A major United States oil company that gave about $500,000 to Donald Trump for his Inauguration Committee owes $1.5 billion to Russia, through the country’s state-run oil firm Rosneft — and if the loan is not paid back the Russian company with close ties to Vladimir Putin would gain control over a significant piece of the U.S. energy supply, a possibility that both Republican and Democratic congressional reps have said “could pose a grave threat to American energy security, impact the flow and price of gasoline for American consumers, and expose critical US infrastructure to national security threats.”
The large contribution to Trump’s inauguration from Houston, Texas-based oil company Citgo — more money than given by either Shell Oil or U.S. retail giant Walmart — represents a cash contribution from Russia funneled through Citgo, according to report Thursday in The Daily Beast online magazine.
Read the full Daily Beast report on the money trail between Trump and Russia through Citgo, authored by Dr. Vanessa Neumann and titled, “Russia Gave to Citgo, Then Citgo Gave to Trump,” by visiting this link.
Citgo’s parent company, the Venezuelan state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), mortgaged 49.9 percent of Citgo’s assets in order to alleviate its own current cash crisis. But industry experts expect PDVSA to default on the loan. If their prediction comes true and the Venezuelan government-run firm fails to pay back the loan, Rosneft which is run by Putin’s “right hand man” Igor Sechin, takes over nearly half of Citgo.
“If Venezuela defaults on its bond payments, Rosneft (i.e., Putin & Co.) could own several refineries, nine pipelines, and distribution terminals all across the Eastern U.S., from Texas to Maine, without any government oversight,” Neumann wrote. “If the Russians end up owning Citgo, they will be using American consumers to fund their autocracy and Assad’s brutality in Syria.”
The disturbing possibility prompted Republican House Foreign Affairs Committee member and Democratic member Albio Sires to jointly write a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin earlier this month.
“The Russian government could readily become the second-largest foreign owner of US domestic refinery capacity,” Duncan and Sires wrote.
“Such a development would give the Russians more control over oil and gas prices worldwide, inhibit U.S. energy security and undermine broader US geopolitical efforts.”
But the likelihood that Russia will take over nearly half of the assets belonging to Citgo also has an even more alarming tie to the scandal surrounding Trump’s links to Russia and the Russian government. Late last year, Rosneft sold a 19.5 percent stake in its shares, worth an estimated $11 billion, to investors who even now, four months later, remain unknown — shielded by the laws protecting investors in the Cayman Islands where the company that ultimately bought the shares is based.
According to the “Steele Dossier,” the privately assembled intelligence file put together by former British spy Christopher Steele detailing Trump’s alleged Russian ties, Trump’s then-advisor Carter Page traveled to Moscow last year to broker the deal — on behalf of Trump, who would secretly receive the shares in exchange for favorable policy toward Russia in the eventuality that Trump became president.
If the allegations in the Steele Dossier are accurate, Trump himself — through a series of shell companies — may already own a large stake in Rosneft — which in turn would soon own nearly half of Citgo in the event that Venezuela defaults on the Russian $1.5 billion loan to PDVSA.
Congressional reps Duncan and Sires also called for a full investigation of the Russian connection to Citgo, after testimony by Latin American Herald Tribune Editor Russ Dallen testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Russia and Rosneft may already own nearly half of Citgo.
“We do not know what the trigger is for Rosneft to take control of their 49.9 percent of Citgo or even if that triggering event has already happened,” Dallen testified.
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