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BCCI was involved with a global network of brokerages, most of them operated by people with ties to organized crime, and most of them specializing in the bust-outs of small to medium-sized publicly listed companies. As a judge remarked after BCCI shut its doors in 1991, the BCCI enterprise singlehandedly “shattered the integrity of the global financial system.”
Moving forward, I will sometimes refer not only to the “BCCI network” that operated in the 1980s, but also to the “ongoing BCCI enterprise” that continued to operate in later years. This terminology is, in fact, not quite correct because even prior to 1991, BCCI was just one of many similar outfits in a global market manipulation and money laundering network. In addition, BCCI was not necessarily the most important outfit in the network. But most of the outfits in the network did business with BCCI, and BCCI was a common denominator linking most of the financial operators and criminals in the network.
Similarly, in 1996, earnest FBI agents discovered (or, rather, rediscovered) what they described at the time as a “global market manipulation and money laundering network” and most of the people involved with the network had formerly been involved with the BCCI enterprise. In other words, there existed as of 1996 a global market manipulation and money laundering network that was operated not only by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood (most of them, including Osama bin Laden, formerly involved with the BCCI enterprise), but also numerous others formerly involved with the BCCI enterprise, among them the leaders of multiple terrorist organizations (spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood), most of the world’s leading transnational organized crime syndicates, numerous rogue intelligence operatives, multiple royal families, some of the most powerful people on Wall Street, and other elements of the global criminal oligarchy. All that had changed since BCCI days was that the network had come to include some new players, notable among them a select number of Russian oligarchs, elements of the Russian intelligence services, and some newer organized crime syndicates (in Russia, the Balkans, and other former east-bloc nations) that had emerged upon the global scene after the fall of the Soviet Union.
In subsequent years, this network remained in business, the only difference being that it came to include still more new and younger players, meanwhile innovating new and eminently more destructive financial weapons (e.g. self-destruct CDOs, an innovation of Michael Milken and associates) that were used to bust out major financial institutions and national economies. Indeed, we will see that this same network contributed mightily to the great meltdown of 2008, and we will see that this same network is presently threatening to deliver a repeat performance. This might be why the president of the United States was, in 2011, moved to take the unprecedented step of formally declaring a state of “National Emergency” in response to certain conditions that currently prevail in the American financial markets.
The aluminum industry was so infested with organized criminals that there were pitched gun battles and dozens of murders as competing syndicates fought for control. This was known in Russia as the “aluminum wars” and the winners were organized criminals who handed control to Berezovsky and Abramovich. One of those organized crime figures was named Michael Chernoy, who remained a partner of Berezovsky and Abramovich. It was widely reported that Chernoy (like Berezovksy)had business ties to not only Russian and Chechen organized crime syndicates, but also elements of the Russian intelligence services.
All of these people—Schlaff, Berezovsky, and Chernoy—have, in addition, had dealings with Semion Mogilevich, the Russian organized crime boss who is often referred to as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.” A 1996 classified FBI report (since made public) implicated Mogilevich in everything from market manipulation, narcotics trafficking, and prostitution to the proliferation of radioactive materials. European governments and numerous overseas media reports have stated that the Mogilevich organization has extensive ties to Al Qaeda, and the Mogilevich organization, on at least one occasion, at offered to procure for Al Qaeda highly enriched (bomb grade uranium.
The White House national security staff has identified the Mogilevich organization as one mafia outfit that not only has ties to the Russian intelligence services, but has also “penetrated” the “legitimate” financial sector (i.e. Wall Street), hence our “National Emergency.” The FBI now lists Mogilevich as one of its ten “Most Wanted” criminals. But while the White House has described the Mogilevich organization as contributing to the present “National Emergency,” the FBI has failed to arrest even one member of the Mogilevich organized crime syndicate, though many members of that crime syndicate reside in the United States, and all members of that crime syndicate are, of course, criminals. Meanwhile, Mogilevich has hired a lobbyist in Washington, and if you think the republic is in great shape, consider that the lobbyist for the world’s most dangerous mobster is William Sessions, formerly head of the FBI (the outfit that publishes those “Most Wanted” lists).
In 2008, Moscow police arrested Mogilevich. There was a brief story in The New York Times, and that was the last time the name “Mogilevich” was mentioned in that newspaper or by any other major American media organization . The American media did not report that the FBI made no effort to extradite its “Most Wanted” criminal. Nor did the U.S. media report that the arrest in Moscow was a farce—that Mogilevich was quickly released, with the Russian Interior Minister announcing that the charges against the world’s most notorious mafia boss were “not of a particularly grave nature.” Indeed, that was true. The only law enforcement agency that has charged Mogilevich with any crime is the U.S. Department of Justice, and the DOJ indicted Mogilevich for nothing more than perpetrating a relatively routine fraud at company called YBM Magnex.
