Russia suspected of using Bermuda shell company to exploit American anti-fracking activists

Russia’s propaganda schemes and shell companies are so complex that investigators call them “matryoshkas” for the Russian nesting dolls that hide one inside the other. Capitol Hill lawmakers say they are now wrestling with one that appears to have twisted American oil and gas policy in Moscow’s favor.

Adding fresh intrigue to the multiple Russia probes underway across Washington, top Republican lawmakers are demanding that the Trump administration immediately investigate a Bermuda-based shell company with suspected Kremlin ties that is accused of working in the shadows to move millions of dollars to anti-fracking activists across the U.S.

Capitol Hill investigators say the Bermuda fracking case underscores the complexity of recent Russian influence operations that attempt to use Americans as pawns in money laundering or propaganda schemes.

“If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking,” Rep. Lamar Smith, Republican Texas, said in a statement.

The fracking revelations dovetail with a recently declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that concluded that Russia’s state-owned media outlet Russia Today, or RT, also engaged in a vigorous anti-fracking campaign to benefit the leading Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom.

In recent years, NATO chiefs have criticized Russia for conspiring to undermine technology in Europe by supporting anti-fracking protesters in Romania and Bulgaria. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the efforts.

Fracking involves blasting shale rock with water, sand and chemicals to release trapped natural gas. Although it has led to a boom in U.S. gas production, environmental groups have voiced opposition, saying it contributes to global warming.

Russia has aligned itself with the anti-fracking movement for fear that aggressive U.S. fracking will cut into Moscow’s global gas profits, analysts say.

An investigator speaking to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity for security reasons said Moscow does not care whether it’s using Democrats or Republicans in an influence campaign.

“The Kremlin seeks to influence American debate in ways that look natural,” the investigator said. “To do this, they use what we call ‘useful idiots,’ or people who are unaware they are being used.”

Shell companies

On Capitol Hill, worries over the Russian anti-fracking scheme led Mr. Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to send a letter late last month to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The six-page letter asks Treasury officials to investigate “what appears to be a concerted effort by foreign entities to funnel millions of dollars through various nonprofit entities to influence the U.S. energy market.”

Co-signed by Rep. Randy K. Weber Sr., Texas Republican, the letter targets the San Francisco-based environmental group the Sea Change Foundation, which is alleged to have taken $23 million in 2010 and 2011 from Bermuda-based shell company Klein Ltd., which reportedly has ties to Russian oligarchs.

According to IRS documents, Sea Change Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation.

After receiving funds from Bermuda, Sea Change is suspected of passing millions of dollars to U.S.-based environmental groups opposed to fracking, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

Last week, Klein Ltd. responded to the Capitol Hill accusations and denied funneling Russian money to environmental groups.

“Our firm has represented Klein since its inception, and we can state categorically that at no point did this philanthropic organization receive or expend funds from Russian sources or Russian-connected sources and Klein has no Russian connection whatsoever,” Klein attorney Roderick M. Forrest said in an email to The Times last week.

House investigators, led by Mr. Smith, believe the scheme potentially violates federal statutes pertaining to agents of foreign governments or those lobbying on behalf of domestic and foreign interests, but others on Capitol Hill are less sure. They note that private U.S. foundations may accept foreign contributions and that Moscow might have exploited that loophole in this particular case.

The League of Conservation Voters also denies all charges that it has any Kremlin associations.

“This seems like nothing more than an attempt at distraction away from the Trump campaign’s well-publicized interactions with Russian interests to influence the election,” league spokesman David Willett said in an email. “We have no connections to Russia and have been an effective advocate for environmental protection for over 45 years.”

Other environmental groups have blasted the House Republicans’ call for an investigation as “pathetic,” and Klein insists all its work is legal and operates within Bermuda’s strict regulations against money laundering.

Read rest at Washington Times

Comments (6)

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    I pity Putin, leader of the world’s biggest bum-boil.

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    Ah Ha the russkies have their hands in the cookie jar along with the Greens Elementery my dear watson the game is afoot

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    And the Trump Team are indebted to the Russians along with the always cooperative Jersey Crime Families.

    Upon coming to power,
    Obama & Clinton negotiated with the Saudi Royal Family…&
    Decided on a long range foreign policy…JOINTLY.t
    Increase sanctions & pump oil to drop the price of oil world wide:
    1. That will stimulate the world economy.
    2. Increased Sanctions & Cheap oil,
    on the oil dependent Venezuelan Economy is right now threatening the SOCIALIST & INTERVENTIONIST government of Venezuela.

    Did you notice the ALL TALK and NO ACTION TRUMP has to date said nothing and done nothing !

    The economic threat to Venezuela forced the Government there, to stop subsidizing guerilla groups in South & Central America….notice the agreement signed in Columbia to END a 50 year blood bath.
    The Castro Brothers of Cuba have signed an agreement with their favorite kicking boy, THE US. and has begun the process to open up and allow for regime change when the Castros die.
    Increased Sanctions & Cheap Oil,
    on the oil dependent economy of Iran forced Iran to bargain with the Entire UN and the Great Satan US….and sign an agreement which
    Reagan Era negotiators with the Soviets, en masse, praised as the sure avoidance of WAR in the next decades….as the ‘Most Invasive & Comprehensive’ arms agreement EVER signed with a military power, without firing a single shot. Parts of the agreement are 10 years in length, large parts are 15 & 20 years in length and the test band treaty is permanent.
    I kinda think those are successful !

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      Nothing but stupid ass
      fakery and lies
      plenty of references to nothingness
      as if volume of worthless verbiage equals proof


      The only thing you have proved with your relentless commentary
      is that






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    Eco-leftists are easily manipulated, politically motivated puppets. We should be surprised that Russia would take advantage of them to meddle in our affairs?

    It’s almost too easy.

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    I wonder how these protesters heat or cool their homes Im sure they dont use Dylithium Crystals

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