Podesta’s Think Tank Took Millions From A Nonprofit With Russian Ties

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A liberal think tank founded by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta took millions from an environmental nonprofit with links to laundered Russian money and a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) got $5.25 million over five years from the Sea Change Foundation, according to a leaked 2014 tax filing sent to Podesta’s hacked Gmail account. WikiLeaks has published more 44,000 hacked emails online from Podesta’s personal account.

The Sea Change Foundation came under scrutiny from Republican lawmakers in 2014 for taking $23 million in 2010 and 2011 from a Bermuda-based shell company based out of the offices of a law firm with extensive ties to “Russian money laundering, a friend and advisor of Vladimir Putin, Russian oil production, and more,” according to a 2015 report by the Environmental Policy Alliance (EPA).

Klein Ltd was formed by Wakefield Quin (WQ) lawyers Nicholas Hoskins and Marlies Smith. Sea Change invested $80 million into hedge funds run by founder Nate Simons, which are run by WQ senior counsel Roderick Forrest.

Hoskins and and Forrest held “directorship positions in the ‘IPOC Group,’ owned by Russian minister of telecommunications and longtime Putin friend Leonid Reiman,” according to EPA. A British Virgin Islands court ruled the IPOC Group was part of a Russian money laundering scheme.

Hoskins, Smith, Forrest, and Wakefield Quin administrator Penny Cornell “also have extensive ties to investments in the Russian energy sector,” EPA reported.

Wakefield Quin operates at least one holding company, called Spectrum Partners Ltd, that’s heavily invested in Russia’s oil and natural gas sector. Spectrum has a “Russia Absolute Fund” that’s got 53 percent of its assets invested in the Russian oil and gas industry.

EPA noted that “Spectrum partnered with Marcuard Holdings to form Marcuard-Spectrum, a Moscow-based investment firm to operate hedge funds in Bermuda such as Marcuard Spectrum Ltd” in 2002.

CAP’s tax filings, uncovered by The Washington Free Beacon, show the liberal think tank got $1 million from Sea Change in 2014. The Free Beacon reported the “unredacted filing lists nine donors, all of which are charitable foundations, that together gave CAP more than $23 million in 2014.”

Simons, Sea Change’s founder, is also a major bundler for Clinton’s presidential campaign. Simons has benefited from green energy subsidies and gives millions to environmental groups that pressure lawmakers to keep such subsidies in place.

Clinton’s campaign pitched Simons to become a “climate policy donor” in 2015, according to a leaked email from Podesta’s hacked account. The list of potential donors included hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, green building pioneer Daniel Tishman and Bloomberg Philanthropies environmental program head Antha Williams.

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