As of 2013, reports from Moscow suggest that Mogilevich may face no charges whatsoever. This is not a surprise, given Mogilevich’s importance to at least some elements of both the Russian government and the regime in Washington. In 1999, Mogilevich was the central figure in a massive scandal that saw Russian organized crime working with not only elements of the Russian intelligence services and Russian oligarchs, including Berezovksy, but also elements of the regime in Washington, to launder upwards of $10 billion through the Bank of New York. Also linked to the Bank of New York scandal, of course, was Berezovksy, and we will see that the money laundering through the Bank of New York was indeed not only condoned, but also facilitated by a faction of the regime in Washington.
Billions of dollars have passed through the bank in the past year in what could be the biggest money-laundering operation detected in the United States. The bank, one of the oldest in America, acknowledged that the funds originated in Russia, where organised crime is rife in banking circles. According to The New York Times, quoting unidentified investigators, the accounts have been linked to Semen Mogilevich, regarded by the US and European authorities as a big player in Russian organised crime. The paper reported yesterday that some $4.2bn (pounds 2.7bn) passed through one account in the period from October 1998 to March 1999 in more than 10,000 separate transactions. Because the account has remained open throughout the current financial year, it is believed the total amount could exceed $10bn.
Mr Mogilevich, who is believed to be living in Budapest, was named in a 1996 Senate hearing as the leader of an organised-crime group in the United States. A year earlier the National Criminal Intelligence Service in Britain said he was "one of the world's top criminals" with a "personal wealth of $100m".
Danny had appeared exuberant to most of his friends before his death, noting that he was about to wrap up his investigation of The Octopus. He had originally been trying to prove that the alleged theft of the Inslaw computer program, PROMIS, was related to the October Surprise scandal, the Iran Contra affair and the collapse of BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International).
In addition to violations of lending laws, BCCI was also accused of opening accounts or laundering money for figures such as Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Hussain Muhammad Ershad, and Samuel Doe, and for criminal organizations such as the Medellin Cartel and Abu Nidal. Police and intelligence experts nicknamed BCCI the "Bank of Crooks and Criminals International" for its penchant for catering to customers who dealt in arms, drugs, and hot money. William von Raab, a former U.S. Commissioner of Customs, also told the Kerry Committee that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency held "several" accounts at BCCI. According to a 1991 article in TIME magazine, the National Security Council also had accounts at BCCI, which were used for a variety of covert operations, including transfers of money and weapons for Iran-Contra.
On 5 July 1991, regulators persuaded a court in Luxembourg to order BCCI liquidated on the grounds that it was hopelessly insolvent. According to the court order, BCCI had lost more than its entire capital and reserves the year before.
The history of this world-famous computer software goes back a quarter of a century, and its applications by intelligence, organized crime and terrorist organizations began almost from the start. The software helped the United States win the Cold War against the Soviet Union, but it also served the Russian mafia, Saddam Hussein's regime, Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, and an unspecified number of foreign spies and criminals. as far back as 1985, when the late British media tycoon and top [Israeli] Mossad spy, Robert Maxwell, revealed the software's "trap door" secret to Chinese Military Intelligence (PLa-2), while selling them a copy of PROMIS for $ 9 million, the powerful software was turned against the United States. The Soviet KGB purchased PROMIS from Robert Maxwell, but they also [later] received a copy (together with the Trojan Horse secret) from Robert Hanssen, a spy planted in a most sensitive office of the FBI. The Soviets and their East European allies, including Poland, used PROMIS to spy on the U.S. State Department and 170 american Embassies and Consulates all over the world. This practice may have continued as late as 1997, and the post-communist intelligence agencies of Russia and other countries, including Polish Military Intelligence (WSI), may have been able to retrieve information from U.S. Government agencies, because as many as 64 of them [are believed to have] used modified versions of PROMIS. Using the same PROMIS software, purchased from Russia, Saddam Hussein and members of his regime could shift huge sums of money undetected through the banking system. Some of these funds are still supporting the anti-Coalition insurrection in Iraq and terrorists. In the mid-1990s, Chinese Military Intelligence (PLa-2) organized their own hackers department, which [exploited] PROMIS [database systems] [in the] Los alamos and Sandia national laboratories to steal U.S. nuclear secrets. No over-all damage assessment has been prepared yet. But the losses to the U.S. economy may be in billions of dollars, and damage to the national security of the United States and its allies may be incalculable.
