Blind Trust: Podesta Links to Russia

John Podesta in Business With Russians

John Podesta was apparently in business with Moscow. In fact, he engaged in an effort to shield his dealings with a Vladimir Putin aligned company called Joule Inc. The green energy company was in line with Podesta's favorite past-time, global warming, so it appeared to be a perfect match. Podesta was "given" over 70,000 shares in Joule, a company working on renewable energy projects, which just happened to be co-owned by Moscow insiders.

The major issue with Podesta and Joule is that several board members are not just ordinary Russians but very highly placed Russians. One board member, Dmitry Sergeevich Akhanov has been the President and Chief Executive Officer at RUSNANO USA, Inc., since 2010. Akhanov served as the Head of the Project Implementation Center at Russian Power and Electrification Open Joint-Stock Company (formerly Unified Energy System of Russia) until 2007. He has also served as the Head of the Russian Federal Energy Agency; Another fellow Joule board member is Aram Grigorian who also serves as the Managing Director of IB, Troika Dialog. Grigorian is an international "Investment" banker, and he led the merger of the leading Russian independent investment bank, Troika Dialog, with Sberbank, the Russian’s largest financial institution.

Still another prominent Russian member working with Podesta is Ruben Karlenovich Vardanyan. Vardanyan served on the boards of directors of numerous companies, including AvtoVAZ, Novatek, Sukhoi Aircraft, Aviastar-SP, Sheremetyevo International Airport, United Grain Company (Russia), AK BARS Bank, Bank of Moscow and Izvestia newspaper. He is currently a board member at Kamaz, Sibur, Sollers, Joule Unlimited, Inc. (USA) and Ameriabank (Armenia). He is also a member of the economic council of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

From 1991 to 1992 Vardanyan led the IPO division at Troika Dialog. After 1992 he headed Troika Dialog, holding the posts of executive director, and then president, CEO, and chairman of the board of directors of Troika Dialog Group, up until the company’s sale to Sberbank on January 23, 2012. Next, he was co-head of Sberbank CIB and eventually became the lead advisor to the president and chairman of the board at Sberbank.

These men are not just friends of John; they are close partners with Putin. In fact, Vardanyan has frequently been photographed with Putin and is considered to be an inside advisor to the Russian President.

Podesta and Russia, Pay for Play?

The question as to why John Podesta would be suddenly given 70,000 shares in a green company with direct ties to the Kremlin is easily answered; access. When Podesta joined the board, then Joule CEO Bill Sims said in a statement that “we look forward to leveraging his insights as we progress toward international deployment.” In 2011 it became clear what Sims meant by Podesta's leverage. In a 2011 email sent from Brandon Hurlbut Chief of Staff at the Dept. of Energy to John Podesta noted that then Obama Energy Secretary Chu was to tour the Joule labs.

"Hey John, Secretary Chu will be visiting Joule's lab next Thursday. I am sorry for the late notice (was focused on the hearing last week), so this may be old news already but wanted to make sure you knew just in case," noted Hurlbut.

"The gang is excited. I think he'll be impressed. How do you think the wars are going? I am trying to think through the reset for 2012 framing and 2013 agenda. Like to get your views on that at some point," replied Podesta to Hurlbut.

The Obama Administration Used Billions of Taxpayer Dollars

The Obama administration made renewable and alternative fuels a top priority, shelling out billions of dollars to fund green projects and pushing for higher taxes on fossil fuels. The U.S. taxpayer also paid the price as U.S. government-backed green ventures failed or folded. The taxpayer funding of companies such as Solyndra Inc. Abound Manufacturing Solar LLC, Fisker Automotive Inc., Vehicle Production Group LLC and Beacon Power cost billions in unpaid loans and grants as each green company failed.

When Podesta joined the Obama White House team in 2014, he left Joule and moved the shares into a blind trust through his daughter. John Cobb, a tax adviser for the law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP, signed the company-formation document that was the basis of the blind trust. Cobb’s online biography shows he worked in the Steptoe & Johnson Washington, D.C., office.

In an email from 2015, after Podesta had left the Joule board, Podesta's daughter informed him that she had learned from Cobb that Joule was taking a stake in Colorado-based Red Rock Biofuels to create a biofuels refinery. This is curious since Podesta was no longer involved in Joule and was supposed to be legally isolated from it by the blind trust.

Joule’s chairman, Noubar Afeyan, saw the then Clinton chairman as a well-connected insider and clearly took advantage of his business relationship with Podesta. In 2015, Podesta was contacted by two of the top Joule board members seeking his "guidance" and requesting a joint phone call. Afeyan emailed Podesta asking for help in opening doors in Europe and Asia.

In an Aug. 31, 2015, email, he had asked Podesta for guidance on “how best to forge partnerships globally.”

Yet, this was not the only direct contact between the Joule chairman and the Clinton, campaign chairman.

“Dear John, I wanted to get this back on your radar screen hoping you can make some intros in the far east as we had previously discussed,” Afeyan wrote on Oct. 12, 2015.

Podesta Continues Relations With Russians

As the email evidence shows; Podesta continued to have a business relationship with Joule even after he "left" the company and moved his Joule assets into a blind trust. It is quite extraordinary for a man, running a blind trust, to work with the subject of that trust. The purpose of a blind trust is to remove all dealings between the owner and the subject so as to provide a layer of protection in case of conflicts of interest. The fact that Podesta continued to actively advise and participate in Joule would seem to invalidate the trust and his shield from conflict.

Conflict of Interest with Russians Were Never Investigated

The questions raised by Podesta's emails have never been investigated in Congress or by the Special Counsel. The Russian involvement, the not-so-blind trust, the billion-dollar green programs, the contacts with the Clinton chairman all beg to be put under the microscope but so far, no action appears to be on the horizon.

John Podesta is a poster child for what is wrong in Washington. The mainstream media continues to pursue a "Russia" collusion story against President Trump while ignoring the massive amount of information tying the former Clinton campaign chair to shady dealings involving Moscow. Ironically, the information comes not from some porn filled fictional spy-novel speculation paid for by the opposition camp; it comes from the hands of John Podesta.

Charles R. Smith / Guest Contributor

I am the author of “Deception.” My reports have been covered by Security Affairs, Insight magazine, USAF, “The Connection” Information Protection journal, E-SOURCES Online, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings Magazine, NewsMax.com and other outlets.
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