Russia's Biggest Bank Paid Podesta To Fight US Sanctions
Democrat super-lobbyist Tony Podesta was paid $170,000 over a six-month period last year to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, seeking to end one of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against that country, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.
Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms. His firm received more than $24 million in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, who was the national campaign chairman for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s losing 2016 campaign for the presidency. Former President Barack Obama imposed the sanctions following the Russian seizure of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014.
The lobbying campaign targeted Congress and the executive branch, with Podesta and other lobbyists arranging at least two meetings between Sberbank officers and Department of State officials, according to Elena Teplitskaya, Sberbank’s board chairman, who spoke to House aides in August.
The discovery of high-profile Democrats like Podesta being paid lucrative fees for lobbying to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia contrasts with charges from Democrats that President Donald Trump and his key aides are soft on Russia while the Obama administration was tough on Moscow.
Podesta’s efforts were a key part of under-the-radar lobbying during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign led mainly by veteran Democratic strategists to remove sanctions against Sberbank and VTB Capital, Russia’s second largest bank.
The two Russian banks spent more than $700,000 in 2016 on Washington lobbyists as they sought to end the U.S. sanctions, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms and documents filed with the Department of Justice.