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

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


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.