- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2022

Russia’s Alfa Bank has dropped two lawsuits against several unknown hackers it says falsified data to fabricate the appearance of a covert back channel with the Trump organization.

The one-page dismissal requests were filed Friday in courthouses in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and West Palm Beach County, Florida.

The requests have yet to appear on court dockets. A copy of the Florida filing obtained by The Washington Times simply states, Alfa Bank “hereby voluntarily dismisses this action.”



It is unclear why Alfa Bank moved to dismiss the lawsuits. The bank is one of a handful of Russian financial institutions slapped with sanctions by the U.S. as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The European Union last week sanctioned two of Alfa’s billionaire partners, Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman.

U.S.-based lawyers for Alfa Bank did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A spokesperson for LetterOne, an investment firm in Luxembourg that bankrolled the lawsuits, declined to comment on why the lawsuits were dropped.

Alfa Bank, which filed the lawsuits in 2020, alleged that the hackers identified as “John Does” manipulated data to make it appear as if there was secret communication between its servers and the Trump Organization.

Its lawyers said the hackers created thousands of fake pings between the bank and the Trump Organization server housed in Pennsylvania.

They said evidence of those connections made its way to tech executives and journalists who used the data to conclude former President Donald Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2020 election.

Alfa Bank, in fact, engaged in no communications with the Trump Organization in 2016 or 2017 beyond the falsely generated and inauthentic DNS queries. Indeed, Alfa Bank has never had any business dealings with the Trump Organization,” lawyers for the bank wrote in the Florida filing.

The FBI concluded there was no merit to the allegations of secret communications between Trump and Alfa Bank. Special counsel Robert Mueller did not mention it in his massive report and later told Congress that he saw no evidence of back channel.

The purported link between Mr. Trump and Alfa Bank had largely faded from the public’s memory but roared back to life late last year.

In September, special counsel John Durham indicted Michael Sussmann, a lawyer with ties to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, on charges that he lied to the FBI in 2016 about who his client was when he told a top bureau official about the Alfa Bank allegations.

Mr. Sussmann has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In a meeting with FBI lawyer James Baker, Mr. Sussmann peddled allegations that the Trump Organization was secretly communicating with Alfa Bank.

Mr. Durham alleges that Mr. Sussmann told the FBI that he was representing an unnamed tech executive, but he actually was meeting with the bureau on behalf of the Clinton campaign. Prosecutors say Mr. Sussmann billed the Clinton campaign for the time he spent with the bureau.

The FBI concluded there was no merit to the allegations of secret communications between Trump and Alfa Bank. Mr. Mueller did not mention it in his massive report and later told Congress that he saw no evidence of back channel. 

Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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