It looks like the information leak that is presently wreaking political havoc in European power circles may soon reach the United States. According to a new report in The Daily Caller, there is a connection between a major player listed in the Panama Papers and those with close ties to Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
John Podesta is currently the Chairman for the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. From October 1998 to the end of his term, Podesta served as Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff. He’s considered a close confidant and has enjoyed a long professional relationship with the Clintons.
For those who admire him, Podesta is a seasoned political veteran who has a great understanding of the inner workings of The Beltway. To his critics, he’s the perfect illustration of the Democratic establishment.
And now according to the Panama Papers, the lobbying firm he co-founded with his brother can be linked back to the biggest offshore money scandal in history.
Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, is one of the notable clients listed in the leak. All implications are that Sberbank has been a major player in assisting Russia’s billionaire class grow and protect their wealth. At best, the Moscow based financial institution is one of the biggest entities involved in offshore banking (tax havens) through the questionable Panama law firm of Mossack Fonseca.
At worst, Sberbank could be laundering untold millions of dollars for a variety of illicit activities and covert intelligence operations.
As of last month, Sberbank is being represented in Washington by The Podesta Group. Publically, the lobbying firm of John and Tony Podesta was retained to help the bank improve its PR image. However, given Podesta’s position within Camp Hillary and Clinton’s lead in the Democratic race, the timing of the move is suspect at best.
As noted by John Schindler of The Observer, The Podesta Group registered with the U.S. Government as a lobbyist for Sberbank and named three members of staff who will specifically be handling this client: Tony Podesta, Stephen Rademaker and David Adams (it should be noted the latter two men are former State Department employees.)
Now having a foreign company represented by a Washington lobbying firm is not out of the ordinary. Even having members of a candidate’s inner circle associated with that firm need not raise an eyebrow. But Sberbank is not just another foreign company.
Also according to The Observer, many Western intelligence officials are convinced Sberbank is Putin’s bank of choice for money used to carry out all sorts of unofficial operations. Including paramilitary activity like those operations which Russia officially denied coordinating during the Georgia crisis.
With that kind of track record and being named so prominently in the Panama Papers, Sberbank should not be brushed off as just another client of The Podesta Group. Given his key role in the campaign and long-standing relationship with the Clintons, many intriguing questions now surround John Podesta.
It would behoove both himself and Hillary for Podesta to get in front of the issue and offer some public clarifications.
In an election this hotly contested, the possibility of foreign influence into the highest levels of American government could become more than just an opponent’s political rhetoric. As a former Secretary of State, with her husband being a former President of the United States, and unanswered questions remaining around foreign ties to the Clinton Foundation, a connection to the corruption described in the Panama Papers is not something Hillary Clinton can afford.
Featured Image via Getty/David Becker