- Latvian bank hires ex-Trump aide; Dershowitz client accused of evading US sanctions in DR Congo; Iran opposition discloses latest lobbying
A Latvian bank accused of laundering Russian money has hired a former Donald Trump aide to prepare for life after liquidation.
ABLV Bank AS in Liquidation has hired Mercury Public Affairs for “Treasury outreach” as it wraps up a years-long liquidation process that began when the Treasury Department threatened it with sanctions in February 2018. Former Trump campaign and transition Bryan Lanza is the sole lobbyist registered on the account.
Mercury and Lanza had already been lobbying for the bank’s former chairman and major stakeholder, Ernests Bernis, since May 2019. The firm has reported $1.9 million for that work. Read our story here.
US-sanctioned Israeli mining magnate faces new accusations in Congo
An Israeli billionaire represented by President Donald Trump‘s impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitz faces new accusations of illegal activities linked to his mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Global Witness and the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa today accused Dan Gertler of circumventing US sanctions against him via an international money laundering network. The groups say he set up bank accounts at the Congolese branches of Cameroon-based Afriland First Bank.
“Controversial billionaire Dan Gertler appears to have used a money laundering network stretching from Democratic Republic of Congo to Europe and Israel to evade US sanctions against him, funnel millions of dollars abroad, and acquire new mining assets in DRC,” the groups said.
The Afriland bank lodged a complaint prior to the report’s publication alleging “theft of documents, violation of bank secrecy, forgery, slander,” according to a Times of Israel report.
The US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Gertler in 2017, accusing him of using his “close friendship” with then-President Joseph Kabila to strike “opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals.” The department later blacklisted 14 firms linked to Gertler.
Gertler has retained the law firm of Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan to lobby for the sanctions to be removed. Dershowitz is registered to lobby on the account alongside former FBI Director Louis Freeh, Gregory Paw and Gary Apfel, a lawyer who helped convince Trump to commute the fraud conviction of meatpacking magnate Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.
The firm has disclosed $60,000 in payments since registering under the Lobbying Disclosure Act in November 2019. Read more about the latest allegations here.
NEW FOREIGN LOBBYING FILINGS (FARA)
Iran: The opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reported $144,000 in contributions and $98,000 in expenses in the six months through May. The group held multiple interviews with conservative news outlets to press its case for regime change. NCRI, an umbrella group dominated by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), also reported meetings with several former US and international officials:
- Former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield;
- Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge;
- Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood;
- Former International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director-General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen;
- Retired US Army Col. Thomas Cantwell;
- Former US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission Ken Blackwell;
- Former CIA and State Department official Joseph DeTrani;
- Sascha Sheehan, the executive director of the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Baltimore; and
- Raymond Tanter, a former scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The NCRI also reported four meetings with a “subject matter expert at the Atlantic Council,” but declined to name the person.
Marshall Islands: Jeffrey Farrow has registered as a foreign agent for the Republic of the Marshall Islands. A former senior staffer on insular affairs for Congress and the White House, he is registered as a consultant for Akin Gump subcontractor the Oliver Group.
NEW DOMESTIC LOBBYING FILINGS (LDA)
The Tahrir Alnisa Foundation, a Christian nonprofit that defends abused women, stopped lobbying on June 30. The group registered to lobby effective October 2019. Director of Government Relations Anne Basham most recently lobbied Congress and the White House on passage of H. Res. 512, which calls for the global repeal of blasphemy, heresy and apostasy laws, and for the inclusion of religious freedom in S. 3301, the Women’s Global Empowerment, Development and Prosperity Act.