Sunday, August 12, 2018

Just so we're all on the same Page

You have to admit, if this is a man who's just made more than a third of a billion dollars for more or less nothing, the hat reads completely differently. Via Mediaite.

This is a completely bizarre story from an investigative journalist called Scott Stedman that showed up on Medium this afternoon. The Great World doesn't seem to be picking it up, so here goes:
An investment company based in Las Vegas, with oil and gas interests in the Middle East claimed that they received a commitment of more than three hundred million dollars from Carter Page’s Global Energy Capital after Page’s involvement in the Trump campaign.
The investment company, RD Heritage Group, claimed on their website that they they secured a capital commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars from Page and his company:
“$350MM capital commitment by Global Energy Capital … an investment management and advisory firm focused on the energy sector primarily in emerging markets. Global Energy Capital was founded by Carter Page, CFA. Carter has spent 7 years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in London, Moscow and New York…Carter was also a foreign policy advisor to Presidential candidate Donald Trump.”
That was on 24 July. As of 25 July, after Stedman had called the company for comments, to which they did not respond, they pulled Page's name and biography from the text, ascribing the commitment to a nameless "energy focused fund" instead.

And if you visit RD Heritage's website now, you'll see that the the $350 million has disappeared as well.

It's pretty odd because, as you probably know, $350 million is a kind of a lot of money, and according to Carter Page, he doesn't have a lot of money. In fact, as he told Congressman Swalwell (D-CA) in House Intelligence Hearings in November 2017, he had no income in 2016 and 2017 at all. "There are no sources of income right now. I'm living on savings. I'm burning through savings."

Also, there's no information whether Page actually made the investment or not. Maybe he just called them up, in one of his living-large moods, and informed them he was making the investment, and never followed through.

On the other hand, as Stedman doesn't mention but I will because he's a journalist and I'm a blogger, we do know about a rumor that his service for the Trump campaign might make him very wealthy indeed, according to the 18 October 2016 memo from Christopher Steele's dossier: that Page had made a deal in his Moscow meeting of 7 or 8 July with Igor Sechin, president of the giant Rosneft energy firm, that if he and a Trump presidential administration could get rid of US sanctions imposed on Sechin personally and on Rosneft, Page and/or Trump associates would be given the brokerage of a 19% share in the company:

Which seemed very unlikely to work out, according to Steele's informants; in fact he says they told him that Sechin had decided on 17 October that Trump was not going to win the election, and was going to start looking for new US brokers.

On the other hand, as we know, Trump did win the election, and it's also the case that a deal for the sale of a 19.5% interest in Rosneft was announced in December 2016, for $9.1 billion, with the Qatar Investment Authority and a partner, the Switzerland-based commodities trading firm Glencore. Eight months after that, the Qatari fund jumped ship, probably discouraged by US sanctions, which made certain transactions difficult. They were replaced, with Glencore's assistance, by the Chinese firm CEFC China Energy, and then this May the Chinese too bowed out, apparently inhibited by their own legal problems back home in China (their chairman Ye Jianming was jailed in February on corruption charges), and now the Qataris find themselves holding the bag again and are apparently determined to make the best of it. In this account from The Financial Times, the word "sanctions" does not appear, so don't ask me.

As for Carter Page, I'm a complete business illiterate, so who knows, but 4% of $9.1 billion is $364 million, which sounds—how can I put this without sounding even dumber than I am?—like, um, an actual number. Is 4% a reasonable commission for selling a fifth of one of the world's largest energy companies? If not, why not?

And we know the Trumpys started working intensively and even maniacally well before the inauguration to get all the Russian sanctions lifted. I'm thinking either (1) he really did get the money, in the optimism of December when they were truly convinced the sanctions would end, as the sale really did seem to be going through and the cash really did change hands, and threw it into the money laundry, through his shell company, right away, or (2) he thought he was going to get the money, and committed most of it to RD Heritage because um, if you're about to come into $350 million you should totally make a plan.

Either way, one more point for the Steele dossier.

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