On July 22, 2016 — the same day that Wikileaks began publishing thousands of emails, emails reportedly stolen from the Democratic National Committee by Russian hackers — a British-Israeli security consultant named Walter Tzvi Soriano opened a real estate investment company alongside a former Israeli intelligence official. That same ex-Mossad official also ran a company that received millions in funding from a billionaire Russian oligarch, one who met with Donald Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen, according to a new investigative report by Forensic News.
The connections could be significant, and may shed light on not only Russia’s alleged activities in influencing the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump, but on possible Israeli efforts to do the same thing. The Senate Intelligence Committee, as part of its ongoing probe into the 2016 election, is now seeking testimony and documents from Soriano. Senate investigators believe the highly-connected Soriano may have insight, or facts, that could shed light on the claimed Russian and possible Israeli election-interference operations, per Politico.
“They’re surprised by how connected he seems to several people of interest,” one anonymous Senate source told Politico. The same unnamed source said that those suspected connections include another Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who has been closely linked to the Russian election operation. Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, was reportedly millions of dollars in debt to Deripaska, and allegedly sought to make himself “whole” by giving secret “briefings” about the campaign to Deripaska, as The Inquisitr has reported.
According to a 2018 report by journalist Richard Silverstein, who covers Israeli security issues on his website, Soriano is a longtime close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Silverstein, Soriano was known as “The Thug” among associates of Netanyahu, and has served as “muscle” for the Israeli prime minister, running investigations of Netanyahu’s political enemies, and of police who have been probing corruption accusations against Netanyahu.
According to Politico, the elusive Soriano has “staunchly denied” those allegations.
Soriano’s possible connection to Vekselberg comes through Playland Investments, which appears to be a Florida real estate company per documents uncovered by Forensic News journalist Scott Stedman, via Twitter. Soriano is partners in the company, which opened on July 22, 2016, with Doron Cohen — a onetime senior Mossad official. But Cohen was also CEO of Fifth Dimension, an Israeli high-tech security firm that received $12 million in funding from Vekselberg, according to CTech.
Vekselberg also met with Trump’s former “fixer,” Michael Cohen — now jailed on various financial and campaign finance law convictions — in New York City’s Trump Tower. This meeting took place just 11 days before Trump’s inauguration, according to The New York Times. A company controlled by Andrew Intrater — Vekselberg’s cousin, who manages investments for the oligarch — reportedly gave Cohen a $1 million “consulting” contract shortly after the inauguration, The New York Times reported. The New York Times added that Intrater has denied any involvement by Vekselberg in the payments to Cohen.