US political activist linked to Russian agent charged with money laundering, fraud

In this screen grab from a video posted by ABCNews on YouTube, Russian spy Maria Butina (right) and American Paul Erickson sing Beauty and the Beast. (ABCNews via YouTube)
Updated 07 February 2019
0

US political activist linked to Russian agent charged with money laundering, fraud

  • Russian Maria Butina admitted working with a top Russian official to infiltrate the powerful National Rifle Association gun rights group
  • Erickson is a well-known figure in Republican and conservative circles and was a senior official in Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign

WASHINGTON: A conservative US political activist romantically linked to admitted Russian agent Maria Butina has been indicted by a federal grand jury on wire fraud and money laundering charges, the US Attorney’s Office in South Dakota said on Wednesday.
Paul Erickson, 56, was indicted on 11 counts of wire fraud and money laundering on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges in an appearance before US Magistrate Judge Mark Moreno, the office said in a statement. Erickson’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Erickson is a well-known figure in Republican and conservative circles and was a senior official in Pat Buchanan’s 1992 Republican presidential campaign.
He was romantically linked to Butina, a 30-year-old native of Siberia, who pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy.
Butina admitted working with a top Russian official to infiltrate the powerful National Rifle Association gun rights group and to make inroads with American conservatives and the Republican Party as an agent for Moscow.
Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington, had publicly advocated for gun rights. She was the first Russian to be convicted of working to influence US policy during the 2016 presidential race.
Erickson’s indictment did not specifically refer to Butina by name, but it indicates he made a payment of $8,000 to an “M.B.” in June 2015 and another payment of $1,000 to “M.B.” in March 2017. The indictment also indicates he paid American University $20,472.09 in June 2017.
The indictment against Erickson alleges that between 1996 and 2018, Erickson made “false and fraudulent representations” to people in South Dakota and elsewhere about his business schemes in an effort to convince potential investors to give him money, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Erickson owned and operated Compass Care Inc, Investing with Dignity LLC, and an unnamed venture to develop land in the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota, the US Attorney’s Office said.
He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count as well as possible fines, the US Attorney’s Office. He was released on bond, and no date has been set for a trial.

 

 

 

Russian spy Maria Butina  pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to commit fraud


UN says Taliban captives in Afghanistan subjected to abuse

Updated 26 May 2019
0

UN says Taliban captives in Afghanistan subjected to abuse

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says it interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 recently rescued from the Taliban
  • They were mainly members of the Afghan forces but also civilians and government officials captured by the Taliban

KABUL, Afghanistan: The UN says Taliban captives in Afghanistan have been subjected to abuse, ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan says it interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 recently rescued from the Taliban. They were mainly members of the Afghan forces but also civilians and government officials captured by the Taliban.
The group was freed on April 25 when Afghan troops raided a Taliban-run detention facility in the Khas Uruzgan district in southern Uruzgan province.
The UNAMA statement, released on Sunday, says most of the captives were held since 2018, with three since 2016. It says they were kept in poor conditions and subjected to forced labor. The statement cites the detainees as saying that the Taliban killed some of their captives.