An american intelligence officer, whose name cannot be disclosed, made the following comment on the consequences of the illegal operations performed with the use of PROMIS:
(…) "Yes, we gave PROMIS to the Russians and Chinese to back door their intel. Worked like a charm. The only problem was ‘blowback'. as we gave it to our enemies in order to back door them through the trap door Trojan horse asset in PROMIS, we left sixty-four federal agencies wide open in the U.S. Government who also used PROMIS. The powers-that-be felt that the information obtained far outweighed the damage done to the security of the 64 federal agencies. Just think, federal agents exposed, witness relocation programs compromised, etc. Just a matter of time."
But beautiful women are only a part of it. Because here’s the thing about Epstein: As some collect butterflies, he collects beautiful minds. “I invest in people – be it politics or science. It’s what I do,” he has said to friends. And his latest prize addition is the former president. In his eyes, Clinton as a species represents the highest evolutionary form of the political animal. To be up close to him, as he was during the African journey, is akin to seeing the rarest of beasts on a safari. As he put it to a friend upon his return from Africa, “If you were a boxer at the downtown gymnasium at 14th Street and Mike Tyson walked in, your face would have the same look as these foreign leaders had when Clinton entered the room. He is the world’s greatest politician.”
"Mr. Epstein was part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative, which is described as a project 'bringing together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” read the July 2007 letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of Florida. “Focuses of this initiative include poverty, climate change, global health, and religious and ethnic conflicts.”
Systematics was founded in 1968 by University of Arkansas graduate Walter Smiley, who learned of the high software costs and other difficulties faced by small banks in trying to use data processing software from his experiences working with IBM and in the banking industry. Smiley recognized a niche that could be filled for medium-sized banks in this space, and sought funding to start his own company. Through Jon Jacoby, Smiley was introduced to the Stephens family, who agreed to invest $400,000 in Walter and Systematics in return for 80% equity stake.
The Stephens family remained an investor, acquiring Alltel stock in the transaction. In 2003, Alltel sold the Information Services subsidiary to Fidelity National Financial. This business is known today as Fidelity National Information Services (FIS).
One of the lawyers Stephens hired to represent the company was Hillary Rodham. After she joined the Rose Law Firm, Stephens employed the firm and engaged its partners — including the now-married Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vince Foster and Webster Hubbell — in several of his ventures.
Last year, a federal judge unsealed some of the records related to Sater’s case, which showed that the government knew of his crimes and that he got to keep all of the money. (Sater’s lawyer personally wrote a threat letter to this author which confirmed everything discovered from the unsealed records, and then refused to comment.)
Then, Felix Sater went on a publicity blitz, lying about his past as a violent felon on MSNBC and working hard to whitewash his image with a beat sweetener story in Buzzfeed News.
This new letter from one of Sater’s victims demonstrates the carnage left behind when federal prosecutors in New York’s Eastern District used court secrecy along with a judge who helped them break the law, to empower one of the world’s most sophisticated con-men with ties to multiple transnational crime organizations, keeping his crimes a secret from the public.
President Trump’s longtime business associate who tried to set up a Moscow Tower deal during the 2016 election was just revealed to have gotten a sweetheart felony plea deal in a mafia penny stock scam from which he profited mightily while his victims have got the shaft. One of his victims just compared Sater’s deal to accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s deal, because they both violated the same federal victim’s rights law.
But it has largely been forgotten that Trump is not new to nuclear matters. He has been thinking about how he’d handle nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation for more than a quarter-century, at least since 1987, when he claimed to me that he was “dealing at a very high level” with people in the White House (that would have been the Reagan White House) on doomsday questions.
Rereading the Trump piece I recall now how surreal it was. I met Trump in his office in Trump Tower, an office that featured a golden mirrored ceiling. He was already an iconic New York character, but he had grander ambitions. Perhaps the grandest: saving the world. Before our lunch he confided to me that he was talking to “people in Washington,” even “the White House.” He was on the verge of breaking through. Even then he wanted to be viewed as something more than a glam real estate speculator, someone of substance politically. (When I arrived in his office, he told me he was taking a call from Sen. Bob Dole, then the Senate minority leader, the timing of which was probably prearranged.)
What you do find is a prescient Trumpian impatience with “defense intellectuals,” exemplified in his contempt for then-fashionable nuclear-deterrence theories like “dense pack,” a plan to group our nuclear silos so close together that attacking missiles would destroy each other by means of “fratricide”—crashing into each other over the desolate Great Plains. He saw how dense it was! He knew about the dangerous reality of a “hair trigger” nuclear “posture.” He said he had an uncle who was a nuclear scientist who made him aware of the all-too-easy proliferation of nuclear weapons. He had read Strobe Talbott’s sagacious history of the START talks, Deadly Gambits.
Forty-eight hours before our scheduled lunch, Donald Trump called to cancel it. He’d had severe second thoughts, he said, about the advisability of revealing the extent of his involvement in the delicate—and explosive—subject I’d wanted to discuss with him.
