, but he was actually spying for the United States. "For the first time, BuzzFeed News has verified the surprising sweep of Sater’s undercover work and many of his specific exploits. He worked as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) and tracked Osama bin Laden. Then he worked for more than a decade for the FBI, providing intel on everything from the mob to North Korea’s drive for nuclear weapons. He still operates as a source for the bureau, according to two current FBI agents."
During the same month, Courthouse News reported Matthew Schwartz, BTA Bank's lawyer from Boies Schiller, had "sought to compel Wells Fargo bank to produce documents detailing the Khrapunovs’ investments in one of three Trump Soho condominiums from the Bayrock/Sapir Organization, co-owned by Trump’s former business associate Felix Sater."
Arcanum continued to pay LitCo throughout most of 2018, which is interesting. By this time, we know BTA Bank lawyer Matthew Schwartz had already met with Sater by Election Day 2016, media reporting had already linked Khrapunovs and Ablyazov to Sater and Trump since late 2016, and basically we are just expected to believe they were paying a company all this time and did not know who they were paying. An intelligence firm being used occasionally by our U.S. government whose specialty is to know what's going on were supposedly telling the Kazakhstan players they were using their money to pay a company named LitCo and didn't know who they were paying for two years. That's their story and they are going to stick to it.
Allegations coming from BTA Bank, Kazakhstan, were still being used in the media during 2018 as a means to smear both Sater and Trump with no investigative reporting done whatsoever regarding who was actually behind BTA Bank, what the history of their vendetta against Ablyazov was the previous years leading up to the 2016 election, their use of private investigative firms and usage of spying tools, or if there was any connection to Moscow. Putin. Considering Kazakhstan is their neighbor. But none of that happened.
This series continues in Part 3.