- - Thursday, February 23, 2023

Russian Oleg Deripaska thought so much of America’s strategic importance to Vladimir Putin that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to whisk his girlfriend into the United States to have his baby, thus christened with immediate U.S. citizenship.

A busy proliferator, the 55-year-old aluminum magnate tried to exploit the birthright again two years later. He put baby mama Ekaterina Voronina, 33, on a business jet to Los Angeles, where a posh Beverly Hills home and top-rate prenatal care awaited her. But by then, 2022, the jig was up. The feds had been tracking Mr. Deripaska on a number of shady fronts. The Department of Homeland Security turned Ms. Voronina away at the gate. A $400,000 investment in a second American kid wasted.

One for two isn’t bad, I guess, but an indictment would soon follow. The man who penetrated the FBI, among other American conquests, was 100% persona non grata, living somewhere offshore. 

His demise as Mr. Putin’s secretive emissary to America began in 2018 when the Trump administration handcuffed his American business deals by locking him up in economic sanctions. 

Democrats readily spew talking points that Mr. Trump was easy on Mr. Putin, when the opposite is true. It is President Biden who knelt before the Russia tyrant and Mr. Putin who saw this as weakness and invaded Ukraine just as he invaded Crimea during the Obama era. 

Mr. Trump was expelling and sanctioning Russians, ending treaties with the cheating Mr. Putin, and arming Ukraine

In April 2018, the Trump administration designated 17 senior Russian officials and seven Russian oligarchs for economic isolation, including Mr. Deripaska. It depicted him as Mr. Putin’s one-man global crime syndicate.

Deripaska has been investigated for money laundering and has been accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official, and taking part in extortion and racketeering,” the Treasury Department said. 

Mr. Deripaska was linked to important players in the Trump/Russia saga. One key longtime American employee was Paul Manafort, who provided political advice as the oligarch tried to influence elections in Ukraine and other countries. Mr. Manafort went on to become campaign manager for Mr. Trump in 2016. It was a poor choice given the impending Russia election inquisition and Mr. Manafort’s million-dollar fees for advising Russian political interests in Ukraine.

Mr. Manafort’s longtime political aide in Ukraine was Deripaska associate Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Democrats painted as a Russian intelligence officer while the FBI judged he had ties to Kremlin spy agents.

The Deripaska tentacles even reached to dossier impresario Christopher Steele, a Democratic Party-financed intelligence collector who wrote nasty stuff about Mr. Trump that turned out to be untrue.

Mr. Steele worked for Mr. Deripaska through the oligarch’s London attorney to investigate former business partner Manafort during civil litigation over the Russian’s lost investments. A Justice Department Inspector General’s report also said Mr. Steele worked behind the scenes to get sanctions lifted on a Deripaska company. The IG said the FBI knew none of this, as it paid Mr. Steele for pre-dossier intelligence and then accepted and celebrated his anti-Trump dossier.

A subsequent Senate Intelligence report in August 2020 said Mr. Deripaska worked with Kremlin intelligence and advisers such as Mr. Manafort. The billionaire capitalized on business investments to try to swing a country’s leadership toward a pro-Putin agenda. 

“The Committee found that, since at least the time he hired Paul Manafort in approximately 2004, Oleg Deripaska has acted as a proxy for the Russian state and Russian intelligence services,” the Senate report said.

Mr. Manafort ended up being convicted of tax fraud and money laundering in Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry, which found that he did not aid Kremlin election computer hacking or social media operations.

Mr. Deripaska’s plan to create his own American babies (who knows how many) thrust him into a criminal indictment in September, along with his girlfriend and two of his facilitators. All the cash he spent for travel and accommodations was illegal sanctions-busting. The indictment also cited Mr. Deripaska’s outlaw business deals here. 

But the Deripaska show got even wilder. In January, the Department of Justice indicted a former FBI agent who held the top counterintelligence post at the pivotal Manhattan field office.

While still an agent in charge, Charles McGonigal in 2018 made contact with agents for Mr. Deripaska, including an unnamed former Russian diplomat tied to Kremlin intelligence, the indictment said. Mr. McGonigal agreed to use his influence to get the Deripaska employee’s daughter an internship in counterintelligence with the New York City Police Department. The daughter told the NYPD that Mr. McGonigal had given her access to confidential FBI files. 

Upon retirement, Mr. McGonigal stepped up his game, the indictment says. He became a Deripaska agent, taking his money to investigate a rival oligarch and to help achieve an end to sanctions.

The Deripaska USA operation today is in shambles. He can’t do business here and is named in two celebrated federal indictments, one as a defendant, one as a paymaster to someone who knows a lot of secrets. In 2021, the FBI raided two homes linked to him in Washington and New York. 

Mr. Deripaska had quite an impressive payroll: various Putin intelligence operatives; Mr. Manafort; Mr. Steele; FBI alumnus Charles McGonigal; and Mr. Kilimnik, for whom the FBI published an arrest warrant.

The August 2020 Senate intelligence report, Volume 5 in a series, goes beyond the 2016 election to talk about Russian interference in other countries. It is titled “Counterintelligence Threats and Vulnerabilities.”

There is no mention of Hunter Biden. He took a lucrative spot on the board in May 2014 of Burisma Holdings, a Ukraine oil and gas conglomerate, just as dad Joe Biden, who was then vice president, became White House point man for Kyiv.

Burisma is owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, an oligarch member of the Kremlin-friendly Party of Regions, the same party that employed Mr. Manafort, whom the Senate report richly mentions.

Nor does the report bring up the $3.5 million-plus wire transfer from a Putin-favored Russian oligarch, Elena Baturina, to Hunter Biden’s investment firm on Feb. 14, 2014. The London-based Ms. Baturina, Russia’s only female billionaire, is in the plastics and construction businesses.

When Ms. Baturina sent the cash, Mr. Putin was well into the planning to invade and annex Ukraine’s Crimea, which happened a week later, on Feb. 20, 2014.

Senate Republicans had this information and published it in a September 2020 report. Senate Intelligence Committee staff could have obtained for Volume 5 the same Treasury Department’s Suspicious Activity Reports (SARS) if they’d wanted to.

For Hunter Biden, there are more confidential SARs reports, which are the red flags that banks fill out when they think someone is laundering money. The Biden Treasury Department has refused to turn them over to House Republicans.

• Rowan Scarborough is a columnist with The Washington Times.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Oleg Deripaska’s name in the headline.

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