“I’m dealing at a very high level on this,” he said. With people in Washington. In the White House. There was too much at stake for him to risk the wrong kind of exposure on The Subject. The Subject has itself been the subject of considerable delicate pre-lunch negotiations between Trump and the magazine.
Trump was enthusiastic when he first heard I wanted to focus on The Subject. That’s great, he said: The Subject is far more important than any development deal he’s ever done, than any deal of that sort he’ll ever do. The life-or-death nature of The Subject transcends mere real estate. He’s pursuing it as if it were the biggest deal of his life. The Ultimate Deal.
This is a painful conclusion for me to come to in certain respects. Because The Subject is nuclear weapons proliferation and Trump’s crusade to find a way to halt it before a wild-card nuke deals death to millions. And because I’ve become convinced that Trump’s involvement is, well, serious, I have to abandon all the easy jokes and wisecracks I could have made if I thought it was some weird ego trip by an overambitious real estate promoter eager to thrust himself into the national arena.
“My uncle who just passed away was a great scientist,” Trump is telling me as we make our way out of his office to the elevator. “He was a professor at MIT. Dr. John Trump. In fact, together with Dr. Van de Graaff they did the Van de Graaff generator. He was the earliest pioneer in radiation therapy for cancer. He spent his whole life fighting cancer and he ended up dying of it.” It was his uncle, Trump tells me, who got him started thinking about The Subject. “He told me something a few years ago,” Trump recalls. “He told me, ‘You don’t realize how simple nuclear technology is becoming.’ That’s scary. He said it used to be that only a few brains in the world understood it and now you have a situation where thousands and thousands of brains can easily understand it, and it’s becoming easier, and someday it’ll be like making a bomb in the basement of your house. And that’s a very frightening statement coming from a man who’s totally versed in it.”
“I believe they’re sort of fools,” Trump says. “They only think about Russia. Russian and U.S. weapons. But the summit is a joke. It’s not about the real nuclear problem. You have countries like France that are openly and blatantly selling nuclear technology.”
Trump is very down on the French.
“They’ve got an arrogant head of the country, who I think is a total fool, and he’s trying to make up for his losses by selling this technology to anyone, and it’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace.”
So what’s the solution? I ask him. How do you get the French to stop, how do you get French technology out of the hands of the Pakistanis at this point?
“I think you have to come down on them very hard economically or whatever way,” Trump says. “I think the solution is largely economic. Because there are so many of these countries that are so fragile and we have a vast power that’s never been used. They depend on us for food, for medical supplies. And I would never even suggest using it except on this issue. But this issue supersedes all other things.”
“Those people think that because we have it and the Russians have it, nobody will ever use it because they’re assuming everybody’s not necessarily mad. They don’t see Qaddafi walking into an airplane and slapping his subordinates and screaming like a madman on the airplane to the pilots. The man is a psycho. “I mean, what if he’s got the bomb and something happens like the time we shot down two of his planes. And he’s enraged and he can’t see straight and he’s got twenty missiles pointed right at the United States. Washington. I mean, do you think there’s a chance he won’t press the button?”
That’s why I feel protective about Trump. It’s not that think he’s got the solution, but I like the visionary urgency he brings to the problem. I like the fact that he’s using his Washington contacts, the access his money buys him, to bug the torpid Reaganauts to do something rational in the nuclear realm. Trump drops enough names, off the record, to convince me he does have high-level contacts, that he may indeed be “dealing at a very high level on this.”
It is often said that Donald Trump has had the same nationalistic, zero-sum worldview forever. But that isn’t exactly true. Yes, his racism and mendacity have been evident since his youth, but those who have traced the evolution of his hypernationalism all settle on one year in particular: 1987. Trump “came onto the political stage in 1987 with a full-page ad in the New York Times attacking the Japanese for relying on the United States to defend it militarily,” reported Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The president has believed for 30 years that these alliance commitments are a drain on our finite national treasure,” a White House official told the Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin. Tom Wright, another scholar who has delved into Trump’s history, reached the same conclusion. “1987 is Trump’s breakout year. There are only a couple of examples of him commenting on world politics before then.”
Look, I can’t prove what was in Trump’s head, or what he knew or when he knew it. But I document something like 1,300 transactions of this kind with Russian mobsters. By that, I mean real estate transactions that were all cash purchases made by anonymous shell companies that were quite obviously fronts for criminal money-laundering operations. And this represents a huge chunk of Trump’s real estate activity in the United States, so it’s quite hard to argue that he had no idea what was going on.
And so I went to Trump properties, and every time I found a Russian name, I would research it, and it was stunning. I’d often take their name, put in Mogilevich in Google, and it was like hitting the jackpot on a slot machine, time after time after time.