Russian Money and Useful American Idiots: The Same Old Story

In a recent piece reviewing some of the geopolitical consequences of fracking, I had the nerve to suggest that Russia – that is, Putin’s wannabe Soviet Union Redivivus – was financing putative environmentalist opposition to fracking around the world.

The Putinesque plan, I suggested, is to kill or severely cripple the American-led fracking revolution, which has – in the face of Obamanesque opposition – reduced the price of oil and natural gas to low prices worldwide.  These low prices are something Russia hates with a passion, because they hurt its economy and reduce its ability to increase its military forces.  It has an obvious fear of fracking generally as a threat to its status as an energy superpower.

Well, a recent report offers some useful detailed information about the role of Russia in funding the opposition to fracking by so-called Green groups.

The piece was written by investigative reporter Lachlan Markay.  He reports the amazing news that a mysterious Bermuda-based company with Russian connections has been feeding tens of millions of dollars to American environmentalist groups who just happen to be virulently anti-fracking.

Quelle surprise!

The Bermudan company is called “Klein Ltd.”  Klein donated (i.e., transferred) over $23 million – in the year 2010 alone! – to American environmentalist groups that aim to halt the American fracking revolution and its expansion abroad.  Klein funneled the cash to a non-profit organization called “the Sea Change Foundation,” based (where else?) in California.  This amounted to 40% of the foundation’s money, please note.  The Sea Change Foundation in turn shoveled the loot to anti-fossil fuel activist groups such as the Center for American Progress, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Resource Defense Council, and (but of course) the Sierra Club.  These environmentalist machines in turn use the pelf to fund their agitprop disinformation campaigns against fracking.

For example, the Sierra Club was given nearly $9 million by the Sea Change Foundation in 2010 and 2011, after which the Club launched its anti-fracking “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign.

This raises a fascinating question: just where does Klein Ltd. get its money?  Here Markay earns his bread and cheese by laying out the labyrinthine connections.  Klein Ltd. has a director by the name of Nicholas Hopkins.  Hopkins just coincidentally is also a director of an investment company that is deeply invested in Russian oil and natural gas companies.  And it turns out that the mysterious Mr. Hopkins is a senior counsel for a Bermudan law firm called “Wakefield Quin.”  Wakefield Quin provides office space and serves as a corporate registered agent in Bermuda for numerous foreign companies, including upwards of 20 companies with connections to the Russian government.  And Hoskins and other Wakefield officials have worked as managers at companies and hedge funds owned by or tied in with the Russian state-owned companies.

For examples, Hoskins and other Wakefield people have served as executives of Spectrum Partners, a fund with offices in Moscow and assets based in Russian oil and natural gas.  Hoskins and many other Wakefield Quin mucky-mucks are tied in with Russian state-owned Rosneft.  Hoskins is also director of a subsidiary of a Russian investment house called Troika Dialog, which just happened to handle the IPO of Timan Oil and Gas, a company owned by a Russian kleptocrat.

It gets richer.  Markay notes that the Sea Change Foundation is run by Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Simons, who are the only other donors to the foundation besides Klein Ltd.  Simons manages hedge funds directed by Wakefield Quin attorneys, and his own investment firm just by utter coincidence specializes in companies that stand to gain from the aggressive environmentalist policies promoted by the foundation.  And funds run by him and his father Jim Simons list their addresses as – Wakefield Quin.

I have related just some of the intricate detail reported by the estimable Mr. Markay.  It is indeed a labyrinth, a massive welter of interwoven Russian Klepto-State companies, mysterious hedge funds, shell corporations, seemingly innocuous “charitable foundations,” and so on, all intersecting through clandestine holding companies in offshore havens for money-laundering.

However, the purpose of this web is clear: keep the price of oil high, and keep Russia and its pals like Venezuela and Iran well-funded.  All these companies are well-hidden behind walls of secrecy and an iron curtain of opacity.  This Russian funding of green groups from behind a screen of secrecy is reminiscent of the Soviet campaign over decades to influence our movie industry and fund various “peace” groups.  No doubt Putin is using his KGB training to coordinate this propaganda campaign.

In fact, this is of a piece with the long history of the Soviets funneling money to useful American idiots, from socialists and communist fellow-travelers to peace groups to now environmentalist groups.

As another investigative reporter, Ron Arnold, put it, “[i]n my experience of trying to penetrate offshore money funnels for U.S. leftist foundations and green groups, I have found that Liechtenstein, Panama and Bermuda are the Big Three green equivalents of the Cayman Islands for hedge fund managers – totally opaque and impervious to my specially designed research tools.”

It is high time for Congress to set up a joint committee to investigate the graft, corruption, cronyism, and foreign influence of the so-called green energy industries.  And legislation should be crafted totally outlawing foreign money going to any organization that does any political advocacy in the U.S.  That should include foundations like the Clintons’, which even now is accepting massive amounts of foreign money to help Hilary run for president.

Gary Jason is an academic philosopher and a senior editor of Liberty.  His new book, Disturbing Thoughts, is now available through Amazon.

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