Accused Russian "spy" Maria Butina was outed Tuesday for a trail of money that was even flagged by banks as possibly fraudulent.
According to a Daily Beast report, however, Butina was also demanding that "one of America's best-known businessmen" shell out cash for Moscow.
According to multiple sources, Butina wanted a CEO to put his money in a Moscow bank that was having trouble with the Kremlin.
“I would think it’s even more evidence that she had a broader agenda, she was doing other work for the Kremlin,” said former Pentagon official Evelyn Farkas. “It’s interesting that she was not only seeking to provide ways for the Russian government to put money into the U.S. political system in order to influence our electoral outcome but that she clearly also was interested in luring American money to Russia.”
Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, had his company Starr Russia Investments III buy 20 percent of Investtorgbank in 2008 for $100 million. In 2009, he invested another $8 million. The following year the bank's chairman was singing the praises of business investments that were booming for the bank.
By December 2014, the Russian Central Bank began auditing the books, uncovering self-dealing that lost tens of millions of dollars. The ultimately decided the bank was insolvent.
While the audit was still being conducted, Butina and ally Alexander Torshin, an official at the Russian Central Bank, went to a private discussion on Russia's financial situation. As a major donor, Greenberg was at the Center for the National Interest for the meeting as well.
According to The Beast, the Center for the National Interest "s known for facilitating conversations between Kremlin officials and American foreign policy leaders."
Beast writer Betsy Woodruff explained that those close to the Center have seen their careers flourish during the Trump presidency. She cited former senior fellow Alexander Alden, who now works for the Pentagon. Trump gave his first foreign policy speech at an event hosted by the Center. It's there that Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was seen with some that would become officials in the Trump White House. Most notably was Jeff Sessions, who neglected to mention it during his confirmation hearing when asked if he'd ever spoken with a Russian national.
Butina appeared to know that the Bank was in trouble when asking that Greenberg hand over his money. Those familiar with her request were shocked a "little-known twenty-something" was linked to a Russian official with such a high profile.
No one knows if Butina was acting alone or if the request came on behalf of someone in the Russian government. However, Butina also carried business cards saying she was a Central Bank employee. Yet, when questioned by the Senate intelligence committee, she said she never worked for the bank and only handed out the cards to impress people.
August 27, 2015, the Russian Central Bank seized InvesttorgBank citing "massive fraud."
BuzzFeed reported Tuesday that among Butina's transactions was a $45,000 payment to an undisclosed law firm. One cash withdrawal for $14,000 and nearly $90,000 exchanged between a Russian bank. Her transactions total nearly $300,000.
Wells Fargo flagged the transactions for fear of fraud.