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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Seychelles connection

by digby

Aaaaand, there's more. Via the Daily Beast, this is being reported by NJ. com as an exclusive. If it's true, it's pretty amazing:
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating previously unreported meetings in the Seychelles that included several foreign power players, according to an investigation by NJ.com. The January 2017 meetings were attended by "foreign influencers" from countries like “Russia, France, Saudi Arabia and South Africa,” and were "part of a larger gathering" hosted by United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, according to the report. Several of the meetings occurred around the same time as an already-reported gathering between Blackwater’s Erik Prince, Russian businessman Kirill Dmitriev, and the crown prince. That meeting was brokered by George Nader, who has been of interest to Mueller. Flight records show that people in the Saudi financial system, and others holding passports from Egypt and Singapore flew into the Seychelles in the second week of January. Alexander Mashkevitch, an “alleged financier of Bayrock, an investment vehicle linked to Trump,” was also reportedly on the islands during that time period. Nader flew to the islands on January 7, and Dmitriev flew in on January 11. Mueller has been expanding the scope of his investigation to look at the relationships that Trump and his associates may have had with foreign funds in the years running up to the election.
This information seems pretty specific:
Flight records and financial documents obtained by this reporter over twelve months, as well as interviews with parliamentary and aviation officials in the Seychelles, paint a scene out of a Hollywood thriller.

Wealthy and politically-connected individuals from across the globe -- from Russia, France, Saudi Arabia and South Africa -- land in the Seychelles for meetings that take place as a part of a larger gathering hosted by MBZ, according to an individual briefed on the matter, who also requested anonymity. Many of them fly in on private jets and several do not clear customs. Some check into the Four Seasons Hotel while others arrive and stay on their yachts.

Individuals connected to the Saudi financial system, including the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and the Arab National Bank, flew into the island the second week of January 2017, as did an aircraft purportedly owned by the former deputy minister of defense, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, fight records show. Other individuals on those aircraft held passports from Egypt and Singapore.

Dmitriev flew into the Seychelles Jan. 11, 2017 with his wife Natalia Popova and another woman with the last name Boldovskaia. Six other Russian individuals flew to the island just a few days after Dmitriev. The aircraft's ownership is unclear but it flew between Russia, Geneva and Cyprus in 2017.

Others on the island included Alexander Mashkevitch, an alleged financier of Bayrock, an investment vehicle linked to Trump, and Sheikh Abdulrahman Khalid BinMahfouz, according to flight records. BinMahfouz's father, before his death, was a billionaire and the former chairman of Saudi Arabia's first private bank.

Nader travelled to Seychelles Jan. 7, 2017 and again on March 24 on an aircraft with the tail number VP-CZA, flight records show. The aircraft is registered to Gryphon Asset Management, an aviation consulting company based out of Dubai.

Nader is a well-known advisor to the UAE with links to Dmitriev and members of the Saudi Royal family. He has attended meetings at the White House with Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner in the past, according to the Times, and has also been linked to Trump fundraiser and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee Elliot Broidy.

The Associated Press reported last month Nader sent Broidy $2.5 million through a Canadian company. Broidy then began giving donations to members of Congress who were actively supporting legislation critical of Qatar, the AP reported.

The previously reported meeting in the Seychelles between Prince, Dmitriev and MBZ was described as an attempt by the U.S. to set up a backchannel with Russia. The Post reported that Blackwater founder Erik Prince, an informal adviser to the Trump team, acted as a representative of the administration in the meeting with an unnamed Russian individual.

Later, this reporter broke the news in The Intercept that Prince had met with Dmitriev -- the head of the sovereign wealth fund with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prince admitted in a congressional testimony earlier this year that he had met Dmitriev on the island, but said it was a chance meeting.
There's more here.

This reporter seems to have some interesting sources. Stay tuned.