19%ers: When Curious Numbers Align

“More than a month after Russia announced one of its biggest privatizations since the 1990s, selling a 19.5 percent stake in its giant oil company Rosneft, it still isn’t possible to determine from public records the full identities of those who bought it.”

Multiple sources are now reporting this unprecedented sale worth an estimated $11 billion.  The last time privatization of this scale occurred within Rosneft was in 1995 when it became an Open Joint Stock Company.  In 2012, Rosneft named Igor Sechin as President of the company, where he has remained to this day.

ol’ Igor

So there has been a 19.5% privatization sale…

To an anonymous buyer..

By a company headed by Igor Sechin…

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

This is from the now infamous Steele Dossier released by Buzzfeed on January 11, 2017.

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In December, a 19.5% privatized Rosneft stake was placed into the hands of anonymous buyers.

Here, it should be also be pointed out that former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now Trump’s Secretary of State, was instrumental in the success of the 2011 Exxon-Rosneft deal, which immediately raised the valuation of Rosneft by approximately $7 billion in just 5 days.  For this, Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship, the highest honor Russia can bestow upon a foreigner.

But the dream ended in 2014, when US and EU sanctions on Russia for actions in Ukraine lost Exxon approximately $1 billion, according to regulatory filings.  Tillerson said in March, “We are very anxious to get back to work there.”

In late January, a large-scale purge of the State Department occurred.  In what is becoming increasingly commonplace in the Trump Administration, it is unclear if these were mass terminations or mass resignations, or some combination of both.  To be clear, many of these senior positions are Presidential appointments and Trump is free to do as he pleases with them.  However, these people were career professionals like Thomas Countryman, who had served for 35 years.

This is Tillerson’s State Department as it stands today:

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Only slightly suspicious

One might surmise these “career professionals” may hinder what he is trying to do.

So to summarize so far, Rosneft has sold 19.5% of itself to private anonymous buyers, the Steele dossier explicitly identifies a backdoor deal with the Trump campaign for 19% of Rosneft, and the new Secretary of State has a long-running relationship with Rosneft and Sechin, who is also named in the document.

The Steele dossier cites all of this information from an unnamed source “close to Igor Sechin” as the originator.

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Oleg Erovinkin and Igor Sechin go way back.  Erovinkin is a former FSB General and oleg-erovinkin-served-a-general-in-the-kgbconsidered to be a close confidant.  Some sources cite Erovinkin as “Sechin’s Chief of Staff” or “Treasurer”.  He was found dead in his car on December 26th.  The dossier leaked on January 10th.

In classic Russian style, initial reports stated that Erovinkin was shot in the head.  The story quickly splintered into some sources reporting he was found in the backseat of his car.. some claimed he was in the driver’s seat.. some claimed he ’caused a minor accident after his death’.

A day later, the Kremlin-friendly source life.ru reported that Erovinkin merely had a heart attack and that this was all just natural causes.  The investigation and autopsy was handled entirely by the FSB.

To this day, Russian media has not mentioned Oleg Erovinkin in any news media nor has the FSB ever mentioned a cause of death.

At this point, considering it is now being openly discussed, it should come as no surprise that Russian sanctions may be lifted under Trump’s watch.

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